I'm not saying that all people who are overweight have financial problems. Nor am I saying that people who have financial problems are overweight.
I'm not even saying that people who are in great shape are all financially secure. That would be a blatant lie.....
But what I am saying is that I came across a strong connection that I found really fascinating. It links the mindset of people who struggle financially, and people who struggle with their nutrition.
I first met Karen Sutton-Johal back in 2016. We were at a private event presenting to a group of other coaches. Each were experts in their field. Karen's domain is money and financial freedom, and well, you know what I do already right?
I won't go into the full extent of Karen's credentials and experience here, you can check out her website for that. But what intrigued me most was Karen's #1 ranked book on amazon, "The 4 Money Mindsets." Now this book literally blew the roof off my mind. I bet you're thinking, "So what's the connection to Weight loss?"
Simmer down my friend, I'm about to get in to it.
First off, Karen explains,
"A money mindset specifically relates to money and produces real results. This means that your mindset produces the financial results in your life."
Nothing surprising here right? But her work in the financial field (which includes both debt management and wealth generation) Karen has identified 4 disinct mindsets, these are,
The Rich Money Mindset
"This group believes that they are, "entriely responsible for their financial success".
In their view financial success is available to anyone, although some might have a much bettter starting point than others.
Financial success is the result of hard work and drve, the ability to leverage any available resources, delayed gratification, risk-taking, overcoming obstacles and dogged persistence.
Importantly, they create wealth and use their assets and ability to leverage and add value.
The Comfortable Mindset
"People in this group believe they, "must work to be financially secure".
In their view financially secure people make sure they save for a rainy day. They believe everyone should strive to make themselves financially secure, and that security is the result of consistently saving money and never ever spending more than you earn.
They feel resentful of people who get into debt and then expect a bail out. Their money comes by way of exchanging or "selling" their time and skill, and they feel that the only way to accumulate money is to work much harder, or have a stroke of luck (like a lottery win!).
If they need more money for something unexpected they will, very reluctantly, dip into savings.
The Break-Even Mindset
People in this category believe that "getting into debt is bad" and that people should learn to manage on what they have.
In their view financial success equates to always paying bills on time and never getting into debt. They often feel that "people like them" could never be rich, and that they have little control over the amount of money they can bring into their lives; so they simply have to make do with what they've got.
Money comes from exhanging their time and skills, or from a pension or welfare, and like the comfortable group they believe the only way to get more of it is to work much harder, or though stroke of luck.
Saving extra cash is impossible because there is always something that has to be paid for.
Any unexpected expenses will have to come from living expenses, which means they will go without until the next payment comes in. If it isn't possible they will further defer payment and do without something else.
They will avoid going into debt if they can, but if the expense is large enough to warrant it, they will pay it down as quickly as possible - to get back to break-even point.
The In-debt Mindset
"These people believe that they just do not have enough money no matter what they do."
They feel that as soon as they get money, a portion will go to pay off debts then the rest will be gone soon after.
This group often spends on others through feelings of guilt or duty, and finds it deficult to delay gratification. If they unexpectedly need exetra money, they will borrow it.
"Delayed gratification" and "impulse control" are two primary skills of human behavour. Someone with a diminished abiilty to delay gratification will invariably have money worries. They are typically at the mercy of impulsive shopping sprees.
[Soucre: The 4 Money Mindsets: K. Sutton-Johal: 2016: 81 -84]
Weightloss and Debt Money Mindset
Now this may all seem fascinating, but what' s the connection? Well it's this, for each mindset there is a clear set of actions which deliver a pretty much predictable outcome.
There is a definite structure. The same way there are things you need to do, believe or feel to become rich (lets call this a strategy), there is a strategy in place for the debt money mindset.
But first lets explore the structure of all money mindsets, dig deeper to into the debt mindset (and habits) so that we can really get some clarity on the parallels between these, and a weightloss mentality.
