Most of us are great at starting a weight loss journey. We pick a plan. We stock our fridge and pantry. We weigh/measure ourselves. Maybe we even take “before photos”. We can’t wait to get started. We’re going to transform our lives. This time will be different. This time we’ll keep it off. This time we won’t cave.
Unfortunately, the “good feeling” often dissipates like water in the desert. It lasts only about five days for two thirds of those who embark on a new journey. By 19 days it’s gone for almost everyone else. These sojourners wither up and quit. By the end of 4 weeks, there are but a few lone flowers hanging on for dear life.
So how do we make it past the honeymoon phase with our motivation still intact?
Some of us will be able to white-knuckle it to our goal weight with sheer willpower. The drawback with willpower though is that our supply is limited. We wake in the morning with a supply of it, but the more we have to exercise it, the more we use. Once it’s gone… it’s usually gone for the rest of the day.
If all that is keeping you in the zone is willpower, you will eventually run out of it and cave. That’s one reason trying days will send us to the drive thru faster than you can say, “Good gollie, I’ve blown my boundaries.”
If you have a myriad of lies bouncing around in your head all day, you’ll run out even faster because every time a lie comes up, you must use a bit of willpower to ignore it or process it.
Willpower doesn’t work. Not in the dailiness of this journey anyway. It might get you through those first few days, but beyond that, you’re at the mercy of your limited supply.
Some of us will lean heavily on our boundaries. We’ll bow down to our boundaries and expect them to motivate us. We’ll put so much stock in our boundaries that it becomes a religion in and of itself.
We expect our boundaries to save us from ourselves. We expect them to keep us from giving in to our bad behaviors.
Unfortunately, all our boundaries have the power to do is say…. “Warning, you’re approaching the line… warning, you’ve crossed the line.” We are still free to live inside them or dance about outside with reckless abandon.
Boundaries are there to say, “that’s far enough”. Whether we listen or not is entirely up to us. They cannot save us. They cannot transform us.
Obviously I’m a proponent of accountability if I facilitate an online support group and attend Weight Watcher meetings. Accountability can be a good thing.
However, some of us will lean heavily on others and while accountability is certainly a fantastic motivator, it has its drawbacks too. Like willpower and boundaries, we are the ones responsible for making it work. We have to take the time to be accountable to ourselves and others.
If we rely too much on others, we never learn to stand on our own two feet. We can become dependent on waiting for someone else to say, “I’m holding you accountable to keep your boundaries today.” If no one holds us accountable, we give up because we haven’t learned to hold ourselves accountable.
Even if we do get good at holding ourselves accountable, there’s still that little problem with having a limited supply of willpower. Yes, holding ourselves accountable can tap that resource dry.
Some of us will rely heavily on results to keep us motivated. I’ll not deny it. It is most certainly motivating to see that scale move down. Unfortunately, it isn’t realistic to believe the scale will always move in the right direction. Our weight will fluctuate and often it it totally out of our control when it does.
So, basing our motivation on that scale is a bad idea. If I had used the scale as my sole motivator, I would have quit last week when it didn’t move despite living within my boundaries all week (and had barely moved down the week before). I had two weeks in a row of disappointing weigh ins and it had nothing to do with whether I kept my boundaries or not. I had kept them.
Don’t get me wrong, all of these are good things to have in your toolbelt. Using your limited supply of willpower wisely is important. Having boundaries reminds us that eating what we want, when we want isn’t beneficial. Accountability can be an excellent tool when we keep it in proper perspective. And of course, it is certainly motivating to get results.
Yes, they are all good things, and can even carry you a good distance on this journey. The problem is, they don’t transform you from the inside out. Other than willpower, they are all external and willpower is limited.
Renewing the Mind
God tells us in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
We are transformed by God through the renewing of our minds. When we take the lies captive and replace them with truth, God changes our beliefs. When our beliefs change, our actions follow.
What we believe in our heart of hearts motivates us to either keep our boundaries or to ditch them. That is why it is more important to rely on truth than our feelings. Our feelings will be tossed about by life’s circumstances. God’s Truth doesn’t change.
When we begin to rely on God more and more for strength and trust Him to bring about transformation, a really cool thing happens. We begin to look to Him for the motivation we need to keep going. His strength is limitless (unlike our limited willpower).
When we focus on building a habit of renewing our minds to the mind of Christ, a peace washes over us. It’s a peace which surpasses all understanding. It’s a peace which will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.
Something We Need to Accept
Traveling this road to freedom from our food/weight/body image strongholds is usually not an overnight thing. It takes hours upon hours of removing the lies at the root of our old behaviors and pouring in copious amounts of God’s Truth.
It takes time and how long depends on the depth and magnitude of the lies. But there is hope! I’ve seen it in my own life. When I began building a practice of constantly renewing my mind last June (2015) I had to have faith that God would do what He said He would do. I didn’t see much fruit in the beginning.
Then, little by little, my attitude toward my weight and body began to change. It sparked new life into my motivation to keep going, so I poured in even more Truth. God revealed lie after lie and taught me how to recognize them. He applied His truth through the time spent in His Word and prayer.
My weight fluctuated a lot in those beginning months. Up, down, up, down, stay the same, up, down… and so on. I kept pouring in truth and then last September (2015) I went through Barb Raveling’s book, “Taste For Truth” for the first time (currently on my third trip through the book). She walked me through choosing boundaries and once God led me to the boundaries I need at this stage of my journey, all the truth I’d spent months pouring in began to turn the tide.
Chains broke… the captive looked up and saw the light… He lifted me out of the pit and although I’ve had slips here and there, God has never left me or forsaken me.
To date, since last June, I have released 25 pounds (most of which has been in the last few months). However, I have released far more in the way of lies and anxiety and fear during that time.
My motivation is intact because God is faithful. When my delight is in Him and not in food/weight/body image, my cup runneth over and I don’t have to fear the joy of the Lord drying up.
“Good Feelings” will come and go, but the Word of our Lord stands forever!
Psalm 121 (NKJV)
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.