Why Some People Will Always Struggle with their Weight

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Do you know anyone that says they are “big boned” or they are “happy being overweight?” Anyone whose identity or happiness is linked with being overweight will always struggle with their weight.

They might lose weight for an event, like a wedding, but inevitably they will return to their old weight because it is tied to who they are. Our identity is who we believe we are. If we believe we are destined to be overweight, because everyone in our family is, then that is what we will be. Genetics play a role, but we shouldn’t use it as an excuse. Many people from overweight families have lost weight and kept it off.

My grandfather died of a heart attack, related to being overweight, when he was in his forties. My father was overweight his entire life. He exercised regularly, but he also ate dessert regularly. I was overweight as a child, but when I committed to daily exercise and eliminating junk food from my diet, I lost the weight and have kept it off.

I never thought of myself as being genetically predisposed to being overweight. I believed that I could do what so many people have done and get in shape by working out regularly and simply eliminating junk food from my diet. In overweight families it is hard to tell how much of it is due to genetics and how much is due to the families’ attitude toward eating healthy and exercising. The fact that obesity rates continue to climb in developed countries indicates that eating behavior plays a larger role than genetics.

Our beliefs and actions are connected. Many times, we convince ourselves that we are happy with our weight, because we want to be happy. If our eating is causing us to be unhappy, we must either change our eating or change our definition of happiness.

Our mind seeks harmony between our attitudes and behaviors. The psychological term that describes a disharmony between attitude and behavior is called cognitive dissonance. When we perceive a divergence between our attitude and behavior we will either change our attitude, or our behavior to minimize the disharmony.

Bad habits provide instant gratification, so changing our attitude around the behavior is easier than changing the behavior. Changing the behavior would require sacrifice, while changing our attitude wouldn’t require anything but lying to ourselves. Changing our attitude allows us to continue indulging in the bad habit without any psychological angst.

Everyone knows that smoking is terrible for your health, but a smoker will reduce the conflict by convincing themselves that a longer life devoid of smoking isn’t worth living. They will identify themselves as a smoker. Their attitude is that smoking produces so much pleasure that a shorter lifespan is a price they are willing to pay.

Anyone who says they prefer being overweight to being thin is deceiving themselves. They simply equate more pleasure with eating unrestrained than being thin. I could be wrong, but I believe that if they asked themselves, “If I could eat whatever I wanted, and be thin, would I rather be overweight?” their answer would be thin.

Happiness requires our attitudes and behaviors to be in line. When they aren’t in alignment we get to choose which one to change. Bad habits persist because we have decided to change our attitude instead of our behavior.

Best wishes and best health.

Bad habits are only able to persist because we equate more PAIN with changing our habits than changing our attitude. Change your habits, change your life! 

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