7 Ways To Lose Weight Through Inner Conflict
by Keith Yancy
Losing weight. Seems like, for every cooking show, cook book, and 2,000-calorie recipe being shared on Pinterest, there’s a weight loss book or fad that springs up to deal with the consequences of eating all that stuff. You can try a diet (Adkins, Caveman, etc), join a weight loss group (Weight Watchers is one of many), have surgery (i.e., lap bands, liposuction), exercise (alone or at a gym) or a combination of any/all of these. Any can work, most don’t, because — if you’re like me — it’s the commitment and willpower you bring to the process that makes the difference, and mine usually comes up short.
This past Christmas, I weighed a doughy 210 pounds. Flabby. Lethargic. Dreaming not of the holidays or snow, but whether I could grab a two-pack of Ding Dongs at the Speedway when I filled up my gas tank. Plotting how I could stop in at Wendy’s for a large size Double Cheeseburger Combo, complete with the mandatory large-sized Frosty. In short, I was a slug, with a silhouette that looked more like a bowling pin than a 40-something year-old man.
After hitting 210 (I’m a bit over 6 feet tall), I decided I’d had enough. I had to lose some weight. But none of the traditional paths seemed very promising. They were either too public (see “groups” above), too tiring (exercise in its myriad forms) or just too inconvenient/expensive/time consuming (everything else).
And that’s when I decided to avoid the usual methods of weight loss, and just rely simply on stoking my inner conflict — my mind vs. my body.
Unlike some people, I don’t do well with most of the ultra-positive, “love yourself” approaches to weight loss. That’s because I too often use food as a reward — being “nice to myself” was usually followed by “with ice cream.” Losing weight, for me, is more like an internal battle between my mind (which wants to lose weight) and my body (which definitely, decidedly does not). It’s not about wanting to be “rail thin,” or having a negative body image, or any of the other potentially dangerous mental traps people can sometimes fall into while losing weight. In my personal case, this is entirely about willpower, self-denial of unhealthy foods, and reducing “large portion” meals.
Obviously, having a stubborn streak comes in handy for me.
So, while it’s not the most traditional or recommended way to lose weight, I’ve developed a few habits — inspired by my “mind vs. body” internal battle — that have helped me make progress.
7 Ways to Leverage Inner Conflict to Lose Weight
- Embrace eating food you don’t like. Fruits. Vegetables. More fruits. Simply put, I love unhealthy food, and eating healthy fruits and vegetables is my mind’s way of fighting my body’s food cravings.
- Embrace your inner guilt complex. Yes, the Twinkies eaten when no one’s around are still fattening, and should inspire extreme guilt and regret if eaten. This is to be nurtured. Eventually, you’ll feel so guilty about eating bad stuff that you’ll learn to avoid it in the same way kids avoid cleaning their room. HINT: the longer you successfully do this, the easier it becomes to sustain — why ruin progress?
- Become a food snob. Assume that, if it’s not a fruit, vegetable, or a food your healthier spouse would approve of, it’s probably fattening. My wife is very good about reading labels and understanding what is/is not healthy. Her reminders, while making my body extremely grouchy, are a source of strength for my mind and willpower. It’s almost like having a dietary “referee” who steps in when the body gets an edge on my mind, and tilts the inner conflict battle back in my mind’s favor.
- Eat less — a lot less. Being hungry is irritating. But I’ve been surprised at how much less food fills me up these days than before. I never used to take home food from a restaurant, and now I usually do (and try to do so to keep from overeating). Of course, my inner conflict method has my mind “cheating” my body from a complete meal, much to my body’s irritation. Eating less, together with the inner guilt complex, can really help the pounds come off.
- Become a workaholic. Lunch hour is a big fat trap. Fill this time with nine parts work and one part fruit, instead of going to eat fast food with a bunch of annoying, already-thin-and-can-eat-whatever-they-want-without-consequences friends. Your body might be mad at your mind for the rest of the day, but it’ll make you more productive and help you avoid frenemies tempting you with “all you can eat” buffets.
- Choose better snacks. Generally, I avoid sweets, and stick with a few pretzels (if my mind and body are in cease-fire mode) or carrots (if the mind/body conflict battle is raging). Regardless, I try to keep snacks to an absolute minimum.
- Resist the urge to “give yourself a break.” For an inwardly conflicted person like me, this is my body trying to wheedle permission to eat some fattening foods. When my body tells me I deserve a reward (read: unhealthy food choices), my mind goes on high alert, and the willpower and stubbornness kick in. Reward? Have a grape. Two grapes, if I’ve earned a promotion, or won the lottery, or done something heroic.
I suspect people will tell me that “you’ll gain all that weight back.” We’ll see. That’s the best part of the “internal conflict” diet approach: it seems to reflect a natural inclination to be argumentative. So, the more people who predict a weight gain, the more likely I am to want to prove them wrong.
As of today, it’s now March 17 (almost 3 months since Christmas), and I now weigh 191 pounds. 19 pounds lost. And no, I’m not satisfied yet. 175 pounds by June 1 is my target goal, based on my physique and comfort level.
Of course, some might say that this is really just “will power,” or “self-discipline,” or “healthier eating habits.” But without my personal battle between mind and body — that old inner conflict — I probably wouldn’t have come this far.
Yes, it may be dysfunctional… but it works for a stubborn person like me.
Until next time… :)