Weight loss is simple. It requires us to learn one skill: choosing what we want most over what we want in the moment. That is it.
Think about the obstacles you face when it comes to losing weight. Maybe it’s overeating at night, maybe it’s not wanting to plan, or not wanting to miss out on your favorite foods. Maybe it’s not knowing how to relax on the weekend without food.
Whatever the obstacle is, think about the moment where you choose to eat or not eat the thing. If you could choose what you want most (your goal, your health, etc.) over what you want in the moment (that food), you would not eat the thing.
If you did that over and over, you would lose weight. If you kept doing it after you lost the weight, you would live at your natural weight for life.
Weight loss is simple… but not easy
But I don’t want you to mistake my declaration of weight loss being simple for the idea that it’s going to be easy. I am not advocating for easy weight loss. And in fact, anyone who tells you that weight loss is easy is lying.
So we’re not going to pretend this is an easy journey. There is misery, and some suffering, and definitely some struggle involved. This is not a journey of sunshine and rainbows. It is a journey of commitment and determination and deliberate decisions.
The river of misery
Right now, in your life, you are on the bank of a river. Where you sit, there is dead grass and dirt and one tree providing some meager shade.
On the other side of the river is a field of wildflowers and a big tree with ample shade. There’s a hammock gently swinging under it, calling your name.
In between you and the promised rest of that hammock is a roaring river. It is full of debris. Trees and rocks and chunks of melted snow are rushing by at high speed.
The only way across is through.
Your toddler brain, or primitive brain that wants to avoid pain, seek pleasure, and conserve energy, is like NO WAY am I crossing that. It means pain and suffering and it will take tons of energy. And we’ll probably be swept away and die. Terrible idea.
But your adult brain, your higher brain, wants to feel the relief and rest of laying in that hammock, and this river of misery in front of you is the only thing keeping you from it.
Trading the misery of now for the misery of growth
Making any change in our lives requires the crossing of this river. Weight loss is no exception.
But here’s the thing. Our toddler brain wants us to think that the misery of crossing is not worth it. That we should just stay where we are, where it is safe and comfortable.
But I want you to ask yourself honestly: Is where you currently sit really comfortable?
When you look around at your life in your current body, where day after day you are choosing to eat instead of change, you are experiencing some discomfort, some misery.
You know you aren’t taking care of you the way that you want to. You are not taking care of your health. You are not moving forward. And we as humans crave forward motion, learning, evolving.
Crossing the river of misery is not moving from comfort to discomfort. If you are seeking change, you are not totally comfortable right now anyway. Crossing the river of misery, in this case losing weight, is trading the misery of now for the misery of growth.
One keeps you where you are, and one gets you somewhere new.
“It shouldn’t be so hard”
There is always struggle involved in moving from our current identity to our future selves. We have to be willing to let go of what we know to move into the unknown, to believe in something we don’t yet have any evidence is possible.
And our expectation that it shouldn’t be a struggle is really what gets us into trouble.
Think about the last time you tried to lose weight and eventually quit. My guess is that much of what led to the quitting was the frustration over it being too hard or taking too long — and therefore not being worth it.
And part of not wanting to start something new is for the same reasons: it will be hard, it will take too long, and it won’t be worth it.
It’s like we start across the river and are surprised that it’s cold, despite the ice floating by, and so we turn around. Or we sit on the bank of the river and just complain that the river even exists in the first place.
It’s there. It’s cold. It’s hard and it sucks.
But on the other side is the life of your dreams.
Taking the step into the unknown
It really all comes down to our decision to keep going, despite the cold, despite the difficulty. To look at the logs and ice floating by and the rocks in the river not as obstacles in our way, but as stepping stones that will get us to our goal on the other side.
We get in and flail around with all of our thoughts about how it’s so hard and so cold and it shouldn’t be that way. We worry that we will never make it. That we don’t have what it takes to get across. We start getting swept away and maybe even dragged under.
And that is the necessary darkness of the journey.
The struggle against the current.
The challenge that shows us what we are made of. That gives us the choice to give up or keep going.
If we accept that we are in the river and it is the way and stop flailing and fighting, we will be able to see that although we are under water and think all is lost… this impossible river full of obstacles is actually only two feet deep. We can stand right up.
Your unique journey becomes possible
It will still be hard to get across, it will still take effort and perseverance, but it is totally possible.
It’s necessary darkness. Necessary darkness is taking that step into the unknown. Necessary darkness is what makes the sunlight on your skin when you come up for air feel so amazing.
Your weight loss is going to be your own unique journey, moving from this version of you to the next, over and over again.
Traveling between each version and honoring what emerges. Darkness and light.
Reveling in the rest you find in the hammock on the other side of the river… until you’re ready to cross the next one.
What does your river of misery look like?
What are the obstacles floating by for you?
What is your necessary darkness?
What is waiting for you on the other side?
This kind of thought work is invaluable on your journey to losing weight for life. If you’re ready to get started, watch my free video on how to lose the first five pounds — and keep going.