Find Your Pain

11/05/2013 11:46 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

If you have an alcoholic or drug addict in your life, or even if you watch TV shows such as Intervention, you will know that an addicted person will not change until he or she hits rock bottom. That rock bottom is not the same for each individual. For one woman it might just be the look her son gives her when she realizes she's disappointed him yet again. Another woman may not be at rock bottom yet when she's homeless and selling her body on the streets. It's very difficult for an addict of any kind to walk away from the source of the addiction, but you don't have to be an addict to experience the difficulty of change.

Even when we know we need to make changes in our lives, when we know our lives will be so much better if we make those changes, even sometimes if our health depends on making those changes, doing so can be tough. That's because change causes us pain. This is certainly the case with changing our eating and exercise habits in order to lose weight. It's not easy to fill our diet with things we're not used to eating and get rid of the foods we not only love to eat but possibly have an emotional connection to. When we're overweight or just out of shape, exercise can be physically painful. Just walking into a gym can be so far out of our comfort zone that there is pain associated with it.

We know that making the necessary changes in our eating and exercise habits is going to be painful, and that's one of the reasons we avoid doing so. We don't want to experience that kind of pain. But there is also pain associated with not making the necessary changes in our lives. In order to take the steps and do what we have to do, we need to acknowledge and truly feel the pain associated with not making the change. Only when we feel that the pain of not making the change is greater than the pain of making the change will we be ready to take those steps toward success.

With alcohol and drug addiction the pain that comes from not changing may be obvious, even though the addict may blind himself to it. With excess weight the pain may not be so obvious, though we are just as likely to blind ourselves to it. To be successful, you cannot blind yourself to that pain. You have to find that pain and attack yourself with it. Every day you go through it. Don't ignore it.

Have you been avoiding looking at yourself in a full-length mirror because you don't like what you see? It's time to get in front of that mirror, completely naked. Look at the reality of yourself. Do you avoid stepping on the scale? Get on the scale, even if you're so large a home scale won't weigh you. Find another place to weigh yourself. Do you avoid booths at restaurants because it's uncomfortably tight for you to fit at a booth? Make yourself sit there the next time you're at a restaurant. Go to the stores you would shop at if you could, and look at all the clothes you'd love to, but can't, wear.

You do have to face inconveniences when you're overweight. But what about the health risks? You know you have a higher risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome if you are overweight. Did you know your risk of many types of cancer is also much greater? Don't just say these words. Think of the reality of having these diseases. The reality of having to stick a needle into your body multiple times a day. Of having to go through radiation or chemotherapy, retching, watching your hair fall out.

The words that represented these diseases meant nothing to me, but when my eyesight disappeared one night and I thought of the reality of losing my eyesight to diabetes, that sure hit home for me. Men, did you know that being overweight is strongly linked to erectile dysfunction? What can be more painful than not being able to make love with your wife, all because you chose not to change your negative diet and exercise habits?

You may have had a strong reaction to some points I mention here. If you did, then those are the points you should concentrate on. Maybe none of them did it for you. If that's the case, then you have to discover what your own pain point is. Find whatever it is that you can't bear about being overweight, and make yourself feel that pain.

And remember: When you make the change in your lifestyle habits in order to lose weight, that pain is temporary. Before long you will be accustomed to this new way of life and there will be no more pain associated with living it. But if you don't make the change, then the pain of staying the person you don't want to be will remain forever.