Yesterday I talked about what is dieting and laid the foundation. Today I want to talk about focus and one reason why dieting does not work.
In the field of psychology, particularly positive psychology, there’s an idea that what you focus on grows. How does this apply to dieting and weight loss?
When you decide, on Sunday night or Monday morning after looking in the mirror and feeling shame, to go on a diet, you start the diet with the idea that you are gross and ugly and fat and that you need to change in order to be a better person.
Most people start dieting with this underlying assumption that they are disgusting as they are and that they aren’t worthy of love. That’s their intention for wanting to change. That becomes the focus of the diet, this negative perception of self.
Let’s say you’re a normal American woman and you decide you want to stop eating sugar. You think “I’m disgusting and I’m fat and I can’t eat sugar because sugar is making me fat so I need to stop eating sugar”. So Monday morning you start off and you’re going strong.
Then maybe you get to Wednesday and it’s getting hard. Maybe you went to someone’s house and they offer you a cookie and you say “oh no, I can’t, I can’t eat sugar because I’m fat and sugar is making me more fat”.
Eventually, you’re going to cave. You’ve set up this dichotomy for yourself that you either don’t eat sugar at all, and thus become a happy, healthy, skinny, beautiful, wonderful person, or you keep eating sugar and you stay this nasty, disgusting person that you already are.
You’ve set yourself up for failure from the beginning. You’ve focused on the wrong thing. You’ve set up this situation in your mind where you can’t last! Your mind will literally not let you continue to live that way.
Since you’ve set up this “nothing” mentality, when you fail your brain will switch into “all” mentality. You won’t just have one brownie, you’re going to eat all the sugar and have an entire pan of brownies. You’re going to have a huge serving of ice cream.
Because you put all-or-nothing in your mind and have a focus of “I’m disgusting and have to change to not be disgusting anymore”, you have set yourself up for failure.
That’s why diets don’t work. They come from a scarcity mentality, from a negative perception of self. From a “I am not good enough as I am and can only be worthy of love if I change”.
That foundation for dieting is why they fail and why they will continue to fail every single time.
If you know someone who has gone on a “diet” that has worked for them, it is because they are not going about it in this negative way.
I am not against people being nutritional explorers and changing their diet, or playing with the Whole 30, or taking out dairy or whatever you decide to do. I think those experiences can be incredibly valuable! But I don’t consider those to be diets.
So tomorrow I am going to talk about how to make those changes in your nutrition world without putting yourself on a diet.