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Tripping Over the Truth — Why Diets Fail You

I’m reading a great book by Chip and Dan Heath called “The Power of Moments”.

They dive into the subject of making life more meaningful by increasing the number of memorable moments we have in life.  When you think back on the years you’ve lived, how many memorable moments were there?  The “highlights” and “lowlights” of our lives often are a small percentage of the number of days we’ve lived.  The Heaths believe that we don’t have to wait for these times to happen.  We can actually create those moments and not let it be happenstance.


Tripping Over the Truth

You may ask what the power of moments has to do with dieting.  As I was reading the chapter on “tripping over the truth”, I realized that most people are trying to lose weight based on the latest fad diet or an approach a friend used who said it worked (at least, for a while).  The Heaths pointed out that most people don’t make permanent changes when they’re given the solution to a problem they’ve got.  They personally have to “trip over the truth”, see the truth for themselves, and then they come up with the solution.

People are much more creative than they give themselves credit for.  While it may seem easier to just follow someone else’s plan, it won’t last because it wasn’t your own personal plan.  You didn’t come up with the solution.


Discontent Breeds Realizations

People who need to lose weight will tell their friends “I really need to lose this weight”, but somehow their discontent with their weight never reaches what Roy Baumeister, a psychologist, calls the “crystallization of discontent”.  That’s the dramatic moment when you finally see everything that has been bothering you.  It becomes so focused that you almost have no choice but to take action.

When people go on diets, they’re not really committed until they’ve reached that moment in time.  And that’s probably why diets fail people.  First, they weren’t really ready to commit.  Second, they hadn’t discovered that “truth” on their own.  They have faint thoughts of “I really should do this”, but never “I have to do this”.


What Truth Do You Need to Trip Over?

What is it going to take to give you that “aha” moment?  Do you have to have a heart attack or be diagnosed with diabetes because of being overweight to get a wake-up call?  Or can you actually engineer that moment?  That’s what the Heaths want you to do.

You need to discover the truth behind your weight before all the negative things that can happen to you do happen to you.  Why not try walking up 10 flight of stairs (with your doctor’s permission) and see if you can create your “aha” moment —  when you realize that your joints are hurting you or your lungs can’t keep up.  Ask your body to do that which someone who is not overweight and in peak health can do.


Which Comes First – Finding the Solution or Discovering the Problem?

What people who need to lose weight are doing wrong is first trying to find the solution to their weight problem without having consciously defined the problems of being overweight.  Many people lose weight for vanity’s sake.  They want to get back into their skinny jeans.  That definitely is not a big enough problem to force you to find a solution or one that you’ll sustain.

I’ve always wondered why people don’t have more respect for this marvelous machine we call our bodies.  Maybe our problem is the body is very forgiving for a very long time for the injustices we bring against it.  You eat too much, you gain weight, and yet your heart keeps beating and the legs keep moving.  That is, until they don’t.

Many years ago, my husband and I rented a 34-foot RV.  It truly was a slug of a machine and proved its sluggishness when trying to go over a freeway overpass.  You could hear the engine groaning and no matter how much we’d floor the accelerator pedal, it wouldn’t go any faster.  It could do no more.  I think about that when I see overweight people trying to live life fully and can’t because their engine isn’t capable.

I suggest you discover the “why” (the problem) before you discover the “what” (the solution).


Make It Personal

When you finally feel you’re ready for the “what”, don’t go after the fad diets.  In fact, don’t go after a diet at all.  Find a way that is comfortable for you to eat that aligns with who you are and can last you a lifetime.

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