It might surprise you to learn that weight loss is not about food or exercise.
That’s right. Despite what the fitness industry will have you believe, losing weight and keeping it off for good has nothing to do with the food you eat or the exercise you do.
It’s all about the fears you live with.
That might not make sense right now, but if you keep reading, you’ll understand.
What is fear?
All of us experience fear. Sometimes fear is a result of experiences or trauma. Sometimes it’s based on uncertainly. But at the root of it, fear is based on our own thoughts and beliefs about what is right and what is wrong.
Fear is a powerful, deeply wired reaction that is designed to keep us safe from perceived threats. If we are in a dangerous situation where our life is on the line, fear would cause the ‘fight or flight’ response — fight the threat or run away from it in order to stay safe.
Fear is what has protected the human race from predators and other threats to ensure the survival of the species. But these days, most of us aren’t in physically dangerous situations that threaten our lives. The kind of fear we feel is emotional. And most of the time, we choose the ‘flight’ response, when we experience it.
How do people deal with fear?
One of the ways we flee from the things that frighten us, is to dress up our fears as practicality.
We make excuses or think of reasons why we can’t or don’t do something. But in reality, we’re afraid. All of us have things we’d love to do or achieve, but instead of admitting we’re scared about doing them, we think of ‘practical’ reasons why we can’t.
How many of the following excuses have you used?
- I don’t like going to the beach
- I hate having my photos taken
- I’ve always been this way
- I hate exercising
- I don’t like going shopping for clothes
- I don’t do social media
- I’m a private person
- I don’t like looking in the mirror
- I’m not talented enough to do that
- I hate confrontation
- I’m a bit of a homebody
- I hate changerooms
- I don’t like strapless dresses
- I don’t like being the centre of attention
- I can’t afford to do that
- I’ve never been good at that sort of thing
- I’m too busy
- I don’t like wearing jeans.
The above are just some examples of what people say when they’re afraid of something. There are plenty more out there.
When people use these excuses, it’s a sure sign that they’re putting up walls around them, to protect themselves from the shame and embarrassment they feel. But over time, this will eventually push away the people who truly love and support them.
Getting to the bottom of fear
If you find yourself saying some of the above sayings, but don’t think it’s out of fear, you need to dig a little deeper.
Just like the process to finding your WHY, you need to ask yourself some questions.
For example, a common statement many people make relates to having their photo taken.
“I don’t like having my photo taken.”
But that’s not the whole truth. You may not like your photo being taken, but you need to ask yourself WHY?
I don’t like having my photo taken because…
I don’t want it to be posted on social media.
I don’t want to be seen.
I don’t like how I look.
I’m ashamed and embarrassed about my weight.
I don’t like who I am.
I don’t want to be judged.
It’s not that you don’t like having your photo taken; you don’t want your photo to be taken because you don’t want to feel exposed and judged.
What do people fear?
If you look through the list above, many of those statements come back to the same fear — the fear of being judged.
One of the deepest human needs is to be loved and accepted, which is why we’re so afraid for others to see us as we really are. We are usually our harshest critics, so it’s easy to assume that the faults we see in ourselves, others will too. And we assume that because we don’t like our faults, it will be impossible for others to see past them too, and like us despite them.
Fear of judgement is why a lot of people are too afraid to be seen for who they really are and where they’re really at. It explains why people like to hide from photos, from going to the beach, from going to parties, from wearing the clothes they’d really like to wear, and doing the things they’d really love to do.
Fear of judgement isn’t the only fear that will affect your ability to lose weight for good. Other key fears that will slow or your stall your results include:
- Being rejected or not fitting in
- Being laughed at and ridiculed
- The amount of work it will take to reach your goals
- Having to do things out of your comfort zone
- Gaining weight instead of losing it
- Fear of failure
- Fear of success
- Not knowing everything
- Being seen as silly or stupid
- Worrying about how your relationship will change
- Worrying about how your friendships will be affected
- Having to give up things that you like, such as drinking with friends
- Discovering that you’re not good enough
- Not being able to control everything
- Having to talk about your emotions
- Being found out that you’re a ‘fraud’
- Fear of eating too much food, especially carbs
- Fear that you’ll ‘fall off the wagon’
- Not being able to keep up with your exercise sessions.
