Why Living In the Past and Future Detracts From Now
The trouble with weight loss as we know now, is that keeping it off is very challenging and difficult.
This is eternally frustrating and disappointing for people, and can quite often thrust them into a state of past thinking about what it was like when they had lost weight previously.
They reflect on what they did, how they felt, and then there is a sadness for not being there at that lower weight anymore. There is sadness for not being able to fit in certain clothes that they liked and once fit into. There is sadness for when their body did not hurt so much. There is sadness for a loss of what they perceived were disciplined behaviours around food and exercise. There is, in essence a grieving for the body they had and want.
When a decision is made to lose weight, it immediately thrusts one into a state of future thinking. There is a discussion as to how much you want to lose or have been told to lose. All thought and planning and behaviours are being directed at a future outcome (weight loss). Of course there needs to be a focus on these things in order to achieve weight loss but when there is so much pressure on what life will be like when the weight is lost, the present can feel like its not valid because its not where you want to be. There can be an ever-present fear of failing. Or fear of succeeding incase the success cant be maintained.
Something I have observed time and time again when talking about weight management is that many people are not at peace with themselves or their body because they are either longing for the time when they were lighter or planning for a time when they will be lighter.
They are living in the past or in the future and the "now" feels painful because it is in neither of those two places.
Obesity is complicated.
There are over 140 genetic regions on our chromosomes are now known that influence body weight.
Most of these genes exert their activity in our brains.
Obesity is often stigmatised as a problem that is caused by a lack of will power, a moral failing, a personality issue, or, an inherent laziness. The reality is obesity is a chronic medical condition with a complex science behind it.
Weight regain after initial weight loss is very common because our bodies are designed to resist weight loss. In fact, reduction in energy expenditure and adaptive hormonal responses after weight loss will favour weight regain. Our bodies are doing their best to defend against weight loss.
This is why it is so important to not be so hard on yourselves, to not beat your selves up, or to think of yourself as a failure. This is not a character flaw or a failure on your part at all. This is genetics and biology and the environment at play. You are not to blame. The narrative around personal responsibility is cruel and misinformed. Yes we can take responsibility for choosing to eat healthy food and eliminate sugar or junk food and how much we eat, but the impact of those things on our long-term weight may have less impact than previously thought.
I know its not easy, but trying to be in the present and at peace with where you are at can be really helpful. This does not mean you cant still engage in changing behaviours and nor does it mean you cant be sad for your past losses. All it means is acknowledging the losses but not getting stuck on what was, or what will be, so that "now" is less painful.
Ginette Lenham © 2020