Weight loss – and why it isn’t working.
The unconscious mind has a great responsibility; it’s in charge of keeping the body running well.
It holds memories of every event we’ve ever experienced and forms patterns, based on the experiences and information it is given.
It’s responsible for both sourcing and storing our emotions and emotional responses.
The unconscious mind does a fantastic job at regulating all of the systems of the body, keeping everything in perfect balance.
It controls heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, endocrine function the nervous system, and many more duties, automatic response requiring no conscious thought, blood moves around the body continually without thought conscious thought process.
The unconscious mind is also called the subconscious and is often recognised in sleep as the dreaming mind or deep aspect of the mind.
The conscious mind in itself is just a small portion of our whole being. The conscious mind is associated with thinking, analysing, making judgments and decisions. The conscious mind actively sorts and filters its perceptions, and that is because only so much information can reside in consciousness at any one time.
Everything else falls into the unconscious part of our brain for storage and future use.
As we are only able to hold a few bits of information in our conscious mind at any one-time, memories and learned behavioural patterns are stored away until such time as they are brought forward into consciousness.
Homeostasis or homoeostasis (homeo- + -stasis) is the property of a system in which variables are regulated so that internal conditions remain stable and relatively constant. Examples of homeostasis include the regulation of temperature and the balance between acidity and alkalinity (pH). Human homeostasis is the process that maintains the stability of the human body‘s internal environment in response to changes in external conditions.
The unconscious mind is responsible for homoeostasis.
So what happens when we try to lose weight?
Lets imagine in the simplest of terms that the homoeostasis is maintained by the unconscious mind using a lever, and that lever is numbered from 1-10.
Homoeostasis is made perfect by keeping that lever at 5.
So we want to go lose weight and decide that we will take put ourselves on a diet, so what do we do?
Dramatically increase activity?
Dramatically reduce calorie intake?
Dramatically do both?
Give up half way through and start the binge/starve cycle?
Become even more determined to succeed and eat below the amount of calories our body even needs to survive on an unconscious level?
Where do you think your homoeostasis lever will be?
Where does the unconscious want it to be?
Can you see why you will experience problems when you change your routine too drastically or too quickly using the conscious part of your mind?
There is also another factor to consider and that is something called secondary gain.
Secondary gain is defined as the advantage that occurs secondary to the stated issues. The role of that issue may have some incidental secondary gain.
Unfortunately, that secondary gain can be held in the subconscious so you would not even be aware of its presence so I will give you some examples of secondary gain.
You may have friends who you are deeply connected to you that share and mirror your experiences with any issues you may have. This might lead to subconscious feelings that changing oneself in any way, may affect this relationship, this will create a pattern or belief to stay the same, hampering even well thought out plans.
No matter how confident we feel on the outside, our insecurities may be lodged deep in the subconscious. This could manifest in a stagnation and unwillingness to change, we may not be aware of this, but part of our subconscious again will want us to stay the same, to not change, in case we draw unwanted attention to ourselves.
Or maybe our stress levels are unbalanced. Stress produces cortisol and exercise will reduce these levels but may not in the first instance. Our subconscious looks for balance, our body is constantly looking for homeostasis. We try embarking on an exercise regime and everything in our body tells us to stop, so we give up before we even got started and then wonder why we never succeed.
Your subconscious might feel that your emotional needs are fulfilled and met by loved ones and those around you when you are unable to help yourself. Any improvement in your body might affect how others respond to you, so your subconscious encourages you to stay the same, to be noticed, to feel cared for. The answer to this secondary gain issue is to be more transparent about your true feelings and tell those around you how they can help you better, by offering more consistent support and not just offering when they think you need it or when you seem unable to help yourself.
It would be difficult to give everyone reading this article a defined personal reason as to why they feel unable to make positive changes in their life and with their bodies.
There is however one more factor that may help, and it is found sandwiched in-between the unconscious (subconscious) and the conscious thought processes.
Sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. Eighteenth-century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think (reason) from the ability to feel (sentience).
If we took more time to feel, rather than think or do, we may find our true vocation and embrace all aspects of our very being.
I would like to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with looking a certain way, and part of our acceptance of ourselves is understanding what we can change and what we cannot.
On balance, if you were to have the occasional blowout or feel unable to stick rigidly to a structured exercise regime, is anything terrible really going to happen?
We are increasingly living amongst an ageing population.
14,450 Britons are now OVER 100 years old (01/10/2015) Do you think any of them were Paleo, on the juice fasting diet, exercising in a gym 5+ times a week or counting their macros?
Physical exertion was part of their daily life, they ate well, and mostly did everything their body needed, without magazines, without internet, without specialised diets, supplements, food plans and groups, right?
After all, they are still alive and relatively healthy, so must be doing something right.
They got to 100 and beyond by doing what they felt was the right thing to do and did just enough to keep everything in balance.
There is one more aspect that we need to mention.