All of the above will prevent you from losing your weight, no matter how hard you exercise and how ‘clean’ your diet is.
But perhaps the two things that people are most afraid of — which are the keys to success for long-term weight loss — is responsibility and accountability.
Responsibility means accepting that you, and only you, are responsible for your current situation. Taking responsibility is tough and many people are afraid of it because it means they have to face some hard truths. It’s far easier to blame your weight on your age, genetics, menopause, raising a family, running a business, or other people. But blaming others won’t get you out of your current situation. Taking responsibility means you gain an awareness of how your actions impact your life, and you give yourself a chance to address these things. If you continue to blame other people or situations, you are giving away your power to change anything. And if you change nothing, then nothing in your life changes.
Accountability is the other key you need to be successful in losing weight. But once again, many people are afraid of that because it means you have to be willing to be seen for where you really are, not where you pretend to be. For most people, shining a spotlight on reality is confronting. So, it’s easier to run away, than to do what you need to do.
Living in fear explains why so many people fail to get results, despite going to the gym regularly, and eating a healthy diet.
How do fears influence your behaviour?
Now that we’ve uncovered a long (but not exhaustive) list of fears, we’re going to look at how they influence your behaviours, which in turn impacts your weight.
Let’s look at the fear that everyone has at some stage in their life — fear of rejection.
If you’re afraid of rejection, you’ll modify your behaviours. Instead of doing things for yourself, you’ll do things to please other people. This will lead you to putting other people’s needs before your own, and feeling guilty about prioritising yourself. You’ll also spend your time and energy doing things for everyone else, in order to feel like you fit in, instead of doing the things that you need to do to transform your body and your lifestyle.
For example, Dan’s plans for Saturday night and Sunday include getting to bed earlier, grocery shopping, meal prep and going to the gym. But his friends want him to go out with them on Saturday night. Worried that he’ll be rejected if he doesn’t go, he agrees, even though he doesn’t really want to. He ends up drinking way more than he wants to, and gets home in the early hours of Sunday morning. He wakes up with a hangover and is in no shape to go shopping, do his meal prep or do a workout. Instead, he sits on the couch, watches TV and binges on junk food. He tells himself that he’ll get back on track this week, but underneath, he feels guilty and stressed that once again, he put other people’s needs before his. He’s also frustrated that his choices have now derailed his success.
In the example above, Dan has allowed his fear of rejection to get in the way of his weight loss goals.
How does living in fear affect your life and your body?
How much you give in to your fears will determine how successful you are at losing weight.
Weight loss is never about food and exercise. It’s about your fears.
This fear not only impacts your weight, but your relationships, your career, and the type of role model you are for your kids.
For example, if you have your own business, fear of being seen will prevent you from networking with other people, putting yourself out there and promoting yourself. You could be the very best in your field at what you do, but if no one knows about you, you won’t succeed in business. If you’re worried about getting enough customers, or want people to like you, you’ll discount your services in a bid to please people, and get customers through the door. But this causes further problems, including the need to work longer hours to earn the same amount of money as someone else in your industry who doesn’t discount their services.
Fear impacts your relationships. If you’re always trying to please other people, you’ll never have an authentic relationship that benefits you. You’ll feel drained, manipulated and won’t have a circle of people that you can rely on when you need them. And if you’re constantly running away from the things that scare you, how can you possibly equip your kids to face their fears?
Giving in to your fears also means that you’re more likely to fall for fad diets and ‘quick-fixes’, which will only lead you to an even worse situation.
A lot of personal trainers use your fears against you by prescribing cheap ‘quick-fixes’. They know you’re uncertain about getting results and you’re afraid about doing the work, so they over-promise and under-deliver. They tell you that you can get the results you want by following their 6- or 12-week plan.
