Losing weight permanently is about changing how we eat permanently. And changing old habits isn’t easy.
How and Why We Change is the subtitle of Polly Morland’s new book Metamorphosis, nineteen stories of personal transformation. Only one of the stories is about someone losing weight, but each story includes nuggets of truth about any journey of personal growth. These apply as much to changing your relationship with food as to any other journey.
Morland’s gripping story-telling makes this a joy to read and each of us will take different lessons from it. The points which jumped out for me, which come up time and again when I work with people to change unhelpful established habits are:
- Each person builds their own change process, themselves, from within. At the start is a need or strong desire to change. Next is taking charge of yourself.
Start with who you are now. You need to change one step at a time. The steps don’t have to be slow; sustainable change can happen quickly or slowly. Focus on habit change.
- Believe in your ability to achieve your goal. If you don’t yet believe this, start imagining your future self. Really visualising your changed self is, as Polly Morland says, the basis of the new story you will write for yourself.
She quotes Didier, a monk who became a successful businessman “You believe something then you do it. You do what you believe”
- Consider the place the old habit had in your life and what purpose it served. As you find new ways of meeting that need, it will be easier to give up the habit. Morland’s chapter on Violet K is about withdrawing from drugs. As Violet says, “It’s a slow process… you don’t do drugs and it becomes easier and easier. Then in time you don’t want to because you find the thing that you’ve most been looking for anyway, which was people, intimacy and love”.
If you’re eating more than you need in place of human contact, or in order to stifle difficult emotions or as an antidote to boredom, discovering how to deal with the feeling directly frees you from compulsive eating and allows you to discover what it feels like to be flexibly in control around food.
Although changing habits isn’t easy, it is possible. And it’s not just the habit that changes; it is your very view of yourself.