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Even a man with a tiny sliver of a brain was able to go about his daily life without realising this fact. The human brain is an amazing machine; so sophisticated that nothing you can conceptualise would suffice.
If you have not succeeded at maintaining an optimal weight or normalising your eating patterns, this is not a sign that you have been cursed with a malfunctioning brain – or have damaged your previously good brain – but that your brain has acquired beliefs that make acting otherwise impossible.
You have not lost your willpower, you have lost your faith in dieting, and this is good, because diets do not work. Only once you have realised this are you are in a position to form the beliefs that are really needed.
What are beliefs?
Walking along the street, your shoelaces come untied. Shortly thereafter, for some odd reason, you start believing your shoelaces are untied. Light leaves the Sun and strikes your shoelaces and bounces off; some photons enter the pupils of your eyes and strike your retina; the energy of the photons triggers neural impulses; the neural impulses are transmitted to the visual-processing areas of the brain; and there the optical information is processed and reconstructed into a 3D model that is recognized as an untied shoelace. There is a sequence of events, a chain of cause and effect, within the world and your brain, by which you end up believing what you believe. The final outcome of the process is a state of mind which mirrors the state of your actual shoelaces. – Eliezer Yudkowsky
Our brain evaluates the incoming information: assimilating this with all prior learning. Sound, sight, smell, touch and taste shape our experiences and deliver a mass of information that is organised and catalogued in such a way that we can access relevant concepts instantly. The following analogy by Eliezer Yudkowsky compares the human brain to a computer program, illustrating just how complex and efficient the enormous task of cataloguing and accessing our memories must be:
One of the single greatest puzzles about the human brain is how the damn thing works at all when most neurons fire 10-20 times per second, or 200Hz tops. In neurology, the “hundred-step rule” is that any postulated operation has to complete in at most 100 sequential steps – you can be as parallel as you like, but you can’t postulate more than 100 (preferably less) neural spikes one after the other.
Can you imagine having to program using 100Hz CPUs, no matter how many of them you had? You’d also need a hundred billion processors just to get anything done in realtime.
If you did need to write realtime programs for a hundred billion 100Hz processors, one trick you’d use as heavily as possible is caching. That’s when you store the results of previous operations and look them up next time, instead of recomputing them from scratch. And it’s a very neural idiom – recognition, association, completing the pattern.
‘Cached thoughts’ is a good analogy for how our brain might summarise the information that we have gleaned: storing a conclusion that helps us to navigate the world, driving action and decision-making.
…your beliefs did not come because you pulled them out of thin air. Your beliefs came because you witnessed life that made you believe. So, as you saw something that you did not want to happen – as you observed it and gathered your statistics about it – you came to the conclusion that it is factual; this is evidence; this is truth; this is real. – Abraham-Hicks
If you could purge your cache and wipe clean your dieting history; starting afresh, armed with the knowledge that regular nourishment is the solution (more on this soon) the problem would be solved. It would be solved, because you would be free of the negative beliefs that hinder you.
It is insane to think that the human body is so dysfunctional that it struggles with the essential task of knowing how much and what to eat. Did we really evolve to be the dominant species on our planet, without having the mechanisms required to adequately nourish and fuel our bodies? Sixty percent of the population struggles with obesity (millions more maintain an outward appearance of normality, while struggling inwardly with bulimia, anorexia and yo-yo dieting). No, your brain is not broken. It has learned the wrong thing.
I cannot change (is it true?)
You shot out of your mother’s womb unable to talk, walk or smile. From the moment you were conceived, you changed. Everything you experience in your life is coded into your brain, with more information added every second. Despite this, we hold an unreasonable fear that this is how I am: that we cannot change. In his Ted Talk, The psychology of your future self, Dan Gilbert says:
…all of us are walking around with an illusion, an illusion that history, our personal history, has just come to an end, that we have just recently become the people that we were always meant to be and will be for the rest of our lives.
Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been.
In other words, not only can we change, but we are endlessly changing (even at a cellular level).
I struggled with weight loss for fifteen years. I solved it in a way that was far simpler than I ever could have imagined. I did it by changing my beliefs.
How to change a belief
Beliefs change when they are opposed with conflicting evidence from a reliable source – with evidence that aligns with all of your previous experiences in such a way that you change your mind.
