Understanding The Beliefs Which Hold Us Back

Girl with different attitudes and different beliefs

What are our beliefs?

The beliefs we have about ourselves, others, the world and everything in it including how things work affects us during every waking minute. The beliefs we have will be deep and grooved in, reinforced over our lives, will feel entrenched and immoveable but they can change. In this article we won’t be talking about our religious beliefs or our thoughts on right and wrong but rather on how we think about food, hunger, meal times, image and snacking. It will help you if you make notes on these as they pop into your head – and make sure you put them in your Waetugoal and share them with your team or group. Don’t hesitate to share with people who are on a similar journey to your own – you might all be surprised, enlightened and find extra motivation to address them.

Beliefs about hunger, food, your relationship with them, exercise and body image can be summarized as follows but you may think of something not here. If you do, let us know.

Hunger is uncomfortable

hunger pains

People struggling with their weight have a tendency to exaggerate to themselves how uncomfortable hunger is using language which fuels their problematic thinking such as ‘I’m starving to death.’

This intolerance of hunger feelings leads us into several problematic behaviours such as snacking at the first sign of hunger rather than waiting for the next proper meal, over eating at meal times in the hope that this will keep them full until the next meal or eating too regularly to make sure we never feel hungry.

At the first sign of discomfort we trigger a sudden urge to overcome it believing that this feeling cannot be allowed to stay any longer than is necessary.

People who don’t struggle with their weight as much as some of us tend to be able to manage these feelings really well finding that postponing the quick fix isn’t problematic or difficult. When we identify an issue that we want to remedy and get into this habit we also find that our mind will focus on the source of our angst to the exclusion of other thoughts. With practice, this heightened focus begins to diminish and distractions pop into our minds.


  1. Identify this feeling and the thoughts behind it the next time you get hungry.
  2. Make a note of what is going through your mind.
  3. Practice delaying satisfaction.
  4. What excuses come to mind, which might trick you into eating sooner?
  5. Score your sense of satisfaction when you have delayed the snack or meal.

Wanting to eat is needing to eat

Hungry man who cannot wait to eat

People who have a tendency towards being overweight will frequently find themselves wanting to eat and making the mistake that this signals hunger. Differentiating between the two different mind-sets is crucial in maintaining a healthy weight.

This belief is slightly different to hunger being uncomfortable and recognising the subtle psychological pitfalls can be very empowering to any person trying to manage their weight in a sensible and healthy fashion.


  1. Identify how many times you want to eat during the day.
  2. Ask yourself, ‘do I really need to eat?”
  3. Can you postpone eating until a more regular mealtime, perhaps with others?

A man challenging his hunger

Hunger is bad

Mild hunger is often seen as a ‘bad’ thing, something to be avoided at all costs as it is distracting or unhealthy, a sign that we aren’t looking after ourselves. As with ‘hunger is uncomfortable’ above the behaviours are the same.

Hunger, hopefully mild, is to be expected when we first change our diets from high sugar, starchy or big fat foods. Feeling a little hungry is a natural response in the build up to a regular meal, an evolutionary signal ensuring we fuel our bodies sufficiently. We now trip up over this simple and automatic reflex and allow it to scream an ominous and misleading warning signal to us.


  1. Question your mental processes the next time you begin to feel hungry.
  2. What did you say to yourself?
  3. Were you able to challenge any thoughts that hunger is bad?
  4. Keep practising. Do the thoughts change over time?

Fitness is for other people

Two fit, middle-aged people with healthy beliefs.

We see people jogging around for 26 miles plus in big city marathons, swimming like conga eels in the pool at the gym or pushing out rep after rep on the bench press and assume that we could never achieve this. We go for a stroll in the countryside and drop our jaws when the little old lady in her hiking boots sporting a stick and spaniel trots by us at high speed with a cheery ‘hello’ while our lungs are bursting after walking up a slight incline. And we give in.


It is true that different people are built for different kinds of events. It is also true that our genetic and physical makeup will have certain limits, but none more so than the limits our own minds want to impose upon us.

It is also possible that the folk mentioned above, the success stories, might have tripped up a few times themselves before finding the motivation to start reaching some goals. Fitness is for you. And everyone else. But it takes some effort, hard work and dedication. Here at Waetugo we have covered motivation in depth in other articles that you can find here in our first article on mastering personal motivation,, here in part 2 of the same series and here in our piece on the Pomodoro technique and other fruity bits.



  1. Identify a small measure by which you could categorically say that your fitness has improved, perhaps running one or two lengths of a football pitch.
  2. See how much of it you can complete now and measure this.
  3. Now set a target date for when you will achieve the goal.
  4. Achieve the goal.
  5. Set a new goal.
  6. Recognise that your fitness has improved.

It is just possible that in completing the experiments you will feel a higher sense of control over your life and a renewed confidence that will drive you forward even further.

Beliefs in Summary

So beliefs can be the making or breaking of us. Understanding which beliefs hold us back and learning from the insight can be most invaluable. We don’t need to be smashing our deepest held belief systems into touch but we do need to address how they affect us and how we can work with them.

Jot down your thoughts in the comments section, we would love to hear from you and come back next week for the second part of The beliefs which hold us back.

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