In this article, the author reflects on their personal journey from being a skinny kid to a bodybuilder and how their mindset played a crucial role in achieving their goal. The author highlights the importance of beliefs and how they influence our emotions, motivation, and behavior. The article also distinguishes between dieting and eating management and how the former can lead to psychological problems with food, whereas the latter focuses on setting realistic goals and positive changes. The author argues that to achieve sustainable weight loss, it is crucial to cultivate positive beliefs about oneself and one’s ability to make healthy changes.
As a young kid, I decided I wanted to change something about myself. I didn’t like being thin. So I built a gym in my basement, and every time I cut a lawn, I used that money to buy more equipment. At first, I had no idea what I was doing, but I never gave up. It took seven years of training and eating right before I even looked like a bodybuilder. If someone had told me in the beginning that it would take that many years to reach that goal my response would have been, “really, you mean that I’m going to look like that in only seven years? Whohoo!” I would have been ecstatic and super motivated to do what it took, no matter how long it took. All I needed to know was that I would get there. If I told a dieter, “it’s going to take you two to three years before you look like that,” almost everyone would give up immediately. Why is it that one person is excited and motivated to hear it will take seven years, and another feels defeated and unmotivated to hear it will only take a few years?
There are two reasons why one is highly motivated, and the other isn’t. The first revolves around how our brains perceive the want to’s versus the have to’s. I never focused on the work it would take to get there. I only valued getting there and looking that way. It didn’t matter that I’d have to cook and carry my meals and lift weights five days a week. The outcome was all that mattered.
Dieters tend to focus on the work it will take to get to their goal. Like me, they have to cook and carry their food and exercise five days a week, but their brain gets stuck on how much work that will involve, and that’s a motivation killer. Work isn’t pleasurable, so when you see that a task will take a lot of work, it’s painful, and since we move away from pain, we’re not motivated. My focus wasn’t on the work but on the outcome or results, which is pleasurable. When something feels pleasurable, we move toward it. In other words, I saw what I had to do and wanted to do it. Others look at what they have to do, which feels like work, it’s a have to, not a want to, which is painful and causes them to resist changing.
Secondly, I deeply believed that if I ate and trained that way, I would look that way. It made sense that it would work, so I never questioned the process. I didn’t care how long that process would take; I only cared that I would one day look how I wanted. Belief is an acceptance or conviction that something is true or accurate, often without absolute proof or certainty. It can refer to a mental attitude or state of mind that involves confidence, trust, or faith in a particular idea, concept, or entity. Beliefs are influenced by our experiences, cultural traditions, education, and social norms. Beliefs can also play a significant role in shaping our behaviors, attitudes, and decision-making processes. I never questioned my belief, I just focused on the outcome.
Some dieters won’t be motivated because they don’t believe in the process. Instead, they doubt it because their past attempts at weight loss have ended so badly. The more they question the process, the more doubt they create. And they have every reason to doubt the process because most diets revolve around illogical advice that doesn’t feel right. They tell you to quit eating carbohydrates, to skip meals and do intermittent fasting, or take this drug called Ozempic, and many other damaging and irrational things. This crazy dieting advice creates more doubt which is destructive to trusting the process. And they should question that kind of advice because it often causes more harm than it does long-term weight loss.
Doubt is feeling uncertain or a lack of conviction about something, often accompanied by hesitation or indecision. It is a state of mind that arises when one is skeptical about the truth or validity of a particular claim, idea, or belief. Doubt is characterized by skepticism, suspicion, mistrust, and confusion. Most dieting advice lacks evidence, contains conflicting information, and the personal biases of its author. Regardless, doubt is a motivation stopper!
Our beliefs are critical to weight loss for several reasons. Firstly, how we think about ourselves and our abilities can shape our behaviors and actions. If you’ve been on many diets over the years and have yet to be successful, you will doubt any new approach that comes forward in the future, even sound ones. If we believe we can achieve our weight loss goals, we are more likely to take action and change our diet and lifestyle to reach those goals. Simply put, diets instill doubt, while sound, logical advice instills confidence.
In addition, our beliefs can also influence our emotions and motivations. For example, if we believe we are unworthy or unattractive because of our weight, we may experience negative emotions such as shame, guilt, or anxiety. These thoughts and feelings make sticking to a healthy diet and exercise routine more challenging. Therefore, it is essential to cultivate positive beliefs about ourselves and our ability to make healthy changes which is what eating management is all about, and dieting isn’t. Eating management teaches you to set realistic goals and focus on the positive changes you make rather than fixating on your weight and eating perfectly.
Dieting is a short-term approach to achieving a weight loss goal. It always involves strict rules around food choices and portion sizes, intending to create a calorie deficit that leads to weight loss and always leads to deprivation, guilt, and binge eating. And that’s where dieting creates additional psychological problems with food.
Eating management is a more holistic and realistic approach to managing one’s food intake, focusing on the outcomes like long-term health and well-being. Rather than restrictive rules around food, it involves developing a positive and flexible relationship with food based on mindfulness, self-awareness, and self-care. It also considers other factors impacting food choices, such as stress, emotions, social situations, and cultural or personal preferences. But the key here is that this approach is logical and sound, which makes it easier to believe in, and belief in the process is essential to be convicted to self-change.
If you like this kind of information be sure to watch the documentary called Beyond Weight Loss on Amazon Prime. It’s free to watch.