Here’s my new excitement: to get real and truthful and edgy about the gigantic subject of weight loss. Let’s all see if we can put our collective mojo together and spark something new in the weight loss conversation. Let’s invent some useful insights that have a chance to further the action and help us discover who we are and why, as a world, we keep growing more and more plump. So, in the spirit of pioneering a new trail in the still uncharted territory of weight, allow me to offer something that might sound a bit confusing, but I think is helpful:

If you’re trying to lose weight simply because you want to lose a bunch of weight, then it’s going to be extremely difficult to lose weight.

Here’s what I mean: most people who have extra pounds attack their body fat as if it was some foreign and hostile invader. We honestly believe that this excess weight is “not me.” So, we do our best get rid of this unwanted yuk that seems to be ruining our ability to have a good time. And it all makes sense. But here’s the rub – weight loss strategies don’t work. This isn’t headline news. Any study that has any scientific morals and scruples bears this out in the long term. If there was a weight loss diet or pill or program or gizmo that truly worked, we’d all know about it and guys like me would’ve been thankfully out of a job long ago.

What I’m saying is that if there was one single reason why we don’t lose weight – it’s because our reason for wanting to do so is all off, which leads us to invent or undertake weight loss methods that fail us. Again, most people want to lose weight simply to get the weight off.

The problem is, the weight is there for a reason and it has a message. It has a deeper purpose. It’s talking to us. The wisdom of life, of the cosmos, of the grand design of all that is  – speaks through the human body in the form of symptoms. We are fashioned with a brilliant operating system that has our biology taking direct orders from divine intelligence. Excess weight is a messenger from a higher source. If you kill the messenger – that is, if you actually do lose the weight but don’t get the wisdom it’s trying to impart – the messenger returns. 99% of people who lose weight on a weight loss diet gain it back. There’s no moral failure here. It’s not about eating less calories or switching to skim instead of half and half. We just didn’t listen deeply enough.

Trying to get rid of weight by “losing it” is like trying to get rid of paying a bill by ripping it up and throwing it out. It seems like such a great idea. Just get rid of the bill. The problem is though, when you throw out the bill, another one comes in the mail, and this time with a late fee. Throw that one away and the consequences grow steeper.

The bills and the extra weight have something very simple and profound in common – neither has any real value in and of itself. Yet they both point to something. The bill points to the fact that you purchased your house with a loan from the bank, and you owe the bank gobs of money. Ripping it up then, is a silly and nonsensical act. Likewise, excess weight points to something else. To simply get rid of it for the sake of getting rid of it goes against universal law.

The billion-dollar question then, is “What does excess weight point to?” The answer, in my experience, is that there are an infinite variety of possibilities. Here are just a few common and compelling ones. Excess weight can point to:

  • Our poor food choices
  • Emotional hunger
  • Unmet needs
  • Repressed feelings
  • Confusion around self identity
  • A call for love and help
  • Self hatred
  • Our disconnection from the body
  • Past history of sexual abuse
  • Being wounded by love
  • Financial worries
  • Repressed creativity
  • Being someone we are not
  • The need to forgive and move on
  • The need to earn how to truly nourish and care for oneself
  • Loneliness
  • Fear of sensuality
  • Too much stress
  • Separation from one’s spiritual source
  • Too many foreign chemicals and toxins in our world that directly or indirectly lead to weight gain – fluoride, mercury, bovine growth hormones, xeno-estrogens, and many more
  • The sickness in our manufacturing world that would have us invent and sell junk foods in the first place
  • A nation that values excess and over-consumption
  • A culture that values speed, disembodiment, and lack of awareness
  • A world that is filled with fear, anxiety, and mistrust
  • Someone else’s belief that we need to lose weight
  • An obsessive need to lose weight where no weight actually needs to be lost

Each one of these is literally like a bill to pay. We can’t just avoid these life lessons, rip them up, or exercise and diet them off. We’ve got to question, self examine, look, listen, feel, get real, be truthful, and grow into a more mature way of listening to the body and honoring it’s wisdom, even when the body isn’t conforming to our humble demands that it be beautiful and hot and skinny. Of course, this isn’t easy. The process of self-examination is predictably a bitch. For this reason, far too many of us look for the quick fix. We don’t want to be uncomfortable as we face the tougher questions, so we’re easily seduced by the next diet gimmick that never works.

