Waiting for Life to Begin

waiting for life
Sometimes, we wait to look or feel a certain way before allowing life to really begin.

I see this a lot with my weight loss clients.

When I lose weight I’ll put myself out there and finally live my dream.

When I lose weight, my life will be perfect.

If you are trying to lose weight, you might have a very precise idea of what your life will look like once you lose weight.

And what if you could already take steps towards the life you want to live once you lose weight – right now?

What if you already acted as if you were worthy of love and belonging – because you ARE – regardless of your size?

What if you worked on developing friendship and love today instead of waiting to look or feel a certain way?

What if instead of waiting for your life to begin once you’ve lost weight, you start making it happen, here and now?

Because acting as if you already were the person you want to be might just be the most effective way of getting there. 

PS – I share my own experience around this in this article.

This is my life, not a fairytale. I must go into the woods and I must meet the wolf or else my life will never begin. – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Weight Loss Without Dieting: 6 Tips

weight loss without dieting tipsSummer seems to bring with it an obsession with weight loss, a desire to be in a thinner, more beautiful, leaner body.

I know the feeling and I also know that diets are sad and don’t work and that most people end up gaining the weight back a few months after the diet.

So how about trying a different approach for weight loss? An approach based on pleasure and kindness instead of deprivation and restriction.

Here are six healthy ways to lose weight without dieting – they may not lead to rapid weight loss, but the weight loss tends to be more sustainable.

1. Focus on what you want to eat MORE OF instead of what’s off limit.

What do you want to include more of in your diet? Vegetables? Protein? Superfoods? More regular meal times? More exercise?

By adding healthy foods and habits instead of focusing on eliminating unhealthy ones, it is easier and more natural to create new habits as less healthy options are ‘crowded out’.

Plus, one of the reasons diets have such a spectacular fail rate is because making food off limit is the best way to become obsessed with it.

So why not identify one small habit you would like to add to your life and start there? Start small and build up.

2. Eat as early and as light as possible in the evening

One of the ways sumo wrestlers gain weight is by skipping breakfast and having a big, late dinner right before going to bed.

If this sounds like you and you are trying to lose weight, try shifting your eating schedule to eating the majority of your food earlier in the day – this could work wonders.

Eating as early and as light as possible in the evening can help you sleep better, digest food better and wake up hungrier for breakfast, when your body’s metabolism is in a better state to handle food. It also enables the liver to go into fat burning mode, a necessary state for weight loss.

3. Slow down and listen to your body

Instead of trying to limit your food, listen to your body’s hunger signals.

Our bodies have an innate wisdom and eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied can boost weight loss without depriving yourself of anything.

This is exactly the opposite of dieting where we deliberately ignore cues like hunger (by limiting food or skipping meals) and satiety (especially on ‘cheat days’ or binges – which are always the consequence of some form of restriction).

Try slowing down and really tasting and enjoying your food. You might be surprised that you actually need less than you thought! By simply being more present to your meals, you can reduce overeating by up to 30% and you will probably have less cravings, too!

4. Bring pleasure to the way you eat and the way you move

If you force yourself to exercise or eat in a way that stresses your body, you actually produce stress hormones, which signal to the body to hold onto fat and not lose weight. So overexercising or punishing yourself with forms of exercise you hate is counterproductive to losing weight.

Move in a way that makes you feel great afterwards, that celebrates your body and everything it does for you, rather than something that feels like a punishment.

Experiment to find movement you enjoy. Experiment with healthy food. Fully enjoy EVERYTHING you eat, regardless of how ‘unhealthy’ it is. There is no point in eating something ‘healthy’ you hate.

The pleasure we get from food has been shown to affect how well we metabolise food and even the nutrients we extract from it. And we can only take pleasure in something when we are present, so practise slowing down and savouring your food!

5. Be super kind to yourself

You may not be where you want to be but be honest: Has whipping yourself into shape been a sustainable solution in the past? This is your body and it deserves love and care right now – after all, does it make sense to take care of something you keep rejecting?

