What are your obstacles to losing weight? I’m sure that whatever they might be, I’ve heard them before, and you’re probably going to hear some things on the podcast today that will make you wonder if I’m in your head. I asked my clients what they struggle with the most when it comes to losing weight, and I’m sharing the list with you today to highlight how conflicting desires are most likely showing up for you.
So many of you see conflicting desires as a problem and an obstacle to getting to your dream weight. You want to eat on plan and exercise, but you also want to prioritize work and family. You want to eat healthily, but you also want to eat whatever you want. The good news here is that having polar opposite desires isn’t a problem, and I’m showing you how you can work through them differently on this podcast.
Tune in this week to discover why having conflicting desires is completely normal and why you don’t have to let them take over and mean that something is wrong with you. While we all wish we could eliminate desires that don’t serve us, it’s wired into our humanness, so instead, I’m offering a series of questions you can ask yourself to shift your perspective.
This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 43.
Welcome to Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you’re a successful woman who is ready to stop struggling with your weight, you’re in the right place. You’ll learn everything you need to know to lose weight for the last time in bitesize pieces. Here’s your host, certified life and weight coach Natalie Brown.
Hey everybody. Once upon a time, a time that feels like an eternity ago, February of 2020, remember February? We didn’t really think about pandemics, we didn’t use the words social and distancing together, and we could go out and see each other’s smiles. Yes, that wasn’t a faraway dreamland. That was our life a short nine months ago.
Back in February, as I was getting ready to start the podcast, I asked my email list a couple of questions and asked for their responses. One of the questions was what is the hardest thing about being at your current weight, and the other was what is your biggest obstacle to weight loss.
I got bunches and bunches, loads of awesome responses that gave me an idea of topics and issues I could cover on the podcast that would be helpful to you all. I compiled all of the answers into a couple of documents just for easy reference, and I haven’t looked at them for a hot minute so I pulled them out this week and an interesting theme jumped out at me on the obstacles to weight loss list that I feel is important to address.
Just as a side note, on the hardest thing about my current weight list, seriously, 95% of the answers had something to do with clothes. That the current clothes don’t fit or are tight, that they are sad looking at their smaller clothes that they wish they could fit back into, that they wish they could wear a different style of clothes but they feel like they can’t fit into that style or pull it off because of their weight.
That for me was tucking in a shirt and/or wearing a cute belt. I was always buying and wearing loose-fitting, stomach-camouflaging shirts. So that was not an option for me. That was something I really was excited about and looked forward to.
There’s lots of mention about wanting to be comfortable in clothes, wanting to have fun shopping again or shop in different stores. So I found it fascinating. That’s so interesting. I think I will probably address this clothes issue in another podcast episode related to maybe other people and your weight loss. Because I think a lot of our outside aesthetic issues with our bodies relate back to what other people might be thinking about us.
But I want to give that topic its own focus, so we’ll save anything in depth for the future. I just thought it was so fascinating how much clothes came up. I actually want to dive into though the biggest obstacles list with you and share some of the responses because I have an inkling that you are sitting in your car, or walking or wherever else you may be listening, and you’re feeling like you are the only human thinking these things, that you’re the only person out there feeling the way you do.
But I’m here to tell you, you are not. I have heard almost all of it from my clients and on hundreds of consults with potential clients and from all the women I’ve spoken to about their weight loss over the years. I say almost because I’m sure I’ll learn even more and I’ll hear things I haven’t heard.
But you all have so many similar threads running through your weight stories. That is why you sometimes feel I’m in your head. Even though I don’t know you. I hear that all the time, like how did you know this? It feels like you’re in my head. I’ve been where you are and I have spent the last three years with women who are where you are, so I understand so much of what is happening in there.
I want you to listen as I read these obstacles for not just what you can relate to but also this common theme that I told you about, which is conflicting desires. It comes up over and over and over again. So each of these things is something that someone responded with to the question, what are the obstacles to you losing weight?
So these were some of their answers. “Telling myself that I have a lot of other hard and important things I’m working on and I just can’t put myself through the pain of one more thing.” So it’s like I want to lose weight, but I also want to do these other things.
“Going back to bad eating habits. I have great self-control on the diet, but I tend to go back to old unhealthy eating habits.” So I want to eat healthier, but I also want to eat the crap I’m currently eating, right? You can kind of see these conflicting desires, these conflicting desires showing up.
