Episode 329 – I Will Be Happy When I’m Skinny

Written by Jonathan

I’ve lost some weight, but when I look in the mirror all I see is my fat and how fat I am.
I’m in smaller clothes, but I’m still disgusting. If only I could lose all my weight then I would be happy.

Betty, can you take me through your inner monologue, what else do you tell yourself when you look in the mirror?

Well, I will be happy when I’m skinny.
I won’t feel pain anymore when I’m skinny
I will be able to date again when I’m skinny
I can focus on growing my company again when I’m skinny

If I could just get down to 120 LBS. again, then all my problems would go away and I could get on with my life.

This is the beginning of an interaction I had with one of my clients, for the sake of this story I’ve changed her name to Betty.

Betty, how long have you felt this way?

Ever since before we met.

Betty, we’ve been working together for 7 years.

I know, and if I could just get skinny then we could start doing real exercises, but every time I start to make progress something happens and I fall behind again, I make progress then somethings happens and I fall behind over and over again.

Betty, you’re getting really emotional about this.

I know because if I was skinny, then everything would be fixed.

Let’s let that sink in for a second – If I was skinny then everything would be fixed.

Back to the conversation,

Are you saying that skinny people don’t have problems?

She pauses about 10 seconds to think – Well they don’t have the same problems I do.

Are you saying that skinny people, don’t get injured, never struggle making good healthy food choices, that they have dates every day and are all in happy meaningful relationships?

This time she pauses for a long time, I can see the wheels turning in her head, when her facial expression tells me she’s thought about it enough and she realizes her logic may be flawed, I ask her if I can speak freely and she nods.

You’ll never be skinny, I see she’s obviously offended, but that was the point, I wanted her to listen very closely to this next part.

Right now ‘skinny’ for you is an extrinsic motivation, an outcome, an outcome that you believe will bring you happiness once it’s achieved, like it’s a sports car or a big house, but the opposite is true. You have to achieve happiness, actually I hate that word, you have to achieve contentment or be content with your life and yourself. Becoming skinny, to use your word, I would prefer the word fit or healthy, needs to come from that contentment. You have to do the inside work first, before your outside can change.

I’m not saying that all physically fit people are happy and content. I’m also not saying that overweight people aren’t happy or content, I’m saying, that if you want to change something and you want that change to be sustainable it has to come from inside of you. That starts with how you talk to yourself and how you respond to your environment.

You’re trying to use diet and exercise as your vehicle to get skinny, and being skinny is your vehicle to being content, but we need to flip that. Now, I don’t know what your vehicle or I should say vehicles are going to be, because there is no silver bullet here, but I know for me personally, meditation and deep breathing have helped tremendously, having a powerlist helps me feel organized and in control of my life and exercise helps me deal with stress, these activities help me feel content and give me a sense of control over my life. Being fit just happens to be a byproduct.

I’ve had clients that use a gratitude journal, they make a list of things they’re thankful for, some of them track the progress or improvements they make in their workouts so they feel a sense of achievement towards something bigger, I find consistency journals much more effective than outcome journals, but what they track is up to them.

I know your psychologist said you should make a list of everything that makes you angry or frustrated, I think that’s a good step and could help you make decisions about what you want to change in your life, plus it will probably help you feel like a weight being lifted off your shoulders and will help you feel less stressed. In all honesty, I don’t know what’s going to work for you, only you can make that decision, but I’ll be right here to answer any questions you have along the way.

That more or less wrapped up our session and Betty said she would write out some tangible things she could do and some actions she could take to be more content with her life and for us to go through during our next session.

Betty’s situation is not unique, nor is it new to modern day life.

I couldn’t 100% confirm the source of this quote but, it makes sense to me –

Confucius, once said, ‘Wherever you go, there you are’ over 2000 years ago.

I take this to mean that things external to you will always change, things like your environment and the people you meet, how you deal with it or respond to them is what matters.

What is your response to this scenario,

‘I got hungry last night and ate a bowl of chips.’

Is your response, ‘I’m a bad person’ followed by feelings of guilt and shame or is it – I shouldn’t eat chips, this is a good opportunity for me to reflect on how I could eat less chips, especially late at night.

What is your response to this scenario,

I ran my 5k race 3 minutes slower than my goal time,

Is your response, ‘I’m never going to be a fast runner, I’m a failure’ or is your response a reflection of potential opportunity.

‘Is 3 minutes faster realistic for me, can other people similar to me run it in that time? If no then what is realistic for me? If yes, then these questions can help, did I prepare the way I needed, did I train enough leading up to the race, did I drink enough water the day of the race, what could I change? Was everyone slower because the conditions were terrible and I needed to change my expectations on the fly? What could I have done differently?

Asking good questions about what you can control, reflecting on how you could do things differently, choosing to do activities that help you manage stress, these are all things that help lead to better overall life satisfaction, contentment and happiness. Which are the prerequisites to making sustainable change happen, no matter what that change is.



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