This could be the greatest mystery/question stated and asked by people who actively train and are gym goers, the eighth wonder of the world. “I put all this work in, and I still look fat,” such comments of this nature fly around the fitness world and is clearly a frustration for clients from all kinds of backgrounds. 

What makes this question even more frustrating and seemingly unanswerable is that, yes, some people could be seen as overweight, and some people may not be overweight but see themselves in this way because of how self-critical they are towards themselves.

What is important here is to identify the goal, and to identify how important the goal is to them. Also, to identify why the goal of losing weight is so important to them in the first place, where does the idea of losing weight is going to make your life better than what it is right now come from? Though it may seem like a tedious task, what we do sub-consciously will contribute hugely towards any goal, especially one of this nature.

When do you learn how to eat?

Most of us won’t remember the first time we actively sat down at a table, trying to grasp how to use a knife and fork and learning to eat with our families. But what we learnt in those growing years of how to eat from our families and parents will be firmly implanted into our sub-conscious minds. 

Active studies suggest that doctors and psychologists believe the first 7 years of a child’s mind is like a sub-conscious sponge, without having the cognitive conscious abilities to decide and create their own decisions. Now this isn’t to say a child doesn’t have their own likes and dis-likes, as I am sure most of you can testify to. But what these studies suggest is that for those first 7 years of life, the child is absorbing information constantly from their environment and surroundings to grasp an understanding of how to survive in this world. Eating, and habits around eating is one of these survival skills.

This article is not suggesting that your parents and family are to blame in the slightest, but what I am trying to highlight to you is that when you are tackling a question stating “why am I not losing weight?”, whether you are over-weight or just hyper-critical of yourself, It could arrive from factors stemming from our primitive learning and the coping mechanisms we learnt in the early stages of our forming.

What has the past got to do with progress now?

As a personal trainer, with clients as well as in my own life, the frustration of not getting to where your imagination wants you can be de-moralising, it can make you lose traction toward creating a new habit, keeping the old habit firmly in place. 

The juxtaposition of clients (and myself included) having the intention stated, and in the next breath (in some cases) literally defending their right to eat the way they do is challenging to observe. On the other end, having a client (again myself included) be self-deprecating, attacking their own progress is just as absurd to observe. 

We as humans learn coping mechanisms without us consciously realising it all the time, and we will self-sabotage the new and unknown out of fear to protect the mechanisms we have in place. The further back the mechanism has been learnt, the harder it is to implement new, healthier, and more helpful ones to take over. So, what do you do and how do you create the desire you are wanting as habit?

Observing, acknowledge, take the step

In the world we live in today, we are moving faster and faster and we forget to take to the time to listen. To make true change means the effort has to be taken to look at your actions, to look at your behaviours and to take accountability and action towards them. We all have coping mechanisms, and only if you are wanting to change these, will there be a change to be had.

Its always going to be easier written than to be out into practice, but to slow down, and observe your actions, this will allow you to consciously acknowledge what is happening. If you are happy with that action then carry on as you do, but if not then it is time to take-action toward the thing you are wanting and desire.

Progress will be slow

To change a habit takes time, don’t think that because you have acted the way you have wanted towards a new habit 5 times already this week that it will now be ingrained as habit. Consistency of this behaviour and being conscious around this behaviour will create the change. That can be, “Rather than snacking throughout the whole day, I allowed myself one treat once every 3 days.” Or it can be “Rather than me speaking toward myself in a critical light when I look in the mirror, I have decided to praise the things I have done well and compliment the changes I have already achieved to date.” This will allow you to change the cycle and you can start the re-wiring process.

Tend to your garden

I like to think of the sub-conscious as a garden and the conscious as the gardener. You, the gardener, must tend to the garden in order to gain the garden you want. If you are an attentive gardener, looking after the plants, watering, dead-heading etc, you are going to have more success with the desired outcome. If you leave the garden once the seeds have been planted, then weeds will grow, and the garden will become overgrown and become a right mess and much harder to navigate through.

I’m afraid to say there is no quick fix or quick answer for the initial title as the only answer is subjective to you. You are the only person that can make this question into a rut or an opportunity. Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” If you let the sub-conscious lead you then the result will never change, as a gardener is never lead by their garden. 

Lucio Adger
Realfit Centre Coach