Just as it’s time to pay the bills, it’s time to pay homage to weight. It’s time to own that our challenges with weight require a whole new approach. No more quick fix. It’s time for the slow fix. Can we be brave enough to listen? Can we be courageous enough to be patient?

What important message and life lesson is your body trying to bring your awareness to?

Warm Regards,

Marc David
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014


The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss

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  • dear marc, there it all is. precisely and so beautifully described. given the weight (so to speak) of all the issues you define this is a heavy load for an individual to bear on one’s own. this assessment though should hopefully aid people in having more compassion for themselves and others and is crucial to bring an end to the brutal assault that defines the current conversation as you say. however, we are so in need of reforming the societal structures so that people are safer and better able to take better care of themselves.

    • Laurie

      (nodding my head in absolute agreement) knowledgeable and beautifully written article, and a reply that is the same.

  • Christie Inge

    Right on!

  • Pamela

    So true….and a message so needing to be heard. Thank you Marc. Can’t wait for the teleseminar to start- all I have heard are rave reviews 🙂

  • Hello There, I found you via Facebook. I wanted to tell you about some AMAZING products I just discovered. If you’ve ever heard of Bach Flower Remedies (ie, “Rescue Remedy” which is known all over the world), you will understand the premise of this. A dear friend of mine just told me about “Flor-Alive” flower essences. These amazing flower essences have healed my addiction to food, and that was not why I purchased them. It begins with an essence collection entitled”Revive” which addresses deep emotional issues stored deep within our cells. I did not even think about anything food related, even though I’ve been an emotional eater all my life. One of the “side effects” (or should I say “side benefits” is that I am no longer addicted to food). I don’t even think about food, except when a normal person does – ie, when I’m hungry. I did not expect this result, but it happened. I recommend you check out the website. I don’t work for them or have any affiliation to them, but I think it may be on the “cutting edge” of something you are looking for as you mentioned in your Post. God Bless, L.K.S.

    • kim lewis

      did you take revive only or the reccommended followup bottles too and for how long..or do you still..just learning about flower essences due to your post and love marc david’s work

  • Pingback: attacking the causes of obesity, really? « the nutritionist's dilemma()

  • Arielle Brown

    This, whole essay, is exactly where I am at, right now.

  • CS

    The list of “reasons” why people are fat is long and exhaustive, and includes such a wide array of causes that it provides no answers at all. We are all vicitm to our desires, which manifests for us as food. Address your desires and the rest will take of itself. Why is food your answer? This will expalin a lot.

    • CS-
      It’s not “desires”. If you read through that list, you’ll see that practically every item is a stressor. Our body’s natural reaction to stress is two fold: it slows down your metabolism, and for many people they use foods a self-medication for the stress: emotional eating.

      The bottom line is, you must find the proper way to manage stress in order to permanently lose weight. The extra weight is a message: the message is you have stress in your life now, or you had stress in your life that precipitated your weight gain. That’s how I help people to lose weight without ever dieting.

  • Fabulous article! Wise and well written.I would like to copy and print and share with the emotional eaters that I work with in my private psychotherapy practice. Looking forward to hearing more from you.

  • Elaine

    Simply brilliant. Thank you.

  • Michelle

    Thank you Marc David! This is so me, so why I have been through anorexia and mindless emotional eating. Your article brings to light why I and so many of us drown our sorrows in food.

  • Beautifully written, so clear. The bill metaphor is brilliant. I learned so much from this little article. Thank you!

