Owning it and letting go of weight

There is a curious thing I have noticed about people with weight issues who are not yet ready to let go of it. They have often developed a detailed mythology to explain their weight and provide evidence why for them letting go of that weight is more difficult than it is for anyone else. Now this may sound quite harsh and unkind, however I know I have done the same myself in the past.

I have heard Dr Phil McGraw call this mythology a person’s “victim story” and this applies to any psychological tale we tell ourselves and others that keeps us stuck. You may have spotted this is not just a weight issue, in this series weight is merely the metaphor we are using to explore how people keep themselves trapped within their familiar patterns.

Okay, so what?

When we recognise, name and own our mythology we can step into our power. We can realise that we are in control of our own lives, we have developed powerful strategies that keep us maintaining the evidence of our personal story. If we don’t like that story it is time to write a new one. By writing a new story we can have a new outcome, a new reality and a new life!

How do we create a new story?

Step number one is to fully identify and own our current mythology. What stories are we telling ourselves and others to explain why we have been unable to change? The stories will take a number of forms:

  • We have the blame story usually dating back to childhood experiences that have made us the way we are. Now while these stories may well be the original reason for us developing a particular story we do not need to keep running that strategy now.
  • The genetics excuse is always interesting, where a person has convinced themselves that they are pre-disposed to weight gain. While it may well be possible that you come from a family with a tradition for obesity our weight will still be the product of physics! By physics I mean the more we over eat the more overweight we become.
  • Linked to the genetics excuse is the low metabolism story. Most people who use this one are basing it on opinion and have not had a physiological test to confirm such a diagnosis. Here’s the kicker, the metabolism can be increased or decreased based on our level of activity. In other words our metabolic rate is something we can influence by a change in lifestyle. There are also several other popular health stories, some may have evidence attached while others are self-diagnosed. Even health conditions that do have a medical diagnosis there is no need to assume change is impossible. There are plenty of people who successfully manage their condition and their weight. If you do have a medical diagnosis there is a question you need to answer. How do they do it? If someone else can manage their health condition, so can you!
  • Other people use mythology around lack of time and/or lack of money. Both of these resources are cited as barriers to making changes. Although having lots of money and time might make changes easy (not a guarantee) neither is necessary. It is possible to eat healthier on low budgets and finding time is often about re-evaluating priorities. For example how many hours do you spend watching TV each week?
  • There are also mythologies around stress, enablers, food addictions, enjoying food and lack of will power/motivation to name just a few.

So here is your task this week. Answer the following questions if you are someone who would like to lose weight (you can apply these questions to other issues too):

  1. What do you tell yourself about your current situation?
  2. Why are you overweight?
  3. What prevents you from reaching your goals?
  4. What is your theory about why you are overweight and why you are not slim and healthy?
  5. What does being overweight give you permission to do or not do?
  6. When you achieve your goals what will you lose as a result? (In other words what are the disadvantages of achieving your desired outcome?).
  7. What are you prepared to do take ownership of your life?

Now look at your answers. Go back and add in all the answers you edited out. If you are hiding answers consider this, you are only hiding them from yourself! Denial is unhelpful to you and will keep you stuck. If necessary take a few days to reflect and add to your answers. Keep going until you have identified your whole mythological tale.

How are you giving your power away to others? Look at anything you have written down that attributes your success or failure to someone else. Challenge yourself to redefine the story. If you are looking at a childhood issue that may have been responsible for the strategy you now have acknowledge how powerful that was back then. You did it for a reason, probably to keep yourself safe or to provide comfort. We will explore such issues later in this series, for now own it and give yourself permission to accept that at the time it was the best you could do under the circumstances.

For other strategies and excuses, name them as excuses. Acknowledge to yourself that these are just stories that you have been using to explain your lack of progress.

Look at your answers to questions five and six. The answers will provide you with some of the unconscious reasons you have been unable to reach your goals up until now. Moving on will involve addressing these answers. You will need to look at how you can keep the benefits of being overweight in a more healthy way. This may be something you need help with as the answers are not always obvious.

From an NLP perspective we are looking at the positive intention behind unhelpful behaviours and patterns. One of the underlying principles of NLP is to accept that on an unconscious level there is a positive intention behind all behaviours. This can be a challenging principle as often we develop behaviours that we are still unhappy about. We do the best we can with the resources we have available to us at the time and sometimes it is the lesser of two evils. For example eating a sweet treat when upset can be a distraction from the distress and the sugar rush may give a temporary positive buzz.

We are also checking for secondary gains. A secondary gain is an unexpected positive benefit that we receive from what on the surface is an unhealthy situation. As an example, I was watching an episode of “Losing it with Jillian” this morning. The man in the episode received a lot of attention and love from his friends when he rebelled against exercise and healthy behaviours. He got to feel loved by resisting healthy advice because his friends put energy into coaxing and cajoling him to take better care of himself. He needed to understand that his friends would still love him if he got healthy!

Now this is important!!!

Be gentle with yourself! This step in the process is about owning your story and reclaiming your personal power. By owning your amazing creativity in keeping yourself stuck you are recognising that you can make changes. Right now you might not know how. Owning your story and letting go of shame is the first step in changing.

Be proud that you are ready to own your story and as Dr Phil would say let go of your victim story!

Let me know how you get on with these questions. If you have trouble getting perspective leave a comment and I will do my best to help you.

Next week we will start unravelling some of those childhood patterns.


