What you believe, so will be!
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "belief" is defined in three ways.
"A State or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing."
"Something that is accepted considered to be true, or held as opinion: something believed."
"Conviction of the truth of some type of statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence."
The Cambridge Dictionary defines belief as "The feeling of being certain that something exists or is true."
From the time we are a baby in our mom's arms, we start to form understandings and beliefs about life, people, situations, expectations, ourselves, and so on. The more time that goes by and the more experiences we have, the deeper our beliefs become. Further strengthening those beliefs, we find reasons or examples to make those beliefs true. Our brain is built to find reasons to make our beliefs and values true. This is referred to as Confirmation Bias.
Confirmation bias, according to Britannica, is "people's tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with their existing beliefs."
When I look back to my weight journey, as early as my mid-teen years, I can recall stating what I felt to be truths to other people about my inability to lose weight. I would say things like, "Nothing I do works."
Or, I've tried everything, and nothing works. Or, I can't lose weight."
Or, "I'm just big-boned." This one often came with several other additional beliefs behind it.
Knowing now what I didn't know then. Without question, I know I unconsciously looked for and saw reasons that those statements were true for me. And, from that, I didn't continue the right actions long enough to build evidence of the opposite truth.
I had several beliefs that were impacting my weight loss goals.
It was a horrible cycle, especially at such a young age.
I lost the weight (160 pounds worth) in my early twenties. In turn, I was disproving my then-current belief systems. The more weight I lost, the more my belief systems changed to "I can lose weight."
And, "I can be thin." My brain behavior changed along with it, and I started looking for reasons to make that new belief true.
I would tell you, when I started losing weight, it came off like melting butter. I know the shift in beliefs was a major factor. I believe the other piece was that I stopped thinking about it so much. I stopped letting weight loss or how I felt about my body consume so much of my daily thoughts. Losing weight was not at the forefront of my goals at that point. Sure, I was eating in a mostly healthy way and moving a lot, but neither of those was at the goal of losing weight.
I realized years later that I had formed new beliefs during the weight loss, which were not always empowering. The new beliefs caused me to have an unhealthy relationship with food in the opposite way this time, often not eating enough to sustain a healthy metabolic function. I also had deep-rooted beliefs about what healthy fats and healthy carbs meant for my weight.
Even to this day, I will catch a belief I didn't recognize was there before. The beauty is when you start learning and understanding yourself, your beliefs, values, etc. You can better catch and change old beliefs and patterns. And/or prove them wrong altogether.
Some of the beliefs that can impact our thought process and our actions, which in turn prevent us
from losing or maintaining a healthy weight, include:
This is just the way I am meant to be
I'm just big-boned
I can't lose weight
Nothing I do works
I have thyroid issues
Losing weight is hard
Weight loss means depriving myself
Healthy foods cause me to gain weight
I always gain it back
It's my DNA – I'm pre-disposed to obesity because of my family
I look at food, and it makes me gain weight
I can't shut off my hunger
It's hormonal weight, and I can't lose it
I have to workout 5-6 days a week to lose weight
Food is comfort for me
I need food to associate with my friend group
It may be a heavy list for some of you reading today. And the tricky thing is that some of these statements may have some truth, physiologically speaking, for you, behind them. But NONE of them need to stall your weight or body goals! If you genuinely want to and are ready, you CAN shift your beliefs!
Please keep in mind that this article is only tackling the belief aspect. If you don't know how to eat or move for your body, those are key to seeing the results you want.
Once you have identified what belief systems you are owning, it's time to decide what you want to keep and what you would like to start changing. It is absolutely possible to change beliefs, but please keep in mind that some deep-rooted beliefs may take time, patience, and actively looking for reasons to disprove that belief.
As you are getting started, I would recommend starting here:
Identify the belief, where it came from, and when it started. You can do this by asking yourself, where did this belief start? Are there people in your life that you may have heard and learned this belief from? When you identify where the belief came from, it can often be easier to separate from it.
Keep the accountability and in turn choice! You choose the thoughts you want to keep and think. When you keep the accountability, it makes the choice much easier to change.
Challenge the belief! Is that belief true? What else could be true? Can you find any evidence that supports the opposite truth?
Decide if you want to keep it. If you choose to keep the belief, how can you get good with it and stop allowing it to bring you negative energy or thinking? If you no longer want to hold that belief, what do you want to believe instead? Define your new belief! Get very clear about what that new belief looks and feels like. How does it change the way you look, feel, and act?
What needs to happen for you to start believing that new belief? When you are looking at this question, consider things you may need to learn, people you need to forgive, habits that need to change, things you need to see, experiences you need to have, etc.
What can you start looking for in yourself or your environment that would help to reinforce the truth behind this new belief? Remember how I talked earlier about your brain wanting to find reasons to make your beliefs and values true? Use this to your advantage and start intentionally looking for ways to make that new belief true. Create a clear list of what you can start watching for.
How are your current food beliefs serving you? You might be inclined to quickly answer that they are not serving you at all, but trust me, asking this question and sticking with it until you have an answer is going to help. When you know how you BELIEVE it's serving you, you can then work on that source. As an example, you may believe that food gives you a connection with others (birthdays, anniversaries, dinners, parties, etc.)
Visualize yourself in that new belief. Now that you have defined what that new belief is sit with it, close your eyes, and look at how you look and feel with that new belief. How does it change your posture? How does it change your energy? How does it change how you look? How does it change your confidence or self-esteem? I recommend visualizing daily to help you and your brain believe the possibility of that new thought.
BE KIND to yourself!! This is a journey. The more small daily actions you take to change the way you choose to think and act, the more long-term success you will have.
If you are looking for support on this journey, schedule a free discovery conversation to talk more at https://calendly.com/jenzahari/30min.