Why is it that keeping weight off seems to be the hardest part of losing weight? It doesn’t make sense. It seems that, once you’ve reached a hard goal you’ve set for yourself and lost the pounds you wanted to lose, you would then easily do what you need to do—no matter how difficult—to stay there. After all, why in the world would you ever want to go back to where you were before? Why? Because it’s so much easier to be fat! It requires no effort, no discipline, no early mornings, no record-keeping! No conscious thought. You can do it with your eyes closed!
And because there are always millions of voices in your head, pushing you to gain that weight back. Here’s a sampling of what my voices say:
1) (From inside the Snickers bar left casually on a counter or a delicious fudge dessert pictured on a menu): “I’m here! Come get me! What fun!”
2) “Damn it! Why shouldn’t I eat that bag of Cheetohs? After all, I’m 95 pounds thinner than I was before! Why shouldn’t I reward myself?”
3) “You’re going to gain back that weight anyway, so you might as well just go ahead and get it over with.” (This is a very discouraging and depressing voice.)
4) “It’s too cold/dark/hot/miserable/boring to exercise. Just turn over and go to sleep.”
5) “You really don’t look as voluptuous as you used to look. You’re starting to look a little scrawny. Eat that ice cream, for God’s sake! You owe it to yourself.”
6) “Join the crowd. Don’t be a stick-in-the-mud! Eat that pizza like everyone else and enjoy it. Don’t make people feel bad by turning it down!”
7) “Life is too hard/short/stressed to diet. Go a little easy on yourself.”
8) “Well, there you go: you’ve eaten one caramel cluster, you might as well just eat the whole bag.”
9) “Who’s going to know anyway?”
10) And, finally, the overwhelming one: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to eat something this incredibly scrumptious! The chance may not come again! Eat up!”
Not one of these voices is really as articulate as I’m stating here. They are subconscious murmurs, and maybe that is why they have so much power over me. If I saw a shady looking character come up to me on the street, offering me my drug of choice, chocolate, by saying, “Buy this! This is some great chocolate!”—I’d be able to resist that. The problem is that all these voices don’t come to me looking like drug dealers. They sound totally reasonable and very persuasive—and they speak in a voice that sounds just like my best self.
I’m not sure how to fight them, but I’m working on it. I have learned that one defense is to come up with a new goal, a new plan: “I will start exercising 300 minutes a week.” or “I will not eat anything after 7 p.m.” But I think the best defense is to force the voices out into the open, into the light, to show themselves by making them conscious—so that I, in turn, can have a conscious, thought-out, well-planned response ready—which will include throwing out all the caramel clusters left over from Christmas!