We are split personalities, almost two beings living in one body. Biologically we have evolved to communicate to get our point across and make our intentions clear. To express where we stand, what we want or why we do something we only have to speak up… or so we think. In order for another person to understand what you are saying and what you want you both have to speak the same language or at the very least have a common framework for communication. When that is not the case, you have to find that common framework or you won’t be heard and be understood and you will not get the results you want. And that’s exactly the kind of miscommunication we have with our bodies 24/7.
Why? Because our body has ideas of its own. It has a prime directive, its main goal being to give us the best chances of survival. It has the same goal it had 200,000 years ago: to keep us alive. Just because our goals have recently changed, it has no way of knowing that which is why, within our own body we are often pulled in two directions at once.
Sadly, you can’t just go ahead and explain this to your body in plain English. The only common framework you and your body have at this point are your actions and the pattern you set it that it “listens” to. Imagine how terrifying it is for your body to at one point receive so much food that it can’t deal with it and at another, when you suddenly decide to diet, get what it feels to be nothing at all for weeks on end. So, instead of having a productive dialog where both parties can be happy with the process and the results, you instead each have two halves of a puzzle and no way of putting them together.
We eat more than we need because food is now accessible and there is a lot of it but since our bodies didn’t get the memo, they stockpile it because all the body understands is that the times are hard or will get hard at some point so all the resources are to be treasured. That’s why it does everything it can to preserve everything it gets, especially when it is the last bit of it like those last extra 5lb you so desperately want to get rid of.
We expect to have muscles and a chiseled look when we don’t exercise and we eat in excess – but the only message we are delivering here is that the shape we want to be in is round. Your body is smart enough to understand what you need, but not smart enough to read your mind and understand what you want. The only common framework of communication we have with it is the actions we take: if we exercise daily it knows in needs to be fit enough to deal with that load, if we eat regularly and we always get enough food to survive, it doesn’t need to panic and stockpile.
To have the body you want, a body that listens to you and responds to your every command whatever that command may be, you have to respect its needs and understand what drives it. You have to find a way to communicate and find common ground by structuring your life in a way that influences the change naturally, without forcing your body into submission. You can choose to do it by force, after all you own the bloody thing, but it will rebel and the moment you relax it’ll have its own way all over again. The moment you are off your diet and/or your intensive training regimen, it’ll start stockpiling and it’ll do it fast gaining back everything you have lost and worked so hard for.
If you want permanent change, your lifestyle has to permanently change, too. Establish a dialog with your body and show it that food is plentiful – it isn’t going away, there is no need to hold on to it. Also show it that you will require it to get stronger because you will need it to perform certain tasks daily (running, squats, push-ups) so it’ll make sure and adjust itself to accommodate the physical load accordingly. Show it that you need it to be different and it’ll listen to you and understand. It wants to work with you but it needs to understand what it is you want from it.
Help it understand and then the push-pull of you and your body will stop.