  • Michele

    What a beautiful article. I can’t wait to share this information with my family. As a man, I too struggle with eating disorders like BDD and am a little orthorexic right now. As a health counselor and human being, I would tremendously benefit from taking your course! Thanks!

  • Cynthia

    It is amazing (and humbling) to me that at 52, I am just now receiving this lesson at a deep enough level to actually relax into it. I am not overweight…but have never been “satisfied” with my body. Hmmmm.. It is the waste of life energy and time that I am feeling ( and sad about) now. Ready to let it all go and offer myself and my gifts to the world. I have some lofty and liberating aims I intend to activate in 2013!

  • Alina

    Thank you so much for this article! It is an amazing, simply put, truth that you described here that goes straight to my heart and ignites inside me the desire to first and foremost love myself and my weight !
    Thank you so much!

    • Marc David

      Hi Alina,

      Thank you very much for your kind words.
      We are so glad that this article deeply resonated with you and that you were able to find acceptance with yourself!


      Marc David

  • Maureen

    One more reason to add to your list: People have always come in all shapes and sizes, something our current culture denies. I was fascinated by the story of the football player in the movie “The Blind Side.” You know in his circumstances it was probably difficult to get enough to eat, and yet he became of tremendous size anyway. And what happens if you are the daughter of such a person? It’s not going to be possible to be a single digit size, no matter how much emotional healing you do. In fact, struggling with the cultural imperative creates it’s own abuse and trauma to recover from.

    • Hi Maureen,

      Thank you for your insight about the nature of abuse and trauma in these healing situations. “The Blind Side” presents both a wonderful message and some key life questions we all need to answer: Did you know that the world needs you? What is your calling and how can you live it and offer it as a gift?

      It’s an important part of our healing to embrace the areas of life that really nourish us.


      Marc David

  • Dear Marc,

    I feel so grateful you are saying these things outloud, as they have been on my heart, too. I join you and applaud your courage for sharing your perspective with us.

    Yes, weight is a gift, a message. No, the body is not something to control, but something to honor, to heed, to listen to, to care for, to love.

    I struggled with eating disorders for over 20 years. After hitting rock bottom for the umpteenth time, I finally stopped shaming/trying to control or “cut out” my binge eating, overeating and weight fixation and turned towards it. I listened to what this part of me said, and it was eye opening.

    I realized that my hatred of my body was really my hatred of my highly sensitive nature – my shame that I hurt easily and feel deeply.

    I realized that my overeating self had tremendous wisdom. It pointed out all the ways I denied my needs and then used food to make up the difference.

    I realized that my attempts to control food were based in my belief that I had to control myself, control my emotions, control my experience, and control life.

    How freeing to see these truths!

    Doing this exercise gave me much compassion for my overeating and helped me see how my messy behavior had good intentions behind it. I even came to love these mucky, messy parts of me, for I saw the beautiful in the “not beautiful,” as Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes.

    Yes, inner work is a birthing, and like any birth, there is pain. And there is healing, and new life.

    May this wound of weight become a refuge of love and compassion, for all.

    In love and care, Karly

    • Hi Karly,

      Wow. Thank you for sharing your wonderful journey with us! And thank you so much for your encouraging words. It’s so incredible to see how discovering the truth about ourselves, and about the needs of the body, free us from so many limiting and disordered life choices. We often think we need rules and guidelines; a box for all our nutritional ideas and a checklist to keep track of it all, but what we really need to do is just listen, as you did, and inquire deeply into what our bodies are trying to tell us. Good for you, Karly. I am so warmed and inspired by your sharing.

      Warm Regards,

      Marc David

    • LiZa Bliss

      Thank you Marc and to all of you who shared your personal selves. We are blessed, I mean after all most of the people I know want abundance. What if we just need to be more specific of what abundance looks like.
      After many years of “diet mentality”, I now eat for health and am allowing my shape to be defined by it.
      I don’t need as many calories as some folks do so it is more economical for me to live. What other benefits might I find if I chose to look for the good in everything, which includes a curvy body.

