Why do so many people who have lost weight not find happiness?
There are many Philosophers that have discussed what happiness actually is. Put very shortly happiness is not the end goal it's the payoff. The problem is that sometimes that payoff can feel like an eternity away so the challenge is in finding the joy in the process in whatever you do – including weight or as some fitness experts tell us – fat loss.
If weightloss itself is the end goal, what you may find is that once you reach this you will habituate to your new self. What this means is that you will have reached the end of a challenge and at the same time started to become accustomed to yourself as the new "norm". Reaching the end of anything is a mixed bag... a sense of relief, a sense of euphoria "I did it!"and also a sense of loss – a feeling of "what now?"
It's that feeling of "what now" that can mask the incredible joy that should stay with you. Weightloss is hard, very hard for most people so it should be enjoyed, and celebrated when accomplished. Whether a great or small amount, and each step toward your goal is an achievement. Now those steps may not take the form of actual weight loss itsself – muscle is indeed more dense than fat so you need to check some other statistics – for example, if your clothes feel looser, hand jewellery feels less restrictive. Your body may be changing shape but your scales – well unless they can measure more than weight they can be soul destroying. If your weight is fluctuating and you are taking exercise – remind yourself that you are in control of your thougts – not your scales.
Buy a half decent tape measure with which you can measure yourself. Your waist, your thighs, upper arms, chest, bust, hips – you may find your weight is static but your shape is shifting.
What will losing weight allow me to accomplish?
This is a question I always ask myself. Now if you are honest and like me you there have been times when I have been a couch potato, enjoying countless episodes on Netflix – weightloss alone will not help you find much satisfaction beyond the next show however, even if you harbour adrenalin junkie thoughts I have discoverd a few simple things that have helped me and I believe may help you to find a sense of accomplishment and purpose on your weightloss adventure and beyond:
1. Buying a new size of clothing
This is one of the most rewarding activities in changing your eating habits, getting out and trying on new clothes that are a size smaller and feel comfortable.
2. Throwing away old clothes
This is always cathartic even if its not because of weightloss. Old clothes can make you look dull and tired. Grab some new colours and new shapes – experiment.
3. Choosing healthier food
This is not rocket science. This not just about fat – its about sugars too. Cut out the sugar and fat combinations and the heavily processed food – I love biscuits but that is a perfect example of what I a talking about. Check out some new recipes and discover how natural healthier food can be tasty and exciting.
4. Stop beating yourself up
Its not vanity to catch a glimpse of yourself in a shop window and wonder who the hot person staring back at you is, you have earned that feeling, own it and be confident. If you miss a walk, run, jog or exercise – own that to, recognise it and move on – consult your plan, not your emotions – they can be misleading.
5. Sharing with others
We have at some point all seen or heard Matt Lucas as the Fat Friends weightloss leader. My mum spent years in classes like that and it was hopeless in so many ways but joining a group where you can share your experiences is a good thing – think beyong weightwatchers, it could be yoga classes, walking groups, hiking groups, holiday tours. Put yourself out there and meet like minded people. Sharing your experiences good and bad can be great when you find someone that can relate to you. The people you meet can also help by holding you accountable.
6. Complete a challenge
If a tough mudder is too much too soon start with simple walks, a yoga class, your goal may be to regain flexibility that yo have lost over time – this is all exercise. And not just because they are fashionable – grab yourself a heart rate monitor watch with GPS. This will let you know distance walked, activity a day and can be a great way of monitoring your progress with apps that detail your accomplishments.
Remember that if you think "things" are happiness think of a new car or a new gadget. Sure it makes you happy – for a moment. But you soon get used to it. So you need to look at what that car or gadget can help you to accomplish beyond that first wow moment. And more importantly remain grateful for what you have and focus on that and not that which you do not have.
Give yourself a purpose, some meaning, recognise that putting on a pair of trainers is one step closer to running a marathon, one less biscuit is a step towards a healthier future.
Blanck out the unhelpful choices and begin an adventure of change – it may be weightloss, it may be cutting out carbs or alcohol, whatever it may be comit to the process and move one step at a time toward your goal. Discovering that you are already on the adventure and that the joy is in the process, and that enjoying each and every step of that adventure is a choice you can take...