Treat yourself as you would a friend – if you are not able to eat or move as well as you would like, don’t make it worse by beating yourself up. Guilt or feeling bad about slipping up has been shown to lead to more eating in an effort to soothe oneself.

And remember, that there is always a good reason we do what we do, including holding on to extra weight. Be gentle with yourself as you try to uncover these reasons, and know that you were doing the best you could until now.

6. Be realistic – do you really need a ‘perfect’ body?

Finally, I want to urge you to be realistic. Are you willing to put in the effort and sacrifice needed for a perfectly toned body? If you are not, that is perfectly fine: Accept this and aim for something that feels more aligned with your body type and the effort you are willing to put in instead.

I used to criticise myself for not having a magazine perfect body, especially when I first started food coaching.

When I dropped the struggle with myself on this, I recognised that I do not value this enough to make the effort and sacrifices needed to get there. It doesn’t feel kind to myself to spend hours ‘sculpting’ my body because the outcome (a perfectly toned body) isn’t important enough for me.

Once I accepted this, I was able to put my energy into nourishing myself with vibrant food that I love and moving my body in ways I enjoy instead of beating myself up about this. At the moment, the movement I enjoy most include mostly Vinyasa yoga, but also dancing, walking, and some high intensity interval training (HIIT) when I need something more energetic. I focus on how I feel in my body and how my body supports me in doing what matters to me in life, rather than treating it as a clothes hanger that needs to look a certain way to be acceptable.

Now I would love to hear from you:

What weight loss goal feels most sustainable, realistic and kind for you? 

How much effort are you willing to put in for what result? 

How can you start with kindness towards yourself as a way of reaching your weight loss goals? 

What are your favourite non-diet weight loss tips? 

If you would like to find our more about my individual sessions around weight loss in Geneva, book a free 30 minute Skype call to find out whether my approach is right for you!

SOURCES:

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, here, here, here and here

A Good Reason Why We Do What We Do

always a good reasonAre you afraid there’s something wrong with you because you constantly crave something sweet or salty or because you binge eat?

What if there was a perfectly good reason?

What if that craving was your body’s way of seeking to balance itself? What if gaining back the weight you worked so hard to lose was not a lack of willpower but a way of keeping you safe, clumsy as it may seem?

We do what we do because on a deeper level the body is seeking balance and/or safety – even if this means sabotaging health goals.

So what if we approached things differently? What if we let go of the struggle with our bodies, with the thought that there is something wrong with us, and tried something different? What if we stepped away from self-judgement and started:

♥ To intimately listening to what’s really going on.

♥ To be brutally honest with ourselves.

♥ To face the underlying cause instead of cursing the symptoms.

For example, if we listen closely to those pesky sweet cravings, we notice that the body might be trying to tell us:

You’re not eating enough protein, healthy fat and fiber to keep blood sugar levels stable.

You need more pleasure or ‘sweetness’ in your life.

Or those binges when we come home from work might be the body trying to tell us: 



I need you to stop and enjoy food during the day – otherwise I start to panic about not getting enough fuel and eat as much as I can when I can. 

Or: I am trying to protect you from the loneliness you feel when you’re alone and food is the best way I know how.  

Going on the rampage for anything salty might be the body’s way of saying:
I need salt, and since you don’t add any to your cooking, I am trying to get it the only way I can.

And if you listen to the message your body is trying to give you behind losing weight only to gain it back, it might be:

You don’t feel comfortable with the attention you get when you’re thin so I am trying to keep you safe by putting the weight back on.

So there is always a good reason or reasons why we do what we do that has nothing to do with being defective or weak or lacking willpower.

When we stop struggling against our bodies and start listening instead, we uncover the underlying causes behind cravings, weight gain or binges.

And by understanding how the body is trying to find balance or keep us safe instead of cursing it, making change no longer feels like an uphill battle.

If this resonates with you and you would like to explore your body’s message behind the cravings, binges or weight gain, I am currently offering free 30 minute sessions. Book yours by Skype or in person here.

