Why is it so difficult to keep the weight off?
Losing weight is actually easy, whether you’re in the military or not, but weight loss is more than just losing weight… it’s about keeping the weight off.
And that’s the real weight problem so many of us face today. We don’t know how to prevent the pounds from coming back on.
If we’re overweight, then it’s only because we’re overeating, meaning we’re consuming more food than our body actually needs. When our body receives more food than it needs, it stores the excess as fat.
Ideally, we want to eat in a way where our body is so efficient at using both the fuel (fat) already on our body and the food we feed it. Right now, if you’re overweight, then you’re just eating more than your body needs. If you’re overeating, it does NOT mean you’re a bad role model, a neglectful leader, or a lazy person.
Losing weight is easy
Losing weight is easy because there are so many ways to lose weight. Just Google “weight loss” and you’ll find the latest of everything in the fitness, health, and dieting industry. In case you were curious, all diets share the same secret but in their own different flavors: you lose weight because they put you in a caloric deficit.
That’s how weight loss works in any diet.
CALORIC DEFICIT PER FAD DIET
Ketogenic removed an entire food group (carbs).
Paleo removed an entire food group (processed food).
Whole30 removed processed foods and more, including grains, legumes, sugar, dairy, and junk food (basically the same as Paleo but a little more restrictive).
Weight Watchers created smaller portions, which is a caloric deficit.
Mediterranean Diet low on red meats and processed food (steak and donuts pack more calories per volume than fish and grains do).
Low Carb lowered processed carbs. You still eat tons of carbs on this diet, but those carbs come in the form of spinach, carrots, apples, etc. (all vegetables and fruit are carbs).
The reasons these diets don’t work is because:
1.) You can still gain weight or stall your weight loss if you eat too much of the food within that diet, and
2.) When the diet is over, if you go back to eating the way you were before, then you start getting back your former body.
Here’s the thing…
It’s not the food or the diet that is the reason for the weight regain. That’s where the diet and fitness industries fall short and just keep filling our inboxes and Facebook feeds with the latest and newest supplements, Keto-friendly donut, Whole30-approved meal, etc.
If you’re like the majority of people in this day and age, then when you start a diet with the intention of feeling better, slimmer, and healthier, you can barely remember the other half of the reason why you’re starting the diet in the first place: you want to KEEP your results.
Otherwise, you’re losing and gaining weight so often that you become so mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted from the yo-yoing that you give up.
But you’re in the military, which means “giving up” isn’t a term you easily accept as true. We have our reliable drill instructors to ensure “giving up” is never an option. It’s one of the reasons why our military is so beloved.
Like a lot of smart people, you know there’s more to living than constantly dieting. You want to keep your hard-earned results, but you don’t know how to, exactly.
That’s because that component of a successful weight loss plan isn’t easily Google-able. It’s not provided by the health and fitness industry because, honestly, they don’t know how to do it themselves.
So, how do you keep your weight loss results?
You learn to manage your mind.
If you’re overweight, then it’s because you’re overeating. It’s as simple as that… but it’s also not so simple.
Food doesn’t get eaten just because it’s there, sitting in front of you. Just like you don’t go to the gym just because there’s a gym – it’s just a building with heavy stuff in it. So why do you eat the food you put in your mouth, and why do you lace up your shoes and go to the gym?
The reason you eat or drink the food that you do - the reason you do ANYTHING in life – is because of how you think it’s going to make you feel.
Our feelings are the most powerful experiences in our body because they compel us to act. Feelings are what drive our actions. They are the fuel to our actions.
We eat the salad because we think we’ll feel lighter, healthier, and happier. We go to the gym because we think we’ll feel strong, skinny, and sexy. We don’t feel that way after we arrive at the gym, we feel that way beforehand, on the way to, at the gym, and after our workout.
Think about it… why do you follow orders so well?
We follow orders because it was “drilled” into us. What does that mean?
It means that on your first day of basic training (when you’re sweating, confused and scared), and the drill instructor was yelling and spitting in your face telling you to follow his or her orders or else your shipmate on your first deployment could die… the feeling of horrendous guilt, fear, and shame inundated you. You may not remember this day or how it went down exactly but you’ll never forget the feeling.
You immediately envision that terrible possibility of you being ignorant and not following orders and someone you know dying or getting maimed because of your inaction. The guilt and fear of that thought is so compelling, that your brain learns immediately that following orders is non-negotiable. Your brain shifts that thought into your subconscious so that it doesn’t even have to think twice about following orders. That’s why following orders sometimes feels necessary for your survival. That’s how powerful our thoughts and emotions are.
So where do our feelings come from? And why aren’t certain feelings like motivation, certainty, happiness, and pride with us all the time?
The answer is because every single one of our feelings comes from our thoughts. We have a thought, and at the atomic level, the thought literally materializes itself in our body as a feeling. A thought begins in our brain, and the neural connections that are made cascade their way down our body signaling a feeling that corresponds best. So, when you think about how good you’ll feel at the gym, you feel motivated, and you get in the car. You think about how successful you’ll be at managing your weight by eating a salad, which might make you feel encouraged, so you eat the salad.
