To learn how to work this spell, you’ve got to play a game first. Really immerse yourself for a few minutes, ok?
Now, try to imagine you’re a vegan (maybe you are). You’re a die-hard meat-repelling plant eater (Birkenstocks and tie-dye optional). And all the appropriate meat-free lifestyle bumper stickers have proudly decorated your Subaru for years.
Got it? Now, let me ask you a question, Vegan.
Did you sit up in bed this morning, huddled under certified organic bamboo sheets and tremble, thinking “I have no idea how I’ll say no to that ribeye at lunch today?” or “Damn, why’d I eat all those wings last night?”
Hopefully you’re laughing at the mere suggestion that you could even think these things. Because nobody identifying as vegan would ever have to ask herself these questions, right?
Because “being vegan” is part of your identity. A vegan’s mind and mouth aren’t open to meat as food. A vegan doesn’t feel tempted by steak and wings. These edibles aren’t on your radar, let alone on your menu.
Were you always like this? No. Vegans must consciously select the lifestyle and the diet because meat is so ubiquitous. To avoid animal-based ingredients, you need to make an effort. To be a healthy vegan, you need to know how to combine your plant foods. Therefore, being vegan requires forethought and planning, as well as some actual research. Being a vegan requires consistently choosing only plant-based foods during the period you are still “learning how” to be vegan. Possibly, being vegan even requires you to make your case to your family until they accept your decision. Being vegan also makes socializing harder until you find the good vegan places in your neighborhood.
See? Being vegan is at first a choice. And in order to support this primary choice you revise your food and lifestyle choices. Over time these supporting choices become second-nature and are habitual. Then, one day, voila, you are so identified as vegan that animal foods aren’t food at all anymore. There’s no question about what you are, who you are. You’re vegan. And since that’s your identity, everything you eat reflects this.
End of game.
It’s the same with being “thin,” however that’s defined for you. Just like the metamorphosis from meat-eater to vegan, becoming and staying thinner than you start out requires making choices and establishing habits that support, reinforce, and reflect a “thin” identity. You make effort to lose weight, to find and inhabit your personal “thin.” But once you are thin, what happens if you go back to eating the way you did before you lost weight?
Just like a vegan wouldn’t be a vegan if they ate ribs on the weekends, you won’t stay thin if you stop making food choices similar to those which helped you become thin. It’s not to say that there are “good” foods and “bad” foods. It’s not that you can never eat cake or pizza again. The line is certainly not as cut and dried as for the vegan. But the daily food plan you choose must make it possible for you to maintain your ideal weight long enough for the identity transformation to really take root.
What plan worked when you lost weight? This may be the basis of the plan that will maintain your weight. If the diet you used was too restrictive to be sustainable, then what would make it sustainable? There is a sustainable version of it out there, but you’ll need to create it for yourself, or work with a nutritionist or dietician who can help. And by the way, make sure you like it! When you can regularly eat foods you genuinely like (or learn to make your own healthy substitutes) you’ll rarely have to worry about “willpower.”
People who lose weight and keep it off the rest of their lives consistently eat foods that make it easy to maintain their weight, and they consistently avoid eating foods that would make them regain weight. It’s self-evident. And it’s not only possible for you to embrace this, it’s 100% necessary. You must be all-in to sustain your weight loss long enough to eventually self-identify as “thin.” It takes effort at first. Just like becoming a vegan, in the beginning you’re vigilant and intent on installing new eating habits, and then one day you realize making the right choices to maintain your weight feels easy and totally natural.
And that moment, friends, is the moment you arrive. When you know what works for you and you just do it. When you are so identified as thin that your daily choices control your weight, and you are so committed to yourself that there is no drama, no struggle, no bargaining or negotiating with your evil twin. Just like the vegan is vegan, you are thin, and doing the things that keep you this way have become your default mode. Welcome to effortless weight control.