When You Are In Doubt About Your Own Weight Loss Ability
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
For the last six and a half years, if I found myself straying, or feeling unmotivated to eat well or work-out, I had the ability to say to myself "I KNOW unequivocally that this is only a temporary thing and that tomorrow is another day." Or I could say "Yes, it looks like I'm up 5 or 10 lbs, or I feel my jeans getting tight - but I'm NOT WORRIED." In fact, even as I type those two statements, the amount of confidence that I have in myself to manage those situations is unprecedented for me, both in other areas of my life and in terms of my overall history. In fact, I found myself startled that I wanted to add CAPS, bold, underline and red to certain words to truly emphasize how much I believe in my own ability to firmly manage my weight in the wake of a slip-up. On this area of my life, I know that everything will be OK. It is an odd sensation to have, to be honest. It is not that I don't worry about my weight, and I am concerned that I may put it back on. But somehow the anxiety and thoughts are much more manageable than I would expect them to be.
As I went through my cravings and cheats last week, I experienced the strongest doubt I had in myself in the last six and a half years, and it was truly scary. As I experienced that fear, I had an image of people who I have met and counselled and had a strong moment of empathy. For those who do not have the confidence to manage their weight after a setback, I felt a sense of fear for being out of control, and a sense of not really knowing why there is not stronger control. Oddly what comes to mind is the sense of rigidity versus flexibility. Other concepts that I am thinking of are forgiveness, and the part of the Serenity Prayer that indicates discusses acceptance of things beyond our control.
In other words, I am someone that will mess-up. I am someone that will have bad days. I am someone that stumbles into bad circumstances. I am someone who constantly thinks about food and sweets. I am someone who has to have both planned cheats, and the really rare non-planned cheat in order for me to maintain my weight. I am someone that likely won't lose the last 5-10 lbs that would make me rail thin. In other words, we need to learn how to rebound from mistakes and not avoid them. If we are truly rigid in our behaviours, we won't have the experience to recover when these slip-ups inevitably happen to us. We tend to bury them, avoid them and deny them. However, what option do we have but to do this, if we don't have the confidence in ourselves to recover from our mistakes? I'll phrase it another way - maybe we avoid messing-up because we feel that once we slip-up we don't have the confidence to recover.
In a therapy session, we can explore this: What's it like to cover-up your mistakes; What's it like to feel out of control; How do you balance between forgiveness and being determined; and Tell me about all the people that you know who never have a bad day. There are lots of therapeutic interventions that will work depending on the circumstance.
However, I'll provide some of my own practical advice on what to do when I slip-up. The first thing I do is I'm like a lighthouse, searching for any signs of positive hope. I have to find something that indicates things will get better. This is somewhat of a mind-trick because it is really one's mind that prevents someone from seeing hope in any situation. The second thing I do is "harm reduction", or "incrementalism". That is, if I am going to have an unplanned slip-up, or am concerned that I will give into a craving, what MUST I do to make it harmless as possible for myself? Early on, for me, just taking one less bite of a donut would have been a success and for a while eating natural whole-grain cereals without sweeteners (or natural sweeteners) in them was better than having a full-on cheat with sweets. I may not have lost weight that day, or even that week, but I HAD to learn something about myself. Something that gave me control and confidence in the face of what could be a permanent slip-up. Maybe it was that training that eventually lead me to believe what I firmly know now - that I can recover from any cheat or even unplanned binge. Who knew that learning how to recover from mistakes would be such a life-saving experience?