Friday, 21 October 2011

When being overweight seems to work...

I get a lot of emails, asking me a range of questions about dieting, weight loss, motivation and exercise.

These emails ask about specifics - and sometimes I get the impression that I am being asked to reply back with a definitive plan, or an exact formula, or a secret, to make weight loss easy.

I have lost a fair amount of weight. (About 40kg or about 85lb.) I still have a way to go. I am currently maintaining this weight loss and maintaining my body shape and fitness levels. So I guess that is why others might feel compelled to email me for advice? And I do feel touched when people tell me they are inspired and motivated by my efforts so far...

So I do usually give an overview of what has worked for me, and what I recommend someone else to try. It is no secret. Eat less calories, and move more. A daily intake of 1200 calories, and at least 45 minutes a day of exercise, plenty of water, plenty of sleep.

But here's the thing - I am guessing that most overweight people, including myself and anyone who emails me - we already know how to lose weight. We already KNOW we need to eat less and move more. We all already KNOW that a healthy balanced diet and plenty of exercise means that we will lose weight.

So why are there so many of us who are still overweight?

Why, when we know that an apple is the best option, do we sneak in a bar of chocolate instead? We know that is a bad choice, especially if we want to lose weight, but we manage to justify it anyway?

If we KNOW that regular daily exercise is great for weight loss, why don't we do it? Why do we make up excuses to not do something that we know if effective for losing weight?

If we have clear ideas on what we want to look like and how great we would feel at a healthy weight, why are we still overweight?

If we are goal orientated and can realise the benefits of a healthy, fit body, why do we drag our heals and not move toward this?

Why do we persist in behaviours that keep us overweight?

I'll tell you why - somehow, being fat is working for us. Eating too much is giving us a payoff of some kind.  There is, in some way, a benefit to being the size we are.

Some how, some way, for some reason, our brains and bodies are getting a message that being overweight is working for us.

If I try and analyse this in myself, I find myself uneasy and confused by the utter mind-fuckery that this concept presents. What on earth is it that makes my brain so happy to hold onto the idea that being fat is actually benefiting me in some way?

Off the top of my head -
  • Overweight is safe
  • Overweight hides me
  • Overweight plays down my abilities
  • Overweight calms me down
  • Overweight slows my frantic brain
  • Overweight forces me shine in non-physical ways
  • Overweight gives me a (false) sense of abundance
  • Overweight gives me something else to blame if I fail
  • Overweight is a well know habit
Wow. I need to look into all this a little more I think.

How about you? Are you are overweight despite knowing exactly how to lose weight? Can you identify with what I am saying here?

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  1. you have NO idea how relevant this is for me at the moment. NO idea. And yes, it is complete mind-fuckery.

  2. For me weight loss is never as simple as calories in vs calories out. Weight loss is ALL about the head space, the mind.......if you don't work on that then no change is going to be permanent. Many people are overweight (and include myself in this) because our emotions are tied to the food we eat. Eating for comfort, out of boredom, to break up the day.......been there done that and worn out the T shirt. If you don't address WHY you eat then the battle is only half won. Just my little opinion of course :)

  3. Preach it!!! You are right on the money and yes it is mind-fuckery all the way!! Thanks for being you and for being REAL!! -Love it!!

  4. Soo...not sure if you know it, but I myself have been on this ride. I blog via blogspot, it's more personal, but, my fitness blog was started because EVERYBODY kept asking how I did and still do it. Today my blog at was about the same thing. Calories in vs Energy burnt off. It seems so simple when you put it to paper, but, doing it in real life is hard! I hope you don't mind I shared this on my zumba fb page? Maybe if they see someone else agree's it will help!

    Goodluck and I will keep reading!


  5. Just got my license renewed, didn't recognize the person in the photo or the extra chin. Finding the time is soo hard. Take my hat off too you. Need to get my exercise mojo and give up the carbs...