A Surprising Link: Meditation and Weight Loss

Meditation and weight loss

Guest Post by Will Williams, founder of Quiet Minds Meditation in Geneva

Ever since summer arrived there seems to be a good number of runners on the streets. Some perhaps are in training for a marathon, and others no doubt love the rush of wind and air in their faces, but many, I strongly suspect, are looking to lose weight so that the summer’s swimwear look is hot, or at least more respectable.

Imbued with our western ethic of ‘no pain, no gain’, we are generally keen to run until we drop, ambitious in our distances to run and inches to loose.  Now, as strange as it may seem, the best way to move towards your ideal weight is not necessarily to go running or rowing, spinning or skiing, it is actually to sit still.

How so? Surely we either need to burn calories or reduce them in order to lessen our cuddly bits?

That does indeed make intuitive sense, but it neglects the biological and psychological dynamics at play with weight gain.

Better to ask ourselves the question of why we find ourselves gravitating towards too much of the wrong foods or why we seem to be putting on weight regardless of consumption levels?

The biggest single culprit is stress. When we are subject to intermittent stress, or Chronic Background Stress as our friends at the WHO call it, a number of physiological changes take place which will cause us to start cultivating kilos. The first is that stress causes two thirds of us to overeat. The second is that stress causes us to start hungering for fatty, sugary foods.

So why does this happen?

Initially, when we experience stress, we break down all of the fats stored in our body ready for a suitably strong ‘fight or flight’ response. Energy is quickly created for a fast sprint or a gladiatorial showdown.  But as soon as the emergency is declared over, the process goes into reverse and the body wants to regain everything it just burned, and it wants to add some extra as insurance against another episode. This is usually stored up in the abdominal area, giving us an unmistakably round shape. And the more times we break down and rebuild our energy stores, the more insurance the body requires and the weightier we become.

So if we are subject to intermittent stress, whether it be time pressures, work pressures, or even little stresses like running for the bus or getting stuck in traffic, our innate survival programmes will kick in and we will begin hoarding glucose and proteins in our fat cells.

This is the reason why, when we lose weight through the stress of excessive exercise or excessive dieting, we cannot help but feel the urge to binge afterwards, particularly if there are lots of other demands and stresses in our lives!

Unfortunately, our busy modern lives mean that many of us have a tendency to engorge. Our biology, which hasn’t evolved to cope with the industrial and post-industrial life, finds it all quite stressful and so starts triggering the urge to accumulate.  And so here we are with a bulging body-mass index despite our many attempts to stay svelte.

So clearly, if we’re going to be smart in our bid to slim, what we really need is to sort out our stress levels.

Meditation can help in a number of ways. Firstly, if we have an effective technique, it will help calm our stress response down so that not only do we feel more serene in our lives, we also don’t subject ourselves to bingeing on foodstuffs in order to offset the resource depletion of stress. So if we are less stressed, we will feel less compelled to eat lots of food, and we won’t find ourselves hungering for the fatty, sugary foods our body calls out for when we experience stress.

Vedic meditation also helps regulate our insulin resistance so that our fat cells are less prone to hoarding every single morsel of fat. Instead, we have a healthy and balanced regulation of insulin which allows us to have more energy to burn in our day, instead of accumulating it around our middle.

In fact it regulates all of our hormones so that we feel much more stable in our lives and the emotional comfort seeking, which often drives the food consumption process, also begins to fall away.

The individually customised sounds that we use in Vedic meditation have such a powerfully soothing and cleansing effect on the nervous system, it means that all of our stored up negative programming begins to wash away out of the system. In its place is a rapidly developing nervous system which is complimented beautifully by the enhanced neurological development that follows from this practice. It allows us to build far superior inter-neuronal connections and response patterns to all aspects of life and living including our food. So instead of having to ‘try’ to eat healthily, or ‘try’ to avoid unhealthy junk, or ‘try’ to do exercise, we find ourselves happily gravitating towards all healthy pursuits without feeling like we’re swimming against the tides of our own sub-conscious programming.

So whilst a combination of exercise and good diet is certainly key, if we don’t combine them with an effective stress reduction programme, then we’re always going to be fighting an uphill battle and it may prove somewhat exhausting and self-defeating.

