Have you ever wondered why despite your countless efforts, you can’t seem to achieve your fitness goals? You attain a modicum of success but then fall back into the same unconscious programs and patterns?
Throughout my 20 plus years as a fitness expert, I believe that this is by far one of the most polarizing topics in the fitness industry. Why? Because proponents of ‘quick fixes’ would have us believe that simply eating paleo or subscribing to a ketogenic diet and exercising regularly is enough when it comes to getting healthy and staying healthy. But they’re wrong because the vast majority of us find it increasingly difficult to subscribe to this formula for an entire lifetime.
How many people can you name that have achieved considerable weight loss only to gain it all back again, or go up and down in weight from week to week, are obsessed with weighing themselves daily, subscribe to low-carb diets, hit plateaus and then can’t seem to break through them? I know tons of people like this and I’d be willing to make a hefty bet that you do too.
So the question then remains–why?
Well, if you want to change your life it starts by making a different choice. One that is completely unfamiliar to you.
The Negative Mental Feedback Loop
The destructive power of our internal negative feedback loops can be debilitating. The brain takes negative (or undesirable) events and changes our behaviour to alleviate or avoid these same negative events in the future. For example, if you were teased for being heavy as a child, it might have caused you to develop disordered eating patterns such as binge eating, unhealthy weight control practices and increased dieting, into your teenage years and subsequent adulthood. We do this in part, as a defence mechanism.
Your brain took the negative feedback (the emotional pain of being teased), and changed your behaviour in order to help you feel less inadequate.
Sometimes these negative feedback loops can serve us, but what happens when they go awry and are not necessarily grounded in reality? Worse yet, when the negative feedback does not have a strong factual foundation and the source of the negative feedback begins to come from inside our own minds and not external forces. This can cause a downward spiral of sorts.
So how does this relate to not being able to sustain a desired weight or achieve sustainable weight loss? When we are the source of our own negative self-talk or thoughts and not paying attention to our inner world, it’s easy to get lulled into the same familiar, stressful feelings identified with our past self. As a result, living in the emotions of the past only brings about more of the same results in the future. When we navigate through life on autopilot operating by the same unconscious programs, feelings, or stressors (doubt, inadequacy and so on), our familiar environment reaffirms these same feelings. This is how we get stuck in our same familiar lives. The result then becomes that we can’t break free from repetitive negative behavioural patterns that in turn keep us in the same or familiar situations. Even when those familiar situations are not what we desire or don’t serve us.
Enter Conscious Awareness
When we are ruled by our subconscious minds it simply means that we are not paying attention. Have you ever had the experience of getting in your car and driving to work for example, but when you get there you don’t remember the drive there? This is an example of the subconscious mind at work. Your mind is so used to the familiarity of your drive to work that you don’t have to consciously think about the drive since you’ve become so accustomed to doing it. Even though subconscious programming can have it’s benefits, it can also have it’s pitfalls…and there are many. Especially as it relates to achieving sustained weight loss. Particularly with regards to how we’ve been programmed over the years.
If you want to achieve ultimate fitness success through conscious thought (i.e. wanting to make better nutritional choices), and conscious action (i.e. eating more healthfully), but you are missing the support of your subconscious mind — – your success will be very limited. If the thoughts that are prevalent in your subconscious mind are not aligned with your goals and are rooted in limiting beliefs and negative patterns of behaviour, you will inevitably return to your old, familiar habits.
The number one reason people fail is because they neglect to make changes in their subconscious minds to support their conscious goals. Their subconscious mind lets them down and holds them back. In a sense, we become victims of our ‘old programming’.
This is something that happens to us all to some degree, it is part conditioning, part formation of our habits, and part defence mechanism. For example — – if you are overweight it is likely that you have been for so some time or struggled with weight loss you’re entire life — – you have long established patterns of over-thinking about food, patterns of behaviour concerning exercise, beliefs, likes and dislikes about food and exercise, all of which you are familiar with, and are normal to you.
Breaking these patterns of behaviour and changing your thought processes can be difficult. On a subconscious level you have become so accustomed to your current behaviour patterns — – your subconscious mind resists these changes as it goes against what it knows, and it does this to protect you. A big change in your life leaves you exposed, vulnerable, and susceptible to larger failure — – if it can revert you back to your regular patterns of thinking and behaviour (which it sees as efficient and normal) then it is protecting you.
Enter conscious awareness…one of the best ways to heal our subconscious blocks to weight loss is by maintaining conscious awareness as much as possible. By consciously choosing new and more positive thoughts, we can rewire our brains and recondition our bodies to make lasting changes instead of choosing the same familiar self-limiting thoughts over and over agin. When we remain in conscious awareness we have to work harder to teach our brain new programming instead of defaulting back to the same repetitive negative mental feedback loops we’ve relied on all of our lives.
So here’s your homework. If you constantly struggle with achieving sustained weight loss, experience fitness plateaus, obsess about food, constantly weigh yourself and think about your weight, I want you to write down every negative thought that comes into your mind about your body in a 24 hour time span. Once you identify the self-limiting thoughts that have essentially been holding you back from achieving your goals, you can begin moving toward conscious awareness and work on rewiring your brain for fitness success through replacing these negative thought patterns with more positive ones.