The reality is that most personal trainers are too afraid to tell you the truth. They’re too afraid to tell you that you can’t solve a lifetime of weight issues, and address all the habits that have led you to where you are, in a matter of months. They’re too scared to tell you that you need to address your fears before you can successfully lose weight permanently. Because they know if they do, there’s every chance that you won’t sign up with them, and you’ll find someone else.
They’re also afraid that if they start being honest with the clients they have, then they may leave too. They’re afraid that if one client leaves, others will follow. And they’re scared to admit that they can’t really help those people who have gone from one diet to the next, because their compromised metabolism and sabotaging habits will take more than a 6- and 12-week program to fix.
Personal trainers who are afraid of having difficult, but honest conversations end up being people-pleasers who make false promises to their clients. This is why the fitness industry is in so much chaos. We have personal trainers who aren’t willing to confront their fears, trying to help other people confront theirs. And all this does, is keep people moving from one weight loss program or diet to another, and getting stuck in the cycle of 6- and 12-week challenges.
The truth is, if you don’t address your fears, any weight you do manage to lose with a quick-fix, will be short-lived. You’ll end up gaining back what you lost, and more, and will be in an even deeper hole than you are now. Quick-fixes don’t fix anything. They just make it even harder for you to lose weight permanently.
The only way to overcome the diet mindset that keeps you going around in circles is to address your fears.
How to overcome your fears
There’s no way around the fact that to get what you want you have to face your fears. You have to choose to face them, rather than run away from them. If this seems a scary prospect, ask yourself what will happen if you don’t address them? Will you continue to gain weight and put your health at risk? What kind of life will you have, if you never manage to lose weight? How happy will you be if you continue to lack confidence and live in fear?
Confronting our fears helps us to become the person we need to be, in order to reach our weight loss goals, and gain the freedom we crave.
Everyone is afraid. The most successful people in the world are afraid of something. The only difference is that those who succeed, stand and confront their fears, instead of running away. They know that until they face it and conquer what scares them, it will continue to have power over their life. Confronting your fears is the thin line between permanent weight loss and staying stuck in the diet cycle.
That’s why we get our clients to undergo a yearly photoshoot. Many of them are afraid to have their photo taken because they don’t want to be seen. But by facing their fears, they learn that it’s okay to be seen for where they’re at. And when they do the thing that scares them most, it no longer has control over their lives — which means that it no longer impedes their ability to lose weight and keep it off long-term.
What you feed in your life you’ll get more of. If you keep feeding your fears and running away from them, you’ll only make things worse. Fear will continue to grow, and you’ll end up living an unhappy, painful and restricted life.
To get what you want involves sacrifice. In the case of beating your fears, you’ll need to sacrifice feeling comfortable. But this will only be short-term. If you can be brave and face your fears, freedom and confidence lie on the other side.
Because losing weight is about addressing your fears. Not food and exercise.
What our clients want
You might think you can get away with not addressing your fears. You might be sure that the next diet will hold all the answers.
- Feeling physically and mentally strong, and capable of taking on any challenge without worrying that your energy levels or body weight will get in the way.
- Having a successful business or career without burning out, letting yourself go or sacrificing your health and time with your kids.
- Running around with your kids, or grandkids, without feeling pain, winded, or tired, and still being able to do it again the next day.
- Looking forward to having your picture taken and loving how you look.
- Being excited about booking a beach vacation without wondering how you will look (or feel) in a swimsuit, walking along the beach.
- Feeling like food is your friend, not the enemy, and never dieting again.
Now imagine you never achieving the above. Unless you confront your fears, you’ll never have any of the above.
Hiding and running away from your fears has got you in the situation you’re currently in. If you continue to hide, expect to experience more of the same. However, dealing with your fears will have profound effects on your weight loss, body transformation, mental health, relationships and financial security.
Achieving any goal — whether it’s related to weight loss or business, becomes so much easier and faster when you confront your fears.
Let us help you conquer your fears
If you’ve been living in fear and are sick of it controlling your life, we can help you. We have worked with many clients to help them overcome their fears, so they can transform their bodies and their life. Now we’re ready to help you.