      Love you all,


      • Hi Liza,

        I’m happy to hear that you’ve been embracing your body wisdom – good for you!
        Thanks for joining the conversation.

        Marc David

  • Does this always happen? Can’t we be really, truly happy and fulfilled and still be overweight?
    Thank you

    • Hi Georgina –

      This is an excellent question. Of course we can be fulfilled and happy no matter what weight we are. In fact, this is a key principle. So many people are running around waiting for their lives to start, and delay their happiness until they can become “somebody else”. Here at IPE, we work with women who want to lose weight, gain weight, accept their weight or simply no longer think about their weight. All are welcomed to the table, here. Plus, who determines exactly what “overweight” really means? If you’re truly happy with who you are then this is excellent, and you’re probably already ahead of the game!


      Marc David

      • This is so it. the obsession with food and weight will unfailingly lead us to the next evolution needed by our soul and current situation, regardless of the size we are and regardless if we need to heal old pain, find our purpose, re-balance brain chemistry or put down a food that disagrees with our body . We tell people we will either help you lose the weight or the worry about the weight, the path is the same and it will truly take you some wonderful places.. Thank you for all your clarity and consistent messaging in this arena

        • Hi Nancy,

          Such wise words you’ve shared!
          Thank you for you insight.
          Much appreciated.

          Marc David

  • Cris

    Dear Marc,

    I have been following your facebook and posts for a while now. I looked up your name after the suggestion of the IIN graduate I contacted after reading a beatiful post too on emotional eating. Unfortunately, just due to economical restrictions we have in Argentina, where I am from and live, made impossible we work together.

    I am a registered dietitian, I graduated 14 years ago and I have my practice where I see my patients just for “learning about eating”, and I am quite successful on that (I work only part-time as here dietitians are not well paid)… … … however, i am now 20 kg overweight, and I have been unsuccessful to lose them -despite knowing exactly what to eat, and all the useful but un-useful information I got in the Medical school and residency at the hospital.

    I have a wonderful homeopath doctor who is aligned with your thoughts and I am slowly reaching to this point of understanding overweight as a messenger that I need to listen too. This is the incredible difficult path, but as Karly said in her comment, a birth is painful but is the start of a beautiful journey that I want to “en-joy” and I am not doing so at this moment.

    i am grateful for the work you do here and the wisdom you spread. I am grateful there are so many health coachs trained in the IPE who can help people struggling like me as it is incredible useful and helpful to have a cheerleader. I hope to have the chance to work with you or any of your graduates once the situation in my country recovers; and obviously, I would love to be trained myself too. Health coaching and even less coachs trained in psychology of eating are not found here, and I am a great example that we, health professionals, lack a “leg” in our training.

    Thank you for the excellent work you do here. The blog and all the information is inspiring and full of wisdom, nothing is better than spread it with generosity as you do.

    Warm hug,

    • Hi Chris,

      Wow! What a journey you’ve been on these past few years.
      Thank you for reaching out to me and for your kind words.
      I’m happy to meet you here. And I hope we get to connect at some point.

      My warmest wishes to you,
      Marc David

  • Great article and so well said!! I am a Registered Dietitian and this will be useful for my clients. Thank you for sharing these wonderful meaningful tnoughts!!

    • Angela –

      I’m so pleased to hear you like the article!
      Thank you for all the work you’re doing in the world to help others find a good road to health.

      Marc David

  • Marinda S.

    This is an amazing post and so timely as I am addressing the spiritual aspect of my life and my body. I have lost weight in a doctor’s supervised diet and know I need to now get my head, heart and spirit on a path where I can accept and celebrate my life. I plan to print this up and read this regularly, it’s right to the point and lists some of the issues I have to address to keep moving into a healthy direction. Thanks again for a great post.

    • Hi Marinda –

      Wonderful! You’re on the path – good for you. Celebration is a key aspect to living a healthy life. I’m so glad you enjoyed this article. Thank you for reading and sharing your story with us.