And if we are pounding the treadmill, this meditation practice helps process the lactic acid in our muscles, provides greater levels of oxygenation within our blood, ensures our hormonal balance is not affected by the intensive exercise and helps keep our nervous system in balance when it would usually become overexcited by the workout.

It also helps us tune into our digestion and harmonises our digestive rhythms, which increases our ability to absorb the nutrients and feel more energised, no matter what we have in our diet.

So there we are, who would have initially thought it?!  Meditation can help us on all levels, not just being the most relaxed cat in the office!

The wonderful thing is that we can meditate anywhere we like as well. We can stay in shape and meditate even while we’re on the sun lounger wearing our most revealing swimwear, and what better way to tune out than with the sound of the morning waves or sunset surf lapping near our feet…

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About the Author: 

Will Williams is the founder of Quiet Minds Meditation in Geneva. Follow him on Google+.

Find out more about attending a free introduction talk on Vedic Meditation in Geneva here.

Working with your body’s natural rhythm

RhythmnAlignment with the rhythms of life brings our metabolism into its fullest force.

– Marc David

When it comes to eating, have you ever considered timing? With food, as with so many things in life, timing IS everything. Well maybe not everything, but it can be a simple way to help with weight loss, better digestion and increased energy levels.

So what exactly is timing when it comes to food?

Timing related to food means tapping into your body’s natural metabolic state or body temperature at various moments of the day to help processes such as digestion and burning fat.

Of course, each person is unique and every body will react differently, but here are some general guidelines.

Morning:

As soon as you wake up, your body temperature begins to rise – your metabolism is gearing up for the day. Eating in the morning actually increases your metabolic rate, enabling you lose weight more easily. Food is like adding wood to a furnace – it makes it burn more efficiently.

As a general rule, the hotter the season or climate, the less people tend to eat for breakfast – you may have noticed this to be the case for you and this is fine if you feel it works for you.

If you have dinner about 3 hours before going to bed, and try to leave 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, you are giving your body the optimum time it needs to burn fat. If you wake up in the morning feeling sluggish and not hungry, try eating less and earlier at dinner.

Midday:

Body temperature is at its highest when the sun is highest in the sky. Between 12 and 13:30 is your peak metabolic time, which is why it makes sense for lunch to be the biggest meal of the day as it is in many traditional cultures.

Afternoon:

Between 14:00 and 17:00, your body is busy digesting lunch and energy levels tend to drop. The natural rhythm of the body is to slow down during this period. You may have noticed that you have less energy after lunch – it might even be your least productive time of day.

Late Afternoon:

Between around 16:00 and 18:00, your body temperature starts rising again and energy levels pick up. If you know you are unable to have dinner until much later, have a small snack with healthy fats and protein so that you have a smaller dinner later in the evening.

Evening:

This is when our bodies start slowing down in preparation for sleep and our metabolism is actually at its lowest.

It therefore makes sense to eat dinner as early and as light as possible. This will actually help you sleep better and wake up hungrier for breakfast, when your body’s metabolism is in a better state to handle food. It also enables the liver to go into fat burning mode, an crucial state for weight loss.

An interesting side note…

One of the ways sumo wrestlers gain weight is by skipping breakfast and having a big, late dinner right before going to bed. If this sounds like you and you are trying to lose weight, try simply shifting your eating schedule – this could work wonders.

Give it a try

Do you recognize yourself in any of this? If you often find yourself in sumo wrestler mode – skipping breakfast and eating a large dinner late at night, why not try shuffling your food around for a week and see how you feel?

 

Source:
The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy and Weight Loss by Marc David

Do fats make you fat?

Green smoothie2

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, fat was The Enemy, something to be absolutely avoided. I am sure many of you will remember the age of low-fat everything, and how ‘healthy’ we felt eating those foods! After all, fat makes you fat, right?

