Promises, Promises (To Yourself)

Connie writes in with a great question whose answer got far too long for the Mailbag:

My biggest problem with money is that I lie to myself. I keep telling myself everything is going good and at first it is. Then I start slowly falling back into old habits but I keep telling myself everything is good. Eventually, everything is worse than before but I still keep saying everything is good, and then I’ve racked up thousands of dollars on the credit cards again. I don’t know what to do anymore.

I think that lying to ourselves is something we all do to some extent. Most people tend to believe they’re above average in most categories, which indicates some degree of self-delusion among practically everyone out there.

A little bit of self-delusion is very good, actually. It gives us self-confidence, something we need to have to overcome difficult situations. We can tell ourselves we can do something just a bit beyond our skill and talent level and thus by pushing ourselves to doing it, we’re able to achieve something that was previously just beyond us.

Yet, as Connie points out, self-delusion can sometimes be a very, very dangerous thing. It can push us into making some terrible mistakes under the guise of “everything being fine.” It can cause us to undermine our own progress and goals. It can sneak us into ever-greater problems, like an endless sink into debt or obesity or career mediocrity.

My biggest current problem with self-delusion is with my weight. I’m not gaining any – that’s not the problem – but I often delude myself into thinking I’m doing very well at losing weight when I’m actually treading water or losing it very slowly.

In the past, however, I’ve been able to battle self-delusion in many different areas: my career, my personal hobbies, and my time management abilities immediately come to mind.

Here are four techniques I’ve found that really work for cutting through self-delusion.

Make yourself directly accountable to others
This is the top strategy I’ve found. You’ve simply got to make yourself accountable to others in your life. Lay out your situation to them. Explain where you’re at and where you’d like to be.

Most importantly, you’ve got to report regularly to them on how you’re doing with your goal.

The added pressure of reporting your progress to someone you trust goes a long way towards keeping you on the right path. Plus, a trusted person can often give you feedback, positive support, and assistance at the very times you need it most.

You can do this face to face. You can do it on Twitter or on a blog or on Facebook. Just do it.

Keep the reason why you’re doing this front and center all the time
Why are you trying to save money? Why are you trying to get out of debt? Why are you trying to lose weight? Why are you trying to make whatever change it is in your life that you’re trying to make?

What you’re looking for here are extrinsic motivations. Are you trying to lose weight and get in better shape for your kids? Are you trying to save up for your dream house?

Whatever that reason is, put reminders of it everywhere. Use an image editing program and literally put a statement reminding you of your goal on top of a picture of whatever your motivator is. Then print off fifty copies of it and put it everywhere – on your desk, on your rear view mirror, on your bedside table, on your bathroom mirror, wrapped around your credit card, everywhere.

Use a clearly-defined measurement as your metric for success
Never, ever trust a general “sentiment” of success. If your idea of success is that it “feels” like you’re doing well, then it becomes very, very easy to delude yourself into a false picture of success.

Instead, try finding a specific way to track your success in a specific area. Keep track of your net worth every week or month. Track your weight every day.

It’s really hard to lie to yourself when the number so easily reveals the truth of the matter.

Drastically change your routine
Many people tend to fall back into bad habits because they don’t change their overall life routine. They try to quit smoking, for example, but their life routine involves holding something in their hands and going outside regularly for smoke breaks. They try to quit overeating, but their metabolism is wired to constant snacking and overeating. They try to quit overspending, but their life routines constantly put them in places where they overspend.

One effective way to buck all of this is to go for a radical change of scenery. Make a major life change while traveling, for example. Give up smoking while visiting your sister for two weeks. Give up overeating while on a series of business trips. Give up shopping while picking up another time-consuming hobby.

When you’re out of your normal environment and context, it becomes much easier to break bad habits and adopt new ones.

If you enjoyed reading this, sign up for free updates!

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. Tris says:

    I absolutely agree with point #4.
    You can’t make what you can’t test, because you don’t know when you’ve got it made!
    On the weight loss front, I have found The Hacker’s Diet to be a great guide, and physicsdiet.com is a great implementation.
    If you’ll excuse the shameless plug, I wrote about it last month: http://proactivelylazy.com/2010/05/31/loosing-weight-scientifically/

  2. Heidi says:

    I mostly agree with these tips, but there’s one tweak I would suggest; you said “Whatever that reason is, put reminders of it everywhere.”

