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Winning at Losing
How to Win at Weight Loss
The Making of Your Body Image – GETTING THIN WITHIN
Have you ever known people who eat whatever they want, as much as they want, and never seem to put on an ounce? Whereas you have to struggle with diets, exercise, iron will power, and feel generally deprived in order to let go of just a few pounds. Why is this? It all has to do with the fact that your body is literally a reflection of your inner mind. In other words, the vast storehouse of everything that’s ever happened in your life, everything you’ve ever felt – failures and successes, happiness and unhappiness – as well as every idea about yourself you’ve grown up with – has influenced the formation of your health and your body.
Here’s an example of how this works on a very basic level: what if right now you felt extremely unhappy and depressed? How would those feelings translate to your posture? Chances are that your shoulders would slump, your chest would cave in, and your face would droop. You might feel tired. If you remained in this state for any length of time, your body might look as though it was perpetually sagging.
Being overweight works in a similar way. In other words, your excess weight reflects what’s going on inside your mind. The attitudes and beliefs about yourself (your self-image) that have taken hold in your subconscious mind have influenced your actions, habits, and metabolism, consequently causing you to be overweight.
You can release all the old self-critical beliefs, values, and judgments your subconscious mind has acquired which have made you feel as though you were stuck forever in an overweight body.
Changing and restructuring your beliefs and your self-image doesn’t happen by just saying “I’m different” or “I’m thin.” The beliefs formed because they were reinforced through years of practice. The lion had to go a little out of his way in order to see for himself that he was indeed a lion. Some time and repetition are required to create lasting, dramatic physical changes. When you first start listening to your tapes, you may not even notice the deep, underlying changes you are making. But they are happening. You are doing it. Trust the process. Every day you are getting closer and closer to your goal, and as your ideas and beliefs about yourself change, your eating habits will change naturally. Losing your excess weight will occur effortlessly as a result of this new behavior.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF?
The legendary humanistic leader Mahatma Gandhi once said, “People often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, I acquire the ability to do it, even if I didn’t have it in the beginning.”
You act and behave – and consequently bring things into reality – exactly in accordance with how you see yourself. This is your self-image – your mental picture of yourself. But it is important to understand that your self-image is far, far more than the conscious perceptions and beliefs you have about yourself. Otherwise, losing weight and keeping it of permanently would be as easy as saying, “Starting right now I’m going to have a completely positive picture of myself eating less and losing weight. More is required than merely stating a desire out loud. If it were that simple, no one would be overweight or have any other problems. However, because the idea housed in your subconscious mind exert the most influence over your life, to change yourself you must change your subconscious beliefs.
THE SUBCONSCIOUS: YOUR INTERNAL GUIDANCE SYSTEM
Think of your subconscious as an internal guidance system – an automatic pilot. A you may know, an autopilot is an instrument on an airplane that keeps it flying at a certain altitude, a specific speed and a single direction . After programming it for the correct speed, altitude, and direction, the pilot can release active control of the plane. The autopilot takes over and keeps the plane on course. If the plane should stray a few degrees, the autopilot steers it back to the intended direction.
Your subconscious works in much the same way. It is programmed by the beliefs and attitudes you have about yourself If those beliefs are structured for your happiness and success, then your subconscious, like an autopilot, will steer you in that direction. If you drift off course, it will take over and get you back in the right direction. On the other hand, if your subconscious has been programmed with negative thoughts and beliefs, then it will direct you along that path.
DISCOVER YOUR UNWORKABLE BELIEFS
What are all the beliefs you have about yourself in connection with food, eating and weight loss? What immediately comes to your mind when you think about what you have been told over the years by your parents, friends, teachers, books, magazines, television, and so forth? Take a look at the following list of beliefs. Do any of these ring a bell?
My metabolism is slow.
I was fat as a child so I’ll probably be fat all my life.
Everything I eat goes to my hips.
I’ll never actually be thin.
I can’t resist ice cream.
Being overweight runs in my family.
Losing weight is hard.
Even if I lose weight, I’ll just gain it back.
I just look at food and I gain weight.
“Wait,” you might be saying. “I really can’t resist ice cream, and furthermore, losing weight is hard.” Keep in mind that belies are powerful but subtle – so subtle that you might think of them as facts. Oftentimes underneath a fact of our life is a strongly held belief that supports the fact. An interesting exercise is to state all the beliefs you have held about food, eating, and weight loss. When you have finished, state the opposite of those ideas. For example, “Losing weight is hard” would become :losing weight is now effortless for me.” Realize that while beliefs are powerful, they are not necessarily facts, and they can be changed.
Dr. Lewis’ Story
Dr. David Lewis, M.D., an obstetrician associate with San Dimas Medical Group. The largest birthing center in the United States, understands completely the medical importance of maintaining one’s ideal weight. Consequently, he was always searching for the perfect diet to help him achieve his weight-loss goals. His experience represents the typical seesaw syndrome of many dieters. He would manage to lose weight on a variety of diets, but could never keep it off.