Wrong! If there is one dietary myth I think it is important for people to know, it is that we NEED a good amount of healthy fats in our diets. And while it is true that some types of fat are better avoided, it is also true that many of us are not eating enough healthy fats. I know from my own experience that I was not eating enough fats a few years ago. As a ‘muffin vegetarian’, I ate very little fatty foods, and I actually thought this was a good thing – yet I was constantly grazing between meals. Adding more healthy fats to my diet, mostly in the form of nuts, seeds, avocado, eggs and coconut products drastically changed how full I feel after a meal.

Fats have more calories per gram than carbohydrates and proteins, but as I have written before, it is much more important to look at nutrients than calories, and fats are absolutely essential for the following processes:

♦ Building blocks of hormones

♦ Anti-inflammatory effect, meaning healthy fats can decrease the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases

♦ Fats make the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K possible

♦ Fats are essential for proper growth and development, especially considering that 60% of our brains are made of fat

♦ Fats slow down digestion, helping us feel full for longer and can also help reduce sugar cravings

Here are some easy ways to up the healthy fat quota of your meals:

Add raw, unsalted nuts like almonds and walnuts to your breakfast cereal, porridge or smoothie, sprinkle them over salads or soups or just snack on a handful.

Add raw, unsalted seeds to your breakfast cereal, porridge or smoothie, sprinkle them over salads or soups or just snack on a handful. Please note that linseeds/flaxseeds must always be ground in order for the body to digest them properly.

Add avocados to a salad or on top of any grain-based meal. Make guacamole or spread on toast or crackers for breakfast or a light dinner. Avocados have a unique combination of healthy fats and despite what a lot of women fear, they do not make you fat! They are actually particularly beneficial for balancing hormones in women.

Olives and olive oil (always extra virgin and cold pressed) can be poured over or added to any meal.

Coconut products such as coconut oil, milk or flakes are also a great source of a mid-chain fatty acids which are found in few other foods. Like nuts and seeds, flakes can be added to to your breakfast cereal, porridge or smoothie and coconut milk or cream can be used to make soups or curries or again, added to smoothies. I use coconut oil for cooking as it has a high smoke point (it can be heated without damaging the oil).

Good news for butter lovers – butter is now being considered a healthy fat when it is from grass-fed cows and eaten in moderation. I don’t think anyone needs ideas on how to use butter!

Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as wild Alaskan salmon (sockeye), herring, sardines and black cod are good to eat about 3 times per week. If you prefer not to eat fish or live somewhere where it is not available, it is essential to take an omega 3 supplement. I take this myself since I don’t like the taste of fish, even though I eat plenty of plant-based sources of omega 3. Plant-based sources of omega 3 like walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds are very healthy, but are a less efficient source as a conversion process still needs to take place in the body.

Eggs are a great source of healthy cholesterol which is essential for the body. Expert opinion on eggs have now been reviewed and it is generally agreed that they do not cause cholesterol in healthy people. Make sure the eggs you eat are organic and free range.

Meat can also be a healthy fat but again, make sure the animal ate its natural diet of grass rather than grains. This makes a dramatic difference in the ratio of healthy fats in the meat (the famous Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio).

Fats to avoid entirely:

Trans fats – theses are mostly man-made oils that are extremely toxic to the body, leading to heart disease, stroke and cancer. They are found in margarine, processed foods, candy, chips, crackers, flaky pastries, some peanut butters. If the label lists partially- hydrogenated oils, do your body a favor and absolutely avoid this food. The term vegetable oil on an ingredient list usually also means the product contains trans fats and is best avoided. Actually a note on margarine: Margarine and non-butter spreads are chemical, man-made foods which contains harmful fats. Use real butter instead.

Fried foods – make sure these are only a very occasional treat as fried food often contain trans fats.

Low fat foods – and yes, this includes skim milk and low-fat yoghurt. When fat is removed from foods, they are no longer the natural, whole food, and the body in all its wisdom recognizes there is something missing. This can manifest as cravings for sugar, for example. Also, low-fat foods often have sugar added to replace the taste lost by removing the fat.

So there you have it – the skinny on fats! I hope this post helped you see fats a little differently. I urge you to try adding some healthy fats to your meals to notice how full you feel in the hours after the meal. Of course, like every nutrient, the amount needed is very variable, so it is important to experiment to find the right amount for you. Above all, quality is crucial – always buy the best you can afford – cold-pressed, virgin oils and grass fed, organic animals products.

