I’m morbidly obese. I’m still coming to terms with my age and my clothing size being nearly the same. I’m not happy with the reflection but that’s not what this is about. This isn’t about weight, or food or compulsion. This is about the diet industry. This is about my brain, and how it can either be an ally or my worst enemy.
Everyone at some stage in their lives will struggle with their weight, or their perception of that weight. It’s almost like it’s built into our psyche. A quick google search will provide you with every ‘diet’ under the sun with promises to get that body that you need and want. A vast majority of them tell you that staying at a healthy weight is as easy as your output being higher than your input. It’s common sense they tell you.
This is where I start to feel uncomfortable. I’m not naive, nor am I stupid, I know that if I eat too much that I am going to put on weight. I KNOW this and yet here I am, morbidly obese. I can tell you the physical effects of food and exercise. I’m fat, not stupid.
I can write a healthy eating plan, ensuring that the calories are enough to stay out of starvation mode but not so much that it will cause weight gain. I know that exercising for at least 30 minutes a day can help to stave off a myriad of health problems. I’m fat, not stupid.
Where does this leave me? It leaves me with my thoughts. My body image, my motivation and my ability to see the awesome effects. Being healthy has a lot more to do with what is going on in our heads than what we put in our mouths. Changing our lifestyle choices come down to our motivation and how much we want to change. If we don’t want to change, our subconscious will always be there ready to trip us up. I’m not making excuses, I KNOW what I have to do. I’m fat, not stupid.
As soon as my mental health starts to slip, and I can feel myself sliding into the all too familiar black hole, I know that my physical health will be affected too. The two are interconnected in a never ending loop. Taking care of myself mentally, ensuring that I am working to bring back my motivation means that my physical health begins to improve. I can’t have one without the other.
The method of weight loss and staying healthy is simple when written down, but until your thoughts match up, the self sabotage will creep in. I know that I need to lose weight. I know that I am unhealthy. I know that I need to do more. I’m fat, not stupid.
Is your brain your biggest ally, or like me are you still battling?
Linking up with Jess for IBOT
I think everyone knows what they should and shouldn’t do, but doing the things you should, and not doing the things you shouldn’t, isn’t just as easy as knowing it. I was overweight for a long time. After having my son I kept saying “I just had a baby!” When I was saying that and realized he was already 4 years old, I knew something had to change. It wasn’t until I was about to go up a dress size that I said enough is enough. Weight loss is very much about your mind – changing it, snapping, getting fed up, whatever, it is different for different people. And food plays so many roles – we eat out of addiction, comfort, boredom…we eat bad food because it is cheap and easy to. Yes, losing weight is a simple equation – calories in v calories out, but actually doing it is far harder than that. xo
YES to all of this!
Awesome post Tegan. I’m fat, not stupid too. I even have a lapband yet I’ve put on 10kg this year thanks to a major depressive episode.
As I start to recover I’m gaining my confidence back and my motivation and will to care for myself is slowly returning.
Eating well and exercise were drilled into us in group therapy while I was at hospital recently. The psychs MSG was action before motivation but sometimes that can seem impossible. We all know the vicious cycle the weight loss/weigh gain game can become.
I wish I had the answers to how to weight and keeping it off. I’m sick and tired of yoyoing up and down both my mood and my weight.
I can see the science behind action before motivation, it’s kind of along the same lines as fake it until you make it. One of the things that I am working on with my psych is doing the opposite. It is one of the things that I am struggling with the most.
This is a great post and explains why there are 5million diets that don’t work. Weight loss is mental as that controls what you put in your mouth. The only time I have been overweight was when I was battling depression. I do think long term sucessful weight loss needs to be about overcoming the mind rather than the food. Good luck with your battle.
Thanks. As much as we may need to lose weight, there is always the mind to contend with and until that point comes where things just click, self sabotage will always sneak in.
So true. It’s that inner voice that influences everything so much. No diet in the world can change that. I had an eating disorder when I was in my early 20’s. Luckily, I literally woke up one day and I had mentally made the shift (somehow), to decide on a new future. I recovered. I would be very rich if I knew how that mental shift came about and still wonder, all these years later, exactly how I came upon it.
A great piece!
You are so right, if we could bottle motivation and take a shot whenever we needed it, it would be awesome.
I knew when I was overweight and unhealthy that I was but couldn’t get out of the funk, I did but I still battle with the healthy part, eg trying to drink less crap, especially alcohol. And I agree, it’s all about starting to change a state of mind not a diet!
