We make the decision to lose weight for a variety of reasons, such as disliking the way we appear, our clothing not fitting, our health is in jeopardy, our significant other straying, our work being in jeopardy, or our kids being ashamed. We often assume that losing weight solely affects our physical well-being; after all, no one has ever made the decision to slim down due to brain fog or mental bloat.
But making decisions is a mental activity. The mind, not the body, decides when and why we take such a step. We may decide to change our behavior when we weigh five pounds more than we would want to, or once we have reached medical obesity and are over 200 pounds. The decision to lose weight is determined by the brain and is not influenced by the physical size of the body.
Since starting (and maintaining) a diet program is a mental activity, it would seem beneficial to investigate what circumstances can lead to such a choice.
Every person has a dual image, one that they present to the outside world and one that they internally see. Despite the fact that we dress and beautify ourselves in an effort to be perceived as attractive by others, we are far more impacted by our satisfaction-or lack thereof-with ourselves.
Over the course of the following week, examine this idea by keeping an eye on both you and other people. You'll see that comments on your attire-which, in your opinion, doesn't feel "quite right"-come often.
Wear a favorite clothing that fits flawlessly, that you adore, that makes you feel particularly handsome, and no one will notice!
The same thing happens when you change your haircut. You can't get your hair to do anything one morning because you're pressed for time, so you irately clip it back in the hopes that no one important would notice how bad you look. Three individuals say they enjoy the way you styled your hair.
When it comes to our weight, there is a similar disparity. Even if colleagues and coworkers are teasing us about our gradual weight increase, we don't feel big if we think we look nice in our minds.
However, no amount of affirmation from others around us can help us feel less fat if we believe we are overweight. When taken to its logical conclusion, this perception of our body size can result in the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, in which painfully thin people continue to severely restrict their calorie intake because they continually see themselves as being overly fat.
As a result, we make the decision to start a diet in reaction to our internal self-image. Some of the advantages of being physically fit and trim that we can think of include:
When it comes time for a promotion, I'll get recognized at work and gain greater appeal to the other sex. My relatives and friends will be envious and will need to reassess their opinion of me since they will see that I am more resilient than they had previously believed.
However, what getting in shape does for us individually is the main benefit. We endure the suffering and monotony of food and exercise because we want to feel fantastic about ourselves.
We are motivated to reach our objective by the image of our future selves in our minds. We give up and return to the relative comfort of settling for "okay" because we lose that vision or come to the realization that we won't feel any better about ourselves.
2. Body versus Mind dominance
We all engage in a constant internal conflict between our bodies and minds. At certain points in their evolution, each one takes the lead.
We are really just a collection of feelings when we are newborns. We touch everything within reach, eat whatever we can put in our mouths, watch everything move around us, and listen to all the sounds we hear until we finally learn to mimic them as we explore the fascinating new world around us.
We begin to focus on our minds when we enter the first years of school. We consume a tremendous quantity of information. When we learn to read, the bounds of our world are multiplied by 1000. As soon as we understand how to utilize the Internet, the cosmos is at our fingers.
When we reach adolescence, our looks suddenly takes center stage in many aspects of our daily life. We traverse the challenges and rewards of adolescence, where being popular and cool are far more important than merely studying or growing intellectually.
We give our bodies an excessive amount of attention. We experiment with various attire, hairdos, and cosmetics. Because it will make us stand out, we get tattoos and get bodily parts pierced. We nurture ourselves and push ourselves into the looks that our peers have declared to be "in."
We strive to achieve mental and physical equilibrium as we become older. While our bodies rule the attract-a-mate world, we need to improve our intellect in order to progress professionally and create meaningful connections that go well beyond simple physical appeal.
Our efforts and energies gravitate toward things outside of ourselves as we settle down and begin to create the beautiful life we want: children, significant others, friends, family, and career goals.
We have so much going on around us and to accomplish that we lose awareness of both our physical and mental well-being. We lapse into our own comfort zones, where eating satisfies a lot of our requirements.
Our regular disappointments, nervousness, and occasional blues attacks are all reduced by it. Our social relationships are improved by it. It becomes an essential part of how we express our love for the people we care about.
We keep seeing ourselves as we have always seen ourselves, oblivious to the love handles and fat pockets that attach themselves to areas of our bodies that we steadfastly ignore. Our bodies and the psychological image we have of them diverge more and more.
