I talk to a lot of people about losing weight. Not only our members at Castro Valley Fitness, but other people as well. There are a lot of aspects to it, and after talking with hundreds of people about this I’ve learned many things but I think the most important thing I’ve learned is how crucial the things we say to ourselves really are. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that for most people it’s much more important than the food itself.
What I want to do today is let you know some things I hear from people that are a red flag to me and why. I will also give you some suggestions so that you can make your self-talk help you reach what you are trying to achieve instead of impeding it.
One thing I need to mention before I go into all this is that, technically speaking, some of the things that we tell ourselves we should do to lose weight may actually work. The problem is when these things don’t work for the reasons we believe, put us in an unnecessarily bad frame of mind or aren’t thought about with the long-term in mind.
Let’s start with the biggest one.
Statement: I want to lose weight.
Why is this a problem? I’ve said this many times but it bears repeating:
NO ONE WANTS TO LOSE WEIGHT!
People want what they feel losing weight will get them. They want to be healthier, look better, not be in pain, feel better about themselves, etc. They just think that losing weight will help them reach those goals.
How do I improve this thinking? This is going to take some work, but you need to think about what you really want and why. Not just surface level but go deep with yourself. The people that do this succeed in their goals. The people that don’t, by and large, do not. That is because there is nothing at all inspiring or empowering about looking at a number on a scale. It’s quite the opposite, in fact.
On the other hand, getting off a medication or fitting into something you’ve been wanting to wear or being able to finish a hike or lift a weight you weren’t able to before? That really means something.
Statement: I’m just going to cut out carbs.
Why is this a problem? While it’s true that cutting out carbs may help people lose weight, it’s not because there is something evil about carbs. It’s just a way to cut calories. The problem with cutting out carbs is that for most people it’s just not sustainable. It’s not sustainable because it makes people feel like garbage and the worst thing you can do for your long-term success is force yourself to do something that makes you feel like garbage. Besides, some carbs taste good!
How do I improve this thinking? Understand that demonizing one particular food group isn’t necessarily a healthy approach. There are a lot of approaches that work but the key is to figure out something that works for you and will work for a long time.
Statement: I’m going to do this (enter name of extreme diet here).
Why is this a problem? This one is a minefield. There are a lot of diets out there that use extreme methods to cause weight loss. What do I consider an extreme method? Anything you can’t see yourself doing some version of for the next 5 years. Also, let’s get serious. You know what an extreme diet is. Stop kidding yourself.
How do I improve this thinking? Ask yourself if you want to eat only 800 calories a day for the next five years. Do you want to drink 2-3 shakes every day for the next five years? I get it. You see the ads and they’re filled with amazing before and after pictures.
This Could Be You!!!
What you don’t see is the after-after pictures which look pretty much exactly like the original before pictures. Because all of these diets focus only on crazy methods, you will lose a good amount of weight right away, but as soon as the diet is over (and it will be because you CANNOT sustain these approaches) you will very quickly gain all of the weight you lost back and probably more. Focus more on sustainability and a slow-steady approach and you will thank yourself in the long run when you are reaching your goals and everyone who was on the other diet is worse off than when they started.
Statement: I need to do more cardio.
Why is this a problem? There are a lot of problems with this statement but let’s keep it simple and talk about the biggest one. (In case you haven’t noticed I really like simple.) When it comes to losing weight, diet is 85-90% of it. I know you see all these ads and posts about fat-burning belly-flattening exercises and 1000 calorie burning workouts, etc. It’s garbage. You can do all the cardio you want and if you don’t work on your diet it won’t mean anything. Despite what a lot of people say, you just don’t burn all that many calories exercising. Especially if most of what you do is cardio. In the long-run, the type of exercise that really gets you the most bang for your buck is strength training anyway. Yes, you should do some cardio, but for general health reasons, not for weight loss.
How do I improve this thinking? First of all, understand what really matters for weight loss. Diet. Next. Stop trying to take the easy way out. You know what I mean. Put in the work. With your nutrition and with your real motivation. No one said that was going to be easy, but I promise that once you get going and put in that initial work, you’d be surprised at how it starts to flow.
I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions or have any self-talk issues you need help turning around. It’s not easy, but I promise that if this is an issue for you, it’s going to be incredibly hard to make progress until it’s addressed.
Have a great day!