We cannot change without engaging. Change is an active process.
The process does take the prior steps we discussed:
That feeling that change must happen because we are not happy with the status quo
Experiencing a defining moment that influences our perspective on life and our desire to change
However, even with these prior events, for change to truly take place, we must be willing.
What does willingness to change require?
1. We must first believe that change is possible.
This may sound like a no-brainer. However, how many times have you wanted something badly but felt deep down it just was not ever going to be possible, so you gave up hope?
That belief may have been created by someone else.
A parent, grandparent, other relatives, loved ones, or someone close to you who said "you can't do that" or "you are just big boned" or "everyone in your family is just big". They may have created a mental anchor that formed an unverified belief that you subconsciously have accepted and never challenged.
Perhaps that belief is founded on past experiences and failures. You have tried change before and were not successful. So, you have told yourself you are not capable. Which leads me to the second requirement...
2. We must believe we are capable of change.
Our past experiences and those mental anchors set by authority figures definitely impact our view on what we are capable of. Most of the time, these views go unchallenged because they have existed for so long.
How do we change this? Get that notebook back out! Yes, we are going to journal again:)
Start a list of reasons why you think you cannot lose weight, adopt the healthy behaviors you want to incorporate in your life, or eat the foods you want to eat.
Next to each reason why (you can't do it), list the explanations why that reason is so.
"I have tried losing weight many times in the past and have never been successful"
I tried crash diets that I could not stick with
I starved myself in an effort to lose weight
I set really high expectations on what I should lose in a short period of time and then became disappointed
I really did not know what to do to effectively lose weight and keep it off
That list could go on and on. The point is, not one of those "why's" is stopping you now!
This blog post is not capable of covering each and every possible reason why we believe we cannot change. But, I hope it can give you the tools to find your personal reasons and address them.
3. We must want the outcome of change more than our current situation.
It is easy to get comfy and stay where we are. The hard part is stepping out of our comfort zone and making changes in our everyday life. This takes effort and that effort is sparked by unhappiness with the status quo.
This step is usually defined with that feeling we experience or the defining moment in our lives that spur us to seek change.
How do we avoid failure in this crucial step to change?
Eliminate self doubt. Make a list of what you feel is preventing you from change and tackle the reasons why these factors are standing in your way. You will be surprised to find most are not so formidable.
Examine prior failures. Why did we fail at achieving our weight goals in the past? Most of the time, it was not a personal flaw but many factors that made the goal impossible to achieve. What is different now?
Stop setting yourself up to fail. Elevated expectations always lead to failed accomplishments. Use SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound. It is not practical to expect a 50 pound weight loss in 3 months. Pardon the pun, but stop biting off more than you can chew!
Do not compare yourself to others. We are all in different chapters of life and weight loss journeys. In addition, we all have different body types, different genetics, different health histories, and environments in which we live. Comparing our progress to another is the most unreasonable thing we do to ourselves.
Elevated expectations/lack of self love. This is not always our fault. Society has taught us to want a body that is not natural. Our idea of "normal" is distorted. This misrepresentation of a healthy body can make us feel inadequate. Reexamine your goals, what you want to achieve, and what is most reasonable for you. Most importantly, love your body. We are all different and the differences are what make us beautiful and unique. There is no cookie cutter shape for every body. Start with your goals in losing weight. For most, it is not about looking like a model in a magazine. It is about overall health, being active and feeling good, longevity, and quality of life.
Most of my patients are surprised and happy to learn it takes very modest amounts of weight lost to achieve their goals.
Most of us have never been told that we need only lose 5-10% of our body weight to lower our blood pressure, blood sugar, or reduce joint pain.
Knowing that small achievements can reap big rewards enhances our willingness to change.
And, those small achievements can be reached with small changes practiced consistently.
Self change is a personal belief that we are capable of doing something in order to achieve a desired outcome. It is the confidence that we can control our personal motivation, behavior, and environment (Bandura, 1977).
It all starts in our head.
When we address those barriers holding us back, we can start to move toward change.
I believe in you!