3. Our sense of self-efficacy
Self-efficacy is a psychological concept that refers to a person's conviction that every activity they perform will have an impact on the result. Although it may entail both, it is not the same as having self-confidence or the conviction that one is capable of doing anything. It represents our inner conviction that the actions we take will have the desired effects.
If I don't have this belief, I worry that no matter what I do, my desired outcome won't materialize. It borders on powerlessness and produces negative self-talk:
"I never lose weight, no matter how diligently I diet." I could exercise every day, but I'd still have these thunder thighs. I make an effort to eat healthily, but my hips simply keep widening. "No matter what methods I employ, nothing will prevent the wrinkles from appearing.
My belief system and mental processes would sound like these if I have a high feeling of self-efficacy:
"I can whip my body into shape in a few weeks if I just get motivated," the person said. I only need to choose a day to begin my diet, and I'll be good to go. "I may have put off taking care of myself for a long, but hard effort will restore me."
The choice to start a diet, resolve to get in shape, or begin caring for ourselves better is ultimately a personal one that may or may not be made as we had intended. It is always simpler to go on a trip we anticipate will be successful than it is to drag oneself toward a destination where failure is most likely to occur. The difference resides in the anticipation of success.
How can we put these ideas together to help us achieve our goals of being small, fit, and attractive?
We start by looking at how we see ourselves and how we come across to others. Simply asking someone, "Do you think I'm getting too heavy?" won't help unless you have a buddy who is brutally honest or you question a person you don't like. Responses to such a question are likely to be courteous rather than accurate since the majority of us have been culturally taught to spare others' feelings.
Focusing on details can result in more useful comments. Let everyone know that you are filling out a survey for a class you are taking.
Give each friend or coworker a one-page questionnaire that asks them to identify three adjectives that best characterize various parts of their physical appearance. Fill out one of the papers on your own. Request that no names be used, and have someone else collect the filled-out forms to ensure that the replies remain anonymous.
When you receive the responses, compare them to your own and note any discrepancies in the descriptions. Your defense mechanism may kick in: "My hips aren't so huge. My clothing also helps me seem slender."
This isn't a self-deprecation exercise or a chance for you to brag about the unanticipated compliments you got. It is a concerted attempt to assist you in determining the points at which your internal and external perceptions diverge. The attempt to make the two photos coincide should commence in those regions of divergence.
After identifying the areas that require improvement, it is time to rely on the limitless power of our magnificent mind to begin imposing the structure and organization we will need to bring about the required improvements.
Only when we have faith in our capacity to achieve a good outcome can our thoughts lead us in the direction we choose. The moment has come to set aside any failure expectations. There may have been several unsuccessful efforts at dieting and exercising in the past.
Do not bring them up again. We are not destined to carry on ineffective actions indefinitely. The human intellect is the crown gem of evolution, capable of almost everything. If our doubts and concerns don't come in the way, whatever we put our minds on, they will succeed.
Exploring our past triumphs to compile a long list helps us raise our optimistic expectations. Major milestones may include getting the promotion we sought, planning a spectacular event, or developing a very fulfilling relationship. The most significant victories, however, are sometimes swiftly forgotten or disregarded as irrelevant because they are tiny and personal.
Your potential to achieve the outcomes you desire is clearly demonstrated by your dedication to your studies and by earning a solid mark in a challenging subject.
The night you perfected a spin on the ice; the day you smiled at someone across a smoke-filled room and the brief but exquisite affair that followed; the report you sent in on time that no one anticipated.
Continue to do things like to join the drill team, make your own prom outfit, dye your hair a gorgeous color in your bathroom, catch a fly ball, learn how to use new software on your computer, and create your first CD. As you keep recalling details from the past that you had long since buried behind more pressing matters, the list may and will grow unending.
Read over this list frequently and keep it nearby. Your own personal self-efficacy cheerleaders are here.
You are beginning to believe in the value of your own efforts and are aware of the areas you need to focus on. The next step is to determine the internal benefits of good weight loss. Simple beginnings include liking walking on a scale, feeling good about yourself, and having no trouble zipping up your garments. It's a boost to fantasize about casually strutting in a short suit to the pool.
A vision to savor as you go off to sleep is giving a sales presentation with the assurance that you are looking your utmost best. The admiration of a loved one or the jealousy of a competitive coworker strengthens your commitment and motivates you to stick with tedious workout routines and uncomfortable diets.
You are certain that you will succeed since you know where you're heading, what it will take, and what has to be done. Your mind is ready to make a decision; all it needs is the right day. Because you are now in charge, you can decide when you want to.