“I’ve been on about every diet in the book. I’ve tried the shots, the pills, the grapefruit diet, all of them, and being a physician, discipline is one thing that is part of your life. I would go on these fasts and lose 20 pounds and then I would start slipping back into old habits and immediately I was going back up the scale again.”
Furthermore, he was unable to break through the 200-pound barrier. “I could never get below 200 pounds no matter what kind of bet, discipline, or diet was involved. I always stalled at around 205 – 210.”
“I found myself changing my behavior patterns. I didn’t have to go home and snack; I seemed not to want the same kinds of foods.”
A turning point for him was breaking through the magic number 200, after which his weight dropped to its present level below 190 pounds.
Dr. Lewis changed so much that often people said they didn’t even recognize him until they heard his voice. Colleagues and patients remark how well he looks and how impressed they are with his weight loss, and asks him how he did it. He tells them, “How can you go wrong when you have positive input into your system that says you want to look good, you want to lose, you want to be the person – the image – you want to be? Obviously, it’s done something for me. It’s allowed me to get through that magical transition and go below 200 pounds.”
Even more significant than his weight loss, Dr. Lewis has noted a tremendous change in his self-image and how he feels about himself. His self-concept strengthened as the pounds fell away, revealing an athletic, active man who wakes up each morning eager and ready to meet the day’s challenges.
Dr. Lewis became very interested in exercise and started working out in a gym. He lost a total of 40 pounds in about a three-month period. He did not experience serious plateaus or resistance. Fro the first time, he feels this weight loss is permanent.
Connie Thomson’s story can best be understood by two ideas: patience and learning to accept herself on all levels. Connie had been in therapy to help her lose weight, but the pounds did not come off. She had realized from therapy that it was necessary to accept herself before she would begin to lose weight. In order to achieve this, she listened to positive affirmation programs for six weeks before she started using visualizations.
Over the next few months, Connie’s weight stabilized. Throughout this time she became more aware of the types of food she was eating, although she did not diet or make any conscious changes in what she was eating. Once she started losing, she continued to drop weight steadily even though she never dieted or exercised. In the next 101/2 months she lost a total of 87 pounds – over eight pounds a month, two pounds a week.
“Those who meet me now do not believe that I ever weighed as much as I did. They really don’t. I have to carry around what I call my fat pictures because they really don’t believe me. My family just thinks it is wonderful. I think that as positive as the weight came off and as easy as it was for me to do it, and I say easy because it literally was, they were just amazed. They just saw the most positive changes in me that they ever saw in my entire life.”
“I believe I’m more myself, where I should be naturally, than I’ve been anytime before in my life. People say to me, “You look exactly like you should look.” That tells me I did it right.”
There may be times, particularly in the beginning, when you become discouraged, particularly if it seems nothing is happening. I can assure you, if you are indeed visualizing your own perfection, the process is at work. Patience is the key, success the reward.
The process is different for everyone, but I would like to share with you some of the first changes that I noticed. The first thing that happened in my eating was that I started craving really healthy food. That was not normal for me, and actually was quite alarming in the beginning. Mot incredible was that I could now eat and drink things that would have previously made me gag. You might not have such an incredible change in your eating habits, but I’m sure you will notice some difference. The other experience was that I no longer had to monitor what I ate because my body seemed to be craving exactly what it needed. This was certainly an experience that I hadn’t had before.
Most incredible of the entire experience is the amount of feelings and changes that came over me. With the weight loss cam realizations about what the weight had been about. When people started noticing, I became concerned that maybe it wouldn’t last. Most wonderful though was the love that I allowed myself to feel. I have come to no longer view myself from the point of view of imperfect proportions. Instead I am a whole person that just happens to be 87 pounds lighter.
Please have faith, the process is gentle and absolutely wonderful. Remember, that you are worth it. In those moments of doubt, read affirmations aloud. They and you are absolutely wonderful.
Robert Granderson, a schoolteacher, had been overweight for 20 years and had been an unsuccessful dieter most of that time. He had tried lots of diets and found that after about three weeks he just couldn’t stick to them any longer. Robert’s doctor was concerned because Robert’s weight was nearing 300 pounds.
Robert weighed 287 pounds and wore a size 56. For health reasons, he decided to go on a diet program at the same time he was using an audio program.
Robert’s weight loss has been accompanied by a new zest for living as his energy level has increased dramatically. It’s as though the activities he once enjoyed years ago have been rediscovered. Robert’s life is reopening for him with enthusiasm and joy.
“When I was heavy…I lost interest in a lot of life, except eating. I had lost interest in going places and doing lots of things I used to enjoy. But now it’s amazing how much more energy I have. In my job, for instance, I’m constantly amazed at myself at how I don’t sit around all have. In my job, for instance, I’m constantly amazed at myself at how I don’t sit around all the time. I’m always working. I get up and move around. I think faster too and I feel healthier. I truly feel much more full of energy and full of life than I have been for a long, long time. I feel enthusiastic about everything. I want to go places and do things I haven’t done for such a long time, like walking and traveling.”
