Road trips are a journey, there are highs and lows, there is adventure, and memories that you can’t always make when you fly to a destination. Weight loss is much of the same. Weight loss is a journey. You may start off wishing weight loss was like a flight, wishing that you could arrive at your goal quickly and painlessly. Nevertheless, weight loss doesn’t work like that. There are weeks will you will unexpectedly lose a lot of weight and feel like you are a mountaintop, and then there will be valleys where you do your best to stick to your goals without any success that week. We need to stop looking at the journey aspect as a negative thing. There are lessons in perseverance you can’t learn without enduring the journey, there are unhealthy thinking patterns you can only break by wrestling with the slow process of it all.
One of the biggest hindrances we face in conceptualizing this journey aspect of weight loss is our continual struggles with the cognitive distortion of “black and white” thinking. Eliza Kingsford explains this well in her book “Brain-Powered Weight Loss” when she says “Black-and-white thinking is probably the most common mistake I see among people who struggle with their weight. The mindset creates an all-or-nothing cycle that pushes you toward failure as soon as one single thing goes wrong. “I hit the dessert tray--my diet is ruined!” Only it’s not” (Kingsford, 2017. p.34). She goes on to say “People who live in black-and white thinking fail to consider that there are choices between all or nothing. They have a difficult time getting back on track when deviation happens. They view their day as ruined instead of accepting that once decision was just one mistake and it’s time to forget about it and move forward” (Kingsford, 2017. p.35).
We have all been there right? Our intentions are good, are goals are set, but as soon as we eat the brownie we told ourselves we wouldn’t eat, or don’t hit the gym a day we said we would, we see ourselves as a failure and completely give up. We are not failures, we are human, and life happens. Yet we are overcomers, and we don’t have to allow black-and-white thinking to get in the way of our success. We can choose to see a mistake as a mistake. When we make the choice to move forward after a mistake we start to break the cycle of thinking in black-and-white, and begin to create consistency, and consistency is the driving force in reaching our goals. So let's all work on stopping to say “diet starts Monday” after eating that piece of chocolate cake, stop berating ourselves for hours over it, and make a plan of how we can rally with the rest of the day.
Laura Gossens, LCSW
RPTWL Motivation Manager
Kingsford, E. (2017). Brain-powered weight loss: The 11-step behavior -based plan that ends addictive eating and leads to dropping unwanted pounds for good. Place of publication not identified: Rodale.