When I reflect on my past, I find that there were times when I felt like an outsider looking in. Everyone was learning or doing a “thing” that I wanted to do too, but I couldn’t get the hang of it. If it didn’t come easy, it obviously wasn’t for me. Now I know that in those cases I had a fixed mindset and that impeded my ability to adapt and learn.
In the case of weight loss, I remember feeling so overwhelmed by the process, “I have to eat every day, what food is ok to eat? Right now, I haven’t eaten anything yet I’m perfect, I’m going to mess up.” and then would give up. Then the other extreme, was that I’d be so rigid, “I can only eat these foods. If I eat these foods, I lose weight and if I don’t I’ll gain weight.” that was exhausting and wasn’t sustainable. My problem was that I was only thinking about the food. The food wasn’t the issue, the food wasn’t doing something to me, it was my behaviors that needed to change.
My inability to figure out how to make weight loss work for me would set off a series of negative thoughts. I would think, “How can you let your eating get out of control?” It felt a lot like a character flaw. My weight would go up and down in a mirror image of my personal struggles. If any of this sounds familiar, then you would understand what I was going through. This was painful.
Automaticity Set Me Free
Paul McCartney, the Edge, or Jake Kiszka don’t have to think about how to play the guitar they just play…
Watching these guitarists makes it plain to see, they are fluid with their motions and aren’t thinking about how to play. It’s not about the guitar. Since they’re not thinking of the mechanics of playing, they can focus on the creativity and joy of playing. Automaticity means getting to a place where you don’t have to use up all your mental energy learning how to do something. They play guitar because they love it. It’s part of who they are. Doing something because you love it is its own reward and consequently intensifies how skilled you become. This is true for weight loss too.
- Cultivate the habits that will bring you success
- Practice these habits (repetition matters more than time)
- Let yourself fall in love with the process and experience joy
At first glance, habits seem overly predictable and even monotonous. Actions define being. What do you want? Who do you want to be? If you want to lose weight and be a person who lives a healthy lifestyle then your habits (not your skill) will be the thing that grants you access to be on the inside. Once that happens weight loss will follow and it will not feel like work, and the number on the scale week to week will not hold all the power. You will be empowered, and you will find joy in the process.