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Conquer Your Weight

Episode #4: [Introductory Series] Your BIG WHY

Show Notes

March 2, 2022

Learn how to develop your BIG WHY - the ultimate reason you want to lose weight and keep it off forever.


Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: This is Dr. Sarah Stombaugh and you are listening to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, episode number four. Announcer: Welcome to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, where you will learn to understand your mind and body so you can achieve long-term weight loss. Here's your host, obesity medicine physician and life coach, Dr. Sarah Stombaugh. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Hey everyone. Welcome back. Before we dive in today's episode, I wanna just check in and see if you've been logging your food and hunger signals. If you don't know what I'm talking about, head on back to episode number two. It's gonna give you some great information on food logging and hunger signals. Really one of the first and most important steps to long-term weight loss is bringing awareness to the decisions you're making. And then when you do the logging and you notice your hunger signals, you can look back at what you ate when you ate it, were you even hungry? And you'll probably notice that patterns start to emerge. If you haven't had a chance to start logging yet, this is so, so, so important and I encourage you to start today. Alright, so today we are going to talk about your big why and the things that get in the way of accomplishing our goals. When we think about long-term weight loss, one of the most important things we can do is figure out why do you wanna lose weight? And more importantly, is that reason compelling enough for you to actually lose weight and keep that weight off forever. People come to me all the time and say, Hey, Dr. Stombaugh, what do you think about this diet? Just last week I had a friend and we had this conversation. She was interested in a diet and exercise plan from an Instagram influencer she's been following for a while. And I always struggle to answer the question because I'll be honest with you, whatever diet plan it's gonna work every single time, especially when you're talking about these short-term programs like one or two months long, you're likely able to tough it out. You're gonna take whatever advice they give you, misguided or not, you're going to eat foods that you hate. You might drink weird juices and do cleanses. You're gonna do exercises that you don't love or that might not feel right for your body. But the reality is because you're a determined person, you can tough it out for a period of time. So over a month or two months, you lose 5, 10, 20 pounds and it feels amazing and then the program ends and you go back to all your old habits and all that weight comes back maybe even more. Does that sound familiar? I've had this conversation with literally hundreds of people, you're not alone. The reasons these programs fail is they focus on actions that we take rather than the thoughts and beliefs and feelings that drive our actions. It's only once we start to examine our big why that we can start to unpack the decisions that we're making yourself. Have you ever heard the studies that say the best diet is the one you'll stick to? Oh my gosh, I both love and hate this advice. I remember the first time I heard it and thought that can't possibly be true. I remember thinking like, of course some diets are better than others and we'll talk about the specific specifics of nutrition at a later date. But what these studies are really saying is if you're committed to something, you can be successful. And so we need to understand your big why so that you can be successful long term. We all know stories of people who've tried to lose weight many different times and then all of a sudden they did something and it stuck forever. I'm gonna give you a secret. It was never about the foods that they ate or the exercise they did. It was that they finally had a compelling enough why and they stuck to it no matter what. In both my personal and professional life, I know people who've had success with long-term weight loss without the help of any physician or other weight loss professional. I'm always really curious when this happens and if the person is close to me, I ask them to share their story. What's clear to me over and over again is that they've all had a big why moment. They had a reason that was more important than anything else and they stuck to it. So I'll give you a few examples. My grandfather was overweight for most of his adult life in his late forties. He had his first heart attack, of course, all of this before I was born. And so I don't know the exact details, so I'm not sure if someone said something to him or if he came to the realization on his own, but he realized that if he didn't get his health under control, he would die. And he had a wife and five children and he realized that he needed to do everything he could to be around for his family. And so he flipped his life entirely upside down. He changed all of his dietary and exercise habits and he never struggled with weight again. And it's so funny to even think about my grandfather as overweight or obese because I didn't know that version of my grandfather at all by the time I was born. He was in his mid-sixties, he ate a bowl of plain Wheaties every morning, he swam laps in his backyard pool nearly every day. He even participated in the Senior Olympics. I always thought of him as a slender fit and athletic man, but that wasn't always the case. He struggled with his weight until he realized the possibility of not being around for his family was terrifying. And at that point forward losing weight was more important than anything else. And he did everything he could to be as healthy as possible. So my grandfather's big why was a life or death matter, but your big why doesn't have to be. It just has to be something that's important to you. So here's another example. One of our friends is a tall, handsome, lanky man in his mid-thirties. Looking at him, you'd never think that he struggled with his weight in his adolescent years, but he did. He actually struggled with his weight for many years and in middle school, he realized that the boys in his class who were slimmer or more athletic or getting attention from girls, he wanted to be getting that attention too. He decided that getting attention from girls was more important than his favorite foods or sweets. So he eliminated carbohydrates completely from his diet. He lost weight over the next couple of years and has been able to maintain a long-term weight loss. And please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you can only be attractive if you're slim or that others will only be attracted to you if you're slim, but this is the story of a middle school boy and what his perception of the situation was. And for him, this was his big why. It was more important to him than anything else. And sometimes the big why can be a bit more vague. I had one patient who successfully lost nearly 200 pounds many, many years before I met him. When I asked him why and how. He simply said that he woke up one morning and he had the strongest conviction that he just had to lose weight. There was simply no other option. He knew that this is what he must do and he did it. On the other hand, I do wanna point out what I call the little why commonly people have a short-term success with weight loss when they've identified a short-term goal. So common examples of these short-term goals are losing weight for your own wedding or the wedding of a close friend or family member losing weight for the summer, losing weight to have a specific surgery or medical intervention. And when we have these short-term goals, we can sometimes effectively