There are endless formulas describing how to change beliefs, but you only need one thing: credible, conflicting information. The right information can dissolve a belief instantly, with logic; reasoning; evidence; proof.
Beliefs don’t change through trickery but reality. When you start getting contradictory results your belief will crumble. – Scott H. Young
According to Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief (available from Amazon):
[We can change] long-standing, limiting beliefs in a matter of minutes.
Deep down, you know this, already. That’s why you are here.
That’s why you sat at your computer today and typed in ‘how to get the willpower to lose weight’ (or some other phrase) in the hope that you would find evidence that would change your mind.
Common beliefs held by a chronic dieter:
Below are some of the beliefs that often hinder someone with a long, dieting history. For each of these beliefs, imagine how the world would be if these were actually true. As Byron Katie suggests, ask yourself:
Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
Eliezer Yudkowsky recommends staging a ‘crisis of faith’, first imagining that the belief is true:
… accept the uncomfortable proposition as a premise, and figure out how you would really deal with it. When we’re faced with an uncomfortable idea, our first impulse is naturally to think of all the reasons why it can’t possibly be so. And so you will encounter a certain amount of psychological resistance in yourself, if you try to visualize exactly how the world would be, and what you would do about if ……your-most-feared-belief were true. – Eliezer Yudkowsky
Each belief is accompanied by links and additional information to help you refute this belief.
I don’t know what to do. Even the experts haven’t got a clue
- Why the standard weight loss method fails and how to really lose weight (coming soon)
- Normal eating (coming soon)
I know what to do, but I can’t make myself do it. If I look at brain scans of obese people, I see brain changes. I’m disordered. I’ve destroyed my ability to make good choices. I’ve lost control. I’m addicted
These alcohol priming dose experiments discussed by Steven Slate, a cured drug and alcohol addict, are pertinent here:
Another priming dose experiment invited alcoholics to taste-test a new brand of tonic water. As you can imagine, there was alcohol mixed in to a degree where it would be undetectable, and they were unaware that they were drinking alcohol. They had access to a pitcher of the mixture and were allowed to drink as much as they want. Again, they didn’t proceed to “drink uncontrollably” once they got a drinks-worth of alcohol into their system. And when compared to a group whose tonic was really just tonic (without alcohol) they didn’t drink more. The test subjects who were told that their drink contained alcohol were the only ones who drank more – whether the drink really contained alcohol or not!
In other words, the tendency to overindulge after one small serving is not a chemical / bodily response that we have no control over, but rather a mental choice that results from the knowledge that we have consumed a little.
In a recent article, Steven Slate describes his eventual cure at a the Saint Jude Program, where the following message was communicated:
They told me I didn’t have a disease; that I was in full control; and that much as I had said to the first counselor I visited, that I did it because I thought it was the only way for me to be happy. They taught me that I could change, and be happier without heavy drug use if I tried, and that I wouldn’t have to spend the rest of my life “in recovery.” I was sold, and it worked. That was 13 years ago…
Here is an alternate belief: Your brain has adjusted to compensate for the onslaught of false mood elevators that deliver no associated benefit. When this onslaught goes away, your brain will begin to change itself back. Your brain is flexible and adaptive. It is crying out for you to nourish it. The depression and low mood created by the heavy intake of junk food is not punishment or damage, but a warning issued by your body that you keep making a terrible choice.
Have you ever managed to do anything really difficult, such as go on a diet, after periods of binge eating or overeating, even though dieting really is hell and starves your body?
How on earth did you do it, if you had a crippled brain? (Note: I don’t recommend you go on a diet, I recommend that you eat like a normal person, which is infinitely easier than dieting).
How do clients of Allen Carr Clinics quit cigarette addictions instantly with no side effects or withdrawal?
How do any addicts EVER recover if their altered brain makes them incapable of making good choices?
- 20 people who stopped dieting and returned to a normal weight (coming soon)
I’m depressed and I cannot recover. It’s too entrenched. I can’t make myself do it. It’s too hard
At worst, stopping disordered eating patterns cold turkey and eating normally involve mild depression and cravings for 3-7 days, as your body reacclimatizes to the removal of fake food and rejoices at the addition of nourishment. At worst, you must endure minor discomfort occasionally for a few minutes a day, for a few days, as you suffer the effects of withdrawal. At best, your body will immediately start to sing with joy. As every minute passes, your dopamine levels improve. After three weeks you will feel back to normal; after six months the changes in your brain are cemented. Before you know it, your brain will be back to new. Actually, if you eat a normal nourishing diet, it might be even better than it has ever been.
