When working on your Christian weight loss goals, it helps to set boundaries for yourself. Why?
A weight loss boundary establishes the territory in which you choose to operate, which includes the behaviors you want to practice and supporting thoughts you want to think.
Many of us think that boundaries limit us, but it’s the opposite!
On my journey to losing 85 pounds over 14 years ago, I discovered that boundaries free you because of the clarity they provide.
In this article, I’ll explain the benefits of boundaries, why you may struggle to follow them, and finally, how to maintain your weight loss boundaries.
The Benefits of Boundaries
When a boundary defines your territory, you eliminate confusion because you set clear expectations for yourself.
Some boundaries you might establish for yourself in weight loss include:
- Foods that you choose to eat or limit
- Exercises that you choose to do
- Ways to manage your internal influences, such as thoughts you’ll accept or reject
- Ways to manage your external influences, such as social influences and environmental influences
Your Food and Exercise Choices
I use the phrase ‘’choose to’’ deliberately when describing food and exercise behaviors.
‘’Choose to’’ emphasizes freedom of choice.
Many times when we are striving to lose weight, we follow an eating or exercise program that someone else has created.
That may make you feel like you ‘’have to’’ do it – as if someone else is making you do it. That encourages a passive mindset.
However, you need an active engagement mindset to succeed.
Unless you have a personal conviction as to why your plan’s boundaries benefit you and commit to them, you will struggle to maintain them.
So whatever plan you choose, I recommend doing your own research as to why the eating and exercise recommendations fit your values and personal goals.
Mentally rehearse your ”why” regularly, until it moves from a mental assent to a heart conviction.
With a heart conviction, you won’t struggle against boundaries as much. After all, you set them yourself from the beginning!
Your Internal Influences
It’s important to pay attention to your thoughts if you are struggling to maintain your weight loss boundaries.
Your mind is like a garden; unless you focus on thoughts that help you achieve your goal, negative thoughts will take over like weeds.
So monitor your thoughts for distractions. Think of the word ‘’tract,’’ within ‘’distraction’’ as a tract of land you own.
With distractions, you are drawn away from the tract you want to occupy!
Managing your thoughts is critical because it helps you defend your tract.
2 Corinthians 10:5 advises us:
‘’casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,’’2 Corinthians 10:5
It is smart to define the type of thoughts you will accept or reject in establishing the boundaries of your tract.
The thoughts you’ll want to accept are:
- Forward focused/vision of the person you want to become
The thoughts you’ll want to reject are:
- Discouraging/’’might as well quit’’
- Past focused/mistakes or failures of the past
Your External Influences
Our external influences can play a large part in our actions if we aren’t careful!
In the struggle to maintain your weight loss boundaries, you’ll need to manage your social and environmental influences as much as possible to stay on your tract.
Regarding social influence, we tend to become like the people we associate with most.
So you want to ensure that you include health-oriented people in your circle. In that way, you can encourage and support one another to reaching your goal.
However, if you have friends or family who are tempting you to go back to old habits on your weight loss journey, then you’ll need to set boundaries with them.
Ask for their support to keep tempting foods out of your sight if they buy them. At the same time, be prepared if you don’t receive the support you’d like from them.
Pray for them to have their own health revelation and for the Lord to give you strength to resist the negative influences.
Regarding environmental influences, we also tend to act on what we see. With that in mind, keep the things you want to do, close to you. Keep the things you don’t want to do far away from you.
That will make it easier to stay on your tract.
Why you Struggle with Weight Loss Boundaries
The definition of struggle is ‘’violent efforts to get free of bondage or restraint.’’
So you are struggling to free yourself from the bondage of negative habits. Naturally, your old nature is going to resist efforts to change.
However, being aware of the stages of change can help you stay encouraged during your change transition.
Here are the 4 stages of change:
Stage 1 – Unconsciously Incompetent: You are practicing a negative behavior and you do it automatically without thinking about it.
Stage 2 – Consciously Incompetent: You are practicing a negative behavior, but you are aware that it’s not good. You may or may not want to change.
Stage 3 – Consciously Competent: You are making changes to a positive behavior, but you have to really think about it to practice it. This is where the struggle is and where you are re-wiring your brain.
You re-wire your brain through repeated behaviors.
change can feel weird and uncomfortable. You may think ‘’this doesn’t feel like
me.’’ However, the ‘’me’’ you are identifying with is the old you, not the new
Stage 3 is also the longest stage of change – your brain has to change to support the new behavior(s) you want to practice.
Many people quit in Stage 3 because it feels uncomfortable to learn a new way of thinking and acting, plus they grow impatient with the process. However, perseverance and patience are the skills you need to gain the prize.
Stage 4 – Unconsciously Competent: You are practicing the positive behavior automatically and now it feels like “you’. This is the prize that awaits you if you persevere during Stage 3.
Keep on practicing and you will get there.
Making it Easier to Maintain your Weight Loss Boundaries
You’ve likely been on a weight loss program before and ‘’something’’ happened to take you off your tract.
Since you’ve already paid for that experience, you might as well use it!
I recommend writing down your past experiences and any situations that have distracted you. Ask the Lord in prayer to give you wisdom as to what to do if that situation occurs again.
Here is a quick example. I know that I have struggled most when I’ve had a busy day and did not plan well.
So here are some things I did to help myself manage those situations:
- Keep a fruit bowl stocked with apples, pears, oranges, or bananas so I can grab a healthy snack when hungry. Fruit is the ultimate fast food!
- Batch cook meals on Saturdays and put them in the freezer so I can take out and reheat during the week. I also love putting the ingredients for soups and stews in the crockpot at the beginning of my workday. Voila! Dinner is ready by the end of the day.
- Use a phone app to track my eating and exercise daily to help me see when I am getting off tract/track immediately and can make adjustments as needed.
I hope you see from this article that you aren’t alone in struggling to maintain your weight loss boundaries.
But the struggle is lessened when you ‘’own’’ the tract that your boundary defines.
Ensure that you have your own conviction as to why health/weight loss is important to you and establish your commitment to your plan.
One of my favorite quotes about commitment is by author Darren Hardy:
‘’Commitment is doing the thing you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.’’– Darren Hardy
In addition, recognize that there are 4 stages of change. Struggle exists in Stage 3 out of the 4 stages. So if you persevere through Stage 3, you will eventually get to Stage 4.
Stage 4 is where maintaining your boundaries happens automatically because your brain has been re-wired through the repeated practice you’ll do in Stage 3. Now, your new behaviors become ‘’That’s just who I am.’’
May the Lord continue to strengthen you through the struggle of maintaining your weight loss boundaries!