  6. Oh, Wow! Some of these things have crossed my mind a zillion times!...Why do I eat what I eat?! Why don't I just get up and put myself on the treadmill?

    Thank you for this blog. It was down right inspirational.

    Happy Thursday, to you! (:

  7. Another brilliant post, Luce. You always inspire me. Always, always!

    After thinking about your post, I wrote my own with my own reasons;

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explore this xx

  8. I am fascinated by the reasons why it would suit you. I see people every day and give lots of advice on healhty lifestyle and there is such a stumbling block. Most people do not loose weight even if their healht really depends on it.

    The way the mind works - who knows. But your list really got me thinking. Thanks.

    And congrats and well done on being so disciplined and focussed. keep going.

  9. Lucy, I love this. In a lightbulb kind of way. Love it. Thank you. xxxx

  10. Brilliant post. You and Holly have blown me away today. Time to get my fat arse moving. No more excuses considering I KNOW exactly what I need to do to get rid of this weight and improve my health.

  11. Thank you for this, thank you.

  12. Great post. I especially liked "We know that is a bad choice, especially if we want to lose weight, but we manage to justify it anyway". That's where I'm at always justifying in my head why I ate what I did or why I didn't exercise. That needs to change. I have 6kg to lose and in that I somehow managed to put on 1.5kg in 2 weeks. I hate my huge spare tyre but I'm so lazy. Sigh.

  13. Oh sweet Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. This post is singing to me, oh yes dear you it is!!!

    Please explore this some more. Please! x

  14. PS - the pathology of addition also springs to mind. Fat is our fix. x

  15. I think you're right- it's not logical; it's not just a question of simply doing what we know we should. Motivation comes into the equation precisely because deep down many of us don't REALLY want to lose those extra pounds we are carrying. And for some of us, eating "comfort food" is a vain attempt to fill in other missing emotional pieces of our lives. I guess the reasons are slightly different for all of us. I'm probably just a tad overweight now, and I'd love to get back to the weight I was 10 years ago, but obviously not quite enough to have the self-control to do it. I changed my diet last February to vegan, mainly sugar and bread-free, and I tell myself I can eat anything I like as long as it doesn't break this rule... but I do break the rule in some way about once a week on average! I excercise when I can, but it's a bit sporadic. Initially I lost weight, and most of it has stayed off, but some crept back on again over the weeks and I'm now stuck somewhere in between where I was and where I want to be- or do I only want to lose more weight when it's bikini time?1 Anyway, thanks for a thought-provoking post :)

  16. Sometimes its just easier to eat than to deal with stuff. It is instant gratification that we all want. Weight loss takes time and has ups and downs but food can be an instant confort. Exercise can make you feel good but it wont make you lose weight instantly. I need to keep the end prize in sight and continue slogging on because I want to be able to fit into my pants.

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  18. It is when I am tired and distracted that I reach for chocolate and bad-to-eat-shit. Being mindful of this is a start, but also simply not having the stuff around helps immensely.

  19. The old saying, Mind over matter, was never more appropriate than when it comes to the battle of the bulge. If the mind isn't in it, you'll never win it.

  20. i wrote a post about why i'm overweight at the end of september, it was a revelation, a poignant one but also a scary one.

    great post lucy!!

  21. What an absolutely amazingly insightful post. Why have I not found you before today?! (mind-fuckery is my new favourite term!)

  22. I dont know if its like benefitin you anyhow....I believe more, that people are not mentally skinny thinking. For example, I have one friend who is quite overweight and trying to loose some, still, whenever she visits she has some sweets as a present. She wouldnt imaagine coming with, t.ex fruits, because shes so used to it...that its party and were relaxing so that would be sweets...sweets are asssociated with good things to her(and to me as well, hehe).
    To be slim you need to think slim. and I thinks thats what all ppl with overweight have in common - we think fat.
    I still indulge myself on fridays with some pie. Jogging and eating sallad counts as hard work for me :D

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