Why Do You Say You Want to Lose Weight But Then Don’t Do It
What to do when your intentions don't match your actions
Posted Aug 10, 2012
The older I get the less I listen to what people say and the more I look at what they do.
Why do we sometimes say we want to achieve a goal and then don’t act on it? I have worked with more patients that I can count who have looked me in the eye and said how much they want to lose weight, but then seem to put in very little effort. Truth is we all do this on one thing or another.
Are we liars? Are we lazy?
Neither is the case. Life is more complicated than that. It’s easy to want, it’s much harder to do. Here are 10 reasons why we want but don’t do:
2. Something/someone is punishing your effort—This is the scenario where you feel like every time you try, you get hit over the head. This can come in many forms. I remember one person I worked with talked about how every time she tried to lose weight her mother would make infuriating comments, like “Are you going to eat that? I thought you were trying to lose weight!” or “I can’t even tell you lost 10 pounds, isn’t that strange?” Kindly ask the person to stop once, but after that I recommend distancing yourself from the offending person—not entirely, but to the extent that you can tolerate them without losing your enthusiasm. Find the comfortable distance and stick to it.
4. Fear Part 2—Another fear is fear of the process. One patient told me, “I’m afraid I’ll feel deprived all the time” and another said, “I’m afraid I won’t have time to do the other things I love because I’ll be so busy exercising and planning meals.” If these sound like you, try talking to someone who has been through it (Maybe a Real Life Biggest Loser). Ask them, did you feel deprived? Did you still have time for your hobbies? People who have been through it probably have lots of ideas on how to navigate these challenges and will show you that the process may not be as bad as you think.
6. Unrealistic Expectations. Sometimes our idea (or hope) of what it takes to achieve a weight goal is a bit unrealistic. If your efforts are repeatedly resulting in little to no progress, you may need to increase the intensity of your effort. Even though you may feel like you are doing a lot, it still might not be enough to be really moving the scale. See this post about getting started losing weight for more on making sure your efforts result in outcomes.
8. Genetic Destiny. Your efforts may be lacking because of an underlying belief that your genetic destiny is in more control than you are. Just because several or all of your family members are overweight does not necessarily mean it is genetic. Families share more than genes in common—households, neighborhoods, and learned habits. Even if your weight is genetically driven, it is a misconception that it isn’t malleable by your efforts. Check out this post on genetic destiny. You are in more control than you think.
10. I say I want to lose weight because other people think I should, but secretly—I don’t. Maybe you don’t really want to do this now, or ever. If you are overweight you might feel like you should want to lose weight, but if you aren't ready, you aren't ready. Be sure that when you try, you do it for you and not because people in your life, or society says you should. You will never be successful at a thing if your motivation is to satisfy someone else's expectations. Your attempts will always come off half-hearted. It’s ok to say, “Not now.” Wait until your heart says, "I'm ready." You’ll know when you are ready...and when you are, blast off...