One of the main reasons I’ve been away from the blog for so long has been work. I’ve been busy! But recently I had a bit of an epiphany regarding weight loss and I figured, what better place to talk about that than here?
My epiphany actually stemmed from some of the work stuff I’ve been doing, so let me give you a bit of context. My main job is as a speechwriter. I work in the government and I write mostly for a particular gentleman who speaks quite frequently -- a few times a week, at least. So that takes up the bulk of my work time. However, over the past few months, I’ve been given responsibility for another major project -- namely, leading the internal communications on a major culture change initiative within our ministry.
That’s really all I want to say about that, because I don’t like to talk about work too much on here. But the reason I mention this is because it means I’ve been spending a LOT of time recently reading (and attending seminars and workshops, etc.) about change management and organizational change, and about the theories and broader psychology of change. Mostly for work I’m focused more on the communications aspect, but I have to say -- the entire process is FASCINATING. How and why we change, what makes change easier, what makes change harder, how to deal with resistance (or resistors, in the case of organizational change), and what successful change really looks like.
I’ve always been fascinated by psychology, and I have a total addiction to basically any kind of self-help book. But what strikes me about this particular field is that it’s really what’s at the heart of ALL OTHER KINDS OF self-help.
And therein lies my epiphany. Change, whether it’s organizational or personal, is a skill and a phenomenon unto itself. And yet we rarely apply it when we’re actually seeking to change something in our life.
I don’t know about you, but I have read dozens and dozens (probably edging up on a hundred) diet books in my life. They’ve run the gamut from calorie-counting (Weight Watchers) to sheer force of will (Jillian Michaels) to personal healing (Geneen Roth). They’ve ranged from vegan lifestyle (Crazy Sexy Diet) to paleo living (It Starts With Food) to intuitive eating (the aptly titled Intuitive Eating.). They’ve prescribed meal plans, workout regimes, self-help exercises, journaling prompts, and given token advice like “Don’t show up to parties hungry!” and “Don’t keep trigger foods in your house!”
The one thing they never seem to address is how to really change. How do you take all that health advice and make it an actual part of your life, rather than just a passing fancy or temporary half-hearted effort? How do you, to paraphrase Gandhi, become the change you want to make?
I would say the only book I’ve come across that even begins to touch on this is The Beck Diet Solution. That book took a particular psychological approach (cognitive therapy) and applied it step-by-step to weight loss. But there’s a lot more out there, about how we form habits, how we motivate ourselves, and how and why we behave the way we do.
I think this has been creeping into my consciousness for a while, even before I started reading about change psychology and change management. As many of you know, I’m in a strange (although not uncommon) position. Between 2008-2010, I was able to lose close to 100lbs by changing many of my habits. Yet I was constantly haunted by the idea that while I had changed my habits, *I* had not fundamentally changed. I always felt that I was in danger of slipping back into my old ways -- like the ‘real me’ was still there, and was merely being suppressed, buried beneath bowls of oatmeal and scuffed white running shoes.
And eventually I lost my good habits (or at least most of them), and ended up pretty much back where I started. What I had feared all that time had indeed happened.
I feel like I’ve been searching for an answer to this question for years now -- is it enough to simply change your habits? Or does a more fundamental change need to happen? Did I slip back into ‘who I was’ because I hadn’t really changed, or did my lack of confidence in my habits cause me to subconsciously abandon them? If a more fundamental ‘self’ change is required, how do you do that? If it’s enough to change your habits, how do you do it in a way that doesn’t require hyper-vigilance at all times?
I don’t know the answer to these questions, but the reading I’ve been doing lately has given me a lot to chew on. I want to blog about some of it, but I don’t want to make any commitments about how frequently I can do that, because the reality is, I’m still really busy with work. But I hope to be here at least a little more frequently. (That is, if anyone even still reads this. This blog still gets a fair bit of traffic but it seems to be coming from sites with names like 'pornikinu' and 'hottnu'. Which. Um.)