August 30, 2020

Shame & Weight Loss: Why it Just Doesn’t Work.


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As many cities have been opening up, you may be looking at how much weight you’ve gained during this quarantine.

If you gained the “Quarantine 15,” you may feel angry at yourself.

And you may think that resentment will inspire you to be motivated to make a change.

But this is a common misconception. Shaming and guilting yourself about weight gain hurts your chances of successful weight loss.

Why Shame Doesn’t Work

One reason why beating yourself up mentally doesn’t work to lose weight has to do with something called the “motivational triad” (a concept by Douglas J. Lisle, Ph.D.). The triad explains what drives human behavior. We are simply designed to take action to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and be energy efficient.

Telling yourself mean things to inspire your weight loss goes against this triad. Which means that you’re setting yourself up for failure. You’re increasing your emotional pain by making yourself feel bad about the weight gain. And if you were eating out of comfort because of the uncertainty of life these days, removing that comfort removes the pleasure aspect of the triad.

It may sound like you’re doomed to be at this weight forever. But luckily, with a simple mindset shift, you can use your brain’s motivations to your advantage.

And here’s the shift: to make the effort of weight loss less painful and more pleasurable.

To create less pain when losing weight, stop using shame as your motivator. No one enjoys the experience of feeling bad about themselves. Accept that you gained that weight and tell yourself that it’s okay. You’re a human living through a pandemic. You’re doing your best.

I tried shame unsuccessfully for years.

I used to think that shame and guilt were the best motivators. If I had a really big last meal, I’d feel so gross that I’d be excited to start a diet. Or, if I refused to buy a size up in jeans, I’d be more motivated to lose the weight.

But it never worked long enough for me to lose it all. Eventually, I learned that there’s a better way to get results that last. And I’m going to show you the one mindset change you need to stop shaming yourself and start losing the quarantine weight.

The Mindset Shift

After taking away pain as your motivation to lose weight, you must now focus on creating more pleasure. To do this, you will use another focus as your motivation. And that is the life you want to create at the end of this weight loss journey.

Think about what your life will be like once you are eating healthier and have lost weight.

>> How confident will you be?

>> Will you have more energy?

>> Will your focus be better, increasing your productivity?

>> Are you going to be wearing more fun clothes?

>> What will you be doing then that you aren’t now? Like being the one to suggest taking pictures?

Find 15 minutes this week to answer these questions. You’ll want to have a clear picture of the future life you’re going to create. This is going to give you the excitement you need to create more pleasure while losing weight. It will help you understand why the discomfort of eating healthier will be worth it.

That way, when you see your old comfort foods, instead of being sad that you can’t have that form of pleasure, you can use your excitement about the future as your new form of pleasure.

Think about any vacation you’ve ever been on. How fun it was to be excited about the vacation and planning it. It might have even been more fun than the vacation itself! You can do the same with your weight loss.

So, instead of being angry at yourself for gaining weight—get excited to lose it. You’ll be using your brain’s primal motivations to your advantage so it’ll be easier to get the results you want.

Once I started making weight loss more fun and exciting, it was so much easier to follow through with healthier eating. As a result, I was able to lose and keep off the 20 pounds I had struggled with for five years.

Shifting your mindset in this way will allow you to get better results while making the process way more enjoyable.


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