I came across a really interesting piece in the paper this morning which told of a woman who lost 230lbs in just 14 months and has maintained her weight loss for the last 6 months. She was morbidly obese and her health was suffering but she was inspired to change her lifestyle when she realised she was just too heavy for her scale. She shares her story here:
Basically she reached a tipping point – the psychological pain of the weight that she was carrying far outweighed the pleasure that she got from over eating. In many instances it’s not what we do that will enable us to shed unwanted pounds, it’s how we think and this is a case in point. Noelle reached the conclusion that the negative things in her life that resulted from her obesity, such as not being able to play with her children, were enough motivation for her to turn her life around.
It’s pretty much the pleasure/pain principal; Noelle’s mental and emotional pain was strong enough for her to make a big change in her life. We could also argue that the desire for pleasure i.e. the thought of being able to be physically active with her children was also a big motivator for her. This process is how we make many of the decisions in our lives; a desire to do something is often not enough, it’s the difference between wanting to do something and needing to do it.
For example, let’s imagine that you really hate going to the dentist, all the while that your teeth are getting more and more yellow and beginning to decay, as long as you feel no pain, you’ll avoid going to the dentist. You want to be able to go because your smile is being ruined and you’ve noticed that the people close to you move away slightly when you breathe on them BUT your fear is sufficient that you’ll still resist going. However, if years of neglect means that you end up with chipped and cracked teeth and a sneaky little bacteria creeps in a gives you an abscess you will start to feel pain. You might put up with it for a few days because you still have that long held fear of dentists but, at some point, the pain will become so bad that it will overcome your fear and you will face your fear.
The physical act of losing weight is not rocket science – you eat less (ingest fewer calories) and you exercise more. You can try any weight loss plan that you like but that is at the root of all of them. What is more difficult is the psychological aspect and that is what stops many people from starting a healthy eating plan or makes them give up half way through. What we really need is something to attach to the thought of losing weight that will either give us a huge amount of pain or a huge amount of pleasure:
- Obesity is thought to have contributed to more than 4 million deaths worldwide; imagine having to explain to your children that you won’t be with them as they grow up because you heart cannot cope with the stress of carrying around all the extra weight that you’re carrying
- Imagine the pride and delight on your children’s faces as you stand next to them on their wedding day a picture of health and vitality because, a few years previously, you decided that you wanted to change YOUR life.
- Imagine, if your one dream is to see the world before you die, that you are prevented from air travel because your body has simply grown too big to fit into the seats on an aeroplance
- Imagine yourself, free and healthy, enjoying all the sights and sounds of the place that you’ve wanted to visit your entire life, the place you dreamed of visiting as a child.
- Imagine the utter humiliation of being told, in front of a shop full of people, that the dress you’ve saved up to buy for months and months, just doesn’t come in a size that big
- Imagine the pleasure you’ll feel when you hand over your hard earned cash for the dress that you’ve so admired that looks absolutely beautiful on you and fits just perfectly.
All of these are just examples, we are all motivated by different things after all, but, if you do want to lose weight and feel healthier and happier make it something that you really, really need and not just something that you want. The negatives that I’ve given here might seem harsh and even cruel but, if we want to make an enormous change in our lives that’s what we need to do. The thought of either agony or ecstasy are extremely powerful motivators, ‘I’d really like to….” just doesn’t quite cut it unfortunately.