Yep! That’s why I prefer the term lifestyle change and not diet. Diet to me screams of restriction and time constraints. Health eating should be for life.
Here here! Well said Tegan
Thanks Rhianna xx
Don’t think of it as “30mins of exercise” – say it as – i went for a walk today, tomorrow i’ll go for a swim. Yesterday I did 4 loads of laundry. The timeframe isn’t the most important part. And don’t do calorie counting. That’s enough to drive anyone insane. Don’t restrict or ban any food. Just try to choose a more healthier option. Instead of 5 scoops of chocolate ice cream for dinner, try 4 scoops, plus a strawberry. Never go hungry, and if you’re really craving something – eat it. Do exercise in front of the tv during ad breaks. Marching, step ups, arm raises, punching the air. Do little, easy exercises. Who cares if you only did it for 1 minute. Yesterday you did it for 0 minutes. Go girl
You completely missed the entire point of the post. I know HOW to do it.
I didn’t miss the point of the post. It’s mind over matter. I get it. I was trying to insinuate framing healthy living as a positive, something that doesn’t register as an “enemy”. This is something i’ve been trying to do lately. I also know “theoretically” how to lose weight. But tonight I came home from work and didn’t go for the walk I said I would. It’s something I struggle with also. I wasn’t trying to be rude, I’m sorry if it came across ignorantly. I’ve been following your blog for a little while now and I really enjoy it. I identify with some of the posts you’ve written as I have depression also.
Thank you for taking the time to come back and explain your comment. It really is appreciated. The trouble with the written word is that it’s so easy to lose the context and wires get crossed.
As with most things I agree it is mostly mental – a battle with ourselves more than anything. great post!
Until we have our brain in line with what we want, then nothing is going to change.
God I just love your honesty and self awareness Tegan. It’s so refreshing! My brain and I are in constant battle about food. I’m a self saboteur from way back and I suspect it will be a part of me I’ll be wrestling with for the rest of my life. Like you, I know what I should be eating, but as a society we place so much emotional value on food (what’s good, what’s bad, what’s virtuous, what’s a ‘treat’) it’s no wonder food is so intrinsically linked with our state of mind. Best of luck battling your brain x
It’s so true that we place so much emotional emphasis on food. It’s fuel, nothing more, nothing less.
Yup. It’s pretty simple when you state it like that. And yet why does it feel so hard to get out of a rut. The work is most definitely mental, though fixing the food cravings was the end of the negative cycle for me personally. Bit like giving up smoking, when the time is right for you to address it you will. Though I’ve never underestimated the emotional strength required to bring about change.
You are right, we need that moment where it just feels like enough is enough. Kind of an aligning of the planets thing. Unless our mind is 100% in it, you are going to be faced with self sabotage left, right and centre. Of course it’s still going to be hard, change always it, but with the right mind set it is so much easier to see beyond the self doubt.
Is it just me or when people say “it’s just in my mind” is there a pang of, “if I had more control over my mind I could plough through this and do what I want to do without any worries”?
I cringe when I read it because I want people to know that they are indeed strong enough, and that they are enough in general, but are just not seeing what is going on that makes everything they’re going through perfectly logical…with an extra bit of information.
We can’t control our thoughts because they’re not solely from the mind.
We can’t think positively 24/7 if underneath it all we are upset.
That ‘underneath it all’ is energy, which drives emotion, drives thought, drives actions (or inaction).
Without going into too much detail (that some may find boring), when we battle with ourselves, there is a version of us telling ourselves that it wants us to give something attention. This is usually pushed up against as though it’s an enemy, but it’s actually an ally. If we can give this version of us what it needs, it no longer fights with us!
When you stop fighting with yourself (over even one tiny element of life), there is a cascade affect on actions, thoughts, emotions. Because the energy has shifted.
This is when what was a battle before feels far more effortless.
Don’t berate the mind, love the energy instead. 🙂
I am currently doing mindfullness in therapy and this is one the key things that it teaches us. The more we push against an emotion, the more energy and time we are giving it. Letting it wash over us (something that I am still working on) means that it has less impact on us.
The process of ‘letting it wash over you’ still relies on the mind though, doesn’t it. By telling yourself “don’t engage” or “let it go” etc. There are easier ways when you work with energy and I wish all psychologists and counsellors were on board with this. Though many are! 🙂
I’m battling with this big time at the moment. Giving up cakies and chocolate. Even though I know I have to do it for health reasons, I STILL battle. I think the only way I can avoid temptation is to not have the temptation in front of me, so I avoid buying ‘bad’ foods, but then I find I’m even avoiding going to the shops because there’s too much temptation. And for example I have to go to a mini fete at the boys school today and I feel like I don’t want to go because I can’t eat the food there, (sausage sizzle and cake stalls) DOH.
