Sunday 25 February 2018

Doctor's orders: Don't self-limit in weight battle

It can be hard to really believe you can be thin - but don't let your head sabotage you

We all slip in our health regimes: Just like the fiction Bridget Jones, we can all slip off the wagon in our weight loss programmes. It's how you handle it that's important.
We all slip in our health regimes: Just like the fiction Bridget Jones, we can all slip off the wagon in our weight loss programmes. It's how you handle it that's important.

Ciara Kelly

Six weeks done, in our 'Slimmer for Summer, lose a stone in eight weeks' challenge and everyone is looking forward to the next two weeks being over! It's hard to maintain a weight-loss programme over time. You feel tired. You feel drained. So that's why we talked last week about adding in exercise to keep your metabolism and your energy levels up. We saw lots of our columnists struggle over the past few weeks as the continuous grind of this got to them and they wobbled and fell off their programmes. That's normal - the important thing is getting back in the saddle quickly.

All of us slip, when we're on a healthy eating regime, but whether you slip for a day, a weekend or it's the end of the programme altogether is in your hands. So how you handle falling off the wagon is the difference between this lifestyle becoming sustainable or it becoming another pipe dream.

Brendan O'Connor said something really interesting in that regard a couple of weeks ago, when he said he found it hard to see himself as a normal-weight person. He thought of himself as fat. (I should point out that he's actually quite thin with a normal BMI - which is unusual now for an Irish man) But that is true of loads of us - we don't really believe we'll ever be a thin person. And that self-belief, or indeed lack thereof, causes us to abort or self-sabotage our efforts to lose weight.

Being overweight can become a security blanket we hide under. It can be the excuse we use, as to why we're not succeeding in many areas of our lives. We tell ourselves; "I'd be happy - if I wasn't fat." "I'd be in a relationship if I was thinner." "I'd be more successful - if only I was slim." On the one hand we believe being overweight is holding us back from reaching our full potential. But on the other hand it's a convenient excuse as to why we can't do anything, about our problems right now. We believe losing weight is the answer to all our problems - but it's also the end of our excuses. What if we lose the weight and we're still not in a relationship? What if? What then?

So losing weight can be threatening. Change always is. But also, exactly like Brendan, we find it difficult to visualise ourselves as someone who isn't overweight. As someone who doesn't interact as a fat person. Doesn't self-deprecate. Doesn't self-limit. And as every psychologist will tell you - how you visualise yourself is part of who you are, how you behave and who you become.

Are you really going to let your head hold you back, from achieving this again? You want this. You know you do. It's hard. It's tough. But pushing through those facts is empowering. Being a normal weight won't, in fact, solve all your problems. But setting yourself a difficult goal and achieving it will make you feel good about yourself. It's not all about the actual weight loss, it's about achievement.

It is hard. But as someone once told me it's no harder for you than for anyone else. You can be a thin person - if that's what you want - simply by keeping going, with what you're at now. And maybe it will change things; how you feel about yourself; how you see yourself. Maybe even how others see you.

God knows we're a superficial lot! But you will never know what the effect will be if you continue to sabotage yourself when you get close to your goal. So take off the security blanket and give yourself a chance to shine.


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