Have you ever said, “I want to lose weight,” then the next second you were ordering french fries at the drive-thru or staying on the couch, clicking through channel after channel instead of going to the gym?
If you’ve been on the weight loss train for as many years as I have, the answer is Yes!
I have done things like this often in my past and still find that these habits will creep back in from time to time. I said I wanted one goal and then turned around and avoided doing what I needed to, in order to make that goal happen. It is so frustrating! Why do we do that?
Avoidance is a very big topic and we could go on for days about it and how it interferes with weight loss. For today, let’s just take a look at what avoidance is and why it might manifest in our lives.
What is the definition of avoidance?
a·void·ance /əˈvoidəns/ noun
the action of keeping away from or not doing something. “one third of cancer deaths could be prevented by avoidance of smoking“
Avoidance is keeping away from or not doing something. Many times, we know exactly what we need to do, but we don’t do it. It’s not for a lack of information or education on our part, the missing piece is often getting those things DONE!
So why do we avoid doing what needs to get done, especially if we are working towards a goal like losing weight? That is a very loaded question. As I have told many clients, I truly believe our weight is a physical symptom of an internal struggle. While many people have different things to work on in life, those of us that struggle with weight, wear our struggles outwardly. Society can see that we have some sort of trouble, as it physically appears on our bodies. (Lucky us!)
Sometimes a reason we may avoid changing, even though we know the what to do, is that changing our bodies can sometimes change our identities or can make us feel more vulnerable. Sometimes, if we are thinner, we may feel exposed, unsafe or fearful. If our subconscious thinking believes that we will be in any danger if we lose this weight, then it may do everything it can to ensure that we maintain that weight. It is trying to keep us safe and secure. If we feel we might lose our identity, that can be scary too and we may revert back to old habits because it’s comfortable or familiar. When we wear our struggles on the outside, there is often something going on in the inside.
The two examples mentioned, identity and vulnerability, may not be your precise reason to avoid, but are examples to show why someone would do it and how it prevents their goals from being attained. Often, understanding why we do the things we do is not easy and is usually connected to many other aspects of our lives, past experience or background.
Understanding why we avoid is not an simple task and many clients take weeks, months and sometimes even years to uncover what’s propelling them to do it. To avoid exercise, avoid eating healthy or even to stop sabotaging themselves.
A great place to start figuring it out is to take a moment and look at the things you may be avoiding. Are you avoiding exercise? Eating healthy? Cooking? Avoiding telling people that you sneak food? Are you avoiding feeling a certain feeling? Avoiding facing a certain situation? Avoiding a certain person?
There is so much more to this behavior. The first step is to become mindful and aware of where you are and what you are doing. Is it getting you closer to your goal? Or, are you avoiding what you need to do to reach your goal? Once you have that, you can get on the path to changing your behavior and getting one step close to that goal!