About Melody @ GWizlearning

Melody spent fourteen years gathering experience of the business world working in banking, telecommunications and the public sector before co-founding The GWiz Learning Partnership in 1993. Melody has a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology, a degree in Psychology and a diploma in Psychotherapy. She is an NLP Master Trainer which allows her to run NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner and NLP Trainer Training courses certified by the Positive School of Intrinsic Neuro-Linguistc Psychology. She is also a qualified Myers Briggs practitioner and EI practitioner and added to all this is five years Transactional Analysis training, meaning she is able to help organisations access the hidden potential in their staff. She is also in demand for her work in transforming average or even troubled teams into high performers. Melody is a visiting lecturer at University of East London, teaching "Wellbeing and Positive Psychology" to undergraduates. Additionally, she is a member of the CIPD and is ILM accredited. Melody's interests are many and varied. She has a keen interest in personal development, canine and wolf psychology, conservation, movies and running. She also enjoys western horse riding, walking the GWiz dogs, nature watching and stage combat (particularly sword fighting).
This entry was posted in Life in General, Metaphor, NLP, NLP Master Practitioner, NLP Practitioner, NLP Trainer's Training, Perception, Personal Development, Self Esteem, Weight loss and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Owning it and letting go of weight

  1. Paula K says:

    I agree that acceptance of the above is vital if you really want to drop weight, you have to accept responsibility for your own actions and your own reality. Even though I dropped 14 k, I still occasionally slip back into that “I think I will treat myself mode, for whatever reason” we can all think of reasons for treating ourselves, and there is no harm in that if you know when to stop. The questions above really do make you stop and think, and do you really want those treats more than your slim, trim figure? It is about acceptance and life style changes and it is much easier than you think when you challenge your own thought processes.

    • Thanks Paula, I appreciate you sharing your experience. The idea of “treating” ourselves is an interesting challenge for many of us. Often we have associated treating ourselves only with food and not anchored a similar level of pleasure to healthier alternatives.

      Keep in touch and let me know any other ideas you would like to share


  2. Rachel Dando says:

    Powerful material! Healthy diet, healthy body, healthy mind! It’s all connected & when people value themselves they eat what they need because they begin to listen to their bodies & engage with what makes them function best!

  3. Pam Salem says:

    Since Nov 15, 2011 (now Sept 2012), I have shed 48 lbs with minor changes to my diet and the use of a nutritional product from ZIJA called Smartmix, made from the Moringa Olifera tree. In less than a week, all cravings were eliminated as my body received the nutrition we are no longer able to get in our food. This is a nutritional product. There is also a weightloss system which includes herbal capsules and a tea.

    After my body got the proper nutrition, a lot of the supposed ’emotional eating’ changed drastically. I have not felt this good in years!
    It is harsh to tell people whose bodies are starving for adequate nutrition that they have ‘victim thinking.’ No wonder they feel hopeless, as I often did. Having the proper nutrition has truly changed my life, and I am by far not the only one this has happened for with the Zija products.

    • Thanks for the comments Pam,

      Congratulations on your personal success. From your comment you are implying that your issue was purely about poor nutrition. Statistically this is seldom the case as their are literally thousands of people who sort out their nutrition, lose the weight for a while and then regain it. For these people the issue is not education, something is causing them to return to unhealthy eating patterns.

      I do agree that there are some nutritional issues that often need to be addressed particularly imbalances caused in the body by additives and processed foods. There are other issues caused by hormones pumped into animals raised as meat.

      My approach is to include a wholistic perspective, handling the emotional aspect is part of the puzzle but not the only factor. I have some concerns about some about the meal replacement products and the idea of rebalancing by adding more products. I lean toward using whole foods that are free from additives (or as free as we can get).

      The use of the word “victim” is intended as a label for the way we sometimes trap ourselves not for the person. Much of my early work as a therapist was working with people who had experienced abuse. I came from a position of having been there. For many people the realisation that they can give up being a victim is the first step into their personal power.

      • Pam Salem says:

        Oh, no. Not JUST nutrition. When nutrition ‘righted’ the physiology, though, the chemicals in the body corrected themselves – both for weight loss and for emotions. Certainly I had done a lot of work on myself for personal and emotional growth before finding the physical path that works for me, but adequate nutrition made a huge difference. I was struggling with weight and genetic periodontal disease which was depleting my immune system. Through dental work and proper nutrition, I have acheived weight loss as well as good mental and physical health. If the chemicals in the endocrine system attributed to emotions are not healthy, then it is hard to ‘think’ happy. When the body has cravings due to poor nutrition, it is easier to return to poor eating habits (I once could eat almost all of a 48 oz carton of ice cream at a sitting – now, no cravings at all). The product I use is NOT a meal replacement. It is real food – the kind we rarely can get in today’s world. It is a gift to combat the ills of today. Giving up victimhood is a definite process, and folks are fortunate to have you to guide them.

  4. lisa wilson says:

    so do u think having an abuse backgroun is the reason for so many ppl who cant lt go of their weight? I have an abuse background and Ive gotten healthy and lost weight before. but the last few years have been tremendously diffcult and Ive put on a lot more weight on top of the baby weight i was still carrying. and im at a point where i want to figur out whats keeping me from letting it go. i want to be halthier again, i want to feel good and i want to look good again! I feel like Im ready to let this protective phsical barrier go and be happy again. I know its mainly an emotional thing and want to figure out how to fix that part of it.

    • Hi Lisa

      Thank you so much for your comment and I appreciate your openness. There can be a link between holding onto weight and a history of abuse however it is important not to make assumptions. Have you got someone local to you from whom you can get some professional support?

      If you want to make our conversation more private email me direct melody@gwiztraining.com I am happy to talk to you about how to get the support you need to make the next step. Being ready is always a brilliant place to be, it means that you will be able to do what you need to do to take back your power and step into your natural brilliance. Know that you are worth it and you have the right to feel good about yourself.

      Warm regards


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