    The thing is, if it’s a long term goal, these reminders are going to blend into the surroundings over time. We get used to seeing something in the same place every day, so we stop noticing it.

    For instance, I had a little note on my checkbook asking myself if this purchase would help me achieve my goals. Worked great for the first few weeks, then I got used to it being there. Just now I realized it’s still there, but I haven’t actually seen it in ages.

    If I switch out the current reminder for something fresh and new, I’ll be more likely to notice it again. Eventually of course, that one will “fade” as well… at which point, it will be time for a new reminder :)

  3. Quatrefoil says:

    Great article, Trent.

    One of the things that stopped me lying to myself about money was to stop using plastic – either credit or debit cards, but to take out my weekly budget in cash and divide it up using the envelope system. It was so much easier to face the truth when I could *see* where the limits were and where I was up to.

    And the other thing I’d recommend if you have a persistent problem with being truthful with yourself, or backsliding in a way that makes you unhappy, is seeing a good therapist. When I did that I was able to deal with some of the bigger issues that were underlying self-destructive behaviour, which made the behaviour itself much easier to deal with. It wasn’t cheap, but it was a good investment in myself.

  4. Ash says:

    Dave Ramsey uses the term “non-judging budgeting partner.” I think this is particularly important for single people who don’t have a partner to answer to or help remind them of their goals (and reality).

    Another helpful thing are the psychological tricks. I’m currently using the 100 Boxes idea. The visual aide has helped keep my husband and I realistic about our progress on our spending and savings.

  5. Its interesting that you link confidence to being self-deluded. I would link confidence to believing in yourself and in your capabilities, even if what you are doing is challenging and beyond your personal skill set.

    To me, being self-deluded is just lying to yourself or intentionally (or not) ignoring reality. Confidence, in my opinion, requires neither. I’d be interested in more about how you link confidence to self-delusion.

  6. Susan says:

    Have you read Switch by the Heath brothers yet?
    It’s the best book on change psychology I’ve ever read. It covers your tips above and a lot more. Very useful for personal, group and large business change. :-)
    Also- for weight loss, check out “The Shangri La Diet” it’s very interesting. Both books should be in your library soon. Take a look. :-)

  7. Joseph Librero says:

    I promised myself to save at least 10% of my income. For years I kept on slipping back to old “pend-it-all” habit until I found a way to automatically deduct that amount to an account that I do not easy access to. It’s only then that I was able to ‘keep’ my promise (to myself).
    It taught me one good lesson find a way for you to eliminate the need to ‘discipline’ yourself. Automation worked for me because it eliminates my chance to make a monthly decision to save every month.

    Taking a sip,
    Joseph Librero
    my blog

  8. An honest hard assessment of your finances and your spending is the first step in getting out of debt. Also, if you are lying to yourself, it should become apparent very quickly that you need to either stop lying to yourself or you’ll never get anywhere.

    This can apply to any aspect of your life that you’re trying to “fix”.

  9. AndreaS says:

    I second the idea of keeping a record, be it a spending diary, or a calorie diary. With weight loss, I like the idea of charting it, because the rate of loss is important. You don’t want to spend a year losing five pounds. If you can’t make a chart, every time you have a new low weight, mark it on a calendar. It’s important that in some way you monitor the passage of time.

    If this sounds like too much work, then I guess you’re not that serious, and will continue doing the same behaviors.

  10. Johanna says:

    On the topic of weight loss and self-delusion: The vast majority of people who lose a lot of weight regain it within about five years. So the whole concept of deliberate weight loss is, for most people, a sort of self delusion. I say this not because I want you discourage you, but because I want you to realize that if you do end up back at your starting weight (and chances are good that you will), it’s not because of any moral failing on your part – it’s because that’s how human bodies are. They really don’t like to be forced to change shape or size.

    If your goal is to improve your health, don’t use your weight as a measure of that. Eating right and exercising is good for you whether it causes you to lose weight or not.

