Have you ever asked yourself how people lose weight and manage to keep it off?
You are thinking losing weight and staying fit is a matter of genetics, metabolism, and the willpower to change one’s habits. Although those things play a part in losing weight, building muscle, and improving one’s general health, the most important component to change happens in your brain.
The two stimuli that cause a person to take action
According to Tony Robbins’ book, Awaken The Giant Within, human beings are motivated to take action by two things: pain and pleasure.
We do the things we do to move from pain to pleasure.
That can be eating, sleeping, finding a partner in life, quitting a job you hate, drinking, smoking or gambling.
We associate eating with pleasure because it removes the pain of hunger.
See Also: 8 Bad Food Habits That are Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals
We sleep to give our exhausted bodies and minds some rest.
We spend a good portion of our lives looking for a partner so we can share our joys and sorrows.
Even people who drink associate alcohol with pleasure. Maybe it’s to help them forget about their problems or to help them de-stress after a hectic work week. Perhaps, they enjoy socializing and alcohol just happened to be a part of most gatherings.
What causes a person to change his or her habits?
How do people suddenly find the motivation they need to lose weight?
I used to wonder if there was a switch you can turn on in a person’s head to make him decide to change for the better.
It turns out there is a name for that switch. It’s called the pain threshold.
Tony Robbins described crossing the pain threshold as the ultimate motivator to create change. Once you associate so much pain to something, you would do everything in your power to change it and move yourself to pleasure.
Most people who decided to lose weight crossed the pain threshold, which can be in the form of health issues.
Arthur Boorman was in so much pain from walking. So, he decided he had to lose weight or he would never walk unassisted for life.
Jared Mollenkopf was so out of shape that he got tired just sitting in front of a computer. Since he has an office job, imagine how much pain he’s in, having to sit for 8 hours a day.
Stacey Morris got embarrassed each time she had to put on extension seat belts whenever she flies. Since her job requires her to travel a lot, she had to endure that situation often.
It’s also pretty common to see people choosing to lose weight because of their family. Not living long enough to see young kids grow up or not having the energy to be there for the family during special occasions can be a good source of motivation to shape up.
How to use pain and pleasure to create change
The most important thing to ask yourself is this:
What do you really want?
Think about what is really going to give you joy and what gives you sorrow. Once you’ve figured that out, create leverage on yourself by associating pain to not changing NOW. Leverage is the key to get yourself into taking massive action.
In my case, there was a point in my life when I felt exercising took a lot of effort and I had little to no time for it. I ate junk foods and sweets often because they tasted good.
It’s funny because I didn’t find time or energy for exercise but I could always squeeze in some time to go to the bar with my friends.
Was it fun eating anything I desired and drinking alcohol with friends instead of exercising and eating healthy? Absolutely.
Until one day, I took my shirt off and looked in a mirror.
I looked nothing like I used to be. I wasn’t really overweight, but my belly was starting to stick out. My hairline was starting to recede and my cheekbones and jawline where nowhere to be found.
I always felt like I needed more sleep and had low energy level to do anything physical.
I was in the worst shape of my life and I was only 29 years old!
The pain I felt looking and feeling older than I am was overwhelming. I knew right there that if I didn’t change something, things would go downhill fast and I was not prepared to accept that.
One thing I learned was that if I wanted to get different results, I had to do something I’ve never done. It definitely took a lot of courage to try something I knew nothing about but the pain of failing and gaining more weight weighed more than the fear of the unknown.
I took action. I bought weight loss programs online, which totally changed the way I trained. Slowly, I renewed my commitment to eating healthier, too.
The one thing that is absolutely crucial if you want to create permanent change
You’ve decided what you really want, you’ve gotten leverage on yourself, you changed your habits and approach and you’ve gotten the results you’re looking for. You started seeing results.
Well, it’s not enough that you lost some weight. You need to find a way to keep the fat off.
The danger with not creating new habits is that you can easily slip back into the things you were used to doing.
I mean, I could have stopped training. After all, I lost weight already. I could have gone back to enjoying my weekends watching movies, eating anything I wanted, and drinking beer.
But the joy I found with my new self meant more than eating junk foods and laying on the couch. My weekends were replaced by pickup games with friends or trying out new ways to do cardio, like biking, going on long walks in the park or hiking.
Hearing compliments about how much weight I lost felt good and it motivated me to train harder. That’s also enough motivation for me to take it easy on junk foods and alcohol. I became committed to staying healthy.
I still have my cheat meal and beer occasionally but I don’t enjoy it as much as I used to. After all, being healthy, strong, and confident give me my ultimate pleasure.
Now that you understand how to set your mind to lose weight and keep it off, it’s time for you to give it a try.
First, know what motivates you and what ultimately gives you pain and pleasure. Figuring out how to lose weight with training and proper nutrition will follow as long as you’re committed to making changes. After all, there are lots of materials available on the internet from people who have done it before you.
Just find out what will work for you. Figure out what you like and what you don’t like. Go on and take that first step.
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