Read more about making your kitchen nut and seed friendly

Read more about making green smoothies that can be topped with healthy fats

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Sources: 1, 2, 3 

5 Lifestyle changes for weight loss

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In my last post, I looked into why diets don’t work. The obvious next question is, so what DOES actually help for weight loss? What lifestyle changes can we make for weight loss?

Based on all the research I have read and my own experience with weight loss, the most crucial thing is to completely ditch the whole idea of a diet and focus instead on making lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes are not just a temporary, short-term fix. Instead, they become a way of life you are willing to keep up over time.

They are not built on deprivation and restriction but focus instead on finding what nourishes you best.

Oh, and please forget about counting calories. Calories tell only a small part of the story. Focus instead on eating a healthy, balanced diet filled with real, unprocessed food. Think about nourishment, not calories.

Here are 5 lifestyle changes for weight loss:

1. Create a vision that goes beyond the number of kilos you want to lose.

WHY do you want to lose weight? What is truly going to motivate you to make changes to your lifestyle? ‘I want to lose 5 kilos’ is not motivating while ‘I am still young and want to actually look and feel my age’ or ‘I want to feel happy and confident in my body’ is. Your vision can then be used as a filter for making decisions: Will eating those cookies allow me to feel happy and confident in my body?

Action step: Create a vision that motivates you, that reminds you of the deeper reason you want to lose those 5 kilos. Keep asking ‘why’ to get to the root motivation.

2. Instead of focusing on what you CAN’T eat, focus on what you CAN eat. 

What do you want to include more of in your diet? Vegetables? Healthy fats? Protein? Superfoods? More regular meal times? More exercise? Studies show that focusing on positive change instead of deprivation actually leads to more sustainable weight loss. By adding healthy foods and habits instead of focusing on eliminating unhealthy ones, it is easier and more natural to create new habits as less healthy options are ‘crowded out’.

Action step: Identify the healthy habits you would like to add to your lifestyle, starting with just one habit each week. For example, week 1 could be adding more vegetables. Week 2 could focus on a commitment to always take the stairs. Start small and build up.

3. Bring a level of awareness to what you eat. 

Did you know that we make more than 200 food and beverage related decision EVERY DAY? Yet as Cornell University professor, Brian Wansink states,

So many food decisions are made on mindless autopilot.

Eating without really thinking often leads to eating too much or eating whatever is in front of us.

Action step: Keep a food journal: Writing down everything you eat and drink can bring a level of awareness and accountability that has been shown to help in weight loss.

4. Be realistic and gentle with yourself

Seeing the world as filled with ‘permitted’ or ‘forbidden’ foods will merely increase cravings for the ‘off limit’ foods. Strive instead for my 80% is perfection strategy where indulgence is permitted and nothing is off limits when consumed in moderation. Something I find helpful when it comes to indulgence is to decide beforehand how much you are allowing yourself to eat.

Action point: Allow pleasurable, mindful indulgences in your diet. Look into upgrading your indulgent food choices.

5. Acknowledge and accept your emotions

Perhaps because of my background in Psychology, I don’t think weight loss can be sustainable without taking into account the more emotional aspect of food and body image. We do not use food merely as fuel – it is loaded with meaning and emotion which needs to be taken into account. What do the extra kilos you are trying to get rid of signify? Protection? A way of avoiding a certain situation? A lack of self-worth? What do your cravings mean?

Action step: Identify the emotions you are bringing to the weight loss process. Journaling or working with someone can help bring more clarity to the process.

What about you, are there any changes you have made to your lifestyle that have helped you lose weight? What action points from this post would you like to experiment with?

Sources:

Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct

Number of food choices study 

Food diary study

Diets are sad – and don’t work

Diets are sad

I often hear from people about their experience with diets or the fact that they need to go on one. Because of this, I thought I would write about why, based on all the research I have read, diets are not only sad – they also don’t work.

