According to Boston Medical Center, 45 million Americans choose to go on diet every year and in doing so, they’re spending $33 billion dollars on weight-loss. Clearly we’re a society that wants to lose weight. And such a desire can be accompanied by any number of emotions and beliefs:
- Despair: “I’ll never lose weight by myself.”
- Renewed hope: “I’ve tried and failed so many times… but maybe this new way will be the one.”
- Helplessness: “I don’t know how I can ever succeed, I have no willpower.”
- Desire for control: “I need rules and accountability.”
- Self-criticism: “I hate my body, I hate how I eat. ”
And so many others…
It’s easy to recognize how so much of our relationship to our weight comes locked and loaded with some powerful emotions and beliefs. Of course we want to have support, guidance, and structure when we venture into a new eating lifestyle. But there’s been such an onslaught of dietary and health information that the very idea of success seems distant and fraught with failed efforts. Few feel equipped to handle the process without lots of rules, eating plans, and scientific accountability. But, what if we could be our very own weight loss coach?
What if we could be THE ideal weight loss coach? One that’s supportive, passes no judgment, and truly understands the details and nuances of our inner world and the outer demands that life often asks of us. Because, when we’re playing on our own side, and we’re the cheerleader, strategist and champion for ourselves, we have a powerful built-in support system. When we are willing to be our own coach, we can let go of diet-plan payments and monthly support fees – and we can truly learn how to give ourselves what we need.
So, in the spirit of liberating ourselves from food and weight loss prison…
Here are 3 steps to start on the path to being your own weight loss coach:
1. Cultivate an attitude of self-compassion.
Every good coach sees their clients with compassion. We all have our own struggles, and judging ourselves for them does not help our healing process in the slightest.
In the last decade there has been compelling research that’s proven how self-compassion is more effective than willpower when it comes to creating personal change in areas such as weight loss and adopting healthy habits.
Oftentimes, we think that berating ourselves or pushing harder is the way to reach our weight loss goals, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that when we are “trying really hard” or “white-knuckling” our way to weight loss, we are actually inducing a stress response in our body that raises our stress hormones and lowers our metabolism. Our tough-it-out approach is counter-productive to our desire to lose weight.
Saying kind words to ourselves in the mirror, championing ourselves the way a dear friend would – and being understanding when we slip into old habits – is the way to shift our body from a stress response to a relaxation response – from a slow metabolism to a metabolism that hums more naturally and can release excess weight in a sustainable way.
2. Turn on the light of awareness.
A powerful coaching tool is shining the light of awareness. Awareness is the first step on any path, and that includes our path to losing weight. Just like on a road trip, it’s hard to find the way to your final destination – if you don’t know where you are starting – and you have no illumination on the path. Awareness is all about clearly seeing what’s truly going on. Where are we currently in our process of losing weight? Are we noticing when we eat beyond when we’re full? Are we mindful of when we’re eating because we are trying to numb our feelings? Are we aware of how much we’re eating while we’re standing up, while in the car, or when we’re eating simply because other people are eating?
Awareness means noticing, being mindful, and being honest with what our current reality and experience is. When we combine awareness with our first step – self-compassion – then we have a solid foundation on which to start stepping into the practical aspect of losing weight – which includes what foods to eat.
3. Listen for the foods that make you feel your very best
Our body is a ongoing and brilliant feedback machine. Our body talks through the language of symptoms and sensations. It tells us what foods make us feel vibrant and energetic, what foods make us feel grounded and satiated, what foods make us feel wired and spacey, and what foods make us feel slow and lethargic. Every body is unique and different, and thus, and each of us need different foods. There is no “one size fits all” diet but it’s imperative we each find our “this is what works for me now” diet,” and be willing to evolve nutritionally. Listening to our body is the way we find our own unique diet. Body listening is a practice best supported by slowing down, breathing and tuning in to what we feel.
As we come to know what foods are truly supportive of our own unique physiology, a powerful first step is to reach for high-quality, fresh foods, which emanate the high-vibrancy energy that we want to embody.
It’s time to empower ourselves with an approach to weight that’s honest, down-to-earth, doable, wise, nourishing, sustainable, and heartfelt. We hope this article was helpful for you along your journey to a beautiful relationship with food, body and life!
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2018