This guest post “How to Manage Your Mind While Losing Weight,” is written by Colleen Mitchell of Inspired Forward. Weight- Loss-Confessions was fortunate to have Colleen guest blog for us about a year ago and her article “How I Lost 50 Pounds as a Type 1 Diabetic” was so informational and inspiring, we couldn’t wait to have her write for us again. Please be sure to check out Colleen’s bio at the bottom and follow her!
How to Manage Your Mind While Losing Weight
Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash
Your brain is the only thing keeping you from losing weight.
Now if you’re thinking “she crazy” right now, hear me out. The one and only “trick” that stands between you (and me) and our goal weights… is managing our how we think about it.
“Nobody can make a change in their life unless they really, truly want to.”
And boy, is that true! I believe it even more, now.
If you desperately want something, you’ll do anything to make it happen. Jen Sincero writes about buying a brand new Audi Q5 before she had the money to pay for it because she believed with 100% of her being that she was the kind of person who drove that car.
In You Are a Badass, she writes that as soon as she made the decision to buy that car, she slept like a baby. Even without the money. (She made the money shortly afterward. She had a very compelling reason to make that money!)
Who Cares About the Audi? I Want to Lose Weight!
It’s the same with weight loss.
Sometimes we reach the point where the pain of staying the same is worse than the pain of changing. That works, but not all the time.
Sometimes we think we want to change things but never do for various reasons, which just means we never really wanted to change them. These are sometimes called “red herring goals” because we make them for other people or because we think we “should” do them. (Spoiler alert: “Shoulds” never inspire sincere action.)
And sometimes… Sometimes we intellectually understand the concept of weight loss but allow ourselves to get stuck by using our past results as proof of future failure.
I’ve done that.
And I’ve done it in a weird way. I lost 50 pounds as a type 1 diabetic by eating low carb, and for the past year, I’ve used that as proof that I can’t do it again.
Weight Loss Happens in Your Brain
I’ve maintained between 170 and 175 pounds for at least a year.
Many times, it felt frustrating. A few times, I dropped down to the 168 range, but inevitably bounced back up. I use business trips and family gatherings as reasons to eat outside my window when intermittent fasting. I don’t beat myself up about it, but going off protocol is a decision I make and I reap those consequences.
Weight loss happens in the brain because every piece of food that passes our lips is a decision we make. It might be our primitive brain making the decision, but it’s all on us. Nothing and nobody can “make us eat that” without realizing we’re eating it.
This is a hard reality for some people. With the exception of a few medical conditions—not including diabetes—weight loss (and gain) happens in the brain based on how we think about our realities.
I want to take a moment here to preface that I did not come up with this. I learned everything I’m sharing with you from Brooke Castillo, the Master Coach Instructor at The Life Coach School and host of The Life Coach School Podcast.
The tool I want to share with you today is called The Model.
The Self Coaching Model
The Model is also called the Self Coaching Model. It’s true for every result we create in our lives, including how much we weigh. You can analyze and solve literally ANY problem using the Model.
The Model is made up of 5 parts:
- a circumstance,
- a thought,
- a feeling,
- actions, and
A circumstance is factual and agreed-upon by everyone; a lawyer could prove it in a court of law.
“I’m fat” is a thought, not a circumstance. “I weigh 175 pounds” is a circumstance. The scale shows that number when I step on it.
Circumstances are neutral. By itself, it doesn’t mean anything.
Thoughts are what Brooke calls “sentences in the brain.” It’s a single sentence without any conjunctions like “and“, “but“, or “if.”
“I can’t lose the last 30 pounds” is a thought.
Thoughts are optional.
Circumstances do not cause feelings. We have thoughts about circumstances, and those thoughts cause feelings.
Feelings are “vibrations in the body.” We can describe feelings in terms of position in the body, the sensation it causes, its texture, shape, size, temperature, if it’s moving or not—a lot goes into a feeling.
A feeling is a single word, like “disgusted” or “fearful” or “anxious” or “happy” or “joyful” or “determined.”
When I think the thought, “I can’t lose the last 30 pounds”, I feel discouraged.
We always take actions based on how we feel. When we have more positive feelings, the actions we take are a lot more positive! A lot can go into the action line of the Model. These are behaviors we do or don’t do. “Taking no action” is something you “don’t do” which means it goes here.
When I feel discouraged about my thought, I don’t track my food, I don’t stop eating when I’m full, I eat outside my eating window, I treat my protocol as optional, I tell myself that one time doesn’t matter, and I don’t do anything I did that lost me the first 50 pounds.
Results are just that—the results of our actions. It’s important to recognize how our actions create our results. When I do or don’t do the things in the action line, what happens?
Results will always provide evidence for the thought, or be a reflection of or related to the thought.
My results from those actions are that I’ve been on a plateau for a year. I haven’t continued to lose weight like I want to, or like I had been.
All based on the thought.
When I think that I’ll never lose the last 30 the same way, I create that ahead of time!
It’s helpful to do Models every day to help manage how you think about anything, not just weight loss. You can do Models on scrap papers, in the fog on a mirror after a shower, on a cocktail napkin. The important thing is to do them whenever you have a problem.
C: I weigh 175 pounds.
T: I can’t lose the last 30.
A: I don’t track my food, I don’t stop eating when I’m full, I eat outside my eating window, I treat my protocol as optional, I tell myself that one time doesn’t matter, and I don’t do anything I did that lost me the first 50 pounds.
R: I haven’t lost the last 30 pounds.
When I spell it out like this, it becomes super easy to recognize where the real problem is…
Well… Now What?
When you know what the problem is, it’s simple to fix. Changing the thought to one that will generate a feeling that actually helps you lose weight is simple, but not necessarily easy.
It can take a long time and constant work through identifying “ladder thoughts” that maybe don’t get you all the way there in one fell swoop, but get you closer.
C: I weigh 175 pounds.
T: I can lose the last 30 pounds! (This might be the desired thought.)
A: I track my food, I stop eating when I’m full, I never eat outside my intermittent fasting window, I’m fully committed to my protocol, I decide to say “no” when I need to say “no”, I keep experimenting with my process to find out what works and don’t beat myself up when I find something doesn’t work.
R: I lose the last 30 pounds.
What are you thinking that’s keeping you stuck where you are?
Try doing a Model on it to find out! You can start the model from any line, and work up or down to fill in the rest. Keep asking yourself questions like
- “What am I thinking about this?”
- “How do I feel when I think that thought?”
- “What do I do when I feel like that?”
- “What do my actions create in my life?”
Managing your mind takes practice, and it’s something you’ll have to do for the rest of your life. There will never come a moment where you’ve “made it” and can stop managing your mind anymore.
The best news ever is that once you master this skill with your weight, you can apply it to any area of your life and create things for yourself beyond reaching a healthy weight.
If you ever want to lose that weight or break the plateau then the best place to start is right inside your own head.
Colleen Mitchell is the recovering perfectionist, organizational nerd, and entrepreneur/virtual assistant behind Inspired Forward, a blog and service business to help anxious millennials cut through the mental obstacles of anxiety, self-doubt, and overwhelm so they can construct a well-organized life and become the best versions of themselves.
She’s an advocate for mental health and Type 1 Diabetes education, though not always in that order. She lives near Seattle, Washington, with her husband and cat, even though she’s more of a dog person.