Is now the right time to lose weight?

Susan Birch Nutrition and Exercise Specialist

Unless you are one of the genetically gifted few, you've probably looked in the mirror at some stage and thought – yuck – far too many wobbly, sticky out bits – I need to lose some weight.  With summer here, the first foray into shorts and skirts can be a heart thumping moment.  When pale skin meets wobbly bits meets revealing in public.

But is it actually true – is losing weight necessary?  I am not going to discuss those unrealistic demands that have surrounded women’s body images for generations – promoted shamelessly by the nameless societal/media machine out there.  Instead, I am going to talk about what might be stopping you from achieving your goals.

In doing this I refer to the work of psychologist Andrew Bernstein and his programme Active Insight.  Check out his video below.

Andrew teaches an effective technique for helping identify the reality of any situation which I apply to the weight loss dilemma.

If you tell yourself “I should lose weight” Andrew suggests that you reverse this statement – “I should not lose weight’.  He adds two caveats – beginning with “in reality” and ending with “at this time”.

In reality, I should not lose weight at this time

Now we have a statement that reads “In reality, I should not lose weight at this time”.  This does not mean you should never lose weight – just not right now.  Sounds bizarre? I thought so too, but keep reading because this is a very effective technique for identifying the blocks you may have.

Now you have your reverse statement, your job is to go out and prove why this is true.  Below are some examples, but think deeply about your own situation and see if you can come up with your own proofs.

Here goes.

In reality, I should not lose weight at this time because...

  • I eat unhealthy foods and don’t want to give them up
  • I don’t have time or know how to cook healthy meals
  • I think healthy food is too expensive
  • I can’t maintain a healthy lifestyle for very long
  • I am really busy doing (?) and don’t have time right now
  • My friends/family tell me I am no fun when I try to be healthy
  • I am really quite happy with myself and how I look and feel
  • I think I need to lose weight so other people will like me
  • I don’t have the motivation/time to exercise
  • I don’t really need to lose weight, I just need to tone up
  • I am already fit and eat well, this is the weight I am supposed to be
  • I am unhappy because of (?) not because of my weight
  • Losing weight is not the same as being healthy, I should get healthy first

As you can see there may be lots of underlying reasons that sabotage our efforts.  You are very likely to have different things going on, these are just some ideas to get you started on the process.

There are a few other things to think about also.  Often it is only when we are motivated by someone else, such as joining a weight loss challenge or exercise group that we can make changes.  The problem is that as soon as we are left on our own again we default to our usual operating system.

Internal motivation

To lose weight, get fit, tone up or achieve any other goal we have in life, requires consistent and sustained effort over a long period of time. To find the energy and commitment to put in this effort requires that you are internally motivated, that you really deeply desire the goal you want to achieve. Without this burning desire, you will find it very difficult to overcome the obstacles that continuously get in the way. These obstacles will feel insurmountable and you will find yourself saying things like “when I have (?), I will get back to it.”

I am not suggesting that you should give up on your goals. What I am suggesting is that you take some time to really assess the truth of what gets in the way.

Once you have identified your blocks, then go and check out the truth of these. If you believe eating healthy food is too expensive, then go and check this out. If you are anxious that your relationships will be compromised then take some time to figure out why you feel this way or why what other people say is so important.

These reversals do not mean that you can never achieve your goals in the future. But they may help you identify why you are struggling with them in the here and now.  It is only when you understand the obstacles blocking the road ahead that you can remove them.

This little exercise will also help determine whether this is a goal you really want to achieve and whether you are prepared to make the sacrifices needed or is it just something you just dream about.

The focus on being a certain weight to feel happy, successful, loved and even healthy is often hiding deeper emotions that you may be reluctant to face up to, particularly around relationships and self-esteem.

For this reason, I encourage you to do this exercise on paper and keep digging until you reveal all the barriers to your goal. Once you have identified these clearly, the next step is to decide if you want to eliminate them and how to go about this.

Remember achieving any goal requires action, commitment, sacrificing some things you enjoy and overcoming setbacks.   This is particularly true of weight loss.

If you are not absolutely clear on your goal, why you want it, what difficulties you will have to overcome, and how you will overcome these, then it is really more a dream than a goal.

While dreams are great, (I think we should all have big dreams), they are substantially different from goals.  So if losing weight is a dream for you at this time, recognise this.  Allocate it to the “in reality, I should not lose weight at this time” basket and get on doing things you love in life, that make a difference and that you are fully committed to.

You can come back to losing weight when the time is right and you are able to overcome all the obstacles to achieving this goal for the long-term.

Connect with Susan

Susan Birch is an expert in the fields of functional diagnostic nutrition and functional exercise and she works with clients, who've struggled to find solutions to their health challenges, feel energised and vital again.

What makes Susan different is that creates a customised plan for each individual based on unique tests and analysis.

To book in a time for an introductory one on one consultation, contact Susan here

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