“Struggling to make a plan and honor my word to myself.” So I want to make a plan and honor my word by sticking to it, but I also don’t want to do that and I want to just eat whatever I want. “Eating is such a pleasure for me it’s hard to not indulge. It’s a stress reliever but I overeat and then I feel bad.” So I want to relieve stress with food and eat for pleasure, but I also want to not overeat.
And by the way, when pleasure or escaping an emotion is our guide and our driver, it’s very challenging to listen to our satiety signals. The drive to drown out the feeling or keep dosing the pleasure trumps the desire to stop when full.
“Consistency and accountability in my eating choices and staying committed to an eating plan.” So I want to be consistent and stay committed, but I also don’t, I want to quit instead.
“My brain assuring me every single day that one, the thing I have the urge to eat, will not make me gain weight this time. Two, that I’m just fine at this weight, why are we torturing ourselves to lose weight? And three, I deserve the thing to eat. I deserve it.” So I want to eat whatever I want in the moment and still lose weight, I want to lose weight but I also don’t care and I’m okay with staying this weight, I deserve to eat, and I also deserve a strong, healthy body. Conflicting desires. Can you see it?
“My body’s addiction to sugar and flour. The cravings are intense and once I start, it seems I’m eating against my own will. I also hate losing weight, gaining it again, and having to lose it for the second, third, or 10th time.” So I don’t want to eat so much sugar, but I also really want to. A lot of us feeling that one, aren’t we?
“I struggle with sticking to my food plan.” So I want to eat what’s on my plan, but I also want to eat other things. “I am my biggest obstacle to weight loss. I keep telling myself over and over that I will never lose weight and keep it off. I just keep justifying my overeating. I tell myself I’ll start tomorrow. If I could change the conversation I have with myself, things might be different.”
So I want to lose weight, stop overeating, start tomorrow, but I also want to overeat, stay where I am, and not try something new. “It’s hard for me to stick with my good eating habits when I’m traveling and get really busy with work.” So I want to eat well and maintain good habits, but I also want to set that aside and prioritize work.
“I see the food my family and kids are eating, and I’m tempted to eat it too, especially sweets during the holidays. Usually I can resist, but sometimes the social situations seem to be a good time for an exception.” So I want to eat what’s best for me, but I also want to just eat whatever everyone else is eating.
“I think it is that I don’t know how to make myself a priority anymore. I have three young kids and I’m so focused on them and their needs that it’s hard to really eat what I plan or workout when I plan to do it and to sleep.” So I want to take care of my kids and I want to take care of me. And I think there are times where it feels like those things conflict, right? Like we have to make a choice.
“Giving up the foods I love like chocolate, pizza, and wine.” So I want to lose weight and I want to keep eating the foods I love. “The weekend/anytime I’m out of routine is an obstacle.” So we all think this, like I want a break from my routine, I love the weekends or a vacation or whatever. But also, I want to have a routine because a routine is where I really eat the best and follow my plan and it feels easy. So we’re like, both love a routine and don’t want a routine.
“I’ll be eating on a plan and doing good but then I mess up and so I throw out the whole week and think I’ll start again on Monday.” So I want to get to my goal, and I want to quit and start over Monday, which is the fastest way to not get to your goal.
If we’re doing the every Monday start over, it’s like, two steps forward, three steps back, three steps forward, two steps back. We’re just never getting ahead, never going anywhere. Just like of running in place.
“Lack of meal planning and exercising, which is really lack of discipline due to procrastination.” So I want to meal plan and exercise, and I want to do what I’m currently doing to put that off. I want both. I want to meal plan and exercise, and I want to watch Netflix or work or scroll on social media.
“To stop eating when I’m satisfied. My habit of zoning out while I’m eating seems to be a very hard habit to break. I dive right into my meal without even thinking about eating mindfully.” So I want to be mindful and I want to zone out.
You can see how often this is the problem. I want this one thing and I want this other thing. And they are at odds with each other. But I have super good news. This isn’t actually a problem. We make it a very dramatic problem by thinking that it is a problem.
We see that we want to lose weight, but we also want to eat loads of candy every day. We see that we want to plan and execute that plan, but we also want to eat whatever our coworkers are ordering in that day. We see that we want to get to our goal, but we also want to be comfortable.
And we make that mean something is wrong with us. We think the people who are successful at weight loss have all figured out how to have consistently aligned desires that never conflict, or how to eliminate desire altogether. I hear that all the time from my clients, like I just have to have zero desire for any of these things.
