Once you’ve taken a closer look at your current weight identity, it’s time to decide where you want to go next.
For some of you, imagining your destination and your future weight identity is fun. It’s a time to think about possibility — who you could be and what life could be like in the future when you’ve conquered this weight loss thing for good.
For some of you, it’s not so fun to imagine Future You. You don’t dare to dream because of how many times the dream has been dashed. Mine was always tinged with a bit of doubt and sometimes despair because of how many times I had tried and failed.
I remember every year when the People magazine issue “Half Their Size” came out, I would buy a copy to take home and read. But if felt a little bit like torture.
I would read someone’s story about how they just added in more veggies and cut out diet soda and started walking everyday and they lost 80 pounds and I would hear the tug of war in my head: if she can do it, so can I!
While at the same time the thought came: That will never work for me.
I had both an addiction to hearing transformation stories and an aversion to them because I believed no matter how much I wanted a transformation of my own, it just wasn’t possible for me.
Your brain is trying to protect you
This makes perfect sense if you understand our default mode network. Research suggests that when we are imagining future scenarios, both the imagination centers and memory centers of our brain light up together.
Our brain is a problem solving machine so if we give it a task like imagining us in the future, having accomplished a goal, it’s going to scan the past for any previous experience we have in order to use it to determine the path to take and the probability of us accomplishing it.
This is why when we think about trying to lose weight, something we have lots of previous experience with, our brain will come back having scanned these past experiences and give you a “Let’s not even try this because we’ve failed at it so many times” message.
Your brain is just trying to protect you from the feeling of failure. And help you avoid wasting your time. This is super helpful when it comes to not touching a hot stove again… but not so helpful when we want to work toward becoming our future selves.
But here’s the thing. If we choose to operate only on the information our brain offers us in default mode, we will continue to create a life that looks pretty much the same. This will not get you anywhere near your future identity!
We have to be willing to feel the discomfort that comes as we push past what our brain can predict, into the unknown of creating something new.
So we have to make a conscious choice here: do we want to keep creating the same life, same body, same weight identity? Or are we willing to imagine and go out and create something new?
Obviously my vote is for FUTURE YOU!
One warning about your future identity
So here is one thing I notice as I have my clients do this exercise that I want to make you aware of so you can avoid it: We have a tendency to imagine a future self that is the opposite of where we are. We are in so much discomfort and are so miserable about our current identity, that our future identity is as far away from here as we can get.
I used to envision a future self that was 5’9” and had olive skin with no moles or freckles and naturally curly hair, and never craved chocolate and woke up naturally at 5 am to do yoga and was quiet and demure. But there is no future reality in which I grow 6 inches and become an entirely different person.
So as you are imagining your future identity, remember that she is an actual version of you. You get to take all of the parts of you with you on this journey. You will build new skills and habits, but you will still be you.
How to imagine your future weight identity
As you are creating this vision, imagine not just what she looks like, but what day-to-day life is like.
- What are her new habits?
- What does she eat?
- Does she get up early?
- How does she handle holidays?
- What does she do to reward herself?
- What does she think about brownies?
- What does she think about herself?
- What is she working toward?
- Weight loss is no longer her goal, so what is?
Be realistic. Think about what she says yes to — and what she says no to. Whether you want to eat birthday cake in the future.
If you want to be a person who eats birthday cake sometimes in the future, make that a part of your vision. So often my clients say, “Future Me doesn’t even desire cookies and never eats them.” And that is totally possible — if that’s really what you want life to look like.
I love frosted sugar cookies. They are one of my favorite cookies. There is a trend where I live that has these gourmet cookie shops popping up everywhere and they DELIVER. Fresh cookies to your door in like 20 minutes.
The chocolate chip cookies come warm and melty, and the sugar cookies come cool and they are each the size of a small dessert plate. I apologize for making your mouth water and making you start Googling where I live so you can move here. Stay with me.
Past me ate these cookies every other day and ate 2 at a time. Current Me (which is Past Me’s Future Me) eats these cookies maybe once a month and I cut it into quarters and eat a quarter or two and just listen to how my body feels and stop when it’s done.
I am not a person who never eats cookies because I don’t want to be. I am a person who is connected to my body, and listens to its signals and takes care of it with love.
What’s different about your future weight identity? What’s the same?
So think about what’s different and also what’s the same about you and your life in the future. Future You is not a robot, she still has a human brain and still feels crappy half the time.
But maybe what’s different is that instead of pounding nachos when she’s feeling stressed and then beating herself up about it after adding shame to the stress, she gives herself some time to take a closer look at what’s causing the stress, and asks what she actually needs that her brain is looking for in the plate of nachos, which is some compassion and some alone time.
What parts of your current identity are you taking with you and what are you leaving behind? I brought my sense of humor with me. Because I have to laugh about my brain’s belief that joy can be found in chocolate peanut butter ice cream.
However, I left behind the judgment of me wanting ice cream in the first place. I can want ice cream. I can like it. I can even think it fixes my feelings sometimes. None of that makes me broken, weak, or ridiculous like I used to believe it did. But I can also like ice cream and think about it and not have to make it a part of my every day.
So be realistic, imagine Future You’s day-to-day life, think about what’s different, and what’s the same.
What will you take with you?
What will you leave behind?
What will you say yes to?
What will you say no to?
With an idea of where you are — your current identity and where you want to go, your Future You — you can fill in the rest of the route with all of the rest stops. All of the near future selves that you will become along the way that will get you to your goal.
What is tonight’s Future You like? What about tomorrow’s? Or next week’s or next month’s?
Use future weight identity as the guide and your transformation story is inevitable.
When you’re ready to get started, watch my free video on how to lose the first five pounds — and keep going.