How to Make 2014 the Year You Reach Your Weight Loss and Fitness Goals
by Lily Dane
Psychology professor Peter Herman and his colleagues have identified what they call the “false hope syndrome,” which means their resolution is significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with their internal view of themselves.
We say if you can’t measure it, it’s not a very good resolution because vague goals beget vague resolutions. Grandiose goals beget resignation and early failure.
Tell me if this has ever happened to you: You decide you want to improve your body and live a healthier lifestyle. You read all the books, gather all the information, map out a nutritional strategy, design your own workout schedule (or have a trainer do it for you), and you embark on the journey to a leaner physique…and it starts working! But the minute you begin getting results, you fall off the wagon. You binge, you skip workouts, you cheat.
What’s most perplexing (and upsetting) is that you know what you should do… but no matter how hard you try, you can’t get yourself to do it! It’s as if some unseen force is sabotaging you and controlling your behavior like you were a puppet on a string.
You may not understand or appreciate this “self concept” and “self image” stuff yet.
However, if you choose to ignore this information, you would be making a grave error.
You can be on the most perfect nutrition program and the best training routine in the world, but you’ll always sabotage yourself in the long run if you don’t understand what your self image is, how it controls your behavior, and how to change it.
First, let’s talk about your SELF-CONCEPT: This is the total bundle of beliefs you have about yourself, including all the names and labels you put on yourself and the way you see yourself. If you really want to know what your true self-concept is, write down the words “I AM ______________” and fill in the blanks with everything you can think of. ”
What beliefs do YOU hold about yourself? How do you label yourself?
Make a list. Be honest – write down words and phrases you think describe yourself.
Now, look over your list.
The words and phrases you wrote are good indicators of your self-concept.
Your self-concept started forming in early childhood. Your parents, your peers, and authority figures largely influenced its development. All of the information and suggestions you gathered from those sources was stored in your subconscious mind – and were accepted as true, even if they weren’t.
As an adult, your self-concept has solidified, but it slowly continues to be molded and reinforced by your successes, failures, triumphs, humiliations and everything you experience, see, hear, read and think. For example, if you go on a diet or exercise program and you fail, this goes into your subconscious memory bank and reinforces a negative self-concept: ‘See, I told you I’ll never be able to look like those people in the magazines.’
Although your self-concept is deeply entrenched from years of conditioning, it CAN be changed. Before I explain the four steps to making the change, I want to explain self-concept using an analogy everyone can relate to – MONEY!
Money is seldom a subject that bores anyone and it’s a common denominator between all people, so let me explain the relationship between money and self-concept first. Once you see how self-concept affects how much money you earn, you’ll easily understand how it affects what kind of shape you’re in. You’ll then have enough awareness to begin changing your self-concept – and your body – for the better.
Question: If you won a large sum of money, or if your annual income suddenly became your monthly income, how would you feel about it?
‘That would be AWESOME!’ is what most people blurt out initially. I have news for you: As bizarre as this may sound, I guarantee that if your old self-concept was still locked in place, you’d do everything possible to get rid of your new-found wealth. You’d make bad business decisions. You’d be unsuccessful in sales. You’d have an uncontrollable urge to go out and spend the money, splurge on things you didn’t need, invest in things you knew nothing about, lend to people who wouldn’t give it back or even flat out lose it! Just look at what happens to most lottery winners.
Even though everyone SAYS they’d like more money, that’s only on the conscious, surface level. The problem is, your behavior is NOT controlled by your conscious mind; your behavior is controlled on a deeper level – from your subconscious mind where your self-concept is located. If having a lot of money isn’t consistent with your self-concept, it will sooner or later lead to some form of sabotaging behavior to bring you back down to your comfort level.
Most people stay inside a comfort zone that’s consistent with the concept and image they hold of themselves. They rarely rise above it or allow themselves to fall below it. Any time you try to make a change in your life, whether it’s losing fat or earning more money, it will stir up resistance inside you because you’re attempting to move beyond the safe, familiar and comfortable.
To earn more money, you must see yourself as capable of earning more money and worthy of keeping it. If you see yourself as a $24,000 per YEAR person, you’ll NEVER earn and keep $24,000 per MONTH unless you see yourself as a $24,000 per month person.
The part of the self-concept that affects your physical condition and ability to achieve your perfect weight is called the SELF-IMAGE. Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon and author of the best seller, Psycho Cybernetics, stumbled onto the discovery of self-image with his patients. Even though he had corrected physical defects and deformities with surgery, his patients often retained their old self-image and continued to see themselves as “ugly,” “scarred,” or “deformed” even though they appeared quite beautiful by society’s standards. As a result, they continued to behave as they always had; shy, retiring, lacking in confidence.
This led Dr. Maltz to the conclusion that changing the physical image was not the real key to changes in personality and behavior. There was “something else.” That something else is the self-image. When the self-image is “reconstructed,” the person changes. If the self-image stays the same, the person’s behavior stays the same.
If you see yourself as a fat person, you will behave like a fat person. If you see yourself as a lean, fit and healthy person, you will behave like a lean, fit and healthy person. A fat person would never work out faithfully every day of the week, so why is it any surprise that someone with a “fat person” self-image would skip workouts? Their brain is programmed to skip workouts. Someone with a “fat person” self-image would never eat healthy, low fat, low sugar, low calorie meals, so why would it be surprising that they cheat on their diet and binge on junk food? After all, their brain is programmed to eat junk. Is this starting to make sense?
To make a lasting change, you must work on the physical AND the mental planes. Of course you have to change your lifestyle, exercise and nutrition habits, but the real secret is not trying to force new behaviors, but changing the self-image which controls the behavior. Put your energy on a new mental picture, and the new picture will create new behaviors. Best of all, the new behaviors that spring from a positive new self-image will come without as much effort or willpower because they’re hard-wired into every cell of your body. The “unseen forces” are now working for you instead of against you.