Robert has continued to lose steadily. His weight loss now totals 91 pounds, and he says that he knows the weight will never come back again.
“I used to feel like I was on a runaway train. I couldn’t handle this, and now I feel that I am definitely in control and this weight is not coming back. There’s absolutely no way it’s coming back. It isn’t going to happen, it just isn’t going to happen.”
TRUST YOUR OWN TIMETABLE
Have you ever observed a rose unfolding? There’s a kind of gentle anticipation that goes with seeing its transformation from a bud to blossom. It’s not just the end result that is enjoyable, but the process.
You are resolving your weight problem forever because the approach you are taking to weight loss means changing from the inside out.
At first, this may seem like a radical idea. (‘What? No diets? No restrictions? No Willpower?”). Give your mind a chance to consider and accept the new ideas you are presenting it. It took years for you to acquire your ‘fat thinking” – your own negative subconscious beliefs about yourself and your relationship to food and eating. So you should not expect change to come overnight. Gradual change is nature’s own life-enhancing way. You’re giving your system a chance to seek its own life-enhancing way. You’re giving your system a chance to seek its own equilibrium, a physical, emotional, and mental balance. The alternative is going back to the same old methods you’ve tried before.
You might ask, “But when can I expect to see some results?” It depends on several factors: how long you’ve been overweight, and the issues that surround your weight problem. Be gentle with yourself and trust your body to respond during this time. Try not to compare yourself to anyone else. Remember that you are unique, one-of -kind, wonderful person at all times. The belief system that surrounds your particular weight problem – as well as how long you’ve been overweight -determines how long it will take your body to transform.
Regardless of how quickly or gradually you lose excess weight, all you need to know is that you are taking exactly the right amount of time to change. So respect your own timetable. Trust your body to release your excess weight at the time that is right for you. If it takes longer to let go of the weight, the results are often healthier than if you were to hurry the process.
That’s why, throughout this time, patience is important – meaning the kind of gentle anticipation that awaits the full flowering of the rose. The approach you are taking is a similarly gentle process that asks you to accept and appreciate yourself at all times. What you are doing is letting your body tune in to the changes that are taking place in your inner mind, then allowing it to release excess weight and melt down to your ideal self.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
While it’s impossible to say exactly how or when you’ll start seeing changes, there are two major areas where people usually notice a difference first.
Probably the most obvious change you will notice is a shift in your eating habits. Sometimes it’s a dramatic change, and other times it’s more subtle. Often people just suddenly become aware of the fact that they’re not eating like they used to – the foods they used to crave just have no appeal for them anymore. Some people change their eating habits without even realizing it at first. For example, many people have reported going to the grocery store and, without being consciously aware of it, buying foods they never would have bought before, such as wholesome fruits and vegetables instead of the usual junk foods.
The second area where people begin to notice change is in their thoughts and feelings. People report that they start feeling more positive about life and things around them. A general sense of well-being, of feeling more calm and relaxed, is often noticed. One of the most important changes that sometimes occurs even before you start losing weight is the way you feel about yourself.
These kinds of thoughts and feelings mean that the programs are working for you. Change is occurring in your mind, and as the changes take hold and become a part of your regular thinking process, both on a conscious and a subconscious level, your body will respond by moving toward your ideal weight.
PATTERNS OF LOSING WEIGHT
Because each person is unique, losing weight will be different in terms of the time it take and how it occurs. While some people lose weight quickly and easily like Dr. Lewis, who lost 40 pounds in three months, others experience a steady, gradual weight loss, such as Robert Granderson, who averaged a pound a week until he had lost over 90 pounds. There are still others who don’t lose weight quickly or steadily. They experience variations in the way they lose weight, and sometimes it takes longer than they think it should.
You might compare this weight-loss process which involves making internal changes to a tree which appears stark and lifeless in the winter. In reality, there is a great deal going on inside the tree in preparation for spring. When spring finally comes, subtle changes begin to appear. Then, after all the necessary internal changes have taken place and the time is right, the tree suddenly bursts into blossom.
COMMITMENT: THE ROLE OF YOUR CONSCIOUS MIND
Does your conscious mind have any part to play? Indeed it does. It is your conscious mind that makes the commitment to lose the weight in the first place.
As you journey toward this goal, be thankful for every small success and change of attitude along the way. These changes will add up and eventually you will see the happy results in your body.
“I see a major change in my attitude, and feeling good about myself. I think I’m a different person than I was six months ago in terms of self-image, self-concept, and where I’m going and how I feel about myself.” –David Lewis, M.D.
“I wouldn’t even think of sitting down and eating the great gobs of food I used to eat – it’s not appealing to me. As far as junk food is concerned, it’s gone completely out of my life.” –Robert Granderson
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