It’s been five years since I decided to take responsibility for my health and change my lifestyle. Not only have I lost over 40 pounds of fat, but I’ve also managed to keep it off, which seems to be the hardest thing when it comes to weight loss.
Although I completely changed my diet and lifestyle, I believe that working on my mindset, especially changing my limiting beliefs, was the single most important factor that brought the results.
We can force ourselves to go on a diet or exercise regime for a while, but if we don’t change the deep innermost beliefs that are holding us back, then weight loss will only be temporary. As long as you consciously or subconsciously believe that it’s impossible for you to be in top shape, your body and mind will do everything to sabotage your efforts and bring you back to the place where you believe you really deserve to be.
If you’ve been yo-yo dieting for years and not been able to achieve long-lasting results, know that the culprit is not your diet or lack of sufficient willpower. You need to get to the root cause of your weight problem, which is limiting beliefs.
Here are my three biggest limiting beliefs that were keeping me overweight for years, and explanations of how I changed them:
1. Being fat is in my genes
You’ve probably heard the joke about a woman complaining “Doctor, the problem is that obesity runs in our family” and the doctor replying “No, the problem is that no one runs in your family”.
I grew up in a family where all the women were more or less overweight and I subconsciously adopted a belief that being fat was my destiny also.
Yes, many overweight people are influenced by their families but they are more a product of their environment rather than any genetic coding. When your parents are heavy and you are brought up eating the same diet, then you will be heavy also.
The new science of epigenetics shows that genes do not control us, but instead the environment affects gene expression.
Studies with identical twins have confirmed that environmental factors and habits lead to different weight gain, independent of genetic background. So even if you’re genetically predisposed to carry extra fat, you can take action, like exercising and eating healthily, and influence your gene expression.
The food you eat, and your attitude and lifestyle, affect which genes will be expressed and which ones suppressed. So you have the power to shape your body and destiny.
Once you realize it, you no longer have to be a victim of your heritage and can start taking responsibility for your health and life.
Getting rid of this detrimental belief made me break through the major plateau on my weight loss journey. I stopped feeling like a victim and blaming setbacks on my genes.
2. Life must be a struggle
When I worked on my mindset and dug deep to find the true reasons for my holding onto excess weight, I discovered that I held this fundamental belief that life is supposed to be hard, and we’re all supposed to struggle.
I’d been struggling with my weight since my teenage years, and I subconsciously believed that when I finally lost the weight, I’d get into a perfect relationship, I’d be perfectly confident and free in my own skin, I’d be happy and my life would be all roses.
But because I believed life was supposed to be a struggle, that’s what my subconscious mind was saying: if you lose all that weight, you will either die, or something very bad will happen in your life, which will bring a more serious struggle. I know, dying may sound a bit extreme but that’s how our subconscious minds work. It has its own inner logic: life’s supposed to be a struggle and if there’s no longer any struggle then there is no life.
Since I didn’t want to die or experience any disasters in my life, my subconscious was saying that putting up with these weight problems seems the safest option, and I can easily bear them.
Once I became conscious of the belief, it looked ridiculous. I started reasoning, and realized that there will always be challenges in life and that it’s OK to embrace them. My idea that something bad has to happen was irrational and not based on anything real. By taking it from darkness (i.e. subconsciousness) to light (i.e. consciousness) I made this belief dissolve, and as a result I stopped sabotaging myself.
3. Failing is detrimental
I’m a recovering perfectionist. Although being a perfectionist might serve one well in some areas of life, it definitely didn’t help me on my weight loss journey. I had this “all or nothing” approach. So I would go on a diet and start exercising. As soon as I ate something that I wasn’t supposed to eat, or skipped my workout, I’d consider myself a failure and would throw in the towel altogether.
After studying many great teachers and meeting many successful people, I’ve learned that they all failed a lot along the way and that failure serves us greatly.
Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s in fact a part of success. Failure helps you understand yourself better, improve your strategy and it diminishes your ego, which makes you more in tune with reality.
I started learning from my weak moments and analyzing my behaviour, so the next time I could avoid the same mistakes. For example, I used to give in and eat cookies and drink coffee in the afternoon. Instead of quitting my diet altogether, I started questioning why it was happening. I was tired and exhausted. OK, what could I do to avoid it? Bring healthy snacks with me to work, have a 15 min break and go outside to get some fresh air and sun exposure. I learned from my failure and now knew what to expect so I could prepare for it.
I no longer aim for perfection, I now aim for progress, because I know that an attitude of perfectionism always sabotages me. I now embrace failure in all areas of my life, and I’m not afraid to be embarrassed. If you’re not failing, then chances are you’re probably not doing anything important in life.
What beliefs are holding you back?
If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, or have even lost hope of ever achieving your ideal body, ask yourself: what beliefs have been holding you back? There’s always a deeper reason why your body tends to hold onto excess weight, and I talk about it in my free weight loss video training series. You need to dig deep and get to the root cause of your weight problem. Once you discover that detrimental belief, question it and find all the potential evidence why it might be false.
Beliefs shape your reality, but they are neither true nor false. They can only be beneficial or detrimental. And the good news is that you can consciously choose them. So decide now which beliefs are serving you better.