I received an email last week asking me to answer a common question: ‘I understand what you’ve said about choices and small changes, but I want a dramatic transformation with fast results, how do I get it?’ This is usually in the context of wanting to release a certain number of pounds or kilos quickly.
Is it possible? Yes, of course it is. Many will say it’s not, but it is. Is it sustainable? Not usually. I have talked about bad habits and negative cycles before, and losing a large amount of weight quickly can take you into a negative cycle very quickly.
I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m not saying don’t release excess weight. What I AM saying is, be careful in how you approach it. The key to weight loss, as with other health changes, is sustainability. Do you want to lose 5lbs now, but gain it back in a few weeks or months? Or do you want to release it and leave it there? If you want permanent change, you need to take lasting action, which means changing your mindset.
Our minds are complicated things. Your mind wants to keep you where you are comfortable. It will act according to your identity (which is what you have created and keep telling yourself you are), for example, if you have a constant running commentary in your mind that says ‘I’m overweight, I’m lazy,’ that is what your mind will actively work to maintain. Now if you start eating less but have the running commentary in your mind ‘I’m hungry, I want chocolate…just two more weeks and I can eat what I want,’ or something similar, that is what your mind will hold you to. You can make the decision to change instantly, but changing your habits and identity is something that takes a little more time.
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You have to develop the habit.
Your mind will resist it at times; it will deceive you at times, because it wants you comfortable and being true to who you are. When you have created your identity as someone who is overweight or hates exercise, that is who your mind will work to keep you being. Your mind works in support of you, always – think about when you lose your keys, or phone, or something…your subconscious mind actively works to find it until you have it back (it’s helpful like that). Now think about when you are telling yourself ‘yay, I lost five pounds,’ your subconscious mind doesn’t want you to be missing something, and we know when we have lost something, we need to find it again, so it actively works to get that five pounds back for you. Hmmm, not so helpful in that context. So, step one is to change your inner dialogue. STOP talking about ‘losing’ weight and talk about releasing it. When you release something, you are willingly letting it go, you don’t want it back and your subconscious mind understands that.
You need to build a support mechanism in your mind that will support you through not only being healthy in the long term but thoroughly enjoying it and having that be your identity. When something has become your identity, you have to do it, you don’t really have a choice. For example, you run when it’s snowing if that’s your identity, to run. You eat right even when you don’t feel like it because that’s your identity. So, you want to take the actions in a slow, deliberate, intelligent manner to develop those habits because that’s how you got your bad habits.
You didn’t start overeating by eating whole cakes at one time. You didn’t become a smoker by smoking a whole pack of cigarettes; you started small and did a little bit more and a little bit more and over time. You didn’t make any drastic changes, you did a little bit more and pretty soon the mind took it and you developed poor habits.
When we try and go from zero to one hundred in two minutes, and try to do a complete turn and change everything, the nervous system and unconscious mind doesn’t like that, it’s too shocking to our system and attaches pain to it.
You don’t have to be perfect – small steps lead to big change. YES you can take huge steps and make enormous changes, but your body and mind will fight it and it will become a constant battle. I don’t know about you, but I’ve battled my body and mind before by trying to tell it it doesn’t want certain things or it’s not good enough as it is, it doesn’t work and just leads to a devastating negative cycle.
Every day do a little bit more with love. Start seeing yourself as the version of yourself you want to be. So instead of having your inner voice bashing yourself for not working out today or eating too many calories today, run through the choices you made and steps you took that were positive and in line with your overall goal.
I know it sounds all new age and time consuming but it really isn’t when you develop the habit. We keep our minds negative places for too long, then we get upset and wonder why we live in these ruts and cycles of negative patterns and choices. We are setting ourselves up for that by constantly being negative.
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Lets quickly talk about CERTAINTY SEEKING
Looking for ‘is it working yet?’ Evaluating every choice and action because you seek certainty with everything. Waking up every day thinking ‘is it working?’ ‘how do I know it’s going to work?’ Is that you? If it is, you are making yourself the judge and jury of everything, without trusting anything unless you can see the results of it. Basically never really trusting anything because you haven’t seen the results of it. You’re holding onto the old, while trying to get the benefits of the new. Not liking the cycle you’re stuck in, so you get into a new cycle, then try and change it to the old cycle because it’s comfortable (read it again, trust me it makes sense). Trying to change the new thing to the old thing because it’s comfortable. People do this in relationships too (think about it), ‘I love you because you’re different, now can you be more like my old partner/husband/wife/friend, so I can be more comfortable?’
You NEED to be uncomfortable. That’s what change is about – you ALLOWING yourself to be uncomfortable. Success in life lives outside of the comfort zone. Where you’re comfortable, you’re not happy. Where you’re comfortable you’re not fulfilled, or satisfied with the life that you have. So get out of the comfort and get into the discomfort. Outside of your comfort zone are possibility and results. If it’s comfortable, get rid of it.
In saying that, let’s be clear – be intelligent and sensible about this. You want to build a new identity that involves healthier choices; starving yourself because it’s uncomfortable is NOT part of that, don’t be stupid about it. Be a little uncomfortable when you think about your life and habits that you want to change, when you’re thinking about how you can grow and take things to the next level. It is STILL about breaking patters – patterns of thinking, doing, being. What can you shift/move around in your environment to change some of those patterns? How can you do things differently to interrupt those rituals that really aren’t serving you at the highest level? How do you start expanding your scope of success and healthy lifestyle? How do you talk to people in your life to ask for support? How can you support other people make these changes? You may not be physically where you want to be yet, but you can help others in their mindset goals. When you help others, you help yourself dramatically. Recognise that your health is the foundation of everything you’re going to create and not only you, but everyone around you is going to benefit tremendously from you changing.
So the ultimate answer is yes, you can get fast and dramatic results, but you will only sustain it if you change your mindset – your mindset and attitude take time to change. If you want to drop ten pounds for an event then gain it back without a worry, then go ahead and do the crash diet, it will work, you’ll look good for that day/night and you’ll get to eat whatever you want afterwards which will help you gain the ten back. But if you want lasting results, you need lasting effort, which involves changing your mindset. It doesn’t take as long as you may think, but you have to get through the challenging times and believe you’re worth it. You are.
Health Coach & Nutritional Therapist
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