I tend to have the most amazing self control when I am focused on it, however I cannot always sustain it (another reason the diet industry fails you, it makes you go all for nothing and then nothing at all).
My mental health has always been a hinderance in my efforts to keep a steady weight. I have lost a considerable amount and kept it off for years, but that is more about routine and a way of eating. My depression has been under control for a while, but the anxiety is ever present. On those days I try to stick to having protein based munchies every hour in between my main meals. It seems to help (this idea came from the body trim program if you are interested).
Also, as you know with my intolerances, I have to be pedantic about what I eat. Makes it easier and harder at the same time. I don’t always make the right choice to feel good (it’s like drinking, you know the hangover will come but you just don’t care) but most of the time it has the power to stop you.
I watch and read everything on diet and nutrition and seem to know a great deal. Funnily, I still struggle.
Like you I think I have just about read everything on diet and nutrition and it’s proof that sometimes theory just isn’t enough. It would be like telling people as soon as they pass their written drivers test then they can have a full license now.
I’ve had no sleep the past 2 months and my mental health has been slipping…especially this past week. Hence, all food and exercise plans are out the window. I start my emotional eating and I’m too tired to get to the gym or go for a walk.
I know when I sleep well, everything else falls into place. But right now, it’s just not happening. As my husband said this morning with HUGE bags under his eyes, “I hope this is just a stage…”
Exercise and food can always look so great on a piece of paper – reality just doesn’t coincide sometimes. And that’s OKAY!
Yep, we have to do what works for us at the time. I know the horrors of sleep deprivation and anyone who says that not exercising after no sleep is just an excuse is quite welcome to come and stay with Mr 4 for a week!
I think I’ve got control over my brain now – it took many years and a lot of work, but I think we’re in a good rhythm. However, I still have my irrational moments! They don’t last as long as they used to though, which is so much nicer than being in a self-induced funk for like, ever. You most definitely aren’t stupid x
That’s awesome that you are now in a place where the funks don’t last as long.
I’ve just discovered your blog and I LOVE this post! It really resonated with me, I am in the overweight category and like you, know exactly what is causing it and what can be done. Doing it is not the same thing. There are so many more barriers that are more complex than people understand. I am a self sabotager too.
Thanks for such an honest post.
Yep there are numerous barriers. A lot of people think that these are excuses and I am weak because of them, but until they walk a day in my shoes then I take their opinion with a grain of salt.
Yes, quite right, staying healthy is hard to do in the modern world, there’s too much food around and it takes an effort not to eat more than is good for us. I know that when I have been depressed I have always eaten a lot – only because it actually does work as a soother… but so does exercise… and eating when hungry is a great skill. Always good to be gentle with ourselves and I know for me, being more relaxed and having good self care means binge eating had diminished. And if I binge now I eat a vast quantity of soup sometimes or stew… works!
That’s great that you have found ways to help minimise your issues with food.
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Mental peace and contentment are connected to eating habits, alcohol abuse, drug abuse etc for sure. We all know the naughty things we do but sometimes it’s what gets us through. Diets don’t work full stop. Taking it one day at a time is the only advice I would offer anyone.
I don’t think that being Fat makes you stupid! I think that every body has a different shape for different reasons. What is really important is being happy, being content and being the best person you can be.
For me going to the gym makes me feel good, makes my mindset free good and at the end of the day if my body weight is not ideal then really what is important to me is working towards being healthy.
I guess you could say that all body types make life more interesting 🙂
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This is the best thing I’ve read in ages. You know I’m going through this as well. It is lifestyle. It is learning to incorporate movement into your life and making sure that at the same time, you’re eating the appropriate foods. And you know what, as educated as we are, it is bloody hard to firstly find the balance and secondly, maintain it. Hats off hon. This is pure honesty. Good luck X
Yes, yes, yes, to all of this! I wrote a Ranty McRanterson post today about the douche in the news and his whole fat, lazy, Mums with excuses bullshit, and I wrote about how the whole weightloss thing is so much more than simple science and mechanics. At it’s core, it’s about state of mind, and how it can work against us, despite all of our ‘knowledge’. Love this post Tegan xx