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New Year, Same You? - The Crisis of Identity and Weight Loss

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

Here we are again. The year is 2023. Just a few days ago - it was 2022. Wild.

And quite arbitrary.

Time sure does... beat its wings indiscriminately. You could try holding its tail and watching the wings flap - but you really can't do a thing with that.

What's that mean? Something about letting go? Something about embracing change? Who knows. I'm just a guy who likes jazzercizing.

In any case, The New Year is when most people feel as though they're most capable of making the necessary Health and Fitness changes that will stick. Most often, there's no plan of attack; outside the plan that was instituted the years prior - attack.

This motivation is often driven by emotions stimulated by the thoughts of novelty that only a New Year could engender. The days are getting slightly longer, presaging the coming of Spring - birds, bees, and all that crap. That sense of rejuvenation engenders a sense of pride in us, that makes us want to look and feel our best when the nice, long, Summer days come rolling around. Those beach days are nice, when you have the proper body acceptance and a sense of confidence to go alongside them.

But, most of us have been down this road before. And we know where it ends.

"Oh. So that's where that goes."

Emotional zeal is simply not enough to sustain the necessary trials and tribulations associated with transforming our minds and bodies.

You burn bright and burn fast, like a star going supernova. You go too hard, too fast, and quit too soon. The menu only reads salads and Chicken Breast. You cardio your brains out, knowing that you'll hate it - but maybe you'll keep it up longer than last year?

By the time you burn yourself out; somehow you've managed to gain five pounds and you're preparing for the coming holidays all over again.

But this year is going to be different.


Because I'm going to provide you the missing piece to the puzzle that you've been looking for all this time.

The real problem isn't the fad diets, nor the detox, nor the gym buddy (though, they do contribute).

The issue is you. It's always been you.

But not because you're some failure, not because you're not motivated enough, not because you don't have the right trainer.

It's because you're YOU.

And the task at hand, requires you to be someone else.

Follow me.

1. Getting in Better Shape Means Changing Your Identity

You're not just trying to "lose your belly". You're not just trying to "get bigger arms". You're not just trying to "get a six pack".

You're looking to transform your MindBody.

You're looking to become a different person.

Understanding this Mission Statement at the outset is paramount to ensuring that you're truly ready for the Health and Fitness pilgrimage this year.

The people with the bodies that we admire and motivate us to want to get into better shape in the first place - look the way the do, fundamentally, because of WHO they are. Not because of WHAT they do. They live a lifestyle conducive to having a six pack/having bigger arms/lower body fat percentages.

"My trainer told me I could be anything. So I became a meme."

A lot of people struggle with weight loss (one example of transformation) because they simply always indentify with being overweight. Many people simply can't imagine being anything other than overweight. They can't imagine being the person that is always "watching what they eat". They can't imagine "measuring their food". They can't imagine being a "gym rat" or living without cookies and pizza (ignore the fact that these are often extreme characterization that don't have to apply to them).

Some can't imagine keeping off the weight if they do succeed - they might backslide.

Just like last time.

They might change back into the person that they were. They are so terrified of this potential failure; it causes many to not act in the first place. It's a form of self-sabotage that smothers success in the cradle.

Some people become so anxious once they start seeing progress that they become overwhelmed with a sense of anxiety - a fear of some coming unknown, shadowed by a fear leaving behind the person they used to be.

Why would they want to leave that person behind? They like that person. And so do their friends and family. They just don't like this one, nagging aspect of themselves that seems to be controlling every aspect of their daily lives.

And in that process of becoming; many people consciously, or subconsciously, find means to self-sabotage.

So when you start your weight loss journey this year, make sure that you take into consideration where your journey might take you and be ready to make sure that those are places you'll be wanting to explore. When you're ready - these changes and journeys into a new flesh cage can be exhilarating and fun.

Just take your first steps slowly and deliberately. Only Calculus deals with instantaneous rates of change, which brings me to my next point...

2. You're Not Going to Change your Identity Overnight

The number one reason people fail at their Health and Fitness goals is not thinking long term. Not committing to making long term, incremental, sustainable changes. The process of sustainable change takes time.

Most people claim to not have enough of it, and aren't willing to take enough it. It's a contradiction that lives in the seams of American life, festers in these crevices, and feeds on American dreams. Take small steps. Take your time. Understand that failing is part of the process until you find the health and fitness lifestyle that works for you. Pick small, realistic goals and keep those wheels greased throughout the journey. Dump the P90X or HIIT style training if that's not something you can see yourself doing consistently, at least 3x per week, for the rest of your life.

"I'm totally cool doing this for 2 hours, 6x a week, for abstract eternity. Just let me take a breather in this 6" hole for a minute."

Keto doesn't work. Especially if you're not going to stick to it forever. Dump the fad diets. Eat with common sense, and make small updates to your nutrition habits as you learn more about eating healthier and what that means to you. Don't set arbitrary time tables. The journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step. And then another. When you're in the process of walking this journey; if you just focus on taking in the sights and sounds of your surroundings and smiling at the faces you meet along the way - chances are good that you'll be closer to 2000 miles before you even realize you crossed the finish line some time ago.

