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What do you do when…

Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna in ...

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What do you do when you want to lose weight but have absolutely no confidence that you can? Or that any effort, no matter how bold or determined will inevitably end up failing?

No, seriously, I’m asking the question because I hope somebody has a better answer than the two I’ve come up with – either give up, or try again.

The problem with trying again is that after a few attempts, you know it’s going to fail, even before you start. And the problem with that is that if you go in assuming you’ll fail, you will! It’s called a self-fullfilling prophecy. Either way, I end up not losing weight and facing the prospect of question number one all over again.

And don’t even get me started on giving up. I can’t. Trust me, I’ve tried. I simply can’t do it so let’s not even go there.

A few years ago, in a moment that was to become a turning point in my life, I was getting things ready for work on a Sunday afternoon, and in my head, I was marshalling the thoughts I knew I needed to get myself to successfully start a diet again on Monday. I’d tried the previous Monday and failed by Wednesday, and the previous week I’d done the same thing. The week before that, I hadn’t bothered, but the week before that I’d managed to stay on the diet until Thursday, which had given me hope that I might actually be able to last a whole week! That atom of hope had been enough to keep me going for 5 weeks, trying to get myself to stay on a diet. Five weeks of trying and failing. Five weeks of beating my brain into position on Sunday afternoon so that Monday I’d wake up feeling motivated and determined after a weekend of feeling like a hopeless failure.

Do I need to point out that this was a repetition of behaviour I’d been doing for years and years? Let’s face it – we stick with what we know, don’t we?

But as I moved about the house on this particular day, something happened to me. I’m not sure what it was, but it clawed together all the doubts and uncertainties I’d been building over the last five weeks until I found myself standing in the hall with the vacuum cleaner in my hand, staring at the wall with this thought circling in my head: The definition of insanity is when you repeat the same actions over and over, expecting a different result.

Albert Einstein said that. And he was right.

So I stopped trying to diet the next day and uinstead, started out on a path that helped me in ways I can’t begin to go into here. Suffice to say that the act of stopping was important, of not doing the same thing over and over. But when it comes to losing weight, I still come back to my first question. If I want to lose weight, how do I do it? How do I do it knowing all I have learned about diets and the human body and nutrition and exercise and genetics etc? How do I do it knowing my history of failure?

The only option I have – short of surgery (and that’s not on the table)  – is to try take everything I’ve learned and apply it to myself. To go on a ‘diet’, to increase my exercise – but to take a leaf out of Dr Einstein’s book and not do everything the same way I always did it. All that learning and research I’ve done has taught me that there are different ways to go about this, an approach that I can mould to my own lifestyle and preferences. Most important of all is managing my thoughts. Success begins in the mind – how I think about food, myself, exercise etc. That’s one of the biggest things I plan on doing differently.

That’s what I’m doing to do. And to my great surprise, it’s what I want to do. I’ve learned a huge amount. Surely knowing all I know now will have an effect on my success. I can’t be sure either way. But like I said, giving up is not an option, so I’m going to give it a try. I’ll keep you posted on how I go.

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3 Comments

  1. KRin says:

    I’m on this path as well. I don’t diet so it’s increasing my fitness for me and that for me is walking more. One small step at a time. And only weighing myself once a week!

    1. Mackenzie says:

      How are your vegies going?

  2. Allegra says:

    I too have said so many times that my new ‘diet’ will start on Monday. I won’t eat chocolate and I’ll just have salads for every main meal. But I never stick to it. Sometimes I don’t even start. And then my old friend guilt kicks in. Guilt that, once again, I’ve not done what I promised myself I would do. That I’m a failure and destined to be in this unhappy haze forever.

    But upon reflection and a little self-analysis (and I need to do much more of this) I have discovered that guilt is a big problem in my life. It is one of the largest obstacles to actually achieving something. For me, guilt makes me procrastinate and turn otherwise attainable goals into the proverbial mountain.

    Following this foray into reflection and self-analysis, I have made myself look for a new approach. What I came up with is that what I really want is to be healthy & fit. I don’t want to be skinny, as I don’t find skinny attractive on me (I was once skinny due tp a medical condition). Skinny is fine if that is what you naturally are. But I’m not, so I shouldn’t aspire to it.

    I am no longer on a diet; I’m merely trying to insert healthier options into my every day eating. I’m also trying to do the fitter options in life. Take the stairs. Walk instead of taking the bus. Go to the gym, even if I just do 15 minutes on the treadmill and leave again … at least I’ve done something and I’m getting into the habit of doing that something. Rather than continuing my habit of the having done nothing option.

    My new mantra on the treadmill is “Be Fit” … the word thin drops in now and then but I brush it aside with contempt, as I really don’t wish to be thin. I wish to be fit and healthy.

    I look forward to watching your progress Mackenzie and I will keep you updated with mine!