One of the things that needs to happen if we want to lose weight permanently is being able to be completely honest with ourselves. No armor, no bs, no stories, no excuses. Pure, direct and clear accountability to ourselves. We have to get honest about why we’re overweight to begin with.
Can you answer the following questions with more than “I don’t know.”?
Why do you think you’re overweight?
What do you think caused your weight gain?
What actions do you take on a daily basis that keep you overweight?
If you can’t, it’s possible you’re not being fully honest with yourself. Sometimes we use “I don’t know” as a way to not be fully present in our lives and not take responsibility for the outcomes we’re getting.
If you asked me 20 years ago why I was overweight, I would have told you I was born that way and had always been a big kid. While that was partially true, I was slightly bigger than other kids in elementary school, it was actually the habits I developed during adolescence and teenage years that made me truly overweight. I’d come home, park my butt on the couch to watch “General Hospital”, mindlessly snacking on whatever I could find in the house – chocolate chunk cookies or frozen pizza or mini pizza bagels by the trayful. The TV and snacks served as a way to me to numb myself from a crappy day at school.
If you asked me 15 years ago why I was overweight, I would have told you it’s because the food at the dining hall was so bad that I had to live off of grilled cheese and french fries – the only edible things in the dining hall. I gained the “Freshman 15” three times by the middle of sophomore year. I conveniently forgot that I also drank double the beer than most of my peers and often ordered pizza late at night. Oh and I forgot to mention that I ate 2 grilled cheese sandwiches with those fries most days.
If you asked me 4 years ago why I had gained back so much of the weight I had lost in the last decade, I would have probably told you it was because of the desk job I had. Going from waiting tables to sitting at a desk for 8-9 hours a day was a bit of a shock to the system. What I would have probably omitted telling you is that I had turned to binge eating after the said desk job on many nights.
I wouldn’t have seen my answers as lies, certainly not intentional ones. I was in denial as to the source of my weight for a long time. I talk to a lot of women who have been in the same boat. Looking really closely at ourselves and owning up to how we got to where we are is not easy.
Even now, a few years into what I feel is my healthiest relationship with food yet, I still find myself in periods of mild “dishonesty”. When my weight hasn’t changed in a long time, there’s a part of me that wants to contribute it to metabolic changes due to a lifetime of dieting but if I’m honest, it’s because I’ve let certain things sneak back into my regular diet more often than I’d like them to be (like sugar and cream in my coffee). It’s ok – while I’d like to lose a few more pounds, I’m comfortable at my current weight but that tendency to lie to myself does try to inch its way in. This is the nature of the beast and I know I need to keep an eye out for the games I used to play with myself. I know all my old tricks and not being honest with myself is one of them. Lying to myself was a huge component of why I gained so much weight back a few years ago. Deny deny deny! Gain gain gain!
Barring a handful of medical conditions, which I talked about briefly in Reasons Why You Can’t Lose Weight (even though you’re giving it your all), the reason most of us struggle with getting to a weight that we are comfortable with is because we’re eating more than our bodies need for fuel.
It’s really that simple for most.
Many of us believe that we’re overweight for some unknown reason. We don’t believe that there is a direct correlation between the amount (or quality) of food we’re putting in our mouths and the weight that is on our bodies. But to be direct, unless you’re dealing with a medical condition as mentioned above, you are probably overweight because you eat more than your body needs. That is the truth.
There’s no judgement in that statement. There’s no shame here. There’s no reason to feel badly about yourself. There’s a million reasons why we eat more than our bodies need an none of them require beating yourself up over. If you want to get to a happier place with your weight, it really does start with being 100% upfront and honest with yourself. The only person we hurt when we stay in denial and ignore reality is ourselves.
Ignoring truths sure makes it easier to go about our day and continue the habits that we believe we’re participating in to bring us comfort or because we “deserve” to, but in reality just keep us fat and unhappy. And our weight will continue to cause us pain as long as we deny to ourselves how we got into this mess. When you can be totally honest with yourself, it’s a lot harder to plow through an entire bag of chips, hitting the drive-thru in secret or eating entire cartons of ice cream in one sitting. (Not impossible – just harder!)
