As a health and wellness coach, I hear a lot about how much ‘pain’ people are in when it comes to their weight. Some are in physical pain. Some emotional. But all are uncomfortable with the state of their bodies.

More and more though the word ‘suffering’ is starting to come up in my conversations. Which has caused me to reflect on this topic a lot. And here’s what I’ve realized:

Pain is a guarantee in life. Suffering is a choice. 

As we go through the motions of this thing called life, we’re all going to experience some kind of pain: loss of jobs, relationship turmoil or breakups, death, family issues… the list goes on. It’s inevitable.

However, ‘suffering’ on the other hand, is the interpretation or story that we tell ourselves about the pain. (i.e. beliefs, judgements, thoughts.) that can then become our story and keep us stuck.

“I don’t have the time.”

“I can’t afford to do anything about it.”

“I don’t have support or willpower.”

These are the stories that we continue to tell ourselves that keep up stuck where we are. That cause us to suffer.

The sad thing is, that over time, we don’t associate the pain as suffering, because it becomes part of the new norm of how we feel in our bodies and in our life. You’ve chosen this new reality.

So  how do you know if you’re in pain vs. suffering, in terms of weight loss?

Pain is when you’ve suddenly put on weight as a result of something like having kids, or after a tragic event like the loss of a job or a rough spot in your relationship and now you want to lose the weight and get back to your old self.

Suffering is when you’ve been carrying around the extra weight for 6 months, a year, a few years, and you either want to get it off but don’t know how or try to get it off but continue to fail and refuse to ask for help in order to achieve your goals.

So how can you move out of suffering and overcome your pain?

Although not easy, here are a few steps and recommendations that can help:

  1. Identify the areas in your life that are causing the pain and prolonging it into suffering. Why did you put on weight, was it stress, emotional eating, having a baby?
  2. Next, once you determine what the cause was, you can now start to look at the habits and rituals that you are partaking in to ease the pain, that aren’t supportive you. It’s not always the cause, but how we react to it that determines the degree of suffering you will experience.
  3. Then, you can start to determine where you need support in your life to help you overcome these challenges. Is it, building up your community of support so you have more hands on deck to look after your kids so you can take more time for yourself? Is it finding a professional to work with to help you stop fad-dieting and finally teach you an effective method for weight loss that’s sustainable? Is it saving up money so that you can invest in a program?

Regardless of the steps you take, what’s most important is taking a deep look at how you feel, how long it’s been going on for and what the future will look like if you choose not to do anything about it.

Ultimately remember, the choice is yours. So if you do choose to stay stuck in a pattern that you know isn’t serving you, you lose the right to complain about it – because it is a choice.