“There’s a huge emotional component to weight loss.” – Carnie Wilson, musician
“… that tanned look that was too deep, too even and too complete.”
Tobias appeared at my office door for the first time looking burdened by his mind and his body. Tobias was in his late forties but looked to be in his late fifties. His hair was already greying….that seemed premature, to me at least.
His skin looked like he had done the Canadian “snowbird” journey to Florida, too many times, to escape Canada’s cold weather! It had that tanned look that was too deep, too even and too complete. I couldn’t see any lightness…not even behind his ears which were usually protected by hats…a real sun worshiper.
He moved in a slow, cautious way as if consciously adjusting his body to his excess weight. His dissatisfaction with himself was obvious on his face. He had a prevailing, seeming permanent, scowl…not directed outward, but rather inward, evidenced by his sudden explosive smile at me when he walked in my office.
Tobias was a lawyer by trade and had been divorced from his partner, Tabitha, for a number of years. They shared one child, Tilly, who provided them with three grandchildren. His relationship with his ex was cordial about half the time. And the other half was characterized by conflict, contempt and confusion.
Once he got himself parked comfortably in a chair and I had collected a brief personal history, I asked him how I could serve him.
“…So, I’m under some duress to be here.”
“Since my bypass 24 months ago, I’ve put on sixty pounds. My doctor and especially my body, are telling me to shed it…and shed it soon, if I want a future. I can, and often have, ignored my physician. But, my body keeps telling me in a different way. Just last week I fell getting out of the shower and gave myself these nasty bruises on my forehead.”
Then he added in a lawyerly fashion,
“And, my current girlfriend, Tracy, has been pushing me to take better care of myself. If I don’t do something soon, she is prepared to move out and move on. So, I’m under some duress to be here.”
I had noticed the bruise on his forehead which looked like he’d been clipped with a baseball bat.
I asked him, “How else has your body been telling you to get control of your weight, Tobias?”
“I have no motivation, I’m tired most of the time and I have no sex drive.” he said with a grimace.
“I’m a psychologist, Tobias. I don’t usually focus on weight transformation by itself. That’s what Weight Watchers tries to do. Do you belong to a gym?”
“Your health is also a mind game, Tobias!”
“Ken, I’m a former competitive swimmer and jogger. I know how to get my body to perform under tight situations. I’ve always been competitive and I know how to train. That’s what bothers me so much…that’s what frustrates me, daily. I know how to do it…but, I don’t do it! I just give up! It’s the mental part which still escapes me. And, that’s really why I’m here!”
“So, the mental part of being healthy is your biggest challenge?” I asked.
“Have you heard the saying that ‘golf is a mind game,’ Tobias?
“Yes, I have. That’s why I usually walk the links in a state of constant frustration.” he said with a sarcastic smirk.
“I want you to know the situation is much more serious than that. Your health is also a mind game, Tobias!”
“Your saying, how I think about my health is just as important as what I do about my health, is that right?” he asked, catching on immediately.
“Yes! There are three basic things you need to know about your body and mind to transform yourself into a healthier weight. And, I bet you already know these three things but have not been applying them to your weight. Are you ready for them?”
“If they will they help me, I’m game!”
“Excess exercise tends to be counterbalanced by excess hunger, … weight loss through exercise is a flawed option.” – Andrew Weil, scientist
“Focusing on how you feel slows down your learning…”
“OK, the first is cause and effect; the second is energy conservation, and the third is equilibrium. Let’s take them one at a time, Tobias.”
“Lead on!” he said, a small measure of hope surfacing in his voice.
“First, if you focus on how you feel…you’ll fail! Let me say that another way. Focusing on how you feel slows down your learning and your self control. Let me say it still another way, you only control how you feel by taking control of what you do and how you think!”
“What does that all mean, Ken?” he asked, perplex spreading across his face.
“The first thing you need to understand is the law of cause and effect or every action creates a reaction. For example, if you decide to stop and think about the best moment of your life you create a good feeling in your mind and a good physiology within your body. It would probably be a slower heart beat, a lower blood pressure and more relaxed muscles.
“That makes sense.”
I went on, “In the same way, if you stop and think about the worst moment of your life you will create a bad feeling in your mind and a bad physiology within your body including a faster heart beat, a higher blood pressure and even more tense muscles.”
“You mean, what we do and think immediately creates a matching feeling and physiology?”
“… I was watching carefully where I walked.”
“Yep, that’s it! And, because we are humans, we have two levels of thinking occurring simultaneously. We have thoughts about the situation we are presently in which all animals do. And, we have thoughts about ourselves being in that situation which only humans do.”
“Why two levels?”
“Tobias, the situation thinking helps us analyze and deal with the immediate challenge of surviving. The me in the situation thinking helps us feel safe and integrates the learning from that situation for future use. Let’s use an example. What is your favourite thing to do…like your favourite hobby?”