Some people might feel they have had issues with weight all of their lives.
Sometimes habit and patterns are formed in childhood, however as we grow and develop into adults our thoughts and beliefs change and evolve. You no longer believe in the tooth fairy for example.
What about if you felt uncomfortable about your changing body in childhood?
Puberty sucks, we are gangly, awkward, and spotty, with hair sprouting everywhere and our physical sexual development is usually quicker than our mental sexual maturity and this can be difficult to manage. Fending off unwanted or inappropriate sexual advances, or we may embrace the attention only to feel bad about it or guilty afterwards.
Maybe we unconsciously want to cover our bodies up, or strip it of physical development, what better way than to over or under eat.
Food around this time can become an uncomfortable issue, from simple things like not wanting to eat in front of our peers in case we are deemed weird or different, to using it to punish or pleasure ourselves. Hormones running wild, growth patterns fluctuating wildly, and all of these responses and patterns are being stored and collated in our subconscious to be used at another time by the conscious mind.
If we are unable to understand these patterns, thoughts and behaviours, forgotten memories, logged deep in our subconscious, then when we try to inflict tough regimes or put excessive pressure on the body to change the unconscious mind will block to keep and restore balance, the subconscious will throw all the thoughts and behaviours it knows to try and make the conscious part of your brain stop what is intended by you with the sole aim of remaining in balance or homeostasis.
The reptilian brain is the oldest of the three; it also controls the body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. Our reptilian brain includes the main structures found in a reptile’s brain: the brainstem and the cerebellum.
We have thought processes that may be hardwired into our systems from our ancestral roots. These ancestors may have experienced periods of famine. They would most certainly have experienced great challenges in surviving long enough to reproduce whilst remaining free from injury, death or disease.
Once you understand that behaviour patterns can be complex, whilst also understanding that most of it will not be part of our conscious awareness, you can begin to understand in part why your best-laid plans bring no structured or beneficial change.
Maybe you can now begin to see that a constant effort to lose something (weight) is at war with our subconscious processes that want to store and keep, maintaining patterns and balance.
This may be why we repeat behaviours occur.
This may be why we do what we have always done.
This may be why we feel that we are achieving nothing or rapidly go from one extreme to the other, often feeling exhausted, despondent and at a complete loss at what to do.
It may feel like everyone else is managing everything you want to achieve, leading to feelings of failure, causing self-esteem to drop even lower or stress to increase at an even higher rate.
So you want to break the cycle of behaviour that likes to be stuck on repeat?
First lets try to embrace our sentience, how we feel, the part of our brain that will allow us to experience subjectively, and might even avoid the need for irrelevant subconscious patterns and behaviours to manifest.
I will bet good money that most of you reading this could write a diet book, a basic self-help book, and draw up a first step plan for physical exertion.
I will also add that most of us actually know the answers to all of the questions we ask, if we try to feel them rather than overthink them.
Our inability to feel what is right, overworks the part of our brain that thinks, our conscious mind, this in turn triggers the subconscious, which has hardwired patterns, some stemming from our ancestral roots or childhood beliefs which have no place or benefit for our current place and time.
So this may feel difficult to start with but to truly succeed Stop being so hard on you!
Stop cycling excessive behaviours, crazy diets or exercise regimes!
Stop the need to lose and think about how it would feel to be:
Fitter or Stronger, more agile or lean, more shapely or with less wobble or improved body tone and think about how that person you want to be would feel if faced with your current diet or activity levels where balance is key. Would they want to help you, guide you, yes of course!
We cannot help unless we know what is truly expected.
What is it you actually want to achieve?
What plans and approaches will you try, armed with the knowledge that the subconscious strives for balance?
What plans will you put in place so you are still able to enjoy life and indulge without feelings of guilt?
What if I told you that the changes you needed to make were so minuscule you would hardly notice a difference, and that might be why you are spending time battling with your subconscious reactions?
No pain no gain, right?
I say slow and steady wins the race.
Balance is key
Avoid extremes and just keep going
Before you know it, you will be the successful person you wanted to be
You may have stopped using your natural ability to feel, or maybe you have an underlying secondary gain issue you are completely unaware of.
Without professional regression or hypno-analysis it would be hard to say if you have or not.
However, whatever the cause, a lot can be gained by being more transparent of your feelings and fears, worry less about how your thoughts and feelings might impact or be perceived by others.
Become totally honest, especially with yourself, you may be surprised to see that others begin to will look at your newfound confidence or ability to handle stress as inspiring, this may have a knock-on effect, causing positive change in others too.
No matter how physically or mentally strong we are we, we all deserve periods of rest, hugs, kind words, love, advice, fun, kisses, time alone, social interactions, emotional support, physical assistance, good food, letting go, being in the moment, being free from chores or responsibilities, being selfish.
The difference is readily accepting these things as part of the human condition.
If you feel balanced, everything around you will become balanced.