Or how to only desire what’s “right” or “good” or “healthy,” and that the fact that we have these conflicting desires for bad things or for quitting and for starting over tomorrow means that there’s something wrong with us and we are out of control or broken or beyond help. But those are all lies.
People who have been successful at weight loss haven’t eliminated or conquered or aligned all of their desires. They just don’t make it mean anything personal when their desires conflict. They don’t panic at the first sign of desire to go off plan, they don’t freeze when someone brings a plate of brownies into the break room. They don’t think they have to obey the desire to quit.
They know that desire is a feeling created by their thinking, that they can have a desire for something and not do anything about it, that desire can’t hurt them, doesn’t have to dictate their behavior, and doesn’t have to mean anything about them.
They have learned how to toggle the controls in their brains and decide which desire wins. That’s it. They’re still humans, they still have desire driving them. They just know what to do about it. The presence of a desire that is in conflict with your goals, a desire that doesn’t align with the vision of your future self is okay.
We desire things all the time that aren’t realistic, possible, or useful. We feel desire every day for things that we don’t actually act on. And we don’t think it’s a problem in a lot of areas. Right now, is there somewhere, a virtual cart somewhere on the internet that you put things in but didn’t actually purchase? Or maybe many carts.
You had the desire to have those things and also the desire to save money. Maybe not buy on an impulse, shop around for a better deal, whatever, and that desire won. That cart remains there, you didn’t checkout.
Do you ever see someone’s vacation on social media and want desperately to go there right that minute? I feel this especially in the winter. And not the pretty fluffy snow beginning of winter but kind of the mid to end of winter where it’s grey piles of dirt snow on the side of the road and it’s just ugly and cold.
I see someone on a tropical vacation and I just want to drop everything, head to the airport, get to Hawaii or whatever, right? But think about it, have you ever actually picked up and done it? We desire that vacation but we also desire keeping our jobs and so we don’t abandon all of it and go.
Have you ever been running late and had the desire to speed to get where you’re going faster and then you see a highway patrol car? You want to save time, but you also want to avoid a ticket and be safe probably.
So we have these experiences all the time. Our human brains desire lots of things. Desire is a beautiful feeling that drives us to create amazing lives and have amazing experiences. It is one of those things that can be a tool or a weapon, depending on how we choose to view it and use it.
Rather than berating ourselves for or panicking over the conflicting desire tug of war that we notice happening in our brains, we have options. So here’s what I like to do. Rather than thoughts like this desire shouldn’t be here, or I wish I didn’t want blank, or unhelpful questions like why do I always do this or what is wrong with me, I notice my conflicting desires and I say, of course, of course I want to stay in this warm bed instead of getting up and going to work out.
It feels so comfy here and I love being warm and comfy. Of course I want to keep eating and ignore my fullness instead of stopping here. It tastes really good and I love delicious tasting things in my mouth. Of course I want nachos instead of a salad that’s on my plan. Nachos are warm and crunchy and yummy, and they seem more fun than salad right now, and my brain’s really wanting fun in the middle of my workday.
I don’t push them away, I don’t ignore them, I don’t beat myself up for having them. I acknowledge them. I bring them to the surface. I demystify and I de-vilify them. I recognize that my desires don’t have power unless I give them power. My desires do not man the controls. I do. My desires don’t decide what I do. My adult brain gets to do that.
The desire will show up both for things you really want that align with your goals and get you closer to the person you want to be, as well as for things that don’t. But you are always the one to decide which desire wins.
Once you’ve acknowledged the conflicting desires with of course, then you can start making decisions about which desire is going to win. Here’s some questions you can ask. What do I want most? Think about those two things that your brain’s sort of waffling between.
Yeah, I want to stay in this comfy warm bed, but I really want a strong healthy body and a healthy heart. And I want to stretch, and I want to move and I want to grow my muscles and all the things. So what I want most is that.
If I ask myself the question laying in my bed in the morning, what do I want most, working out wins. Which desire is aligned with my future self? What happens if this one wins? So try on that scenario.
And then what happens if the other one wins? What will that be like? Think about not just this choice but the consequences that you’re then going to live, depending on what choice you make. What’s behind the desire? Why do I want desire A and why do I want desire B?
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Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you want to learn more about how to lose weight for the last time, come on over to itbeginswithathought.com. We’ll see you here next week.