This is the most important thing to understand because it will help you begin to manage your thoughts so that you can start losing weight the permanent way:
There are circumstances in our life, things that happen outside of us, that we cannot control.
These circumstances include things like the weather, our past, other people, what other people say out loud (either about you, to you, or about themselves or others), the environment, death, etc. They are things that everyone in the world can agree on.
Where we make the mistake is that we think circumstances make us feel and act in certain ways. We blame what our supervisor said for making us feel ashamed and inadequate. We blame our kids for making us feel angry and upset. We blame our diet for making us feel deprived. We blame the gym for being so far away to justify how lazy, bored, or insecure we may be feeling.
The thing is, circumstances never make us feel or do anything.
It’s our thoughts about the circumstances that make us feel the way we do. And, believe it or not, that’s the good news… We don’t have to control circumstances in order to feel better. We are always in control of what we think, how we feel, how we act, and over time, we’re in control of the results in our life.
Our thoughts, which are opinions we have about things around us, are what we have control over 100% of the time. This is where your ability lies in feeling committed to staying on track with what you eat and when you exercise.
The thing is, just thinking about eating better and working out more is not enough. You must bring up that thought, that image that you visualize, as often as is needed so that you feel compelled, empowered, honest, and aware to show up for yourself. The more you show up, the closer you get to your desired results and the more they stick (read: last forever).
This is the kind of work that takes deliberate practice, like shining your boots every week, paying attention to your surroundings when you’re outdoors so that you know when to salute, and knowing when to say “sir” and “ma’am.” Think back to your past when you were incorporating these new lifestyle changes into your life. It wasn’t easy at first. You messed up a few times, you misspoke often, you called women “sir” and forgot to salute high ranking officers.
They were mistakes.
You learned from them.
You made more mistakes in different situations and learned from those moments, as well.
And now, saluting and greeting others feels natural to you.
That’s the level you want to get to when it comes to eating only what your body needs for fuel and exercising so that it’s something that is a part of you.
It takes cognitive effort at first, and that’s where a lot of people give up. The results don’t come as quickly as you want, so you think the process is not working.
But it is.
The more you think about the result you desire, the more your brain will learn to pay attention to it because it feels better than anything else.
Remember, we only do things because of how we think we’ll feel when we do them or when we get them.
That is your internal, mental guide.
This is the way the world works and how weight loss becomes a permanent reality, not a temporary glimpse of what’s truly possible.
Circumstances trigger our thoughts. Our thoughts always create our feelings, which fuel our actions. Over time, our actions create our results.
You’ll see this how this works the next time you’re driving home or driving to your unit.
If someone on a motorcycle cuts you off as they cross into another lane, you might feel angry, your face may get heated, and you might say something under your breath, maybe even flick them off.
Then, you notice they cut someone else off in another lane, but that other driver doesn’t react the same way you did.
Why is that? You both had the exact same person cut you off, so it was the same circumstance.
The reason is because each of you had a completely different thought, so you felt completely differently about the same situation; therefore, you acted completely differently. And as a result, one driver ended up having a more enjoyable driving experience than the other. Can you guess who?
It all comes down to what you’re thinking and what you choose to think. That’s what the health and fitness industry don’t know how to bottle up and sell. It’s such a unique journey for every single person that it’s impossible to sell its solution in mass.
Only you can determine what you choose to believe, how you feel about your goals, and if you’re committed and willing to see them all the way through until you get the result you truly want.
So, What do you eat?
It’s simple. Eat the way that you envision yourself eating for the rest of your life that gets you the results you truly want for yourself.
The way you eat (your actions) determine your results (your weight and the shape of your body).
What you are feeling is driving the actions of eating and working out, and you’re only feeling compelled to do those things when you believe that you can.
That you can do it.
That it’s possible for you (yes, even for you, even if you don’t quite believe it just yet).
Your commitment and your willingness come from a decision.
It’s the exact same process that you used when it came to sign the dotted line when you joined the military.
You felt proud.
You knew you were going to feel fulfilled.
You were certain.
The thing is, you can follow through on any feeling, good or bad. You can follow a diet feeling deprived. Or, you can follow a diet feeling fulfilled. But one way guarantees a more enjoyable experience, one that you will want to continue to experience.
That’s the work you must do.
Losing weight for the last time, once and for all, is a mental strategy first and foremost.
Nicole Terwey is a Lieutenant and an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserves in Nashville, TN. She completed eight and a half years of active duty service in the Electronic Warfare community and earned her master’s degree in Organizational Leadership before building the next chapter of her life as a certified life coach, weight coach, and fitness coach.
Terwey specializes in helping women in the military lose weight, especially if they are struggling with losing weight and keeping the weight off after being on a diet.
Terwey works with active duty servicemembers seeking to lose weight and maintain healthy lifestyles.
Follow Terwey at https://nicoleterwey.com/
Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!
Follow us on social media!