There’s nothing really enjoyable about being obese. I’m not saying just because you’re obese you can’t enjoy your life. I’m saying that obesity has a lot of limiting factors to it some physical and some mental. This post is about the mental limiting factors that can come from being obese and how bariataric surgery doesn’t help.
More than a few times I’ve heard from my clients that at a year out from bariatric surgery that they feel fatter now than they did pre-surgery.
That when they go clothes shopping they still start in the double or triple XL section before choosing smaller clothes that actually fit them.
There are many stories about people feeling very uncomfortable that they are now “seen”. Previous to bariatric surgery they were able to hide in plain sight, now there’s an uncomfortable feeling of being noticed.
These are just a few examples of what I’ve come to call your fat mind. It’s the mindset that you’ve established over the years of being obese. In many ways has “helped” to protect you from being uncomfortable because of your weight.
This is a very difficult mindset to remove from your life even after you’ve lost the fat. Not to say you can’t remove it. Actually if you are more aware of these thoughts the easier it is to negate these false thoughts.
So How do you beat your fat mind?
Well as I said above, I’m not sure you can actually ever get rid of your fat mind completely but you can start working towards understanding that it’s not who you are today. The best way to start that process is to find a professional to help with habits you have. That can go a long way towards your success. Other ways people start to work against their fat mind is to start getting out of your old comfort zone. This isn’t easy but even doing a few new things a month can get you to start seeing yourself as less of a “fat” person.
Getting to 14,000 feet
One example is a client of mine who lost over a hundred pounds and wanted to start hiking more. We worked a lot together on her goals. We did a lot of short hikes but the one thing she always wanted to do was hike to the top of a 14,000 foot peak here in Colorado. After about nine months of working with her I knew she was ready to go but she wasn’t there mentally, her fat mind was telling her she can’t do it. So we kept working until one day in a session she decided it was time to go for her hike. We planned the hike, met at the trail head and she made it to the top!
I Remember her telling me that building the confidence to do that hike was much harder than the actual hike. It was all the smaller pushes she made out side her comfort bubble that got her to make that decision. Now she told me that her fat mind is a lot quieter than it used to be and the confidence she has built from all the work she has done is amazing.
100 miles can be done.
Another example is a client of mine who had undergone bariatric surgery wanted o ride 100 miles on a bicycle. This has been something he had wanted to do for years. But just telling me that goal was difficult because his fat mind was telling him “that’s ridiculous you’ll never do that.”
We started slowly working on indoor cycling basic fitness along with building habits around his exercise and nutrition. As the weight came off he became a little bit more confident in bike riding outside. After a few sessions of riding outside he notice that his fat mind, the thing that was telling him he can’t do it because he’s “too fat” was becoming quieter. His confidence started to build and 16 months after his bariatric surgery he completed his first century on a bike.
When I asked him about it later he admits there was a certain part in the ride where his fat mind almost got the better of him, telling him he can’t do this, but he persevered and crossed the finish line. The reason the fat mind didn’t win was because he had put in the work and he knew that he wasn’t living his old life anymore.
I don’t want you to read into this and think that it was easy for these two people to achieve a fairly challenging goals because it wasn’t. There were many times when both of them had self-doubt let their fat mind talk them into bad decisions around eating or not exercising. What set them apart was the fact that even when they allowed their fat mind to take over it was always temporary and they knew it. They always came back. They were always consistent. It wasn’t easy for them and I don’t expect it to be easy for you either. But being good to yourself and not letting that old fat mind continue to define who you are will allow you to achieve things that you would otherwise think impossible.
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Geof has been working with bariatric surgery clients for over a decade. His goal with Phoenix Fitness is to give you the tools to make your weight loss successful for the long term.