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Monday, 17 January 2022 11:11

Resistance Training

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There’s a common saying that goes like this: “What you resist persists.” Basically, this is telling us that those things we don’t want to do, and we don’t want to look at, and we try our hardest to avoid, will hang around like a hungry puppy dog, begging for food and attention. No amount of resistance will make these things go away until we pay them some attention and feed them some energy.

Sometimes our reasons for avoiding them are founded in past experiences. We weren’t happy, they were hard to do, we never got good at whatever it was and always felt insecure or inefficient. Sometimes, our reasons for avoiding these pesky little things are completely in our imagination. We think it will be hard to do, we can’t imagine getting good at it, we think we won’t like it. Or we think it will change us in some way we won’t like. We think it will change our lives, and we’re afraid the change won’t be for the better.

All of this resistance comes from our ego self, our inner protector. There is a part of us that tries to protect us from the unknown because there might be danger out there. It wants to keep us safe and cozy with what we already know and what we’re familiar with. The ego self is like a computer. It can only function on the input it’s been given. It only knows what we’ve experienced in the past. So, it is trained to resist anything new or unknown.

Our first thought might be, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to feel better” or “I want to change my body size.” When our very next thought is “That’s going to be HARD” or “I won’t get enough to eat” or “I might fail” then we know that ego is talking and it has perfected its resistance training.

The input that our ego-protector is basing its resistance on is usually a past experience that is very valid. Maybe the people around us, our friends or family, don’t want us to lose weight because they feel like a failure when they can’t do it. Maybe we don’t have any experience of how to lose weight and we are embarrassed to ask for help. Maybe we don’t have a support system of any kind to rely on. Without a safety net of loving, accepting people, it’s very difficult to start something new and feel confident that we can succeed.

The ego-protector can’t make a connection into the future. It’s our conscious minds and our emotions that are capable of imagining more than we’ve ever known before. We are conscious, thinking beings capable of expanding our horizons by looking for choices and observing the world around us to gain insights and new ideas. Our imagination, our dreams, and our inner light are what we use to think ‘what if I tried this’ and ‘maybe I could do that.’

What would it take to imagine getting enough to eat and still losing weight? What if the food choices I make taste wonderful? What if I could find a way to move more and feel good while doing it? What if the process of changing my food and exercise habits is easy? What if my experience is so much fun that I can’t imagine living my life any other way?

These are new thoughts and they expand our possibilities. It takes time and repetition to change a thought habit. We want to let go of the resistance we’ve been practicing and start practicing these new thoughts. We don’t have to stamp out our ego-protector when we have a new idea. We can lovingly take it with us into our vision of a different future. We started with the saying, “What you resist persists.” The second half of that saying is not as well known, though. It says, “What you accept you can transform.”

We can accept that we’re stepping into the unknown and reassure ourselves that we have the skills and abilities to work with whatever we find there. We can begin to transform our resistance training into acceptance training. We accept that there may be pitfalls in the unknown experience we are imagining. We accept that it might take practice and support to gain skills and to take steps toward our goals. And most importantly, we accept that it’s not an all-or-nothing, black-and-white world out there. We can have a new idea and take a new path any time we choose.

One of the fun and amazing things about being a conscious person is that we don’t have to believe every thought we have. If my thought is, “I can’t do that,” it isn’t the end of the discussion. I have the freedom, and I might even say the responsibility, to question that thought. Is it true that I can’t do that? Even if I don’t know how to do that, does that mean I can’t learn how? Even if I’ve never done that in the past, does it mean I can never, ever do it in the future? How would I find out more information? Where could I learn to do that? What would it take to succeed? Who could I partner with to make it easier?

Let’s look at this concept of resistance training and acceptance training in a practical way. Let’s say, I have a fundamental belief that certain types of food and certain types of exercise are going to help me lose weight. If I have no resistance to that thought, I accept it, and I have no need to change it. Let’s also say, I have a fundamental belief that the foods that help me lose weight taste awful and that exercise is painful. That’s a thought that is resisting my desire to lose weight. I don’t like that thought and I want to change it.

With all of the food available to me, all the spices available to me, all the cooking methods, restaurants, and home delivery kits available, is it actually true that the food that supports weight loss has to taste awful? What if I could find a way to have the tastes I love prepared in such a way that they support my weight goals and I feel satisfied throughout the day? How would I find out how to do that? Where could I learn more about how to do that? Who could I partner with to make it easier and more fun?

Just challenging the thought that a food plan means awful taste transforms my resistance into imagination and acceptance. I’m expanding my options and looking forward to a new adventure in eating and in weight management, a future that isn’t scary and isn’t dangerous, but is exciting and joyful!

How about my thought that exercise is painful? Can I think of exercise as movement? Can I associate an increase in movement with so much more than a means to weight management? Are there movements I love to do, and don’t I get a lot of benefit emotionally and mentally from an increase in movement as opposed to sitting all day?

My friend and I exercise in very different ways and we each think the other one is crazy! He can’t imagine why anyone in their right mind would voluntarily immerse themselves in a big body of water (a pool) and try to move through it and stay alive in it and think it’s fun! I can’t imagine why anyone in their right mind would voluntarily subject themselves to medieval torture machines (at the gym), sweat in public, and call it fun!

But isn’t that the beauty of imagination and creativity? We each get to find the type of movement we love to do and make our own, unique way forward. Maybe it’s dance, yoga, walking, bicycling, rock climbing, tai chi, or any other of the millions of possibilities available to us. We get to choose and transform our resistance thought, “It’s painful,” to an acceptance thought, “I can’t wait to do this!”

There’s a part of us that has trained in resisting all our lives. We understand that it serves a purpose and it keeps us safe. Let’s start exercising our acceptance muscles. Let’s be conscious of what and who we are, not just our defects and limitations, but our skills, our creativity and our imagination. Let’s accept that we can transform our lives. It takes persistence. It takes training. And it’s a joyful process when we take the time make it tailor made to fit us like a glove!

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Betty Brink

Betty Brink is an expert on the mental and emotional aspects of dieting and body image. She is the author of "The Main Meal: The New Perspective on Weight Loss." In seminars, speeches, and consultations, she demonstrates practical methods to quiet the diet chatter, and to empower yourself to make conscious choices in diet, in life, and in relationships.

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