Mark Twain reputedly said “Quitting smoking is easy, I’ve done it hundreds of times.”
That same quote applies with the same sad truthfulness to the tens of millions of people who have experienced the enormous feelings of pride and victory that accompany large weight loss only to later experience the dreadful feelings of embarrassment and self-disgust when that weight mysteriously returns and rewards itself with a few additional pounds.
I have a few friends who work in the weight loss industry and over coffee a few weeks ago the discussion came up about how difficult it is for so many people to sustain weight loss.
We all agreed on a few points, mainly being; 1) people who wish to lose weight know how to do so – there is no need to dash off to Chapters in search of the latest weight-loss Bible – they know what they need to do to lose weight, they are just not doing it, and 2) losing weight is easy in the sense that for the first while a person is on a new weight-loss program there is often a strong sense of excitement and motivation as they focus on the scale and on consuming foods that will help in seeing that number go down.
The challenge my friends all agreed with is that almost all the weight loss programs out there focus and on the wrong end of the weight loss equation.
They focus purely on behaviour, i.e. eat this and only this at these times and that number on the scale will head south.
The challenge with this message, as witnessed by the millions referred to above who have repeatedly regained the lost weight, is that in the long term it is extremely difficult to sustain new behaviour without first addressing the underlying beliefs we have that lead to that behaviour.
There is a very clear equation that equals weight-loss and it starts with what we uniquely and individually believe to be true.
As we have so often discussed, everything we believe to be true is true – until it isn’t. And if we wish to achieve and sustain long-term weight loss we need to start by changing what we believe to be true, not about the process of losing weight but, about ourselves.
The moment we change what we believe to be true we also begin to make different choices and those different choices lead to behaviours which, when repeated, lead to new habits.
And, as we have also frequently discussed, it is our habits – those rituals that we perform repeatedly – that produce almost all of the results in our lives.
We need also remember that old habits don’t – as we have been told – die hard. There is a compelling argument to be made for old habits never dying but rather lingering in the deepest recesses of our minds waiting for the right opportunity to creep back in and create havoc.
So once we begin the process of creating the new equation by installing new beliefs, we need also remember that to lose and sustain weight loss we are in a battle for our lives.
This battle is not one of life or death but rather one of life or life.
The question, always, is which life.
Are we going to fight for the life we have i.e., our present weight, or the life we want, i.e. the sustained weight loss and all the benefits attached associated with it?
This is not a battle between two equal sides. It is enormously lop-sided and the life we already have has a clear advantage.
For years and years we have been training the life we have and have carved out a finely tuned machine that has brilliantly delivered to you this life to us.
So if we are truly serious about getting the life we want we need to be absolutely resolute in our commitment to winning.
There cannot be any other options.
This is a long-term and hard fought battle and to see it through any other lens is a naivety that almost ensures those feelings of self-disgust and embarrassment that accompany regained weight we mentioned in the opening paragraphs.
Results in our lives come from the repeated choices we make. We choose every behaviour and in so doing we also choose its consequence. Therefore there is a vitally important question we need ask ourselves when faced with the food choices that confront all those attempting to lose weight and those wishing to keep it off.
The question to be asked, before the mouth opens wide enough to accept the first morsel is, “What do I want more? Do I want to chocolate cake in front of me or do I want to win this battle? Which do I want more: the life I have or the life I want?
The challenge is, of course, compounded by the fact that the chocolate cake is in front of us and very present in the moment.
The life we want is in the future and hasn’t arrived yet. In this moment our success in sustaining weight loss comes down to nothing more than a commitment to delay gratification – to forgo instant gratification – in order to enjoy a much bigger prize in the future.
One other thing we have discussed many times is that we only ever do one thing – we always and only do what is important in the moment. By remembering to ask ourselves the question – which life do I want more? – we create the opportunity of saying “no” to the chocolate cake and “yes” to a healthier, happier tomorrow.
Choice is always involved in the battle for the life we want.
To win the battle we must focus on the old adage that to the victor go the spoils.
And the only thing better than the delectable taste of chocolate cake is the unforgettable taste of victory.
Till we read again.