When you think about losing excess weight your mind can work against you. Whether it’s thoughts of all the times you’ve tried and failed, or perhaps you’ve succeeded and then put it all back on. You may think off all those delicious treats you’ll be missing – cakes, chocolate or pastries. Or you could imagine all the hard work it’s going to be to fit exercising into your busy life.
These thoughts, and many more, are obscuring the real challenge, your identity. Weight problems are compartmentalised so that you see the little details and hope to change those without changing how you think about yourself and the first step to doing this is to listen to the beliefs you have.
‘It runs in the family’
‘I just can’t resist chocolate’
‘It’s my age’
‘I have a slow metabolism’
‘I’m too busy to exercise’
These are just some of the reasons you may give for being overweight. If you stop to analyse them they are really only excuses you are using to allow you to continue to hold on to a particular identity you feel comfortable with. Change is seen as a stressful process. So how do we make change easier?
Instead of focusing on the result you want – that you look slimmer, or the actions you take – to eat less and exercise more, you must focus on becoming the sort of person who is slim.
Your identity is tied to the beliefs you have about yourself and those beliefs are built by experiences that confirm them. For instance, if you see yourself as intelligent it may be because you did well in school, found it easy to pass exams and were told by others that you were clever. So to see yourself as the sort of person who is slim you start by modelling a slim person and every small win begins to confirm that new identity.
Modelling entails taking on the beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviours of the type of person you want to identify with. So if you want to become a slim person you need to model a slim person, rather than an overweight person who has lost weight – a subtle but important difference. The trick is not to spend the rest of your life trying to be an overweight person who has lost weight, and so continually struggling to fight cravings or overeating, worrying about calories or fat content. Some people who have lost weight do become ‘slim people’ but many will always have a mindset which will keep them in that struggle.