The most important change to make to lose weight
“The elephant in a circus has been conditioned to be lead by a thin rope around the arena when they could easily tear down the tent. Why?”
-inspired by Tony Robbins
We are the only species that can make the decision as to our identity, and in the case above, an elephant has been conditioned since they were little to comply even though with their size and strength, they can easily tear down the tent. However, in humans, because we are the only ones to understand the unconscious and conscious mind, we can also have a lot of ‘stuff’ in our way. Different outcomes means different thought processes, habits, all requiring our mind AND body to undergo rewiring. As soon as you understand these reasons for holding you back, your conscious brain will start forming new connections with your unconscious brain to heighten awareness and shift what you’ve been doing.
Losing weight is just that- our body has compensated on some level for so long with whatever habits we’ve lived by, stuff we’ve been told, that it’s a common misconception that we’ll change things for a little bit because we’re told to and then go back to what was. Why? Were results not fast enough? Was change difficult (and hell yes it can be!)? Or too easy/boring/exhausting? Parties coming up like holidays/birthdays and you don’t want to feel like an outcast? Not finding time to meal prep/go to the gym? All of these are incredibly common reasons that arise when we want to lose weight, and I hear it quite a bit from patients! Following logic of changing how we got here, yields different results.
Begin thinking about why you want this- from not liking how you look naked, to knowing like you know you can look and feel so much better than right now, to be active and travel- whatever is your strongest motivating force (i.e. intrinsic motivation). The amygdala (structure within our brain), which processes emotion, needs 10 milliseconds of exposure to a fearful incident/facial expression, and 10-30 milliseconds to process it. At about 400 milliseconds its permanent. However, our amygdala can get overloaded regularly through our unconscious mind that’s always processing fear and the ‘what if’s’ (which can be a lot of memories throughout our life!) where we can find ourselves exhausted out of proportion to tasks completed that day. Synonymous to leaving the lights on in a car (fear, stress) that drains the battery (amygdala).*
Any sort of change to our regular routine, thought process, lifestyle, freaks the heck out of our amygdala- who naturally defaults to fear (a very overwhelming feeling, even in small amounts). So call it out. What’s fear? The example in the book below* questions if you would cross a raging river. What if it was to save your child/best friend/spouse/pet? Same scenario, probably different answer. This is what separates us as a species, the ability to choose.
It’s the change to your mind- and here’s how you can adjust your fear/courage response to help those pounds melt off:
Visualize- The most important one of all. What would you look like if you lost weight? What would you have to do now to get there? And visualize for a few minutes a day to ensure those new connections are able to rewire to your favor.
Is it really that scary?- Like the river analogy, when put in a different context, is it? Actually to some extent yes, because really healthful habits like eating half your plate of vegetables, choosing your protein and then a healthy fat (i.e. avocado) for meals may invoke uninvited input from others, and boost confidence perhaps in a way that feels new. Which means our amygdala freaks out because confidence is balancing out the loud volume of fear. Acknowledge it, take some deep breaths, and just keep eating your veggies.
It can change your life. Literally.- When we make new connections in our brain, it means we are changing how our body functions, and taking responsibility for our outcome, which can be really empowering, exhilarating, and once again, it’s not the norm so that fear volume rises. As we adapt new habits, our social circles and hobbies may change too, and that can be uncomfortable. Perhaps instead of feeling like an outsider and eating that piece of broccoli is a sacrifice/punishment, consider how you can include others in your success.
Get your hormones checked!- Haha, of course I’m going to throw this in there! Hormones like testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol can impact the level of anxiety we feel and how we respond to fear, enforcing the mind-body connection. And our fat cells mess with all these signals too.
(*Life Unlocked, by Dr. Srinivasan Pillay, MD)
We really are complex beings, and need to honor ourselves for all we can accomplish, and even at our maximum, we are only at a fraction of our capacity. When we’re at that place of not being able to live a certain way any longer, then fortunately (even if fear says differently), we can change. We can change our DNA, the way our cells communicate, and ultimately, our body. But it’s going to take work, time, and patience. If you’d like to explore how this pertains to you and your story, let’s chat more HERE!