3. Changing Your Identity Means Changing Your Environment - That Could Mean Friends/Loved Ones

"A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends"

- Ralph Waldo Emerson Making sure that your environment is conducive to your Health and Fitness Goals is paramount. Some environmental upkeep tips are more obvious - if you have a habit of snacking on Chips Ahoy and Doritos between meals or late at night: don't buy them (out of sight, out of mind), keep your workout clothes in plain view at all times (or wear workout clothes around the house more often), make sure convenient whole foods that you enjoy, such as fruits and vegetables, are always visible and easily accessible in your home.


Some environmental tips are not so obvious.

What kind of social support do you have at home?

Are your roommates understanding that offering you to partake in pizza night is legitimate sabotage? In their mind, they may be just being friendly, but if you're serious about becoming a different person - this can be seen as inconsiderate at the very least.

What does dinner with the wife and kids look like? If the wife is cooking, is she going to be okay with cooking something different for you if you're on "another health kick"?

Making your own food could cause tension as well. Especially if your family typically enjoys having dinner together. Very tricky waters to navigate.

"Mommy won't eat Daddy's food. Are Mommy and Daddy getting a divorce?"

Speaking of spousal/partner support - your spouse/partner may express approval at the outset of the announcement of your journey: they may even be your biggest cheerleader.

But don't be surprised if/when that changes once you show you're going to stick to things this year.

Especially regarding weight loss journeys.

Obese people tend to find relationships with other obese people.

This shouldn't be surprising in the slightest. People tend to form associations with other people most closely that look similar to them. People they can identify with.

If one person begins losing weight - changing their identity - this can cause tension in a relationship. It can feel threatening to the partner/spouse witnessing the journey and they might feel pressured to go through similar changes for your approval - but they may not be ready, or feel like the pressure is warranted.

"I liked you the way you were!".

At some point, you will have to evaluate your partner's level of security, and how you will navigate these changes with them.

Or without them.

I have literally seen breakups happen with couples after a client loses weight, training with me. It's not pretty, and as personal trainer, it's a crappy feeling to feel as though you're a contributing factor in someone's breakup, or even divorce, when all you wanted to do was provide a service that you believed would only improve their quality of life.

If you're someone that lives alone and are single; things at home are obviously much easier.

But, again, your social circle is always relevant.

No Man is an Island.

Nothing exists in a vacuum.

You are who your friends are.

*Insert one more platitude/truism here*.

While it's unlikely you'll need to bin your friends completely, sometimes it could be a good idea to just go on a break from certain social circles if they're not conducive to your goals, currently.

Maybe even explore new ones that are more supportive/inspiring.

And all of this doesn't even get into your hobbies. Obviously, having less sendentary hobbies makes health and fitness goals far easier than more sedentary ones, such as gaming and television show-binging.

And, no, scheduled physical activity/training does not qualify as a hobby (though, they are not mutually exclusive, of course).

That is a necessary form of hygiene.

4. Changing Your Identity May Even Require a Change in Employment

Before you crumble up that memo you think I never got and missile it at your computer monitor - hear me out.

There are very few practical circumstances where employment could/should get in the way of health and fitness goals.

But admittedly, they do exist.

Your situation is exceedingly unlikely to be one of those circumstances.

Most people telling themselves their job ensures they don't have time are simply making excuses, or they are VASTLY overestimating the time commitment necessary to fit some effective level of activity into their daily/weekly routines. Especially when considering that nutrition has a far more immediate effect on body composition. They also often have unrealistic goals (I want to go from 35% body fat to beach body in 3 months).

But, again, some people have unique circumstances.

Some are forced to work 70-80 hours weeks just to make ends meet. Inflation is historically high and wages are not keeping pace with that rise. Some have kids at home that always need their attention and aren't willing to participate in any physical activities that don't involve their thumb and index fingers mashing that pickaxe in Minecraft.

For that person, there may truly not be time and energy enough.

But the question then becomes - when will there be time enough?

Will there ever be?

While work is an essential aspect of living; quality of life is arguably that much more essential. If you can pay your liabilities and put food on the table; but you're not confident in how you look and feel, are dealing with Diabetic symptoms, or can't be active with your family due to physical maladies that could be addressed by getting into better shape... what kind of life are you living?

I can't answer that question for you.

But I do know that, for me, having a body and state of mind that I'm happy with; are worth their weights in gold.

I know that being able to chase and achieve physical feats that inspire and motivate myself and others is a privilege that shouldn't be a mere privilege in a society with its priorities properly aligned.

I know that being able to express one's self through physical activity is a worthy pursuit in-and-of-itself and if any current or future job didn't allow adequate space for that - it's not for me.


Hopefully, you're willing to consider whether or not your working situation allows the adequate space to allow you to address your health and fitness goals.

I'd tell you good luck this year... but now you won't need it.


- Kye

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