THE FEEDBACK LOOP FROM HELL…

I am sad as I write this article. In fact, the word is “disappointed”. I am disappointed because I have once again found myself in the same place that I did not want to be in. This past weekend I weighed myself and I was shocked to find that my weight was up again. 

Since the beginning of the year, I have been power walking on a regular. Initially there were great signs of progress. I lost four kilograms in three weeks. Since then, the scale seemed to just add a little more weight through mid-February all the way to into early March. 

I weight nearly as much as a sack of potatoes my friends.  

The Truth… 

I have slacked through mid-February to early March. This is the reason I am seeing negative results. I was initially taking a power walk every evening after work but currently, I am power walking once or twice a week. I had also gone slow on sugar, chapati, bread and so many other wheat products but somehow, I am seeing them slowly creep back onto my plate. 

This is not the first time that I have actively worked towards changing my habits. It is not the first time I have worked towards losing weight. It is also not the first time that I have tried to assume a new identity.  

The greatest challenge that I have had every time I have tried to be different is that I assume I am doing much better than I think I am. I cannot tell you how many times after a work out that I have looked into a mirror looking for that long lost six-pack only to find a protruding love handle accompanied by a sagging belly. 

Where the Story Begins… 

As a child I was always big. I got teased for it a lot. I was not the most athletic and always got chosen last for all sports. It was never easy to be chosen as the last person to be on a team. 

In soccer I either played as a goal keeper or defender. This was not because these were key positions on the team but because I was neither in physical shape to keep up with moving around a massive school field, nor was I skilled enough to deliver goals. 

When I went to high school. I was well aware that all the boys would definitely make fun of me because of my weight and so I decided I was going to shed it all off. I got involved with all manner of sports in order to lose the weight as much as possible. 

I started off with rugby. The ‘MAN’S’ sport. I quickly realized that I would be crushed like the mosquito that I was. I tried cross field events. I was lucky that I did not leave my lungs on the tracks.  I tried hockey and almost had the hockey ball as a replacement for my eye. Long story short, sports did not work and I finally quit.  

I therefore decided to starve myself. It worked. I lost all the weight on my body and I was happy. 

Wrong Beliefs… 

When I think back to my time in high school, the driving force behind getting in shape was to get a shot with the girls. I thought that the better in shape I got, the easier it would be to get noticed. The easier it would be to win a girl’s heart without all the chasing, the talking and most of all the rejection.  

When I lost all my weight, I literally became scrawny, sugarcane scrawny my friends! In my mind I was in the best shape that I had ever been in my entire life. However, it quickly dawned on me that whatever I had done was not attracting the girls in droves. It also dawned on me that looks were not the only thing that won over a girl’s heart. 

So, what is all this about… 

I have been fat and have been scrawny, but I have never been fit. Over the years I have changed my beliefs and perspectives on fitness and its purpose in my life but I have never been able to get to fit. This is why I am frustrated! I seem to exist on the extremes of wellness but never in the middle where I need to be. 

I am just wondering why this is? What is it that stops me from being my best self for God’s sake! Its right there I can see it but….it has never materialized! 

Fitness Videos… 

Have you ever been on YouTube and found yourself watching some guy with muscles that he seems to have been purchased at some muscle shop and packaged them so nicely all over his body?  

He walks into this open gym area and grabs hold one of the pull up bars in both hands. Just when you think he is about to get started with pull ups, he proceeds to take one hand off the pull up bar and does one million, one arm pull ups! 

This is an exaggeration of course but deep inside my soul, I feel so bad looking at these mutants! (Hahaha!) There is something about watching these extreme fitness videos and the state of mind that I put myself in that have consistently contributed to me not being fit. 

The Feedback Loop from Hell!! 

Watching these videos is not the one thing that has contributed to my not being fit. It is just one facet of the problem that I have been thinking about. This came about as I read through Atomic Habits by James Clear. 

James says that “Bad habits are autocatalytic: the process feeds itself. Bad habits foster the feelings they try to numb.” What Mr. Clear is trying to say here is that bad habits are the cause of the things that we are trying to stop.  

In my case, I watch an extreme fitness video, this causes me to feel like I cannot achieve a certain level of fitness. Now that I feel bad, I decide not to go for my power walk the next two days. When I realise, I have not power walked as I hoped to, I feel worse and end up doing nothing at all for a week.  

The cycle is a constant loop. It starts with feeling bad which causes me to do nothing. Feel bad, do nothing, feel bad, do nothing! It is a feedback loop from hell. I refer to it as such because it drags one deeper and deeper into an abyss. It is so dark it has got to neighbour hell. 

Awareness Is Key… 

I am glad that I have become aware of this feedback loop. This knowledge is helping me approach my goals with a different mindset. It is helping me really focus on doing the things that I need to as I build certain habits into my identity. 

I know this habit building thing is a struggle for a lot of us. As I mentioned earlier in the article about me looking into the mirror in search for a six pack after a workout. Whenever I see the love handles, I think to myself “Why do I waste my time doing this?” 

This thought alone is enough to convince me to suspend power walking for a month. That thought alone is the cue to create a craving to suspend all workouts. My response to the craving is to not work out and my reward… bigger love handles around my waist.  

It is hard most times. I believe that with the knowledge about bad habits creating these feedback loops, we can over time learn to be more aware about what they are causing us to do. Hopefully we can work our way out of the bad habits and see some meaningful change in our lives. 

Conclusion… 

I will be working on swiping past extreme fitness videos. I will also be taking down mirrors from my room, just so that I avoid always looking for a six pack in a sea of love handles. This may seem a bit extreme but I need to stay focused on what I want to achieve. 

What are some of the habits that have put you in a feedback loop from hell? Let us talk about them in the comments below.  

Leave a Reply