Can you take responsibility for how you got to the weight you are at? Can you be honest about how much and what you put into your body?
Do you often eat secretly, in private or alone? Do you look forward to when you can next do that? Do you actually count down the minutes until you can put that secret food in your mouth?
You don’t have to beat yourself up for it, you don’t have to feel ashamed about it but you do need to be totally honest with yourself. Getting to a weight that you feel good about starts with laying out all your cards on the table. If you are unwilling to do that at this stage in the game, what else will you be unwilling to do to get to where you want to be? This is only one obstacle that will be in your path while losing weight – we have to be ready to get around many obstacles.
How can you learn to trust the hunger signals your body sends you if you can’t trust yourself? How can you be willing to feel the emotions you’re feeling if you can’t own up to the reasons you are overweight?
Let me tell you, trying to conquer emotional eating without learning to pay attention to our true hunger and feel our emotions is like trying to win a gold medal in the breaststroke in the Olympics without learning to swim. I sincerely wish you luck but I won’t be surprised when you don’t come in at the top.
Losing weight for the long term means putting down your armor and being completely honest to you! When you do that – recognizing the difference between hunger and fullness is more accessible, feeling our emotions is possible, food becomes less of a weapon and weight less of an issue.
Maybe you think you’re being honest but are still confused as to why you are heavier than you want to be? Ok, I get that – it certainly happens – especially when we first start wanting to get serious about this stuff.
Here’s what you do then:
- Find out if you are dealing with a medical issue. Get your doctor to run some tests to rule out Thyroid issues, PCOS and other medical conditions that legitimately can interfere with your natural weight. They are common – but not as common as we want to believe!
- 2. Keep a food journal for a month. Write down on paper every single thing you consume. Food, drink, supplement etc. Calories we don’t care about so much but quantity is helpful – did you go back for a second serving of mashed potatoes at dinner? Did you eat out of the bag of chips instead of pouring out a serving and putting the bag away? Did you have 3 cans of soda? Did you finish an 11 serving box of cereal in 3 days? This exercise is just to help you see what and how much you are actually eating.
- Analyze your food journal. Were you 100% honest in the journal? Lots of us have trouble doing that at first – even if we’re the only ones who will see it! Something about writing it down is scary. If you were honest, you should see some info that will surprise you. I know for me, when I began keeping a food journal years ago, I noticed a pattern – If I went out for drinks or if I had a bad day, I would skip finishing my entry for the day. It looked like I ate less on those days but I actually ate more. Or I would put down that I had less than I thought of something – I would put down that I had 2 tbsp of cream cheese on a bagel but after measuring one day I discovered that I was using double that! Try to be as honest as possible – and equally as important, don’t judge yourself for your choices
- Call me. If you are stuck and dumbfounded as to where your weight has come from (or just want help period), I want you to schedule a Discovery Session with me. We’ll talk about where you are and how you think you got there and I’ll help you uncover some of what might be getting in your way. It’s not always easy to see our own shit and a second pair of eyes can help you do that. No judgements – I promise. I’ve done whatever it is you do to yourself and probably worse. What do you have to lose? other than weight? 🙂 You don’t need to live near me to schedule one of these – I coach many people by phone and it’s just as effective as in person sessions, sometimes more so!
Being honest and taking responsibility is just the beginning of having a healthier relationship with food and your body. If you are willing and committed to do this, you are far ahead of many many people! Want that as much as you want to eat food your body doesn’t need and you’ll be able to see your way out.
It’s time to show up in your life the way you were meant to. Don’t let yourself down. You’ve got this. Can you show up fully? I challenge you to do this!
Stay tuned – Next week I’ll be posting part II on how Honesty & Denial affect Weight – this time I’ll be talking about the false Images we create and where else in our lives we practice denial. I hope you’ll check it out!
If this kind of stuff interests you, make sure you are on my email list (green box below), as I’m in the beginning stages of creating a program specifically for emotional eaters who want to end the struggle with weight and being on my email list is the BEST way to hear about it when it’s ready.