Something has really stood out to me after nearly a decade of coaching people through weight loss struggles. People are waaaaayyy too hard on themselves.
They expect to plan out the perfect diet and exercise program and just go do it. And if they mess up, they wonder what’s wrong with themselves.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
Losing weight is a side effect of behavioral change – both with physical habits and mental habits (the way you think and the perspective you take).
These behaviors are skills. They can be learned. They can be improved upon. And most importantly, you aren’t going to get it perfect right from the start.
But that’s what people expect. Yet every other skill you’ve picked up over your lifetime has started off not going very well.
You fell off your bike 10 times before getting it right. You learned to read by sounding out one letter at a time.
Was it frustrating? Yes. Did you persist through that struggle? Yes. And then those skills/behaviors turned into habits, and now they “work” without you thinking about it.
We Treat Our Weight Loss Differently
When it comes to weight loss we expect to jump on a moving bike and start doing triple somersaults while smiling for an in-air selfie.
And when we don’t stick the landing we blame the bike and look for a new weight loss program that will work better.
Why do we treat our weight loss differently than every other new skill we’ve learned? Why do we give up at the first signs of a struggle? Why do we think intelligence has anything to do with adherence?
Behavioral Change Isn’t An On/Off Switch
Some people are naturals when it comes to picking up new skills. Most people aren’t. Change is hard. Frustrations and struggles are a natural part of lifestyle change.
What will help is a shift in your mindset – understanding that changing your habits isn’t an on/off switch. It’s more of a dimmer switch – a slow transition from one behavior to another.
You pinpoint a behavior you want to change and you work on that until it’s a habit. Most importantly, you see the inevitable struggles as a normal part of the change process, instead of running away from them.
Like learning to ride or bike or read, you practice those skills until you get better at them. Weight loss is no different.
Eating and exercise habits are skills. And like all skills, the more you practice them the better you get.
It takes time. So break out of the 30 day “quick start” or 12 week fat loss program mentality and start looking at this as a life-long journey.
Because it is. It never ends. You always learn something new. Breakthroughs happen all the time if you’re willing to take on your struggles.
That’s how change truly happens.