When you are on your health and weight loss journey, you are usually thinking about being somewhere else.
If you’re at the beginning, you’re thinking about the end where all your dreams come true.
Or, if you haven’t started yet, or let’s be honest, haven’t started again since the last time you quit, you’re thinking about the beginning and probably past in all the times you tried and quit.
If you’re in the middle, you are thinking about how different the beginning was, how far away the end is and how good it would feel to quit as you have in the past.
Do you notice a theme? No matter where we are, we aren’t thinking about where we are. We are doing everything we can NOT to be where we are.
This poses some issues to our ability to be successful and to change that I want to talk about.
If you haven’t started yet and are thinking about it, I call it in-between.
Many of us here in this space are always starting, quitting, or looking for a new plan to start. We’re in between attempts.
So, when you’re in-between, you are usually in one of two modes: screw it, I don’t care mode, or I have to do something about this mode.
This typically comes after a failed attempt at weight loss or changing your eating. It looks like eating all the things you have been restricting for however long you were engaged in your last shot.
This is where we start to dabble in a twisted form of body positivity that sounds like, “Well, if I’m going to look like this anyway, I might as well just accept it and eat whatever I want because nothing I do works anyway.”
It isn’t driven by a genuine love for us and true acceptance of our bodies as they are.
It comes from apathy, exhaustion, and hopelessness. It’s focused on how we look, which always feels empty and shallow.
Giving up is not body acceptance.
That’s not to say that you can’t decide to no longer focus on weight loss and instead accept yourself as you are, but it’s very different than, “Fine, I guess this is just what I’ll look like forever as you stare at yourself in the mirror with disdain.”
If that’s not quite where you are – if you’re coming from that more apathetic, it doesn’t matter place – just notice that.
Part of actually being where we are is to shift into observation mode.
The interesting thing is usually when we’re in, screw it, it doesn’t matter, mode we want to pretend we don’t see what we’re doing, what we’re eating, how we’re taking care of our bodies, etc. Like it doesn’t count if we don’t care.
But that’s pretend. You know! It counts. It matters. It’s happening.
Don’t pretend. Notice and narrate reality.
If you have moved past in-between and have just gotten started, you are actively working toward your health and weight goals.
Maybe you’re changing how you eat, how you move your body for exercise, you’re drinking more water and less Diet Coke, you’re eating more veggies and less cake.
You’re excited about possibilities. You’ve set a new goal. You’ve zoomed in on a new vision of what you want to accomplish. You have imagined a new version of yourself.
This is another slightly different way of not being where you are.
When you’re living only in possibility, it usually feels fun. We just don’t want to get totally lost in it.
We want our heads in the clouds and our feet on the ground because otherwise, what can happen is that we can disconnect from how what we are doing in this moment connects to the future. We can lose sight of how what we are choosing now will create this vision of the future.
I have clients who are like, “This doesn’t matter because I’m going to get there.” And then they do this every day, all day. So, they’re never actually doing it. They’re always just thinking about what they’re going to do.
But all the right now’s, add up to getting there.
So, we want to have a healthy, strong vision of our goal that includes specifics that we can connect to now. We want those details like buckling the airplane seatbelt without an extender or being able to tie our shoes without discomfort to inform our decisions now so that at this moment, we can ask, “Does this decision get me closer to that outcome?”
Being where we are in the beginning when we’re excited, motivated, and focused on the goal means connecting now to then. Saying, “I am in this moment making decisions about how to take care of me that will impact me in the future. What I choose now will pave the way for that future.”
The middle place
If you’re in the middle of your journey, you’re probably looking back to the recent past when you were focused on the goal, and it felt possible.
Maybe you’re looking to the future that seems even farther away than it was in the beginning somehow. You also may be looking to the far past, when you tried this before and quit, and how that sounds like a kind of a good idea right now.
It’s really easy in the middle to start to lose touch with where you are.
The middle is where the emotionally rigorous part of intentional change is. The middle is where we have to dig deep to understand why we are where we are, and we have to build new skills to move forward successfully.
The middle is where it’s hardest to be present.
As my clients go through this process with me, they excavate old beliefs, outdated messaging, and stories from the past. We take a close look at how our relationships with food and our bodies developed in the first place.
We start to take responsibility for decisions. We let go of responsibility that we have been taking on for things that happened to us and shaped us that we didn’t decide. We work on forgiving ourselves for all the things we did to survive to this point.
We learn to observe our stories and tell new ones. We know to connect to our hunger and satiety and feel our bodies and what they experience differently. We practice navigating challenging emotions. We envision ourselves and our future differently, all of that. It’s a lot.
And we’re doing it all while at the same time changing our eating bit by bit. So, we’re taking on a whole bunch of new discomfort while limiting our dependence on the foods that allow us to ignore and escape discomfort for so long.
It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed and underwater and want to be anywhere but where we are in this process.
If that is what you’re experiencing right now, you’re not alone. And, of course, you want to focus anywhere but here. This is hard and uncomfortable, confusing, and even frustrating much of the time.
And so, when you’re in the middle, this is the phrase to begin your narration: of course.
Of course, you are wanting to escape this. Of course, this feels hard. Of course, you’re overwhelmed. Of course, quitting sounds appealing.
You’ve never done this before. You haven’t done this in this way before. You’re used to using food to escape this discomfort, and now you’re practicing the skill of riding waves of discomfort and emotion. It’s new. It takes time to get it down.
This discomfort is part of the process of change.
Navigating this discomfort is what future you will thank you for. This discomfort is part of shedding this old identity and creating and stepping into a new one.
As you narrate right now, be honest with yourself. Then, focus on applying the compassion you would speak to someone else.
Tell yourself the truth, the good, the bad, and the ugly of now. There’s nothing wrong with where you are. It’s where you are for a reason.
The power of NOW
We don’t have any power over the past or the future. This moment will soon be the past, and this moment will eventually be the future. So, this moment is the only place where we have the power to create something new.
Being where we are allows us to do things differently.
We decide what we do now, and that determines the future, and it creates a past that we can look back on and feel satisfied with and even proud of.
So, no matter where you are, in between, at the beginning, or in the middle, when you see that you are focused on the past or the future, take a minute to notice and narrate now.
Use your name, bring yourself back to this present moment. Ground yourself in the truth of what is happening inside you and around you right now.
Notice what you are feeling and what’s running through your mind, what’s happening in your body, what you’re doing, sensing, experiencing. You don’t have to stay here forever but make it a point to check in here regularly.
Love First Weight Loss
And if you want some support at any point in your journey, if you want a group of women with similar struggles to go through the hard parts with, if you want some new tools to help you navigate the discomfort of change, join me in my Love First Weight Loss program.
It’s different from anything you’ve done before. We are coming at weight loss from love, and we are actively learning how to use love to navigate this journey more effectively and permanently than ever before.
Head here to fill out an application.