reach them by making drastic changes to our diet or exercise regimens. We might be resisting all of our cravings for foods and drinks, et cetera. And commonly you meet those short-term weight loss goals. But if you're like most of my patients, the weight will come right back as soon as the event happened because the changes we made were all quick fixes rather than a deep dive into what we're doing and why we're doing it. So I want you to stop and really think why do you wanna lose weight? Sometimes when we ask ourselves this question, the answer seems easy and we might spout off different answers. I want my clothes to fit better. I want to feel more comfortable in the body. I want to be healthy for the future. I wanna be alive to see my grandchildren. Other times the answer isn't clear at all. Regardless, I want you to really spend some time thinking about this for yourself. If you are listening to my podcast, there's a chance you haven't had your big why moment yet. And that's okay for many people. Your big why is something we need to think about and develop over time. So I wanna repeat that. It can develop over time. So if you get to this end of the episode and you're feeling a bit unsure, that's okay. Take a deep breath, you can do this. We can work together long term to figure out what is your big why and how do we develop that? We get to learn why you want to lose weight and work through the barriers that come up along the way. So let's start. I want you to sit down and write a list. What are all the reasons you want to lose weight? Write down everything and anything that comes up, even if it seems silly or minor, if it pops into your brain, write it down with each reason that comes up. Ask why. Again, I want you to get deeper and deeper. You can also reflect on times where you've had weight loss success in the past. Was your goal like what was your goal or reason for losing weight at that time? Did you have success for a period of time? What was driving you? If the weight came back, what change that led to that weight regain? You might find that there's themes coming up. If you notice one or two big themes that emerge, I often find it helpful to write these down as mantras for yourself. You might write it down on a post-it note or in a couple of different post-it notes. Put it in a place that you're gonna see it often. Like put it on your bathroom mirror on your office desk so that you can see it and think about it often as a reminder of why this goal is so important to you. And if the reasons aren't as readily apparent, make it a goal to think about it over the next few days or the next few weeks. Everyone's big why is going to be different. Once you determine your big why, it's important to start thinking about what are the things that are getting in the way of accomplishing your big why. This is about getting interested and curious in yourself. Write all these reasons down and take ownership for them. This isn't about other people. This is about you and your mind and your body. You get to choose how you think, how you feel, and how you show up in the world. Nobody else has that power over you. You don't need to judge yourself or scold yourself. You're starting here today, learning about yourself so that you can move forward. My ultimate goal for you is that you learn to understand and trust your body and your mind. No one but you gets to make decisions about your life and your body. You choose what foods go in your mouth. You choose what your day-to-day activities look like. You're an adult and you get to make whatever decisions you want for yourself. The important part is making decisions that you like, your reasons for making those decisions. When I say this, a lot of people have resistance and that's okay. Stop and notice where the resistance comes up for you. And here's where I'm gonna give you a little bit of tough love. I want you to um, really challenge the things that are getting in the way because a lot of times people use these as excuses rather than a tool that they can work through and move forward through. So here's a few examples. I have patients who say to me all the time, I want to lose weight, but here's one, my spouse does all the cooking. I have to eat whatever he or she prepares. Well, actually, you don't. Or similarly, my spouse brings junk food into the house. Okay? Does your spouse pick up the fork and put the food in your mouth? Probably not. If you know that you need to be eating something differently than your spouse or your family, you can make that choice for yourself. You can prepare something, you could order something. If you stop and think about it, you can find a solution. You can probably find many solutions. Here's another one. I'm so busy I don't have time. Making the food choices that serve your body does not have to be complicated. It does not need to be time-intensive or labor-intensive. It may be new and different and that may feel uncomfortable, but as you get into new patterns and new routines, it can feel just as easy as the routine you're in right now. I promise you, my husband and I are both physicians. We have a one-year-old and a three-year-old. We just moved to a brand new state where we know no one, we don't have nearby family. Honestly, the last thing I need in my life is a complicated or time-intensive food plan. Our food plan is easy and yours can be too. Again, stop and think about the solutions. There's probably many. Here's another one. I've had a stressful day. I deserve to feel good. Well, of course you deserve to feel good. Every human deserves to treat themselves well, but choosing to feel good does not have to come from the foods we eat. Or more importantly, it doesn't have to come from foods that don't serve our body. It can come from the thoughts and beliefs that we have in our life. And on the flip side, there's times when we've had a bad day and instead of pushing away our feelings, we need to learn to stop and actually feel our feelings. We need to learn how to process our feelings instead of eating our feelings. Here's another example. I want to lose weight, but I need to have two cookies before bed every night. Well, those two things are actually in direct conflict with one another. You don't need two cookies every night. Your brain just thinks that you need two cookies every night. Your brain has tricked you into thinking those cookies are really, really important. Eventually, we can learn how to retrain the brain. First of all, you need to be willing to open your mind to the possibility that you don't actually need those cookies every night. And over time, we'll talk more about cravings and desire and how to handle those. My goal for you is not to resist your cravings. My goal for you is learning how to manage your cravings. And ultimately you'll find that you don't even actually have those cravings anymore. Or maybe you have them less often. So I want you to stop and reflect on those. Those are some common examples, but you can imagine a lot of other ones that probably come up in your life. If you're prickling a little bit right now, just stop and notice that there are habits in your life that need to change, and that's okay. And it doesn't have to be complicated. I'm here to support you and provide you a little tough love when you need it together. We'll work so that you can understand both why do you wanna lose weight? What is your big why, the most important reason that you need to lose weight and keep it off forever? And two, what are the things that are getting in the way and how can we solve those? Alright, guys. That's it for today. If you've enjoyed today's podcast, please subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, and please share this with anyone who you think might benefit. Thanks for joining me. I look forward to seeing you next week. Bye-bye.
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