Have you ever tried to lose weight, followed the diet plan to the letter, did all the exercise you could have, and still failed to get results?
It’s frustrating isn’t it? Doing all that work and still not having the results you crave.
One of the problems is that diets and quick-fixes simply don’t work when it comes to long-term weight loss. But there is another reason why you’ll fail to lose weight, even on the most scientifically proven weight loss programs.
Or rather lack of it.
What is self-awareness
Self-awareness is understanding and questioning how your choices, habits and behaviours are responsible for your current situation and outcome. This can include your weight, health, the people in your life, and the level of success in your career or business.
It can seem a lot to get your head around.
But growing your self-awareness is vital, if you want to lose weight and keep it off.
Why is self-awareness important?
Self-awareness is key to understanding ourselves better. It’s important because without it, we have no understanding of the actions, thoughts and behaviours (our habits), that serve us well, and the habits that hinder us, and impact negatively on other people.
Without self-awareness, we’ll continue to operate on auto-pilot, engaging in behaviours that slow our weight loss, or even contribute to weight gain.
How does it help you lose weight?
As we’ve covered in previous blogs, it’s our habits that run our lives and ultimately determine our weight. No amount of willpower, deprivation, or goal-setting will help you lose weight, unless your habits support long-term weight loss.
But unless you’re aware of your current habits, and how they impact your weight, you’ll never be able to change them. Because you can’t change what you don’t know.
What happens when you lack self-awareness
Have you ever thought “I eat really well, but can’t lose weight” or “I train every day and eat less, but I’m still gaining weight” or “I’m always injured and I don’t understand why”?
If you have, there’s every chance that you’re doing things to cause these results, and you’re not even aware of it.
Let’s look at an example:
Rob runs his own business. While establishing his business over the past few years, Rob worked long hours and ignored his health, not having time for exercise, or healthy eating. But now he’s decided to spend time on his health and lose the weight that he’s gained. His weight is causing his low self-esteem, low self-worth and lack of confidence to fall even lower. He signs up for a Body & Lifestyle Transformation Program, thinking that this is what he needs to get back on track and create some healthy habits with his diet and exercise.
Things go well for the first few weeks, but it’s not long until Rob feels that it’s all too hard. Every day he deals with difficult customers who waste his time and increase his stress levels. Because he’s a people-pleaser who doesn’t want to upset these customers, he continues to waste time with them. This means that Rob can’t get all his work done during business hours, so has to work later each night. As a result, he has no time to prepare one healthy meal, let alone do meal prep for a week, so he starts to rely on take-away and processed food to get him through. Rob’s energy levels decline, as he’s getting less sleep than he needs. When he gets to training, he’s not 100% focused and doesn’t put in his best effort. However, he begins skipping more and more sessions because he just can’t seem to get out of bed in the mornings. Because he’s stressed at work, he falls back to his habit of having a beer or two after work, to relieve the pressure. This interferes with his sleep even more, meaning his sleep quality is even less than it was. One morning, when he’s at training, he pulls his back muscle, leaving him in great pain, unable to walk properly. Rob then gets angry, saying that this never would have happened if he hadn’t signed up for this transformation program and started lifting weights. He blames his trainers for his injury, believing that they should have been more careful. He’s also frustrated that he hasn’t lost any weight and quits the program.
The first thing to note is that when Rob signs up to the program, he believes he only has to develop some ‘healthy habits’ with diet and exercise. In reality, he is totally unaware of all the other habits that have caused him to be in this situation in the first place, and how they impact the rest of his life.
The main source of Rob’s problems is his lack of confidence and people-pleasing habits, that are born from his keystone habit of low self-worth. It’s because of this that he discounts his products and services in an effort to attract customers. However, this only means he has to work longer hours to make enough money. It also means that he’s attracting the wrong kind of customer — the one who doesn’t see value in what he has to offer, and who isn’t willing to pay good money for what he does. But his people-pleasing habit causes him to put up with them, meaning there is friction and stress in his business every day.
