Successfully losing weight is a big deal – no pun intended.
Changing your lifestyle patterns is tantamount to changing your religion. There is not a single stitch in the fabric of your life that will not be effected by losing a significant amount of weight. The way you think and feel about yourself, the way others respond to you and the choices that are available to you are now all different. Therefore, developing the skills to cope with all of this is no easy matter. You need to think about these issues on this level in order to succeed.
Let’s begin with the following assumptions.
1) You are an intelligent individual who has acquired the nutritional information you need to make quality food choices without going on a diet. You now understand how to eat better and eat less.
2) You have successfully translated this knowledge into behavior and your body is now slowly getting lean.
3) You have integrated an exercise program into your life.
4) You feel better about yourself.
As everyone already knows, beginnings tend to go well. There’s excitement, energy, commitment and all the other good things that go along with “newness.” But. as we all know, “newness” has the shelf life of a shooting star. It’s bright, fun, fast and over. And only when it’s over do we get down to the single most important concept in life – maintenance. Simply put, maintenance is the following self statement:: “I am going to continue doing what I am already doing.” It sounds so simple yet it’s difficult to master. And weight management is the poster child for maintenance failure.
Why do people have such a difficult time?
Why do people
“pssst, psst, HEY ARE YOU LISTENING.”
Lloyd: “Huh, what’s happening in my head? Who are you?”
Gen. UC – “I’m the general unconscious.”
Lloyd: “The what?”
Gen. UC – “ I’m your general unconscious. You’re a psychologist, I figured you would get it immediately.”
Lloyd: “I‘m a bit slow today.” “ Gen. UC – “Hopefully, you’ll be able to keep up with me. I think quickly, I have to keep track of a lot of information down where I live. I must say, it’s a bit different up here on the conscious level.”
Lloyd – “This might sound like a really dumb question but if you’re the unconscious, by definition, you’re not accessible.. So what’s up?”
Gen. UC – “You might not believe this but a very tiny worm hole opened in your brain which allowed me to slip through, At any moment I might disappear and go underground again, so while I’m here you can take advantage of my brilliance!”
Lloyd – “OK, shed some light on weight problems.”
Gen. UC – “This is relatively easy to explain. You see, the mind is wired for journeys. By that I mean everything is structured as a story that involves getting from one place to another both literally and figuratively. And successful stories, variations on the Myth of the Hero made famous by Joseph Campbell, are the ones we enjoy the most. So losing weight is a journey that we follow by numbers, literally, Once achieved, once we get to that magic number of pounds that reflects success, we’re there. But where to we go if we’re already there…..Get It?”
Lloyd – “So what you’re saying is once the journey is over, there’s no place to go now and people get confused as to how to stay there.”
Gen. UC- “Correctomundo. So the trick is to create a shift so the focus of attention is on the behaviors that got you there instead of pounds lost .You can still use numbers like number of workouts to be completed, calories consumed, miles walked, etc., and have those activities reflect the week’s “journey”, so there is always a place to get to. This is not an easy task. People tend to get lazy and undisciplined. The concept of having to do something forever is a difficult one to accept, but it’s the reality.”
Lloyd – “Any tips on how to do this?”
Gen UC – “Yea, anxiety and mild OCD. A little bit of both are great ways to keep you focused. Haven’t you ever noticed I use these with you?”
Lloyd – “I figured you had something to do with it.”
Gen UC- “Whenever you do something stupid, I raise your anxiety just a bit so you remember those 30 lbs you use to have years ago. I even have you “see” what your old body looks like from time to time to really get your attention. And that always “trips” your OCD mechanism that insures you will then do all the right things. Being mildly obsessive about health related issues is a good thing, regardless of what most mental health professionals will tell you.”
Lloyd – “Any other tips?”
Gen UC – Yes, but this one is more difficult to deal with. It has to do with conditioning. Like everything else, your body has a certain set of feelings attached to it. So, if you were once thin, then all the associations to that body will subtly make there way into your experience when you are thin again, whether you are aware of it or not. Part of my job as the unconscious is to remind you of stuff. So if there were negative associations to being thin( e.g. low self esteem, depression, drug problems, sexual promiscuity, etc.) then you are going to feel those feelings again as your past “collides” with your present in your body. If those feelings are strong enough, they can sabotage your weight program. That’s when the conscious mind has to help out a bit and keep track of what’s happening so you can learn whatever skills you need to in order to cope with those historical factors.
Lloyd – “This sounds like it occurs more frequently than people realize.”
Gen UC – “It does.”
Lloyd – “Anything else?”
Gen UC – “One more thing. There’s a variation on this “difficult feeling” theme. If a spouse who needs to lose weight does so, it will trigger anxiety in the other spouse. This kind of insecurity can sometimes lead to sutble forms of sabatoge occuring. Perhaps we can expand on this at a later time. Sabatoge is not limited to married people. Singles can mess up there life just as easily when it becomes more difficult dealing with lots of attention. Life is complicated down here in the unconscious, but I hope I shed a bit of light on all on this for you.
Uh, oh, the worm hole is opening. Gotta go. See you next time.”
I hope my general unconscious has stimulated both your unconcious and conscious minds so as you can cope with any issue or obstacle that may stand in your way to successfully transforming your body. And I have a hunch the General Unconscious will make a few more appearances in my articles.