I’ve been fat all my life

Today’s excuse is “I’ve been fat all my life. How can I expect that to change now?”

Don’t try to dismiss this one lightly. It lies at the root of many serial dieters’ failed attempts to lose weight.

It can be incredibly difficult to change your life if you can’t envisage yourself in the new life which you want. Lots of successful dieters struggle to change their mental image of themselves – if you’ve been overweight for most of your life, the new slim you in the mirror can come as a surprise. I am still startled when new friends and acquaintances describe me as “slim” – though of course, I am, and they didn’t know me when I wasn’t!

Will losing weight mean changing who you are?

To change, you need to establish not only new eating habits but a new way of thinking about yourself. For some people, being overweight is a large part of their personality and self-image, and not always in a negative way. Especially for men, being “Big John” can be part of who they are. Or perhaps you’re known amongst friends as “fun”, or “bubbly” or “someone who makes the best cakes” and you’re worried that losing weight will change the way they think about you.

And if you’re like me, you’ve probably spent years telling yourself you’re happy with your weight. Perhaps your weight means you can confidently insist (to yourself, to others) “I don’t care what the world thinks. I’m happy with who I am.” Great! Good for you! But there may come a point when you decide that for health reasons, you want to lose some weight. If so, read on…

Working through your feelings about your weight

Step One:
Find somewhere you won’t be disturbed for at least five minutes. (Lock yourself in the bathroom if necessary.) Sit down with a piece of paper, and write answers to the following questions. Be as honest as you possibly can – no one will see this except you. Even if you think your answers are “wrong”, be honest about your feelings.

  • How I feel about my current weight
  • Why I want to lose weight
  • Why I’m afraid of losing weight

Step Two:
Look at what you’ve written and decide: Do I want to lose weight? It’s absolutely fine to decide not. But if you do want to – and your fears and your past are holding you back – then take another piece of paper and write “This is how I envisage my life in three years’ time.”

Include details of how you look, what you’re eating, your family and friends, and your day-to-day activities. Keep this piece of paper somewhere safe, and look over it every week (maybe at your weekly weigh-in, or first thing on Monday morning). Revise and add to it when necessary.

Step Three:
Each week, take the steps that lead you closer to that lifestyle. If you’re not sure where to start, try browsing the archives and the longer articles here on The Office Diet.

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