September 9

The Valley Of Despair


Hopefully, by now, we all know that behaviour change is the key to long term success.


When looking at weight loss, the losing of the weight in the first place, is actually the simplest part of that change.


You might not want to believe me really, but have a look at all of us who lose weight, sometimes life changing amounts, and then put it all back on again.


While a calorie deficit is and should be, temporary.


The habits we build to lose the weight, need to be forever.


You don’t have to eat in a deficit forever, losing weight and being in a calorie deficit is a temporary state of change.


The habits need to become a permanent state of change;


  • Eating more protein
  • Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Walking more
  • Being active in general
  • Eating mindfully
  • Being aware of snacking etc..
  • Being flexible and improving your relationship with food


These are habits for life.


So, why the title?


There is an emotional cycle that we go through when changing behaviour*:


1) Uniformed Optimism.


This is where we start when we embark on any program of change. We are excited and positive.


We can imagine the benefits when we succeed.


For example, if we are aiming to lose 5kg, we can imagine feeling amazing, looking great, buying new clothes and getting loads of compliments.


2) Informed Pessimism.


We start to realise the cost of the change.


When we are struggling with hunger, the benefit of losing the weight doesn’t seem quite as real.


We do not see immediate results and we start to question if it is worth the effort.


3) The Valley Of Despair.


This is the lowest point of the cycle and where many people give up.


We are feeling the pain of change and the benefits seem far away and unimportant.


The quickest thing we can do to get some relief, is go back to how things were before.


But, if we quit here, we end up going back to the beginning and starting again, the next time we decide we ‘really need to change’.


4) Informed Optimism.


If we manage to push through the valley of despair then the possibility of success increases.


We are feeling positive again, starting to see some results from our actions.


It starts to feel like it is worth it after all.


5) Success and Fulfilment.


This is where we see the benefits of our new behaviour.


We are receiving the compliments on our achievement and the costs all seem very worth it.


The new behaviours that seemed so difficult are now much easier for us to maintain.


What helps us to push through the valley of despair and start climbing out the other side?


A crystal clear vision of where we are going and why.


Look back at the blog from yesterday, get out your journal and write yours down.


Be very aware that with any attempt at behaviour change, you will hit the valley of despair at some point.


Without a crystal clear vision, you will quit.


* adapted from Psychologists Don Kelley and Daryl Connor and taken from The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran



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