Jennifer, a 36 year old woman happily married with two kids was 5’7 and weighed around 250 pounds when we first met. She struggled with her weight her whole life and had been off and on diets for as long as she could remember. She cried the first time in my office, telling me she felt she’d always be the fat girl and felt hopeless about losing weight, fearing that if she did lose it, she wouldn’t be able to keep it off.
This story of suffering is one that is all too familiar with women today. The daily, sometimes moment to moment struggle of feeling overweight, defeated and hopeless when it comes to our bodies. Unfortunately looking for the next quick fix diet will only get you the same defeating results time and time again. It’s best to look at losing weight as a large puzzle that needs to be slowly put together. There will be times that you think a piece might fit – only to discover it was the wrong piece and you need to try again. There are many elements that go into successful weight loss and one of my favorite tools is asking two simple questions;
What does the future hold if you don’t lose the weight?
What does the future look like if you do?
I asked Jen these questions and like many other women she had never really thought about this. She was constantly in her present misery concentrating on her failures and she hadn’t looked into the future.
So let me ask you – If you don’t lose the weight what will the future look like?
Likely you will continue gaining weight possibly developing diabetes, heart disease or one of the other many health conditions associated with being over weight. What will you be teaching your kids? How will your energy be? Will you age gracefully? If I was to tell you that if you don’t lose weight you are going to develop type two diabetes and have your right arm removed as a result (a true side effect of type two diabetes), how would that change you?
I know you are probably thinking “Jeesh Karen, way to be a Debbie downer!~” I apologize but more often than not we need strong emotions in order to drive change and make us take action!
Now let’s take a look at our second question;
What does the future look like if you do lose the weight?
If you can’t see where you are going, how are you going to get there? You see Jennifer had never actually believed she was going to get there, instead she continuously set herself up for failure and possibly even self sabotaged her efforts. Why, because the unfamiliar was uncomfortable. Who was she without her weight? Without the struggle of losing weight? It is what her whole life revolved around since she could remember!!
So without the struggle, without the weight who are you? What does your future hold? Will you want to be more social, active, sexual, playful? Will you enjoy going shopping and trying on clothes? Will you have tons of energy to do the things you dream of doing? What does that look like and how would that feel? Notice when you think about this what emotions surface. It is common for women to feel very uncomfortable, sad, anxious when seeing themselves in this “new life.”
Jennifer knew what to eat, she knew she had to exercise but she didn’t know how to believe in herself. This one simple exercise catapulted her on to a road of success. We had to revisit these questions numerous times but to date well over a year now she has continued losing and feels confident that she will not be gaining it back. I encourage anyone who is on their own weight loss or health journey to sit down and right out the answers to those two questions, feel the answers, imagine yourself really there in both situations. Then commit to getting yourself to the latter!