Thank you Nick and Jean Luc!!!. I’m really excited to be able to blog on your site!!! Your journeys have been inspiring to me from the first time I heard your stories. And the similarities to my journey have been really validating for me.
For those that don’t know me, my name is Bill, and I consider myself a food addict. I joined WW in Sept 2018 and weighed in at 361 lbs. I had just been diagnosed with diabetes and along with a number of other health complications it had become clear that after 20 years of obesity I wasn’t getting away with that lifestyle anymore. Since then I’ve lost over 155 lbs and kept it off through the pandemic. As part of my journey, I started using the WW social media platform (Connect) to journal what I’ve been learning about myself and how to finally achieve my health goals. And the response I’ve received has been enthusiastic (and inspiring!) as I get to see these thoughts help others discover mindsets that improve progress towards their health goals.
It’s important to point out that in real life I work in finance, so I’m not a life coach, nutritionist, personal trainer, psychologist, or addiction counsellor. I have no formal training in any of these fields. Although I’d argue that having been overweight for 30 years and obese for 20, I have a perspective on trying to get healthy that doctors and lifelong athletes don’t have.
I’ll post every week or two on Thursdays. About all kinds of topics related to living a healthier lifestyle, but mostly about the battle that goes on between our ears.
See, unlike other goals (learning a language, a new sport, a new hobby) there is so much emotion that clouds and complicates trying to live healthier. Our weight, our use of food, and our emotions have usually been co-mingled over years so that that pinpointing how to “fix us” feels like shooting in the dark.
We turn to food to celebrate, to show love, to medicate during stress and difficult times, we organize holidays around it, vacations around it, or just as a companion watching a movie. Food has intimately been a part of all of it and takes on what feels like a close personal relationship role in our lives. Food feels like it has always there for us. But like all ultimately toxic relationships, what feels so incredible in the moment actually spirals our lives deeper and deeper into a place where we don’t feel good enough or strong enough to improve our lives. And even if we temporarily have the motivation to improve our health, it’s not long before that seductive call of indulgent food pulls us back to places we don’t want to be.
What I write about isn’t unique or groundbreaking (in my opinion). I’m going to discuss concepts that aren’t new to you. But if I have a superpower, it’s stripping away all the emotion and frustration we’ve all experienced and pointing out the simple things we don’t see or haven’t seen because of all the noise in our heads.
I’m really looking forward to sharing my thoughts and discussing your reactions to them. I wanted to share an outline of the overall mindset structure that has been important to me losing 155 lbs and keeping it off for almost 2 years. I’ll dive deeper into all these ideas (and way more) but this will give you something to chew on until next Thursday!!!
Figuring Out Your Problem
You don’t have a weight problem. So much of what causes people to fail is the frustration of losing weight . We focus SO INTENSELY on the scale. Scale goes down, we’ve done good. Scale goes up, something’s obviously wrong, or we’re convincing ourselves to not get frustrated. Truth is weight is an “outcome”, not THE problem. There’s nothing wrong with setting a goal for a better outcome, but when you focus on your weight as the “problem”, then you end up misusing tools and techniques that make the journey harder, slower, and 10x more frustrating than it needs to be. At 361 lbs I didn’t have a weight problem. My REAL problem was I had deeply ingrained habits of abusing and misusing indulgent food (I don’t “stress binge” broccoli 😆😆!!!!). So if habitual abuse of food is my problem, how is that solved by setting a goal of losing 10 lbs by July? Figure out your REAL problem, and set goals specifically around changing/challenging that problem. The “outcome” (your weight) will take care of itself.
The Emotional Journey - Accept Your Truth
Every system of wellness or weight loss has an element selling the “easy-ness” of it in order to get people to start. Getting people to start is a noble pursuit that I’m not here to discourage. But there is a next step that is often not discussed because it’s uncomfortable. I wasted 30 years trying to lose weight “how I wanted to” despite NO EVIDENCE that how I “wanted to”, worked for me. And by “worked for me” I mean gave me results I could sustain long term. I’ve never been able to do that. Deep down I knew there were things I couldn’t continue to do and be successful. I lived for decades avoiding hard truths about myself I found painful to face. Once I was honest, once I accepted my truth (I’m a food addict, normal rules of moderation and sustainability need to be tweaked for me), my life improved quickly.
Uncomfortable fact: losing weight is not the same thing as building a healthy habit. Until this journey, I never set goals to build habits. I just tried to lose weight. We think it’s the same thing right?? It’s why the weight comes back (and brings friends.....). Ask anyone who’s lost big weight and kept it off (Nick and Jean Luc as an example!!!). “Eating the apple” is not the point. WHY you’re eating the apple matters. I eat the apple on a Friday night because I used to see Friday nights as my “free-for-all eating extravaganza”!!!!!! That was my habit. Now I’m trying to train a new habit of getting full on healthy food on Friday nights. Because ultimately it feels good to be healthy but that “good” feeling doesn’t happen on Friday night. So I eat the apple not to lose weight, but because it removes hunger and makes the rest of my life better than I dreamed it could be. We all set weightloss goals, we all do things to lose weight, the trick for me was setting proportionally more goals that were focused on breaking habits that have always held me back. Losing weight and building habits are not the same thing, I think it’s a mistake to consider them interchangeable.
Living Outside Your Comfort Zone
Because of my complicated and messed up relationship with food, I had to change things that at best felt uncomfortable to change, and at worst I absolutely didn’t want to change at all. It’s funny to look back and realize that at 361 lbs I was sure I knew how to get healthy!!!!. The fact that I was 361 lbs and unable to get healthy SHOULD HAVE MADE IT CLEAR that my “how” didn’t work. You can be forgiven for thinking the same thing. We’re constantly told to “trust our instincts” and “no one know what we need better than ourselves”..........well..(uncomfortable silence...)....I don’t think that’s true when it comes to achieving health goals. From talking to people who have lost and kept off big weight one of the universal characteristics they share is how they thought they’d achieve their goals and how they ultimately DID achieve their goals. Those two realities look VASTLY different for most people with big mountains to climb. We all tend to overvalue our previous experience, especially when that previous experience didn’t result in the outcome we wanted. My “previous experience” got me to 361 lbs and unable to sustain any meaningful health milestones. Because my “how” was mainly organized around my comfort. Everything I’ve read or researched since that point has led to a near universal concept promoted by people who have achieved great things: success is an uncomfortable procedure. My world changed when I moved “comfort” farther down my list of priorities.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting to know all of you a lot better.
Talk next week,