Stopping disordered eating takes mild, concerted effort for a few days – a week at most. Then it gets easier and awesome.
If you think that is hard, what about telling your children or loved ones that you have acquired Type 2 diabetes, as a result of your own behaviour?
In an answer on Quora, Swathy Sridharan writes:
My father was 45 when he was first diagnosed as a border line diabetic who could have been cured by a slight change of lifestyle.
Fast forward 15 years to the present, he is on twice a day insulin, gets a really bad head ache if he misses a shot, cannot travel comfortably for long distances with the frequent urge to use a restroom and gets wounds in his legs from trampling on tiny things like leaves or twigs that take ages to cure.
Dr Kate Selsby Revill explains:
I am a Podiatric Surgeon and I see diabetic patients every day who do not take care of themselves. I also amputate the toes and feet of these patients because they show up to my office with ulcers that are infected, with bone showing, pus pouring out and occasionally the odd maggot or two.
Now, these are worst case scenarios, but they are not as rare as one would think. I see people coming in with feet containing toes that can be removed with a strong gust of wind because of the amount of infection at least twice a month. Take care of yourself – diabetic or not. Once you start losing toes or parts of your foot, balance changes, pressure points vary and you will continue to have surgery.
Would any of the situations above be too hard for you? What about others, such as cancer diagnosis, nerve damage, infections, ulcers, dementia and kidney disease?
Forcing yourself to stop binge eating, overeating and eat normally, requires only a short duration of effort: the discomfort mild withdrawal, followed by exhilaration, freedom and joy.
Do you need to eat fake food to cope? To calm your emotions? Are you an ‘emotional eater’? This in speech marks, because everyone is an emotional eater. Every action we take aims to bring us more happiness or alleviate pain. The problem is that you have sought pleasure in something that is a con, because it delivers pain. Junk food provides a fake thrill that disappears moments after it arrives, leaving you fat, sick and weak. It rots you from the core.
I just love junk food. It’s just how I am
If you think getting high is the best feeling you can have, then you will desire it – often and intensely. If you believe that the only way to relax is with a glass of red wine, then you will desire it every time you feel the slightest need to relax. If you believe that you need a drink or a joint to socialize, then you will desire those things on every social occasion. You feel the desire for substances because you believe there is a worthwhile benefit to be gotten from substance use and the desire for it.
……The only difference between the “addicted” and the non-addicted is the beliefs each holds about their wants and desires, as well as their thoughts on where they stand on the subject of substances and their supposed power. – Mark Scheeren
No matter what sensation is delivered, your brain decides how to interpret it. For example, someone can love a certain food, but after suffering food poisoning and vomiting, can be put off this substance for life.
Don’t believe that you can change how you feel about a sensation, instantly? More on this coming soon.
Okay, I understand everything. I can do it. I’ll start tomorrow
There is a funny thing about tomorrow. It never arrives.
First, we saw only the benefit – a fleeting illusion of pleasure, often experienced after the pain of a diet. Eventually, we saw the pain. But by this time, our brain had wired happiness and overeating junk food together and there was a gap between the pain that follows. Stopping feels painful, and we have an on-hand ‘proven’ system to deliver relief.
As you sink lower, there is more misery and more desperation to escape. You cling to the one thing that drives you deeper into misery. There are so many activities that provide genuine, lasting happiness and improvements in mood, but we cannot see it. If you did just one thing, we would be free. The moment we stop eating bucketloads of fake, nourishment free food, our baseline happiness repairing itself immediately.
Individuals choose what they believe is the best way to acquire happiness (even if the outcome does not turn out that way). We choose differently, the moment it sinks in that the previous choice is wrong.
I learned to accept my substance use habits as a simple pursuit of happiness activity (rather than as a compulsion). I learned that I was desiring it and doing it because I believed it was my best shot at feeling good. I learned that I could re-examine that belief once I acknowledged and accepted it. – Steven Slate
Still think you have no willpower to lose weight?
Wondering when to begin? Read this now.