Changing your story can change your life

A very personal story inspired by the Ted Talk, How changing your story can change your life by Lori Gottlieb

I lost a lot of weight in the last 18 months, dropping 9 sizes. Even though my body image changed significantly, in my mind, I still saw myself as fat. What story was I telling myself?

According to Gottlieb, stories help us make sense of our lives. They provide clarity, but can be incomplete, misleading and keep us stuck. This last part struck a chord. The story I was telling myself about my appearance was keeping me stuck.

My Old Story. I had been heavy for the last 20 years. The height-weight charts told me I was obese on my way to becoming even more obese. I hated clothes shopping. I wouldn’t try on clothes in the store because of the image in the mirror. I would buy a few items and try them on when I got home. Truthfully, I’d rather shop online. Finding motivation was like searching for a unicorn and with the scale only knowing one direction, I’d often throw in the towel after only a week into the latest diet.

Fast track to a weight loss of 55 lbs. and I still, on some level, believe I need a bigger size. Why? That is what I am hoping to figure out by changing my story. When I shop now, I first find myself looking at larger size clothes. I move one off the rack to get a better look. The larger size looks like something the 1X Mary would wear and nothing like the keto version of me wanted to wear. When I’d come to my senses, I’d put the clothes back and move to the size I am now.

Could it be that my mind had not caught up with the new me? I realize now, after listening to Gottlieb, I was stuck in my old story. The story I was playing outdated and just plain wrong. I needed a new story.

How to Change Your Story. Gottlieb offers a few suggestions for re-writing our story. First she advises us to look at the supporting characters. Fortunately, I am writing an autobiography so there are no supporting characters perpetuating the wrong story. Its just me and my amygdala holding on to the emotional struggle to lose weight.[1]

Next, Gottlieb recommends we ask our self what are we leaving out of the story. What I am leaving out of the story is that I really never gave up trying to lose weight and move more. That’s persistence. It’s also commitment. Twenty-eight different diets, some of them tried more than once, and I am successful. Honestly, the act of “throwing in the towel” lasted for only a few hours. After that, my husband and I would research, discuss and plan what we’d try next. Yes, I have a fantastic support system in my husband, Duke.

Lastly, Gottlieb suggests writing the story from another person’s point of view. She states as we do this we become more sympathetic. What would my story sound like If I wrote is from the perspective of the other memory centers of my brainhippocampus, neocortex and the basal ganglia instead of my amygdala?

My New Story. I feel energized and confident in my new body. My jeans fit perfectly and clothes look very different on me now. I worked hard to lose the weight and create a new image for myself. I find the clothes I wear are freeing and I like how my style has changed. I am committed to the keto life and to teach others the benefits of a keto lifestyle.

Conclusion. I recently found the dress in my closet that I wore to my oldest son’s wedding. He is married 15 years. I held the dress in my hand and daydreamed about that beautiful day. I am four sizes smaller now and that dress no longer brought me joy so I moved it on. When Cortez set out to engage in a mission of conquest of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico and convert natives to Catholicism, he told his men to “burn the ships.” They were not turning back and in burning the ships, set an irreversible course to conquer.

That’s what I’ve done. I’ve burned my ship and in doing so, changed my story and conquered my old thoughts. It’s your turn now to change yours.

  1. The amygdala is a part of the brain that attaches emotional significance to our memories.

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