    And I don’t know how a person’s metabolism could be “wired to constant snacking and overeating.” Rather, your body is wired to need food, and if you’re constantly feeling hungry for snacks or larger meals, that’s a sign that you’re not giving it enough. Please, let’s get rid of the idea that if an overweight person is eating, they must be overeating, because it’s not true.

  11. Self-delusion is something I’ve fallen into more times than I can count! It’s comforting to know that others experience this as well. I actually opened this blog today because I’m trying to finally confront the reality of my finances. I’ve been avoiding it for far too long, telling myself that everything is fine. It just seems like such a process to sit down and hash it all out. I’ve definitely been hiding from reality.

    Thanks for the insights. I’m going to be doing a lot of cutting back so my routine is bound to change drastically…hope that helps make it easier :)

  12. J Brown says:

    Actions always speak louder than words or in this case thoughts. I am battling loads of ‘what-ifs’. I think the diary is useful to keep track and history, however you need the end goal to reach. My main issue is breaking down the goal into daily or weekly tasks to keep me on track.

  13. Gal @ Equally Happy says:

    Trent, I think your #2 item (keep the reason front and center) is the most important. At their core, neither losing weight nor saving money are that complex. Eat less, move more and spend less, make more are not rocket science. It’s the motivation that most people (including myself) find to be a problem. Reminding ourselves of that motivation, and making it public (your first item) help make the whole thing easier.

  14. Christine T. says:

    If someone feels the need to snack constantly you probably either already having trouble regulating your blood sugar (prediabetes) or you are not getting enough nutrients from your food so your body is still hungry. I don’t think it has to do with being wired one way or another, unless you’re talking about not being wired to thrive on the standard american diet.

  15. MattJ says:

    Johanna:

    “Please, let’s get rid of the idea that if an overweight person is eating, they must be overeating, because it’s not true.”

    It’s not necessarily true, but it may be true. How often it’s true is a matter of some scientific controversy.

    Until about 1.5 years ago, I was overweight. I was overeating. The meals I ate were mostly junk food. I ate fast food often, to describe me as a daily consumer of fast food would have been reasonable. When I had a meal, I ate until I got full. When that food settled, I would eat unhealthy snacks, typically every evening. I carried DrPepper around with me wherever I went, and drank it nearly all the time. Despite all of this overeating and these unhealthy food choices, I didn’t look that overweight. 245 lbs on a 6’2″ broad-shouldered frame isn’t really that aesthetically displeasing, especially if it builds up evenly instead of mostly around the belly as happens to some guys. A diet of 3-4 months plus a permanent (so far) lifestyle change was all it took to rid me of the extra 50 lbs I was carrying.

    I still eat when I’m hungry, but there aren’t any Funyuns or Nacho Cheese Doritos in my house anymore. There’s no longer any Hamburger Helper, which I used to eat with corn chips instead of a spoon. No more dinners or lunches consisting of 3-4 grilled cheese sandwiches with chips & salsa. (I still have some cans of DrPepper in the fridge from 2008, though – I’m not tempted) Instead I have a glass of water and some fruit to tide me over to my next meal. When mealtime comes, it’s health(ier), too. A large portion of vegetables, a small portion of meat, and a couple of slices of homemade bread. I eat until I’m not hungry instead of until I’m full.

    My body has learned to make due with much, much, less food. I didn’t do it with gimmick diets or extra exercise. Perhaps my body is ‘hard-wired’ to be thin, and my overeating was fighting my body’s natural tendancy, which is why I found it possible to become thin once I stopped. Maybe in 3 years I’ll have those 50 lbs back no matter what I do in the meantime. But our genetics don’t change overnight, and colletively we’re a lot fatter than we were 100 years ago. A big chunk of that has to be behavior, right? Perhaps there are exceptions, but people are overeating, and when they do, it makes them fat.

    The URL below goes to a google image search for Chauncy Morlan. In PT Barnum’s day, Chauncy’s obesity was so shocking that people would pay Barnum for the opportunity to view it.

    http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=Chauncy%20Morlan&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

  16. MattJ says:

    Johanna:

    “Please, let’s get rid of the idea that if an overweight person is eating, they must be overeating, because it’s not true.”

