The Fight to Change Your Equilibrium
5 tips to change your mindset and promote long term, sustainable changes in your waistline
A diet (as we’ve come to refer to most food-based attempts to lose weight), is a change in your routine. You’ve decided to change your equilibrium in search of a new normal that involves a healthier version of our former selves. However, there are many forces in your life: your extended family, in-laws, weather, your job, politics, friends, neighbors, etc. These forces work – sometime invisibly – to maintain your equilibrium. Those forces can govern your thoughts and your behaviors and make you resistant to change. Why? Because change is hard, and at times it can feel uncomfortable or even dangerous. When we change our normal, people react to us differently; and if that reaction is perceived as negative, it can make us return to the way behaved before. This is an example of a feedback loop’s power to change behavior. Why does this happen? Because people crave predictability and stability. It’s safe. It’s comfortable. It’s normal.
What we eat changes how we shop, how we cook, how much time we have to restock our pantry with “the good stuff.” It changes our family’s equilibrium when we decide not to buy the “bad stuff” that they still love and have come to expect as a part of their normal. It changes the restaurants we go to. It may eliminate that Friday, after-school trip for ice cream with the kids. It can dictate our mood if we feel hungry or we’re craving something that’s been removed from our list of staples. Ask, for example, your favorite caveman what the first two weeks of the paleo diet were like during the sugar detox. When you decide to make a conscious effort to change several variables in order to create a new normal that’s going to result in a healthier version of yourself, these changes can affect your entire system…and the system fights back to undo the very changes you’re trying to put in place toward a healthier you. Over time, the old system wins out as the new normal begins to morph into the old version; and inevitably, poor habits return…followed by the pounds. So, what can we do to break the cycle of futility and move toward lasting change?
Here are 5 ways to “buck the system” and have more success creating and maintaining your new normal:
- Acceptance. Hey, this stuff is hard! Admit it. Don’t look at it as easy, take ownership in the fact that to create a new normal, there are a lot of variables you will have to change along the way. Breathe. Accept that what you’re doing is difficult, then set goals and expectations accordingly.
- Flip the equation: People think that losing weight will make them happier; but what if being happier first increases your chances of dropping the weight and keeping it off longer. An Australian study on obesity and weight loss maintenance recently supported the hypothesis that people scoring higher for social, psychological, and subjective well-being had a significantly better chance of maintaining a 10% body weight reduction after a year than those with lower scores in the same categories. In short, it supported the hypothesis that those showing characteristics of flourishing (happiness) had greater success in reaching and maintaining their goals.
- Celebrate Accomplishments: Your weight loss goal is based in incremental change. Celebrate the changing increments! Don’t sap the positivity from your victories by saying, “Well I shoulda/coulda/woulda done this all along.” Well guess what, you didn’t. Let it go. You’re doing it now. Focus on that and acknowledge and celebrate each step in the process. Change is about moving the needle. Even if you hit a plateau and the numbers slow down, celebrate how you feel. Find ways to share those successes with others. The more people in your system are aware of and see and feel the changes, the more their feedback may support your new normal. So celebrate! Write it down. Slap a high five with a friend or a mirror. When you celebrate change, you’re making it real.
- Don’t Call it a Diet: Diets are temporary. Your goals are not. Fix your narrative. Creating a new normal demands a sense of permanence that “diet” just doesn’t support. Call it a lifestyle change. Call it a journey. Just stop calling it a diet…and if others insist on labeling it for you, correct them. “I’m not on a diet. I’m changing my life.”
- Keep it Real(istic): Don’t set yourself up for failure. Consult a nutritional expert and a behavioral coach/therapist to help you decide what will set you up for success long-term. They have the science of success behind them and will work to tailor the best individual program for YOU. The accountability inherent in these relationships can be motivating and can also help you take ownership in the process. You’re the expert in you. Work with these professionals to help you organize and implement the plan that fits your system.
Come investigate the weight management team at Comprehensive Gastrointestinal Health – a registered dietitian nutritionist, behavioral coach, fitness consultant, and a nurse practitioner with expertise in weight management – will all work in collaboration with you and your individual needs. Very often, these services are covered by your health insurance – we can help you figure it out. We really want to help you change your equilibrium, achieve your wellness goals, and MAINTAIN your new and healthier normal! Click here to learn more.