“For me it is walking. I really enjoy getting out for a walk.”
“Remember the last time you went for a walk and tell me the details.”
“It was yesterday after supper. I walked around our block. It takes about 20 minutes, 15 minutes if I walk briskly. I went by myself. It was a nice evening weather-wise, so I walked faster. I waved to two of my neighbours who were cutting their lawns.”
“OK. As you were walking what were you thinking about?” I asked.
“Because I was going at a steady pace, I was watching carefully where I walked. There are some rough patches at different places. And, there are a couple of dogs who can appear quite suddenly and startle me.” he replied.
“So, Tobias, as you were walking briskly around your block noticing at times where you walked and where the dogs might appear, what were you thinking about yourself being out for an evening walk?”
He paused for a minute before responding.
“After a lifetime of losing and gaining weight, I get it. No matter how you slice it,
weight loss comes down to the simple formula of calories in, calories out.” – Valerie Bertinelli, actress
“What you think about yourself in that second determines what you feel at that second.”
“I was thinking this is good for me, good for my health. And, it relaxes me.”
“And, thinking that way about your walk you created what feeling Tobias?”
“I felt pleased with myself and even proud of the effort I was making.”
“Now, if you switched that thinking to, for example, ‘They should take better care of our sidewalks and people should have their dogs on a leash!,’ how would that impact how you felt at that moment?”
“I think I would have felt distracted, frustrated or annoyed, instead.” he replied.
“That’s what I want you to learn and remember, Tobias. What you think about yourself in that second determines what you feel in that second. That’s why taking control of how you think about yourself in your life, empowers you.”
“If I take control of how I see myself at any second, I also get to control how I feel at that second. And so then, I have power over myself in that second…it that the gist of this?” he asked.
“That’s it exactly, Tobias! So, the action is to take control of how you talk to yourself, the reaction is the feeling you create in that second.”
“OK, how about the second one?” he asked, his curiosity peaked.
“…not one OR the other, but rather, one AND the other!”
“Second is energy conservation or input equals output. Scientific American magazine recently reconfirmed women burn, on average, about 1900 calories daily while for men, it’s about 2600. But, what’s interesting, it doesn’t matter what the person does on a given day, that is, how many calories they try to burn off that day.”
“Do you mean, exercising doesn’t matter in controlling my weight?” he asked in disbelief.
“What it demonstrates is our body keeps the total number of calories used daily very consistent or stable. This is to ensure our survival in time of limited food availability. So, exercise or working out does not, and can not, reduce our body mass, by itself.”
“I think you’re saying if I keep the amount of food I eat (my input) the same and try to do more exercise to reduce my weight (my output)…that it won’t work!”
And, then he added, getting the idea’s implications more clear,
“That also mean when I have a burger and fries and think I’m going to work it off at the gym…it’s not possible, biologically, right?”
“Exactly! And, that means no one can transform their weight without reducing their input of food and increasing their output of exercise, simultaneously…not one OR the other, but rather, one AND the other!” I offered.
“I did know that, Ken. But, I never noticed how important it is, and also, how logical it is. What is the third law of nature I need to understand to get my weight under my control?
“Why would anyone do anything if, in their future, there is just as much pain as pleasure?”
“Third is equilibrium or balance. Pleasure and pain are always perfectly balanced, or in equilibrium, at all times and all places. This means as you more forward to get control of your weight you should expect equal amounts of pain and pleasures at every second.” I said.
“You’re kidding, right? If that’s true then there is just as much pain as pleasure in getting control of my weight…so why go through all the pain? What’s in it for me to put myself through that, Ken?” Tobias shouted in confusion and frustration.
“That’s the perfect question to ask, Tobias. Why would anyone do anything if, in their future, there is just as much pain as pleasure?”
“So, what am I missing here?” he said, calming himself down.
“Let me offer you an example. Are you familiar with Stephen Lewis’s work on trying to eradicate AIDS/HIV in Africa. Stephen is 79 this year and has dedicated his life to helping the less fortunate, globally. Why would he do that?”
“It seems like a thankless, impossible task he’s taken on, at least to me!” he replied.
“It’s not rocket science when it comes to weight loss. It’s about eating a little less and moving a little bit more.” – Bob Harper, author
“…just like every other purposeful person.”
“Well, he is an elderly man, probably with the resources to sit back with his feet up and relax. But, he doesn’t because, like everything and everyone, he has a purpose in being part of this universe, Tobias.”
“Yeah, I can believe that. But, what would it be that would motivate him to keep at it at his age, Ken?”