    It’s not necessarily true, but it may be true. How often it’s true is a matter of some scientific controversy.

    Until about 1.5 years ago, I was overweight. I was overeating. The meals I ate were mostly junk food. I ate fast food often, to describe me as a daily consumer of fast food would have been reasonable. When I had a meal, I ate until I got full. When that food settled, I would eat unhealthy snacks, typically every evening. I carried DrPepper around with me wherever I went, and drank it nearly all the time. Despite all of this overeating and these unhealthy food choices, I didn’t look that overweight. 245 lbs on a 6′2″ broad-shouldered frame isn’t really that aesthetically displeasing, especially if it builds up evenly instead of mostly around the belly as happens to some guys. A diet of 3-4 months plus a permanent (so far) lifestyle change was all it took to rid me of the extra 50 lbs I was carrying.

    I still eat when I’m hungry, but there aren’t any Funyuns or Nacho Cheese Doritos in my house anymore. There’s no longer any Hamburger Helper, which I used to eat with corn chips instead of a spoon. No more dinners or lunches consisting of 3-4 grilled cheese sandwiches with chips & salsa. (I still have some cans of DrPepper in the fridge from 2008, though – I’m not tempted) Instead I have a glass of water and some fruit to tide me over to my next meal. When mealtime comes, it’s health(ier), too. A large portion of vegetables, a small portion of meat, and a couple of slices of homemade bread. I eat until I’m not hungry instead of until I’m full.

    My body has learned to make due with much, much, less food. I didn’t do it with gimmick diets or extra exercise. Perhaps my body is ‘hard-wired’ to be thin, and my overeating was fighting my body’s natural tendancy, which is why I found it possible to become thin once I stopped. Maybe in 3 years I’ll have those 50 lbs back no matter what I do in the meantime. But our genetics don’t change overnight, and colletively we’re a lot fatter than we were 100 years ago. A big chunk of that has to be behavior, right? Perhaps there are exceptions, but people are overeating, and when they do, it makes them fat.

    I invite you to perform a google image search for Chauncy Morlan. In PT Barnum’s day, Chauncy’s obesity was so shocking that people would pay Barnum for the opportunity to view it. Chauncy toured the world as a circus freak. I personally know people who are more overweight than Chauncy.

    (I tried this with a URL but it got stuck in moderation. Since nothing I’ve ever written that got put in moderation on this blog has ever come out of moderation, I’m trying again without the URL)

  17. Evita says:

    Losing weight is very difficult for most people. Discipline is not enough. Well-meaning actions such as eating one apple for breakfast, skipping meals, eating too little food for weeks at a time, gobbling sport drinks or diet foods at the wrong times will actually train your body to hoard fat!
    What really helps is education…… whether from a free site such as Sparkpeople.com or a nutritionist or an nutrition e-book such (I highly recommend Tom Venuto’s Burn the Fat and Feed the Muscle which is geared to athletes but is customizable for everyone… packed with scientific information and common sense).
    Good luck!

  18. Johanna says:

    @MattJ: It’s not true that the only factors that can possibly affect a person’s weight are genetics and present behavior. For example, there’s evidence that the strains of bacteria that populate your gut can have an effect. And of course, genetics can still be one factors – or maybe even the main factor – while not being the only factor.

  19. Johanna says:

    Sorry – for “one factors,” read “one of many factors”

  20. MattJ says:

    Johanna:

    It’s not true that the only factors that can possibly affect a person’s weight are genetics and present behavior.

    I didn’t actually say that such was the case. I accept that there may be many factors affecting a person’s weight, and that the influence of those various factors may be variable over the population, or even variable over a single person’s lifetime. (Pregnancy is an excellent example of this, for instance) Clearly, though, I believe that behavior (past behavior moreso than present) is the primary factor for the vast majority of people.

