There’s a story about a woman who attends a weight loss seminar, and complains to the keynote speaker that, despite trying everything, she can’t lose weight.
“You’ve tried everything?” asks the speaker.
“Everything,” the woman replies.
“What were the last hundred things you tried?” asks the speaker.
“Well,” the woman admits, “I haven’t actually tried a hundred things.”
“Then what were the last twenty-five things you did?” asks the speaker.
“I haven’t tried twenty-five things, really, either,” the woman responds.
“So how many things have you actually tried?” asks the speaker.
“Well,” says the woman, sheepishly, “maybe five or six.”
When Katie first signed up, she told me she had tried everything and nothing worked. Naturally that excited me. It’s always fun to see if MBT is as effective as I believe/know it is.
After a week of working with her she wanted to quit! And remember before Katie started, she had told me that no matter what she’s done in the past, she couldn’t lose weight!
Remember: It’s very easy to start all kinds of diets. But, it’s very hard to stick with them!
I was astonished.
You know why?
In our first week together, we LOST 3 pounds!
This is fascinating to me…
This is all part of human behavior. This is what keeps me so interested in this game.
I love exploring the psychological reasons behind our actions. After all, it’s ALL psychological.
Let’s talk about cognitive dissonance…
This happens when we have two conflicting desires. For example, smoking. It is well known that smoking cigarettes can cause lung cancer yet every person I’ve ever met wants to live a long, healthy and fit life. But the short term / irrational mind of a smoker enjoys it, and wants to smoke.
The uncomfortable tension caused by these two opposing desires is known as dissonance. As humans, we look to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling. This is known as dissonance reduction.
The only way to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling is by a) quitting smoking b) denying that people actually get sick from smoking or c) justifying and rationalizing.
For example, a smoker could rationalize their behavior by believing that few people get sick from smoking, it only happens to people who smoke more than they do, if smoking doesn’t kill them something else will, they’ll quit next year, they only live once and they deserve to smoke or it’s too expensive to quit (amazing to me how cheap people are with themselves when it comes to their own health and fitness. Yet, they’ll gladly spend money on restaurants, stuff, activities, etc. Everything means NOTHING without our health and fitness).
In essence, they either need to take action (quit smoking and get whatever help they need <—- this is very hard!) or they need to make themselves feel better by rationalizing their smoking, and do the easiest thing of all — do nothing at all. (<—this is much easier and that’s why most people do it).
Knowing this, let’s talk about why Katie who has “tried everything” to lose weight, and finally did with MBT, wants to quit the program.
I’ll tell you why:
It comes down to either fear of change, fear of failure or fear of success.
Everything she says boils down to fear.
There’s an old saying that I love:
“The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.”
In this case because Katie actually succeeded, she realized she was going to have to change for the long term. And unfortunately, real change is uncomfortable.
She got scared.
Because deep down, Katie wasn’t ready to really change. She didn’t think MBT would actually work. So she wasn’t prepared to let go of emotional eating.
In her mind, she needs to emotionally eat and she can’t imagine life without doing so.
Her success made her fear the change. (Hint: Focus on ALL the benefits of eating well. Not the discomfort of not eating junk. It’s why I ask what you’re grateful for every night. We certainly know that focusing on what we DON’T have is a great to be unhappy.)
So now, Katie is coming up with all sorts of excuses because she really doesn’t want to change. Her main excuse is that now is not the right time to lose weight.
Because she wants to change – but sorta doesn’t want to change – that’s causing a lot of dissonance or tension or discomfort (whatever you want to call it).
She has to get rid of that discomfort somehow…so she’ll find anything and latch on to it so she can ease the tension.
(Ahhh yes…I’m too busy to focus on my health and fitness. Now is not the right time. I’ll wait until the stars are aligned. Yes!!! Whew. Now I can rationalize my excuse – and not feel as bad and quit the program so I don’t have to change…because I’m really scared to change.)
The real problem ISN’T that it takes so much time to be BE and ACT healthy. We make time for what’s important to us.
The real problem is that she doesn’t want to actually change. She rather just talk about changing. (We’ll work on this.)
Instead of criticizing or shaming her like so many people out there would do (because it’s the obvious and easy thing to do), it’s far more effective to help her understand her own behavior. (Shaming or criticizing never leads to long lasting change.)
Fighting human nature is silly.
Instead, when we understand what’s going on around us, it makes it a lot easier to call it what it is and move forward.