Many clients express fear when they sign up for weight loss coaching.
“What if I can’t succeed?”
“I am afraid to be hungry.”
“I am afraid of deprivation.”
Fear is in our DNA. Losing weight takes change and we know that the brain likes to be efficient and it is efficient at overeating and eating our emotions! There are many complex factors that have created a world where 70% of the American population is overweight.
It is not your fault. Modern living is creating havoc with our health.
You are here because your ancestors paid attention to the many dangers around them and managed to survive. Survival is what the brain was designed to do. Fear is a signal to STOP and evaluate a possible action in terms of surviving or not surviving.
But the original job of avoiding the pain of starvation, freezing and getting eaten is no longer a part of the modern brain’s job description.
We no longer fear physical starvation. We fear an “unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”
Food is everywhere. Information overload is our daily bread. We sit for hours in traffic or at our job. We click a mouse to order shoes. We eat for emotional reasons – boredom, sadness, anger, etc. If we change our behaviors and not eat when we feel emotions, our brain will signal fear. It is the fear of feeling emotion, because feeling emotion is the unknown.
We can actually survive without any food for 30-40 days. Most healthy eating plans consist of not eating (a fasting window) for a maximum of 10-12 hours each day. Eight of those hours you are likely sleeping, and your next meal comes every 4-6 hours (a feeding window) within a 12-14 hour period.
Our fear of hunger is a fear of the belief that something will cause pain. Will hunger cause severe pain? Hunger may be unpleasant, however, obesity and diabetes is much more painful in the long run.
Fear of failure is also common. Our solution to this fear is "to fail ahead of time." Pema Chödrön, a Buddhist nun who teaches about managing vulnerability and emotion writes about failing better in her book inspired by a quote from Samuel Beckett that goes like this: “Fail. Fail again. Fail better.. "
Failing better means we do not have to do it perfectly. Developing a healthy lifestyle, including losing weight, takes small imperfect actions every day. We need to experiment and be patient so that we can discover what works for us and what does not work for us.
You have the power. You need a plan.
When you see yourself thin, what do you see? Maybe you see a woman taking photography class, or learning to play the banjo, or speaking Japanese.
You have the power. I have the plan!