    It’s good that science looks at all possible causes for what leads us to consume or retain more, but it’s a rock-hard truth of thermodynamics that

    EnergyIn – EnergyOut = EnergyStored

    If you can make the sign of the term on the right negative, then you will burn stored energy. You cannot store energy that isn’t there, and people aren’t solar collectors – we take in energy through our mouths. Bacteria in our gut may make the EnergyOut process more efficient (less energy from your food being wasted leading to more energy being converted into fat) but they can’t force us to take bigger portions. Hormonal / chemical imbalances may make it harder for us to turn down more food, but but it’s our conscious will that dips the serving spoon a third time. The same will that picks up a bag of Lay’s chips instead of a few carrots or dials the phone for pizza instead of preparing a healthy meal.

  21. chacha1 says:

    I knew there would be interesting comments on this one!

    Johanna wrote: “Please, let’s get rid of the idea that if an overweight person is eating, they must be overeating, because it’s not true.”

    Yes. Obviously. Not everything going into someone’s mouth is making them fat.

    However … taking every single factor into account – hormonal imbalances, bacteria in the gut, medication interactions, insulin resistance, etc etc etc – it is simply, physically, scientifically not possible for the body to manufacture fat cells out of nothing.

    If the body is manufacturing fat cells, it is because there are either too many calories total, or too many calories from the wrong foods, coming in – and not enough being burnt. You simply cannot gain fat unless you are taking in more calories than you expend.

    Your body may burn fats easily, or it may burn sugars easily. Most of us have trouble with both. Very few people have trouble with proteins, which is why high-protein diets work well in the short term. (They don’t work well in the long term because people don’t stick with them.)

    The higher your activity level, the less likely you are to have trouble burning calories from any source – but some people can’t handle wheat or cow’s milk (for example), and unless you know, you can’t account for the effects these sensitivities might cause.

    Medications are an extremely common, modern “cause” of weight gain because they create metabolic imbalances that interfere with the body’s ability to process calories. You can’t just take a pill to treat a chronic illness and expect nothing else to change.

    It can be extremely challenging to determine the root cause of any given person’s weight gain, and the methods for dealing with it often have to evolve along the weight-loss road.

    But as MattJ pointed out, it is vanishingly unlikely that the genome of the entire American population has changed within a span of 60-100 years such that being obese is now genetically predetermined. Behavior is the key. The challenge is determining which behaviors to change, at every step along the way.

    We can’t choose (or fall into) one way of living at 20 and expect it to work perfectly for us throughout our lives.

  22. Johanna says:

    @chacha1, you’re right! The humany body cannot manufacture fat cells out of absolutely nothing, so if you eat absolutely nothing, you will not gain weight!

    However, I don’t know of anyone who seriously suggests that eating absolutely nothing is a good long-term strategy for living a healthy life. Or for living a long-term life, period.

    @MattJ: Yes, the first law of thermodynamics is a True Fact, but in this context it’s very, very misleading. The implication is that any given person burns X calories per day at rest and Y calories per hour of Z activity, so that all you have to do is burn 100 extra calories a day and you’ll lose 10 pounds a year forever, when it very obviously doesn’t work like that.

    @Everyone: Discussions of weight loss are almost always complicated by people conflating weight, health, and shades of some sort of strange sense of morality (and/or personal disgust at the fatty-fat-fatties). I’m saying that these are three (or four) completely different things. And so:

    (1) If you want to change your weight significantly and permanently, your odds of success are not good, just statistically.

    (2) If you want to improve your health significantly and permanently, using your weight as a measure of your progress is not a good idea.

    (3) If I’m wrong about (1) and (2) above, then focusing on doing healthy things like exercising and eating vegetables will cause you to lose weight anyway, so it doesn’t matter whether that was your focus or not.

    (4) Regardless of what you weigh, if you don’t want to improve your health, that’s nobody’s business but yours (and possibly your dependents’), and it does not make you a bad person.

  23. wanzman says:

    Johanna said:

    “(1) If you want to change your weight significantly and permanently, your odds of success are not good, just statistically.”

    This cannot be true. Just look at people on the US. By definition, most people start at with an average body weight at some point in their lifetime. Somewhere around 30% to 35% of these people become obese. So obviously, people are changing thier weight significantly and permanently all the time – just in the wrong direction.