HERE ARE SOME SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT DIETING:

♦  About 41% of people end up gaining back MORE weight than they had lost from being on a diet, often leading to yo-yo dieting (source).

Explanation: When you take in too few calories, your body thinks it is starving and reacts by adjusting its metabolism to preserve energy to actively avoid rapid weight loss. This happens after about eight weeks of dieting and dates back to our cavemen days when less calories actually meant less chance of survival. Unfortunately, our bodies have not changed with modern life so when you start eating normally again, your metabolism has not readjusted and is still in ‘burn as few calories as possible’ mode.

♦ Most diets involve some form of restriction and/or deprivation. And while most dieters think this is the epitome of discipline, studies have shown that even just thinking about deprivation can actually lead to the opposite behavior. This might not be immediate: Most people manage to go through a phase of restriction or deprivation for a short period, but this is often followed by uncontrolled eating of the ‘forbidden’ food or bingeing later on. As Kelly McGonigal writes in her book, The Willpower Instinct:

From the very first forbidden fruit, prohibition has led to problems, and science is now confirming that restricting a food automatically increases your cravings for it…The more you try to avoid the food, the more your mind will be preoccupied by it.

♦ Dieting brings with it a slew of rigid rules that often lead to stress and guilt. Guilt or feeling bad about slipping up has been shown to lead to more eating in an effort to soothe oneself (source: Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct).

♦ Dieting implies an ‘all or nothing’ approach: You are either following the diet or you are not. Researchers have found that this leads to extremist decisions such as the ‘what-the-hell-effect': When dieters slip and eat a ‘forbidden’ food, they tend to think, ‘I already failed miserably at my diet by eating cake, I might as well polish the whole thing off!’ (source).

Superficial, time-limited change set diets up for failure from the beginning. Most dieters expect to have to ‘survive’ a period of restricted eating for a short while, lose weight, be fabulous, and then go back to their usual way of eating while staying fabulous. Unfortunately, when eating habits and awareness related to food haven’t actually changed, this is not going to be a long-term solution.

Above all, as stated in The Economist, dieting makes us ignore our body’s innate wisdom:

…dieting is harmful. People who diet deliberately ignore cues like hunger and satiety. As a consequence, over time, they seem to lose the ability to use them.

OK, so now that you know about what doesn’t work, next post will look into making lifestyle changes that can lead to healthy weight loss. In the meantime, eat real food but don’t diet!

 

The Emotions of Weight Loss

I came across a very interesting article on the emotional obstacles to weight loss.More and more studies are showing that for weight loss and lifestyle changes to be sustainable, the emotional aspect also needs to be taken into account.

An excerpt:

From my own perspective, I’ve worked with many people who honestly felt they didn’t deserve to be healthy, to be beautiful, to be happy. Every effort they’d made in the past to lose weight and improve their wellbeing had been sabotaged by psychological ghosts. Negative self-talk got the better of them even after they’d experienced substantial success in losing weight and/or achieving other health and fitness goals. When a number of these folks combined emotional work with their lifestyle changes, it was like the air cleared. Not overnight, but over time.

Ways of addressing emotions linked to weight loss:

Self-awareness through journaling & being conscious of your self-talk.

Social support through friends and family or online forums.

Replace food with self-care by identifying the triggers to emotional eating. For example, if food is used as a means of comfort, take care of yourself in other ways, such as getting a massage or taking a bubble bath. If food is being used as a way of adding sweetness or pleasure to life, learn to be gentler with yourself and seek other sources of pleasure.

Feeling emotions rather than numbing them with food is an essential part of the process – this can be done through a relaxation technique, journaling or by talking to someone.

In order to let go of excess weight, letting go of what is no longer needed is essential. This can include old habits and ways of nourishing oneself (on a physical and emotional level), outdated, negative beliefs (ex. ‘I don’t deserve to be thin’), the need for protection (ex. ‘If I lose weight I will get attention from the wrong men’).

Finally, losing weight implies shedding an old identity. And even if this is an unwanted identity, humans are naturally loss-averse, and what we risk losing feels more tangible than the seemingly distant identity we have to gain. Losing weight implies trust and faith in the new identity being created.