      Marc David

  • Thank you for this article. I have been approaching my weight loss journey with the same thoughts after realizing that my frequent yo-yo dieting attempts were rooted in shaming myself and dieting in extremes to get to an acceptable state. I’ve reached a place where I realize that taking the slow and steady, healthful journey is the best way I can continually love myself- which I do- regardless of any exterior views. While I struggle to overcome years of bad habits and incorrect thought patterns, I feel better on the whole than I have in any previous attempt- even if it will take longer- because it just is ‘right.’

    • Hi Heather,

      Slow and steady often leads to health and happiness.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Best wishes,
      Marc David

  • Erwin

    Hello Marc,

    I think I landed on your site from one of Coach Scott Sonnon’s facebook posts but I’m not too sure. All I know is that the information you posted in this article is awesome. It is a bit troublesome though, for the answer in the article comes up with a lot more questions. I looked at the list of the factors that accompany excess weight and I think I can check off about 3/4ths of that list.

    How does one listen?



    • Hi Erwin,

      What a great question! I wish there was a simple answer that fits everyone. Each of us has such a unique journey. I think we listen best when we can keep asking powerful questions, and awaiting the answer, allowing it to emerge in its own time.

      Best of wishes,
      Marc David

    • Susan J

      Hi Erwin,

      An excellent question! Marc is correct when he says that each of us has a unique journey. The reasons behind our non-supportive eating are unique to each of us. Personally, I am on a mission to learn to “listen” to my unique inner self and connect to my unmet needs. When I find myself craving foods I should not eat, if I do not give in and instead, choose to “sit and lean into the craving,” I find there are usually very strong feelings coming to the surface. This is my first listening place. As Karly encourages and says, “I will not wage war againt myself.” I choose in these moments to no longer stuff down, divert, or otherwise critically judge what I am feeling… rather… I surrender and embrace them as the teachers they are. In this space, I put my hand over my heart, breathe deeply, and by asking, I can allow myself to connect and become aware of the thoughts and emotions driving my craving at that tme. Once aware, I now have options / choices as to how I want to move forward. I can empower my self to gently acknowledge my unmet needs, be tender with parts of me that might feel hurt or neglected, and empower new choices that will nourish me and help me thrive.

      Much love to you on your unique journey to reconnect and rediscover the brilliance of you!!!

      Susan J

  • Dear Marc, and again your words are a great relief to read, as they touch Truth on a deep level!
    I can only join the comments listed above and share my happiness because of them.
    Your words support people like me, who walk the lone tract, ahead or apart of the crowd, and who, because of that, find little understanding of the rest. If you would publish your colums and articles in a book, I would love to buy it! Take care, warmly, Gwendolyn

    • Gwendolyn,

      It’s so great to hear your enthusiasm. Thank you for your kind words – I’m so happy we can share and collaborate together in this space.

      Have you read either of my books?

      1. Nourishing Wisdom
      2. The Slow Down Diet

      You can find them here if you’d like:
      Hope this helps! Thank you again for joining in here.

      Marc David

  • Thank you so much Marc! This is the kind of conversation that needs to be happening!! So much gratitude for all that you do. Your books have been the best thing I’ve read in years–truly!

    • Hi Jess –

      You made my day.
      Thank you so much!

      Marc David

  • Lue

    This was so timely for me today. I just sent off an email to a client encouraging them to tune in to the tone of the inner voice when motivation is a struggle. The body gets all the attention with diet and exercise and gets to enjoy the results of all the changes, but the mind perhaps gets a little jealous and takes longer to buy in, if indeed it ever does. It too needs a chance to experience some healthy new routines and is deserving of a chance to experience the opportunity to become healthier to match its physical counterpart.

    Your words are appreciated!

    • Hi Lue –

      I like this idea of the mind “taking longer to buy in” – isn’t that the truth.
      Thank you for giving good guidance and support to those you serve.

