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What Beliefs Do You Have About Weight Loss (or Any Other Goal?)

failure negative thoughts numbing overeating self-care self-compassion toxic positivity Oct 16, 2021
Woman doing Yoga on the Beach by Renata Hille of Pixabay
When clients want to work on losing weight, we start with thoughts and beliefs (a belief is a thought that you have over and over again until you believe that it is true). This can be frustrating, because we want to LOSE WEIGHT NOW. But what people tell me is about that one time that they lost the weight, and before they knew it, it was back. And that’s my story too. I’d lose the weight, and gain it back.
 
Here’s a list of beliefs that I held about my body:
 
Losing weight is hard
 
Losing weight takes sacrifice
 
I always give up food that I like when I am losing weight
 
I should always want to be smaller
 
If I mess up, I have to start all over again
 
I never keep the weight off
 
I’ll be happy when I am skinny
 
Skinny people don’t have to worry about what they eat
 
I’m not a naturally skinny person
 
The problem is that we have always focused on actions. We make a plan, follow this diet/app/book, count the things, cut out that stuff, exercise this amount. For many doctors, we get real mean about it too. I must start on Monday, otherwise it’s no good. I have to not eat any white carbs all week or else I suck. I blew it, so have to start again…next week. We don’t take into account that our feelings drive our actions, and that our thoughts create our feelings. So we make an action plan, and then when other feelings come up (stress, anxiety, frustration, exhaustion, self-doubt), we don’t follow our plan because those feelings don’t lead to helpful actions; they might lead to binging, overeating, overdrinking, zoning out, etc, but they don’t lead us to take the actions that we planned. And then we don’t get to goal. And then we beat ourselves up about it, give up, and mentally record it as one more failure.
 
[Deep sigh here]
 
That’s why we start with thoughts and beliefs. What’s the current state of thoughts flowing through your brain on autopilot? What emotions are they leading too? How is that influencing your actions? Knowing this, knowing where you are starting, is key to making a change. If I am wandering around thinking that my life is automatically better if I am thinner, and then I am gritting my teeth to get thinner, and (usually) not getting the results I want, I’m creating more yuck. Without awareness of what my brain is serving up though, I can’t work on changing my thoughts and beliefs about my body, my health, my self-care. I can create an action plan that I probably won’t stick too, and then fall right back into my old patterns, driven by my automatic thinking.
 
When we can start to change our thoughts, and change our beliefs, we can make lasting progress. We can identify more helpful thoughts to practice thinking, which can start to change our beliefs. We can look at old beliefs and decide if we want to keep them. We can break down big goals (lose 50#, start training for a marathon) into smaller daily steps, and if we don’t succeed with those small steps we can look at it in the big picture, not as a sign that it’s all over. It’s not feel good mantras and toxic positivity. It’s intentional change, flexible thinking, letting go of rigid rules and perfectionism and aiming for B- work that moves you towards your goal. It’s knowing that you are going to mess up sometimes, and that you can learn from mistakes, rather than adding them to the shame-pile of failures, and having your own back.
 
I invite you to consider what you are believing about yourself, your weight, your body, your eating habits. And what do you want to believe? Do you want to believe that skinny = happy? And that not skinny = not happy? Do you want to derive all of your pleasure/relief of bad emotions from food? My guess is not. And I’m not here to say that there is one ideal. But my guess is that if you are still reading this, that you have tried and failed at healthier eating habits or some other goal, and maybe it’s time for a new approach. Maybe it’s time to change your mind.

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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