The Disease Doctors Won't Treat That May Be Effecting Your Weight
Ciara Dove-Reid, RDN
March 23, 2021
I want to discuss a very common yet underdiagnosed disease that may be causing setbacks on your weight loss journey and you may not even know it. It’s called “whenthen” syndrome.
Symptoms include profuse procrastination, low sense of accomplishment, low levels of motivation, and a cluttered mind. I know right, this is one nasty sickness isn't it?!
People who have this condition often say things like:
"WHEN I get a new job THEN I will start cooking at home "
" WHEN my pay increases THEN I will start meal planning"
"WHEN the new year comes THEN I will start exercising "
These symptoms are the result of the brain trying to adapt to the large, abstract, and sometimes unrealistic goals that we feel we are incapable of doing in the present moment. So the mind responds by creating an environment that allows itself not to have to worry about doing those actions “in the now”.
In fact, another subtle yet defining symptom of “whenthen syndrome” is a self-driven permission not to act in the present.
Okay, I know I am going over the top with this whole disease thing! FYI, this is not a real condition, but let me have fun!
So when practitioners such as myself observe this condition, we prescribe what we call cognitive restructuring. This treatment is designed to allow the client to be more realistic and action driven, in the present moment.
For example, instead of the general statements we saw above, we could restructure them to say:
" Today after work, I will stop by Publix to get ingredients for spaghetti, instead of stopping at Mcdonalds”
“ Today, I will plan 1 affordable meal that I can prepare after I get my paycheck tomorrow”
“Today, I will go on a 5-minute brisk walk before dinner”
You see, the reason we do not think of today, is because our when-then statements tend to be too grandiose for the present, or we fail to define an actual time-line. And in so doing, we never give ourselves the opportunity to act.
Through this cognitive restructuring however, we are able to make "micro-opportunities" that will allow us to take bite sized action steps. This in turn builds discipline which is the reward your brain (or really your inner person) receives, every time you prove you are capable of acting.
As my husband likes to say, "discipline is the practice of practice and it must be done daily". It is the glue that puts your flesh in subjection to your spirit and is indubitably, the best treatment for “Whenthen Syndrome”.
Which leads me to my last point. Do you know what the best supplement for discipline is? Scripture!
Galatians 6:9 says, " And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season, we shall reap if we faint not."
Hebrews 12:11 “ Now no chastisement (or discipline in some translations) in the present seem joyous, but [instead] grievous, nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceful fruit of righteousness unto those which are exercised thereby”
These verses are true of so many aspects of life, but they also highlight the reward of those who are consistent in their actions, even if their actions seem small at first.
Meditate on these verses as you try to build consistency with your actions even beyond health and wellness.
Are you interested in professional coaching with a dietitian to overcome "when-then" syndrome?
Click this link to book a free discovery call so we can explore exactly how our faith-based approach can help: Free Discovery Call