      Marc David

  • Julie

    Dear Marc,

    Just reading through the list brought me to tears. Many of these are my issues way deep down.

    I spend my days happy, going to work, socializing, lots of activities, lots of alone time enjoying the quiet. But these are all underneath keeping me from going further and actually losing the weight.

    Slowly, I turn, reading your articles, dealing with my truth, my authentic self. I become more aware of why I’m turning to food. I’m able to stop and pay attention. Things start making sense and eating makes less sense at these moments.

    with gratitude,

    • Hi Julie,

      It’s amazing how we can go for so long thinking we’ve got it all figured out and then suddenly realize that all we’ve done is cope. It’s such a powerful experience to go through. The good news is that once we begin to pay attention, we also begin to understand what does and what doesn’t make sense in light of who we truly are.

      I’m glad to hear that you found these articles revealing and helpful.

      Best wishes to you,
      Marc David

  • Karen

    Dear Marc,
    Patience is the piece I hear from this article..I have been brave enough to listen. I have tuned in, and I have had miraculous results in the last year –cured my Hashimoto’s, increased my energy, dropped my cholesterol 40 points into the protected range, got my vitamin D under control, and weaned myself off of all of my HRT that I had been on for 17 years due to a hysterectomy in my 30’s…. And the weight will still not shift. Not a pound. I have completely revamped my diet, lifestyle, and exercise from a place of restriction to a place of joy, movement, and increasing my health. So, I guess I still have lessons left to learn that the weight is trying to teach me. I needed the reminder that this is a slow fix, and of how far I have come. Bravery in continuing to seek answers to what the weight is trying to teach me, commitment to my deepest truths, and loving myself at each point in the journey regardless of the results has to be my continued focus. Thank you, Marc!

    • Hello Karen –
      Patience is always a virtue, we hear, but it can be a trial too. For you, my recommendation would be to continue doing those things that have helped you to recover because, wow – there’s been so much success. But also, be aware of how you feel day to day and whether you have evolved passed a healing stage and might need to try something to rev your new engine. Have you read my article about Evolving Nutritionally or The 3-Levels of Diet? These might prove useful as well. I want to commend you for your commitment to love yourself each step of the way. Also, a thought: sometimes what seems like excess weight, is just the body asking us to unconditionally accept what is, without trying to change anything. What if, for a handful of months, you just let go of the need to lose any weight? It could be an interesting experiment…

      Thanks for sharing your story.

      Best wishes,
      Marc David

  • cl

    the holidays are coming and I don’t want to visit my husbands family ( even though I love being with them) because I am huge compared to all of them . They are physically tiny and I am tall and large. My hypothyroid has been out of control this year. As of 2 weeks ago my blood levels are finally where they should be. But I have just gained so much weight.. I have cut out grains and sugars and I am still huge. But anyway I feel very uncomfortable with my husbands family and it would be even more uncomfortable to not go… how do I handle my feelings. I feel like Paul Bunyon amongst the tiny people. I feel like they are judging me and want to help me which makes me feel even worse!!!!!!

    • Hi CL –
      Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your concerns here. I think there are many people who can resonate with this feeling of being judged by family… I also understand that the healing process can take time, as no problem is cured overnight, as much as we might hope…
      So when it comes to handling your feelings, I think the most important step is to deal with how you feel about yourself in this state of transition, knowing that you are in a space of healing, knowing that your blood levels have evened out (which is a huge important step) knowing you’re doing nothing “wrong” – and that this process is in the works – if YOU are okay with how you are, then it matters very little how others perceive you. I know this can be a difficult practice, but that’s why we’re here in this world – to learn and grow and evolve…

      Best wishes,

  • Sherry Gardner

    I love these guys!

  • Thanks, Sherry Gardner! Lots of love right back to you! Warmly, Marc 🙂

  • weight loss for women

    I totally like your article. It is really amazing . Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • Glad you enjoyed the article! More to come! Thanks for being part of our community, Marc

About The Author
Marc David

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.