Karen identifies 7 core factors in each mindset strategy, these are;
As you are reading this, I want you to think about how weightloss and "yo-yo dieting" could be connected to those seven core factors.
For a concrete example, lets look at the debt money mindset (hopefully it will all start to become clear).
"If I had more money I would not need to borrow."
"If I had more money I would always have enough"
"If I had more money everything would be ok"
"I must have/ get more"
Borrow more money / Spend
Panic because of fear of debt/ shame, self pity/ anger/ frustration.
Interesting right? Essentially what I'm saying is this...
Your thoughts impact your beliefs, your beliefs impact your emotions, your emtions impact your behaviour, and your behaviour dictates your outcome and results. Now this can be for better or for worse. There is no value judgement attached to this.
If you like the results that you are getting then crack on, but if you don't, then you'll need to alter just one of these factors (not all of them) to get a different outcome. I go more into depth about this in my course: Mindset: The Art of Thinking Clearly .
Equally, when it comes to weight loss and in particular "yo-yo" dieting, similar patterns can often emerge.
"I need to lose weight to be happy and love myself. My whole life is a mess."
"If I was always slim (or had a muscles) I'd feel better about myself, be happy and my life will be sorted."
Resentment, guilt, and shame.
"When I have a better body everything will be ok"
"I must go on a diet. I need to do something drastic to get results quickly"
Sticks to diet religiously. Works for 3 - 4 weeks then binge eats, or suffers mentally due to restrictive nature of diet (from nutrient deficiencies affecting mood to unhealthy habits being developed).
Gains weight. Stops measuring body, or weighing self as lack of results leads back to resentment, shame and guilt. Says, "F*ck it! Stops diet, puts weight back on (and potentially more).
This is similar to how those with a debt moeny mindset fear to look at bank statements or letters from debt collectors (and refuse to check them).
Now this is just one possible scenario. Using this structure, see if you can fill out the steps that ring true for you. There are more, but that's outside the scope of this article. But one thing is clear, managing your emotional state and developing healthy habits is vital if you want to shift either your Money Mindset or Weight loss/ Body Image Mindset.
In his instant top 10 best selling book, Life Leverage, Rob Moore talks about the 3 M's of your emotion, which are
Stage 1: Misuse
This is where you are constantly at the effect of your emotions, rather then using them, them use you. You know that phrase (which is actually just a word) that's the in thing right now? #Triggered?
Yeah. Here's how it works,
Step 1: You feel a strong emotion
Step 2: You react negatively in a way that doesn't serve you.
Step 3: Your regret it later
Step 4; You start again.
Can you see how this applies to money management, and equally those who struggle with their weight loss efforts and disordered eating?
Stage 2: Manage
When you become aware of your emotions then you can manage them.
Between stimulus and response there is a gap.
It's in this gap your can observe yourself having the emotion, afterall you are not your emotions. Two important things I want you to remember (might be a good idea to jot this down)
Got it? Listen you'll have good days and bad days. How many of us are triggered by a situation or someone we love or know, and reach for food as comfort? We all do it at some point and that's ok.
The problem arises when we do this on a consistent basis and it impacts our mental and physical health. Same is true for money and spending.
As you become more aware of what you are feeling, when you are feeling it, then you will have the opportiunity to change a step in the cycle so that you get a different outcome and better results.
Step 4: Master
According to Rob Moore, when you master your emotions you will, "know how you feel before you feel it." You know what will trigger you and you don't put yourself in those situations.
You know when you are on fire, and you have a series of diffferent strategies to help put that fire out. You have a clear vision of what you want your life to be like, and are crystal clear on your values.
You know commitment is not a one off act but every moment of now. You play the long game, and understand that a temporary set back doesn't mean that you have to quit.
In my expereince working with clients as a Nutrition Coach and Nutritional Therapist, when it comes to sustainable weight loss, it's the ability to shift your mindset, and then first being able to step up to manage then master your emotions, that has the biggest impact on the type of results that you get.
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”