As a good friend recently pointed out, yes, when it comes to calories the math is the math, but knowing these mechanics is probably irrelevant. Few people walk into buildings to visit a doctor or get the dog groomed and think about the structure, the columns, the glass, the air conditioning, the acoustic tiles. And even those of us who do think about these things (we can call ourselves dorks, I suppose) don't choose not to use the building if the door opens the wrong way or the windows are too small. We just use the building the way it's meant to be used and the calories are going to burn the way they're meant to be burned. What's more important is WHY we're in the building. Is it for the doctor or the dog? Are we loitering?
This component is called The Emotion and it’s typically the emotional connection to food that keeps people from losing weight. Our identities are tied up in our self-assessment of our self-image and going from heavy to thin means change, and change is scary. Remember when you stopped sucking your thumb or finally put away your childhood teddybear or blanket? Scary. Remember when you had your first sleepover at someone’s house — perhaps your first night alone in a different bed in a different place? Scary. Remember when you lost 100 pounds and started to see a new person in the mirror smiling back at you? Equally scary. Even though these things are desired it doesn’t mean they don’t frighten us. We are creatures of habit, and change scares us because we have to take ourselves out of our comfort zones and project ourselves into the unknown. Ironically, change is also necessary. Stagnant waters fester. Stagnant foods go moldy. Stagnant people become unhappy (and even diseased).
I’m going to oversimplify here (because that’s what I do) but I’ve found in my life that when I’m miserable about something, and I mean truly miserable, whether it be about a job I hate or a relationship I can’t stand or even just a blue day with gray weather, if I take a step back and breathe I’ll discover the emotion I’m feeling is actually a fabrication. This doesn’t mean it isn’t a real emotion, or genuine, or necessary. What it means is the emotion is coming from a factory of multifarious components that conspired to put out a product that somehow I ordered — even if I didn’t know it. I saw the gray day and a difficult client and my brain processed all the gray days and difficult clients I’ve seen before and it attempted to replicate the way I deal with gray days and difficult clients because that’s what it knows how to do. That’s the factory I’ve built, and my Gray Day Difficult Client Factory puts out a product I like to call Gloom.
The nice thing is, I own the factory. I forget this, but it’s true. I own it outright and I can change the orders and the components at will! I can say, “Hey, Gray Day Division! We’re going to replace component 31B: “Sadness with not being able to play in the park” with components 31B-2: “Delight that we don’t have to mow the lawn” and 31B-3: “Joy that we have an excuse to hibernate under a blanket.” And instead of being a negative source of aggravation, my difficult client will now be perceived as an opportunity: This person’s high demands forces me to exercise my ability to say No, which is tough, but good for me. I can take pride in going the extra mile in my job. If I satisfy this client I'll know I can satisfy any client I ever meet. This type of thinking takes practice, but the emotional assembly lines are ready to do what you command. You own the factory, but you have to concentrate on what it is you really want to produce.
You have to learn how to manufacture the emotion that gives you the results you intellectually know you need.
But HOW? Here’s a technique for when you find yourself in a slump or feeling miserable about something:
Literally stand up and take three big, deliberate steps backwards. Picture yourself stepping away from your emotions. Picture yourself literally taking the contents of your state-of-mind and stepping back from them. You can see it all in front of you, but you’re not connected to it—you are now literally three steps behind your feelings. Close your eyes, knowing those feelings are still there, hovering in front of you. Breathe in deeply from the base of your abdomen, up through your lungs and fill them to maximum capacity, as slowly and as comfortably as possible. Then exhale naturally—don’t push it out forcibly. The breath will come out quickly at first and then taper off. Breathe in again, slowly, same way. Exhale again, same way. Repeat one more time. Now you’ve taken three deep, cleansing breaths. With each exhale you’ve blown away the emotions you were feeling, the ones that were three steps in front of you. Each breath broke apart those emotions and they dissipated. They still exist, of course, but now they’re all over the room, blown to the corners, trapped in the carpet, stuck on the walls. Without your direct connection, they will dissolve on their own. Open your eyes and you’ll see that they’re not there anymore, holding the space where you were. They’ve moved on. Take three big steps back into the place where you were and you’ll feel different now — it's proof that those negative emotions have been cleared. You are open now to fill yourself with the emotions you want to feel. If you want to run around the room and collect all those hard feelings, feel free, but it might be easier to fabricate some new ones in your sparkling and clean emotional factory.
The Law of Attraction, at it’s core, reminds us that You Are What You Think.
I know you know this, but it needs to be reiterated because it needs to be lived, and living is action, and all actions start with your very personal thoughts.
If you think of exercise as a struggle that you have to get through every day, it will be a struggle that you have to get through every day.
If you think of yourself as fat you will be fat.*
If you beat yourself up for not losing weight then you are focused on not losing weight and you won't lose weight.
If you are frustrated with not losing weight then you will remain frustrated and you won't lose weight.
If you hate to exercise then exercise will be a chore that you hate.
If you feel like exercise is the only way out of this but it doesn't seem to work, then it won't work as your only way out of this.
*when I say fat here I don’t mean overweight, which is a truth about one’s physicality, I mean the word fat as a description with the negative connotations that makes us feel bad about our physicality and affects our emotional well-being.
Every thought has a counter-thought. Flip the stick when you think these thoughts. Flip the stick and look at the gem at the top instead of the part that's stuck in the dirt on the bottom.