Have you hit a plateau in working toward your weight loss goal? Often times, even with great intentions, we hit a wall in our progress – whether it be weight loss, self-improvement, or some other important change we are trying to make. Perhaps you’re following your workout regimen, but noticed you can’t seem to stick to the diet changes. Or vice versa. And you can’t figure out why! “If this is so important to me, why can’t I make it stick?” I hear so often. So let’s say losing weight has been your goal for some time now. You have a number of pounds in mind you want to lose, or a certain feeling you’re going for when doing every day things like climbing the stairs or chasing after your kids. Consider these two possibilities:
1) If eating certain nutritious foods or avoiding other unhealthy options is your challenge, but losing weight is your goal, what thoughts, emotions, sensations or urges are you willing to make room for in service of this goal? Really think about it. I’ll use myself as an example. I know that I will never stop craving ice cream, it is a huge vice of mine and I’ll go out of my way to eat good ice cream. If I take the approach that I need to stop craving ice cream in order to stop eating it, where does that leave me? Stuck in a trap I’ve created for myself. If I tell myself “when I have the urge/craving to eat ice cream, I’ll just ignore it/tell it to shut up/fight it, etc.,” I have to put a lot of energy into this and grit my teeth and bear it, waiting for the craving to pass (but the more I think about not wanting it, the more I want it!). Alternatively, I could ask myself what thoughts are going to come up when I want ice cream? What emotions am I having OR wanting to not have when I want to eat ice cream? Where in my body do I experience this urge/craving? By answering these questions, I now know what my experience sounds like and feels like, both on the emotional and body-sensation level. Now the question is – am I willing to have these experiences, these thoughts and feelings, in service of my goal to lose weight, be healthy, etc.?
2) The second thing to consider, as ridiculous as this may sound, is self-sabotage. How often do you do something to prove to yourself your worst fears are true? Do you find yourself acting a certain way in groups of friends, only to experience rejection, and then feel justified in saying to yourself “See, I knew I would always be rejected”? It’s not as outrageous as it sounds, we do this all the time. In regards to weight loss, how do you set yourself up for self-sabotage? What efforts have you gone to (or not gone to) to show yourself you are in capable of losing the weight you want? Are there fears surrounding success?
Perhaps these two concepts do not describe you or your situation. But if they do, take some time to answer these questions thoughtfully for yourself. As a practitioner of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, I help clients identify those painful or unhelpful thoughts, develop tools to create space for those unwanted emotions and return to living a life based on their values and what truly matters most to them. If you like what you’ve read here and want to learn more, please visit my website, akashacounseling.com or reach out to schedule an appointment!
All my best,
Ariel Friese, MC, LPC