    It’s no different than people stuggling to get out of debt. Nobody starts out in debt, yet many folks get into debt. And very few people are able to permanently get out of debt.

    I think you should revise your #1 as follows:

    (1) If you want to change make any type of significant,positive change in your life (be is fiscal or physical) significantly and permanently, your odds of success are not good, just statistically.”

    I believe Americans, as a whole, are a complacent, shortsighted bunch. (full disclosure, I too am an American and share these same struggles)

  24. wanzman says:

    Also Johanna, you said:

    (4) Regardless of what you weigh, if you don’t want to improve your health, that’s nobody’s business but yours (and possibly your dependents’), and it does not make you a bad person.

    I respectfully disagree here.

    One (very large) reason that healthcare and insurance costs in the US are increasing at an alarming rate is because so many people are unhealthly. Just as when a storm hits and ruins several houses – everyone in the insurance pool sees higher rates. Well, when more and more Americans have health complications due to obesity, that affects the healthcare costs for everyone. Is it fair for people who choose to take care of themselves to suffer becuase others don’t want to take care of themselves?

    I work in an organization that is dominated by obese folks, and people who smoke a great deal. The group insurance rates are astronomical.

  25. MattJ says:

    Johanna:
    Your reply to chacha1 is a bizarre oversimplification. Do you actually believe it addresses the argument chacha1 put forward?

    “The implication is that any given person burns X calories per day at rest and Y calories per hour of Z activity, so that all you have to do is burn 100 extra calories a day and you’ll lose 10 pounds a year forever, when it very obviously doesn’t work like that.”

    I clearly didn’t claim it worked like that. What you’ve said above ignores the first term in the equation, and as such is a distortion of my argument.

    Your @Everyone comments address motivations – people’s motivations for wanting to change (or not) their weight and for some reason, health, which will only be a topic here if we give in to your insistence that while weight loss and health are completely different things, they’re so linked that we can’t (or shouldn’t?) discuss one without discussing the other. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t really need my motivations for weight loss psychoanalyzed. When I started lose weight, I was not trying to do so permanently (I was preparing for an event). I was not trying to improve my health (although that quickly became a motivation for making my weight loss permanent and more substantial once I started noticing the health effects due to the weight loss). I’m kind of curious why motivations matter so much to you – you seem to have a lot emotionally invested in the idea that weight loss is hard, and transitory. Most of us already know that it’s hard (though thankfully it was relatively easy for me) and that for many people, it doesn’t last.

    As for your 4 points, I suppose I disagree only with #2. Weight (and here I’m talking about percent body fat, not ‘weight’ per se, since that’s driven by things like age, height, sex, and muscle mass) is a good (though it certainly shouldn’t be the only) measure of your health.

  26. AndreaS says:

    First, if you think there are people who cannot lose weight, look at footage of WWII concentration camp survivors. Not a single survivor was heavy. I have known people who were heavy their whole adult lives, and believed they could not lose weight. They got cancer, could not eat for one reason or another, and dropped weight. My mother-in-law lost a mere twenty pounds and no longer needed the high-blood-pressure medication she had been on her whole adult life. My father was a six-foot guy, always 225 to 250 lbs. He was unable to eat due to pain, and dropped at least 75 pounds before he died. I realize these are extreme situations, but they show it IS about calories.

    Obesity varies in different regions of the country. In LA and in New York City, there are a higher percentage of people of healthy slim weight. However in the Midwest obesity is significantly higher.

    I believe in individual responsibility. It doesn’t matter to me if others make more money and so have an easier time making ends meet. That sort of comparison is pointless. I just look to my own situation and see what is possible. Frugality enables me to to make ends meet, and even if it wasn’t enough, frugality goes a long way to making life pleasant and fun.

    Similarly, there is no point in lamenting that some people can eat more than I can and maintain a healthy weight. Instead I focus on what is possible. It is a fact that many people who are slim eat very few calories and exercise a lot to maintain that. It is less about metabolism and way more about lifestyle.

    Most American adults are overweight or obese… and this is not because our bodies “need” these extra calories, because these calories are killing us.

