Recapping Week 4 of Kathie J. and Larry’s weight loss journey
With Holly Wyatt, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center
It’s hard to believe Kathie J. and Larry have been doing the State of Slim for a month now! They’ve already been through a lot, and you can see how different their journeys are. Here’s what we were up to in Week 4.
Week 4: The First Experiential Learning Assignment
When you decide to make a big change in your life, what do you think of first? Do you think about all the things you can’t do? Do you think about all the things you’re going to miss out on? Do you say, “I can’t do that exercise. I have a bad back. My knees hurt.”
A lot of times we immediately go to what we can’t do. One of the reasons we designed the State of Slim was to help them shift their mindset into, “What are all the things I get to do because of this change?”
I always say, the body follows the mind. I see it all the time. The people who think they’re going to succeed: they succeed. The people who are sure this won’t work for them: they have a harder time getting there.
To really help change your mindset, it takes more than giving you the science as the reason to change. From my own life, I know that the best way to make this mindset shift is through action — or what I like to call experiential learning assignments, and they’re one thing that makes State of Slim very different from any other weight loss program out there. These experiential learning assignments are absolutely critical to your transformation.
In Week 4, we started the first in a series we’ll continue through the rest of the program. As I like to do, I give the assignment without much explanation as to why we’re doing it. Instead, I like to leave it up to participants to decide what it means, and then talk about it next time.
No TV for a Week
This week, Kathie J. and Larry had to give up TV. That means no TV on their phones, on their laptops, while they’re at work or at a bar — not even if someone else in their house has it on. For seven days.
Everyone’s experience is different. At first, people think it has to do with saving time. I think that’s critical because a lot of people say they don’t have enough time to meal prep, to exercise, to do their homework. If that’s the case, and TV is taking up a lot of your time, no TV for a week can show you where you might carve out more time for your new lifestyle changes.
Before this assignment, a lot of people aren’t aware of how TV impacts their behaviors, their relationships, or how they use it to numb their emotions. In this assignment, I’ve seen people recognize how TV can play this role in their lives. Only when we are aware of how it is affecting our behavior in negative ways do we have the power to decide if we want to change it.
What You Gain by Turning it Off
Change doesn’t mean we’re never going to watch TV. Remember, this isn’t, “What are all the things I can’t have without TV?” It’s, “What are all the things that I get when the TV isn’t on?” Maybe there are times when you want or need it on. But maybe there are times when you are aware of what else you could be doing if it were off.
For example, Kathie J. talked about how no TV gave her more time with her kids. A lot of people who do this assignment realize that they don’t communicate with the people they live with when the TV is on. Suddenly when the TV is off, there is a different kind of communication. It may even take a few days for it to happen.
People also become aware of how they use it to numb their emotions. So many people say, “I just gotta have it on in the background.” And when they can’t, they realize they use it so they don’t have to feel things.
What TV Has to Do with Your Weight
Why I am even talking about this in a weight loss program? What is the other big thing we do all the time, lots of us, to numb our emotions? We eat. So, in a way, both TV and food numb our emotions. If you numb your emotions, it doesn’t mean they’re not there. It just means you’re pushing them further and further down. But, if we are aware of what we’re doing, we can develop other strategies to deal with those emotions.
Bottom line: if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to be aware of how you’re using food to numb your emotions, and then develop other strategies to actually deal with them.
Your takeaway: Be open to new experiences that feel uncomfortable or scary, because chances are, they will change you in the best ways. Don’t know where to start? Do what Kathie J. and Larry did — try a “No TV Week.” Try it even for a day and see what happens. Be open to the new experience and the potential to learn something new about yourself.