The longer hours he has to put in mean that he doesn’t have time to prepare healthy meals or do his weekly food prep. This leads to him falling back into his habit of eating junk food or processed food. The other impact this has, is that eating poorly doesn’t help him recover sufficiently from his training, or fuel his body with energy. This, combined with his lack of sleep means that he’s constantly tired. Turning to alcohol to ease his stress only makes things worse, as alcohol promotes poor sleep, plus it’s laden with extra calories. This, combined with his poor food choices means he will find it difficult to lose weight, simply because of the excess calories he’s consuming. In addition, stress and alcohol are metabolic blockers which will only make it even more difficult to change his body shape.
Rob’s behaviour also causes stress in his marriage and family life.
Due to his fatigue, Rob is less and less consistent with his training. In order to make up for this, he goes ‘extra hard’ when he does turn up. However, this combined with his lack of focus due to his low energy levels, caused by lack of sleep and poor nutrition because he doesn’t do his meal prep, leads him to sustain an injury one morning. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions (e.g. not eating to recover or fuel the body, failing to get enough sleep, not training consistently, turning up to training feeling unfocussed), he points the finger at his trainers, saying it’s their fault he’s injured and their fault he hasn’t lost any weight.
So Rob quits, and goes back to his old life.
Note, that ALL of the above outcomes stem from Rob’s habits of people-pleasing and lack of confidence, which stems from his keystone habit of low self-worth. This led to a string of choices that had a domino effect on the rest of his life, and culminated in him sustaining an injury.
However, in Rob’s mind, the injury was the fault of his trainers, as was the lack of weight loss. He was not to blame.
Do you see the disparity? Do you see how not being aware of his habits, choices and behaviours means that Rob is unable to change anything in his life, in order to get out of his situation. Without awareness, he is destined to continue the same cycle, the same habits, and get the same results. And then he will wonder why he can’t lose weight, or continues to become injured.
Without awareness, Rob will continue to blame others for his situation — the customers, the long hours, the trainers — or whoever else — and he will always be powerless to change his situation.
In this example, all of Rob’s choices led to him being inconsistent with his healthy eating and his training, which meant he didn’t get the results he was hoping for. Consistency trumps intensity every time. The more consistent you are with your actions, the better your results will be. But in order to be consistent, you need to build habits that lead to consistency. And in order to build those habits, you need to be aware of what you’re currently doing, and how that impacts your life. If you don’t have self-awareness, you won’t realise you need to change anything, and you’ll never have the power to change your life.
What causes lack of self-awareness
Lack of self-awareness is caused by making assumptions and decisions from our emotions instead of relying on facts. Making fact-based decisions only comes as a result of recording data consistently over a long period of time, which requires accountability. (If you’re not sure what it means to record data, be sure to read our blog on The Secret Code to Weight Loss).
When you record data, you’re able to see what you’re doing. You gain an awareness of your actions, thoughts and beliefs — your habits— and how they impact your life. Without data, there is no self-awareness, and instead, you’ll continue to make decisions from your emotions, instead of the facts.
And we all know that when you make decisions based on emotions, they’re often not the best decisions!
Common habits to be aware of
Each of us has hundreds of habits — some of which help us in our daily lives (e.g. locking the front door when we leave the house, and brushing our teeth each day). However, there are also many, many habits that don’t help us. In fact, when it comes to losing weight, they can actually be a hinderance, or contribute to weight gain.
When you hear the word ‘habit’, you can be forgiven for thinking that a habit is only an action or behaviour (e.g. bingeing on the couch while watching TV). However, habits are also our thoughts and beliefs, and these can be powerful influences on our lives.
The following is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a list of the most common habits people have, that hold them back from losing weight and keeping it off. See how many of them you can relate to.