  27. chacha1 says:

    Whee! Thanks, MattJ, for chiming back in. :-)

    Johanna, you are usually pretty smart, so I’ll assume you were being willfully obtuse in stating “However, I don’t know of anyone who seriously suggests that eating absolutely nothing is a good long-term strategy for living a healthy life. Or for living a long-term life, period.”

    I certainly didn’t suggest eating nothing.

    I just said that you can’t gain fat unless you are consuming more calories than you are burning. We all burn a certain number just by being alive. We burn more for every movement we make during the day. The more we move, the more we burn. And vice versa. If we move very little, then realistically we can consume very few calories – or we’ll gain fat.

    But my other point was that there are many factors that affect each individual’s calorie response. And a lot of people who claim they can’t lose weight have truly not explored all the options, and made all the changes, that they individually need to do in order to lose weight. Because it ain’t fun, and it isn’t always easy or cheap to figure this stuff out.

    And this goes right back to the point of self-delusion, which is, I believe, what the initial post was about. My apologies to all for my part in hijacking it!

  28. Kristine says:

    I completely agree with technique number 2. Asking yourself the “Why” question is great at looking at the big picture. Does whatever decision that presents itself fit into your overall game plan?

    Sometimes asking yourself “How” questions can be better. Maybe if you really want to buy a great pair of new running shoes, but it doesn’t fit into your budget, ask yourself, “How can I buy this pair of running shoes?”

    Instead of thinking linearly, (cut the budget somewhere to buy them), you get your mind to do its job of finding the answer. Maybe something comes up – like selling your childhood collector’s toy for the same amount of what it costs to buy the pair of shoes.

    Asking “How can I” questions presents to your mind that there is an answer. And, our minds are great goal seeking mechanisms…so let’s put it to work. :)

  29. Johanna says:

    @AndreaS: Your first paragraph is a perfect example of the dangers of confusing weight and health. Do you seriously think that the concentration-camp survivors were made healthier by their time in the concentration camps? Do you really think that your father was healthier *right before he died* than he was at the weight he’d been for the whole of his adult life?

    @chacha1: Of course I didn’t actually think you were saying that it’s a good idea to eat nothing at all. But since we agree on that, can we agree that there’s a point beyond which cutting calories is not healthy? And that people sometimes go beyond that point in their efforts to lose weight?

    Even if you set aside the cases that obviously involve eating disorders (which I’m not sure you should, since it’s all part of the same continuum), you see people on mainstream weight loss programs trying to eat less than 800 calories a day. As I understand it, that’s about how much they’d give you in the concentration camps when they wanted to kill you.

  30. SLCCOM says:

    The “personal responsibility” camp versus the “my body really IS different” camp war is getting tiresome. Those of you who lost weight, congratulations! Those of you who lost weight and kept it off for long periods, ditto! To those of you who have never been overweight, you have no idea how lucky you are. However, if you think that being thin means you will live forever, I have news for you. You, too, will die.

    Now “personal responsibility” folks, let me explain some facts of life to you.

    1. You don’t live in Joanna’s body, or mine, or anybody else’s body but your own. This means that you are NOT entitled to decide that you know all about it. You do not know by looking at someone who has fibromyalgia, depression, is taking drugs that DO, IN FACT cause weight gain, are on chemo, just lost their entire family and are grieving, had foot surgery, are infected with something that drains their energy, or has a whole host of other problems that lead to the SYMPTOM of weight gain.

    2. Not everyone who is overweight is unhealthy. Once again, you cannot tell that by looking at someone. And if they do appear unhealthy, you have no idea if the weight is the cause of their poor health.

    3. Not everyone who is thin is healthy. I know thin diabetics, thin people with severe arthritis, thin people with heart disease, thin people with cancer, thin people with…. Once again, you cannot tell by looking at someone. Even thin, very fit people can have diseases.

    4. The idea that someone else’s disease is increasing your medical costs, or insurance costs, is NOT the model used by health insurers. Without other people being less than healthy, or injured, there would be no physicians, nurses, or facilities for you when you break your neck doing mountain biking or rock climbing or skiing or whatever “healthy” activity you like to indulge in.