“Another great question! I suspect he already knows his purpose clearly. And, like all humans, when we know our purpose and act on it consciously, we create (the action reaction law we talked about earlier) gratitude or appreciation for ourselves and others.” I suggested.
“Are you saying he gets self satisfaction from pushing himself that hard and for that long?”
“Yes, I think he does, Tobias. And, I also think it comes from some perceived gap in his own past that he is trying to fill in his own future…just like every other purposeful person.”
“Do you mean we use our future to fill gaps in our past?” he asked.
“You got it! We get our motivation for our future from what we think was missing in our personal history. It is nature’s way to motivate us to live, learn and contribute to be fulfilled!”
Tobias said, “That’s really kind of cool, actually. Is that why poor people want so badly to become rich…that kind of thing?”
“… a perfect life is not one of pleasure only…rather it is one of half pleasure and half pain.
“That’s the idea. The self appreciation we experience being purposeful frees us to be who we are and do what we need to do to achieve what we must for our species…for humanity.
“Is that why purposeful people seem so revered by others…like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa or Einstein?”
“Exactly, when you are consciously purposeful, it is then we feel the most alive, the most motivated and the most inspired.”
“Cool!” Tobias said again.
“But, that level of pleasure always comes with a counterbalancing pain. And, this equilibrium of pleasure and pain keeps us focused, efficient, humble and productive, which is in fact, a perfect life.”
“So, a perfect life is not one of pleasure only…rather it is one of half pleasure and half pain. Is that what this is all about, Ken?”
“Bingo, Tobias! So, for you, its’ application to your weight control means you can expect with certainty, every second of your future will be a perfect balance of pleasure and pain. And, that’s natural, normal and necessary for you to have a future!”
“Weight loss can change your whole character. It changes your philosophy of life because you recognize that you are capable of using your mind to change your body.” – Jean Nidetch, businessman
(Tarek, here we need an image of greying, mid fifties, healthier man walking in his neighbourhood.)
“Watch out world…here I come!”
He paused, stared off into space for a few moments, then said, “Can I summarize what I understand of the three things you think I need to know to get my weight under my control?”
“That would be really useful for me so I can determine what I may have missed. Go for it!” I responded enthusiastically.
“OK. First, it’s about cause and effect or every action creates a reaction. What I do and think immediately creates a matching feeling and physiology in me. So, I can control how I feel about anything, including getting my weight under my control, by consciously taking control of what I do and how I think about it. So, I can create how I want to feel about my weight control activities by carefully doing weight control things and thinking about their value to me at the same time.”
“Great summary Tobias. How about the next one?”
“The second is about energy conservation or input equals output. If I really want to reduce my weight, I cannot do it by just increasing my output of exercise. I will need to reduce my intake of food and, at the same time, increase my output of exercise. And since calories burned per day is stable, I cannot burn off an excess of input by increasing my output that day. So, I will never be able to burn off the fries I ate at lunch by jogging later that day.”
“Sounds right on! And the third?”
“The third is about equilibrium or balance. I should expect, and appreciate, every moment in my future, including my new weight control lifestyle, which will include equal amounts of pleasure and pain in some form. That’s because pleasure and pain are always perfectly balanced to keep me motivated and appreciative of my progress, myself and my life.”
“Wow! Nice Job, Tobias!” I said, impressed with his retention of what we had discussed. Clearly he was an insightful man.
“Watch out world…here I come!” he said smiling broadly.
“The most important thing I want to get across is that maintaining weight loss is just hard.
It takes a dedication to exercise and eating right most of the time.” – Trisha Yearwood, musician
Until Next time…
Now you know, weight control comes from mind control. Mind control comes from knowing the laws of nature or physics. The three laws to remember are first, to focus on your doing and thinking, not your feeling and physiology; second, you can only control your weight by controlling both your input and your output simultaneously; and third, expect weight control to always have, equal pain and pleasure at every second, so you can create self appreciation for yourself and your life.
AND, here is a wonderful opportunity! Dr. John Demartini, is going to be in my neck of the woods, Halifax, Nova Scotia on April 22 & 23, 2017 facilitating The Breakthrough Experience™ seminar.
This is your chance to start designing your own destiny. Results are guaranteed and there is no better investment than yourself. If you like the ideas you have read here, you will love this seminar. Check it out at: www.drdemartini.com
Encourage others to subscribe to our FREE Newsletter and ebook, “Finding Balance in Your Life” And, please like us on Facebook or Twitter.
Our next seminar is entitled, “How to Bring balance to Life and Purpose to Work!” It will be on Saturday, May 27th, 2017. Details are available at www.kenpiercepsychologist.com
Send us your feedback and topic suggestions…we love to hear from you! If you have a specific question or wish to schedule a consultation, feel free to contact me.
Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
Be well…balanced! Ken
Further information: www.kenpiercepsychologist.com