The story is so familiar. Most people who are overweight and try to lose weight may find their efforts successful for a while but end up gaining back the weight they lost (plus a few extra) after each attempt. Or, you may find that you are not even successful at shedding a few pounds because you can’t seem to stay committed to healthier eating and lifestyle choices for longer than a few days. Could it be that your brain is working against you? It is possible that your mind prefers you overweight?
Here are some of the subconscious ways that your mind may be holding on to your unhealthy habits and keeping you overweight.
If you have been overweight your entire life or most of your life, then you have likely developed some coping strategies to help you feel more comfortable or to find your “niche” in your social circles. If you aren’t the “hunky guy” or the “hot babe,” then you have to come up with some other identity. For many, that might be the fat but funny one, the fat but happy one, or the fat but disgruntled one. Whatever it is, it is part of how you identify. It’s part of who you are.
Trying to lose weight can seem like a scary prospect because it would mean losing part of your identity. If you aren’t the fat but (fill in the blank) person, who are you? These kinds of questions may be playing in your mind every time you consider what it would really mean to lose weight and change your habits in meaningful ways.
Your Sense of Self-Worth
For others, you may have everything you have ever wanted in other aspects of your life but struggle in just one area- your weight. If your life is wonderful in all other elements, you may question whether you deserve to have a perfect existence. If you lack self-worth, you may not feel as though you deserve to have the kind of body you want.
By staying overweight, you are saying to the world, “it’s okay that I’m not healthy. I have everything else I could want, so it wouldn’t be fair if I had it all.” You are justifying your poor treatment of your health because you don’t think you deserve health and happiness in all areas of your life.
Most people with food addiction or weight loss problems have emotional connections or attachments to eating. You may equate food to love, safety, economic stability, or security. Whatever the attachment, it extends far beyond simple nutrition and fuel for your body. By feeding yourself and others, you are showing them love and security; you are showing your commitment to them or honoring family traditions, even when these could be damaging your health.
Your Sense of Control
Many people who struggle with food and weight loss do so because they feel the need to control their lives or that dieting is somehow relinquishing that control to someone else. If you were raised with strict rules about food, if food was used as a reward or punishment, or if you have control issues in other aspects of your life, changing how you eat may be more about whether you are in control of your emotions and choices in life than it is about your ability to control your food intake.
If you are tired of being on the dieting roller coaster and ready to commit to a lasting and permanent change in your life that will lead to a healthier weight and better well-being, then understanding how these psychological roadblocks may be impeding your progress can help. If your subconscious is keeping you overweight to maintain the status quo or help you cope with childhood pain or identity questions, then you know where you need to start working to ensure success on your road to better health.