    5. While those of us with the SYMPTOM of overweight can sometimes lose weight, those of you who are all smug and nasty will still be smug and nasty right up until something smacks you upside the head.

    Therefore, in light of the facts of life, how about showing each other kindness instead of being nasty, smug and superior? We all have our struggles and we need each other’s support, not blame and negativity.

  31. LMR says:

    This has nothing to do with anything anyone has said, but am I the only with the the Naked Eyes song from the 80s stuck in your head?

  32. “If your idea of success is that it “feels” like you’re doing well, then it becomes very, very easy to delude yourself into a false picture of success.” Great point, success should be measurable!

  33. Johanna says:

    @SLCCOM: You make some good points, but I want to clarify that I haven’t actually said anything in this thread about my body. What I’m saying is not “I can’t lose weight, so it must be impossible.” It’s “In actual fact, the vast majority of people who lose weight end up regaining it, and I don’t think that’s because they’re *all* too stupid, too lazy, too gluttonous, or insufficiently motivated to do it right.”

    I’ve never actually been on a weight-loss diet, myself, and as you say, I *do* feel fortunate that I’ve never been in a position where I’ve felt I had to try to lose weight, and I haven’t been the direct target of the unacceptable fat shaming and drive-by pseudonutritional morality lecturing that seems to be everywhere these days. I just think that the fact that so many people do have to deal with those things on a daily basis is both an outrage and a shame.

  34. SLCCOM says:

    Glad to hear that, Johanna! I didn’t read that you had said that you can’t lose weight,but the clarification is always good. Your compassion and understanding is appreciated by everyone!

  35. chacha1 says:

    SLCCOM, that was my point exactly. There are too many factors to have only one answer. Except: drugs and illnesses DO NOT CAUSE weight gain. Excess calories cause weight gain.

    It’s unfortunate that many people are faced with conditions that affect their ability to process calories. I wish doctors would do a better job of explaining this.

    But the fact is if your illness or medication causes your metabolic rate to plunge, you have to consume fewer calories or you will gain weight. Many people can eat the same *amount* of food, they just have to change the *type* of food they eat.

    People who are overweight ONLY because of overeating are not, however, the exception. There are more “healthy” overweight people out there than people with metabolism-depressing illnesses. It’s pretty well established, though, that the longer someone is overweight the more likely they are to develop one of those illnesses. There is a LOT of science on this. It’s just self delusion (again!) to think one has nothing to do with the other.

    I don’t judge when I see someone who’s overweight. I know a lot of overweight people, but I don’t know everything about their health situation, and anyway it’s none of my business.

    If you feel that strongly about it, get involved with patient advocacy groups asking for better information from their health providers. That would be a lot more constructive than calling people names.

  36. SLCCOM says:

    ChaCha1, yes, there are drugs and illnesses that cause overweight and obesity. I’m sorry that you have an inadequate medical background to “get” this, and that you insist that you apparently know everything about people just by looking at them, as you believe that you know all about who is “healthy” just by looking at them.

    You don’t judge? Really? Yet you “know” that there are more “healthy” overweight people out there than people with metabolism-depressing illnesses? And not every illness that causes weight to be accumulated is metabolism-depressing, by the way. How is that happening without “judging?” For that matter, how is that happening at all?

    You can ask for better information from your health providers until you are blue in the face, but you won’t get it. Try asking for an autoimmune workup just because you are tired. Go ahead, I’ll wait. You won’t get it. It is expensive. So first they will try the cheap stuff, and then blame you for overeating. You’ll never get the workup you need. Because, after all, “drugs and illnesses DO NOT CAUSE weight gain. Excess calories cause weight gain.”

  37. Leszek Cyfer says:

    “Keep the reason why you’re doing this front and center all the time”

    I find this Brian Tracy exercise very helpful:

    Write down 20 reasons for doing what you want to achieve. First 5-8 reasons will be easy, getting to 15 answers is uphill, but to get to 20 you need to seriously sit on it, even sleep over it. What’s amazing, the most important reasons for you will be those last, hard to find ones. And those irresistible reasons will fuel you toward achieving the intended goal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>