What Does Hunger Mean and Why You Should Care

What Does Hunger Mean and Why You Should Care

Posted on 17. Mar, 2011 by in Motivation

In order to be great at this thing we called life, we have to learn and we have to learn a lot. Whether, it’s taking formal lessons at an educational institution or just reading books about self-growth and professional growth, no one is successful at doing anything without learning from people “who have done that” before them. As I was listening to one of business coach’s video, I was reminded of one quote that really stuck with me, “You are either moving away from something or going towards something.” It sounds simple maybe even stupid. Kind of like a “duh,” isn’t it obvious kind of saying. But, then he said, “You are either moving away from pain or moving towards pleasure.” Now, it makes more sense.

I thought about this quote a lot since it made so much sense to me in a way that, I started noticing everything that I was doing and how I made my decision into doing them. These are some of the choices that were presented to me:

  • Will it take my pain away? or
  • Will it be pleasurable? or
  • Will it be painful? or

For instance, it’s time to go to the gym. Will it be painful or will it take my pain away? These are the thoughts that are going on in my head: Yah, it’s probably going to be painful and pleasurable at the same time. But, I just don’t want to go right now (i.e. it’s painful for me to go because I’m feeling lazy). But, I know I will feel better after wards. Plus, I know I can burn some more calories so I can reach my goal this week…etcetera.


[Photo by Abubakar Jamil]

Another example would be deciding whether to satisfy a craving. The thought of satisfying a craving is very pleasurable especially if I’ve had several days of eating at a calorie deficit. So, some thoughts that might go through my head is, what is more pleasurable, losing my belly or eating that donut (or whatever my Kryptonite is at the moment).

Why Talk About Pain or Pleasure?

I’m not talking about this particular quote or these examples to demonstrate that I’m neurotic 🙂 Although, you might think that now. Instead, my goal is to demonstrate to you that most of the time, you are not aware that your mind is doing this and your actions are the result of these thoughts. If you’re a constant reader of my blog, you may already know that one of the keys to being successful at losing fat is consistency. The little changes that we make in our nutrition habits everyday, the little decisions we make about what to eat or what not to eat, the small decisions we make about whether or not we are going to the gym on our scheduled times – these are the changes that matter over time.


So, if we are either moving away from pain or moving towards pleasure, I guess the question we should ask ourselves is: how often are we moving towards pleasure? I would guess (and I’m sure my guess would be right in this situation) that the people who moved towards pain or chose to go outside of their comfort zone consistently are the ones who reached their fitness goals the fastest. They probably chose to go to the gym more often than not, they chose to forgo desert more often than not, they chose not to have a second cocktail more often than not, and so on. In other words, they chose pain right now so they can reap the rewards later. In this word where we get immediately gratification is popular, this is a lot more difficult to do.

Our Brain’s #1 Job and Why It Can be a Problem for Fat Loss

The other thing that we do have to keep in mind is our brain’s main job is to keep us alive. Our brain alerts our body when we’re hungry, or thirsty, or if we’re about to hit the car in front us. This is one of the reasons it can be difficult to eat at a deficit. Your brain is telling your body that it should not “starve.” It must feed itself to stay alive. Unfortunately, we usually mistake a lot of things such as boredom or thirst for the feeling of hunger. Some people also eat even when they’re not hungry.

So, why am I telling you all this? I now like the feeling of hunger because I know that eating at a sufficient calorie deficit to be burning fat. After all, how can your body burn its stored body fat if you’re eating at maintenance or over it. So, if you’re aware that you are burning fat when you’re feeling hungry, you are most likely not about to satisfy that feeling with food. At least, when it’s not time for a meal yet. The lesson here is this: if we just become aware of our pain or pleasure response and how hunger works, most of us will eat a lot less. If we choose to go outside of our comfort zones, we are more likely to reach our fat loss goals at a faster rate.

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  • Great article.
    It is very tough for people to stay away from food, especially from the unhealthy stuff. Food bring us pleasure and often gives us comfort as well. Seeking comfort in food is tough to overcome. However, knowing and understanding that there is a reward in eating less and especially less of the bad stuff is the best way to overcome temptation.


  • Right on, Sam!

  • Its fascinating to see how many decisions about the way we eat are based on the way we feel, and trying to improve it. I notice I eat a lot more when I’m bored. When I’m in the zone I barely notice hunger, and it actually feels good, as I feel connected to my body and my goals.


  • Hi Michael, this is definitely the case most of the time. The more reason we should be more aware of our eating habits. I agree with you with being in the “zone.” I definitely experience this especially during ESE.


  • Anna,

    I think shifting your beliefs plays a key role in all of this. For example, if you dread working out, it will be much more difficult to force yourself to go (constantly move towards pain). However, if you enjoy it, it will be moving towards pleasure instead. This is the best way to make good habits automatic and gain that “consistency” that leads to success.


  • Bob Mauer65

    Hey, really great blog posts… I’ve enjoyed reading through your blog because of the great style and energy you put into each post. I actually run AceHealth.org, a blog of my personal research and experiences. If you’re interested, I would love to have you on as a guest blogger. Please send me an e-mail: bob.mauer65(at)gmail(dot)com, and I can give you more information. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  • Hi Bob, I would be honored. I’ll e-mail you.

  • It definitely does. A lot of this mindset has something to do with attitude. Thanks for the input.