So, people are begining to ask…

How did I do it?

This is actually a long story and I’ve been trying to figure out how to parse it. I could just give you diet plan (that is, what and how much I ate), but it’s the same one that I have been following for the last two years, more or less. I could also just give you the bit of free advice that was given to me. But if I did that, I’m afraid that you wouldn’t get the full impact of the change.

Essentially, there have been a lot of psychological changes that I have undergone in the last month that have been highly related to my identity.

Again, as someone who is immersed in the study of social psychology, I knew that one of the strongest drives or desires that people have is be consistent. This is what’s going on when people regain their weight, when lottery winners are broke two years later, or why people end up in the same types of abusive relationships over and over. They see themselves as fat, they see themselves as poor, or they see themselves as someone who is deserving of abuse. There is a whole theoretical perspective that is based on the idea that individuals create events to confirm their realities. I have contributed to this literature (which is sort of sad if you think about the fact that it took me this long to apply it to my own life)!

It is true that it’s been a long time since I’ve viewed myself as fat. But I did see myself as someone who struggled with their weight–someone who happened to be a size 12 on most days and a size 10 on good days. And as long as I saw myself this way, I created events to confirm that identity, or that view of myself.

So before anything changed about my weight, I created a new identity. More importantly, before anything would change, I had to create a new identity!

Although I knew, academically, about the construction and the power of possible selves (and even their relationship to weight!), I had never thought about using those seemingly dry social psychological concepts as a means to bootstrap change. Those days are over!

I essentially used an exercise that was presented by author and coach, Loren Slocum. Loren essentially had us write down several positive adjectives and nouns related to several domains of our lives the way we wanted them to be. Not how they actually were, but how we envisioned them! That’s very important.

So, for instance, she had us write down a list of nouns and adjectives associated with our fitness identity and them put them together in a possible identity. Although I had a page, I eventually decided on “lean, strong, sexy, minx.” And everyday, I looked at that sentence and repeated it several times: I am a lean, strong, sexy, minx. I also varied my intonation: I am a lean, strong, sexy, minx; I am a lean, strong, sexy, minx; I am a lean, strong, sexy, minx; I am a lean, strong, sexy, minx; I am a lean, strong, sexy, minx; I am a lean, strong, sexy, minx!

Now, did I feel like a lean, strong, sexy minx when I started? Not really. Actually, I think it’s fair to say absolutely not! But now, not only do I see myself as a lean, strong, sexy, minx, I also see myself as a lean, strong, sexy, six! You may think it’s silly, but this is my story and it worked for me!

If, by chance, you do decide to come up with your own fitness identity, I would love to hear it! Or, if you have a better strategy to motivate positive identity shifts, bring them on!

p.s. I have more to say about people who ask you how you did something only tell interrupt you to tell you why it’s not going to work, but I’ll save that for another day! 🙂

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