Many people try repeatedly to lose excess weight. Logically they know they should and so they resolve to do “whatever it takes to make it happen”. Maybe they join a gym, or start with Jenny Craig, or simply commit to “dieting”. Then they get to a certain point in their progress and hit a slump, or “things come up”, or they just seem to lose momentum. Eventually whatever progress they made is lost and in fact they are often worse off than when they began. Does this sound familiar?
Have you ever stopped to think what is it that seems to sabotage your health goals? Why is it you consciously want to change, but seem ineffective at following through? Well the answer is not in trying harder or resolving to really, really, do it this time. The answer is to change the way your brain associates weight loss and you.
If you have had a weight problem for any period of time your mind associates the word overweight with you. It is as strongly associated as the color of your eyes your height, your sex, or any other physical features. In your brain you actually have formed neural pathways that lead your thinking process to equate self with fat just as it has connected self with human, or American or anything else you are.
That’s why you keep sabotaging yourself. You are asking your brain to make a new neural pathways, say from self to healthy, or slim, or fit. Yet the SAME BRAIN YOU ARE ASKING TO DO THIS ALREADY “KNOWS” SELF=FAT. You can’t ask your brain to change an association simply by deciding to. It’s been designed by evolution to make judgments about reality based on survival, and to hard wire those associations over time, to make the unconscious and automatic so as not to need to think about every basic assumption. Without that ability you would be like someone with no long-term memory unable to say “this was true yesterday so it must be true today”.
For example your caveman ancestor didn’t have to stop and think what should I do when that big furry thing with all the teeth comes running at me? Suddenly changing hardwired associations is not the best way to survive. Deciding not to run from a saber tooth lion but instead to hug it would probably not lead to a positive outcome (except for maybe the tiger).
Well the association that you have made from what your body is as hardwired in a your brain now as anything else you believe. You can’t just say stop believing that self=fat but you can teach your mind to make new meanings and associations with what self equals.
You can’t just suddenly extinguish a neural association but you can re-frame it. You can change it, tweak it, play with it. Self=“used to be fat”, self=“someone who’s changing”, or even better yet self=“a heroic figure making big changes and overcoming challenges”.
The reason that is better is because it is more emotionally charged, and the brain responds better to emotionally charged associations then logic, reason, and willpower combined. In fact logic and willpower is in and of itself almost useless in making lasting change in most people.
The mind does not run on logic, but we all certainly like to pretend it does. The fact of the matter is we base our decisions on emotion and use logic to justify those decisions afterward.
So how does that help the average person who has a challenge with weight loss?
The key to overcoming self sabotage with weight loss or with any major change is to change the brains neuro associations about who and what you are. You see its almost impossible for someone who truly thinks of themselves as a “fat person” to lose weight. The brain will not accept it and will in fact do thing to maintain what it perceives as real. That’s why you find yourself self sabotaging.
You begin to make progress and your brain gets the signal that’s something wrong, a basic assumption about life is being challenged. You’ve decided to lose weight but you haven’t taught the brain that there is a new meaning for self. So like an airplane on automatic pilot it keeps trying to get itself back to where it is programmed to be.
Until you change that programming the plane will not allow itself to head in a new direction. It will in fact “sabotage” any effort to do so.
So the question really isn’t “how do I lose weight?”. Instead it is actually “how do I change my brain to cause me to lose weight?”. And every client I’ve had has only made permanent changes after that question was answered.