Thoughts and beliefs
- Lack of self-esteem and self-worth
- Not believing in yourself
- Believing you need to be perfect
- Having an ‘all-or-nothing’ mindset
- Lack of confidence
- Needing people to like you
- Believing it’s selfish to prioritise yourself
- Afraid of judgement
- Believing your value is attached to what you do or achieve
- Afraid to make mistakes
- Having a ‘know-it-all’ mindset
- Not trusting yourself
- Feeling the need to be in control of everything
- Second-guessing yourself
- Not being seen for who you really are
- Focusing on the negatives
- Avoiding new situations or people
- Afraid to take a chance or risk
- Unable to make a decision
- Believe everything is about you (i.e. take things personally)
- Overthinking things
- Not taking responsibility for your situation (i.e. blaming other people and circumstances)
- Not seeing value in the small successes
Behaviours and actions
- Putting other people’s needs before your own
- Comparing yourself to other people
- Trying to solve everyone else’s problems
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Avoiding your feelings
- Hiding away or trying to fly ‘under the radar’
- Going along with other people’s opinions, even if you disagree
- Constantly looking for the next diet, or ‘magic’ solution to your weight problem
- Spending excessive time on social media because you’re afraid of ‘missing out’
- Reacting emotionally
- Avoiding taking action
- Constantly dieting, depriving yourself of food, or over-exercising
- Using food to cover your emotions (i.e. binge eating)
- Focusing on the end result instead of the journey.
How many of the above can you relate to?
It’s important to understand that behaviours and actions, often stem from your thoughts and beliefs. So if you change your thoughts and beliefs to ones that will support long-term weight loss, your behaviours will also begin to align with long-term weight loss success. But remember, you can’t change what you’re not aware of.
How can you improve your self-awareness?
Being self-aware is difficult, because most of us don’t pay attention to what’s going on inside us or around us. Instead, we allow our minds to wander, and operate on auto-pilot, letting our habits take over. We also make assumptions based on our emotions, rather than data and facts. But every time you record data you strengthen your self-awareness. This is why writing things down and recording data is so important.
Instead of being present in the moment and being an active observer, we’re often busy thinking about the next thing we have to do — often either work, or taking care of the family. We currently have no room in our head to be conscious. However, the following tips may help you become more aware of your habits, so you’re able to do something about them.
- Try to be more present in the moment. Pay attention to what’s going on, what you feel, your thoughts and beliefs, and how you react to situations.
- Write down this information. This will enable you to see what habits or patterns of behaviour you need to work on. For example, you might notice that every time someone disagrees with you, you become angry and disengage with them. Or perhaps you notice that when you feel stressed, you immediately reach for junk food. Writing things down not only helps you record data that you can refer to in the future (preventing you from making assumptions from your emotions), but it increases your self-awareness even more.
- Aim to be a better listener, by noticing other people’s body language, tone of voice and emotions. This may give you clues as to how your behaviour impacts other people and yourself.
- Commit to figuring out what’s not working by questioning your outcomes and situations (e.g. Why is this happening to me? Why am I feeling this way? Why do I lack energy today? etc.) And then ask for help by seeking accountability.
- Ask for help or feedback. Sometimes it can be difficult for us to see things from our perspective. Ask a trusted friend (who you know will be honest with you) or a coach for feedback. Just make sure you take it as constructive feedback, rather than a personal attack on you.
When it comes to weight loss, gaining self-awareness is essential. Without it you’re powerless to change the habits that have led you to be overweight. But with it, the power is in your hands, and you can finally switch from auto-pilot, to a place where you are better able to make decisions that support your weight loss journey.
To transform your body and weight, you will need to focus and work on your habits. To work on your sabotaging habits you will need to be aware of them. To be aware of them you will have to consistently record data of your habits. And to record data consistently, you will need structure and accountability. This is where you need to ask for the help of a coach.
Without self -awareness, getting results will be challenging. Even if your coach knows and tells you what your sabotaging habits are, you won’t trust their direction. Instead, you’ll act from a know-it-all mindset, and end up doing what you think works (e.g. a bit of what your coach tells you and a bit of what you think). These things aren’t compatible and will mean you won’t get the results you’re looking for.
How we can help
If you need help losing weight this year, we’d love to help you. We help our clients develop a greater sense of self-awareness, by giving them the structure and accountability to record accurate data, consistently over a long period time (e.g. habits, thoughts, etc.), so they can trust the process and be more coachable. This means they’ll make smarter decisions instead of making assumptions and acting from their emotions. And this is what gets them results.