If you’ve tried to force your body into a smaller size through quick fix methods, starvation, dieting, or shaming, you’ve probably discovered that these methods don’t work – especially not in the long run. Weight loss is not always easy, especially if we keep repeating strategies that never take us where we want to go. So it’s time to examine a few key approaches that work, and a few that don’t.
Here are four secrets everyone trying to lose weight ought to know:
1. Being overly obsessed about weight loss is counter-productive
The simple reason for this is that it keeps us in a constant state of stress about food and body. This ongoing physiologic stress response, though it originates in our mind, has a very profound on the body.
In short, the stress response, also known as sympathetic nervous system dominance, signals the body to store weight and to refrain from building muscle. It literally increases stress hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, and insulin, which tell our body to fatten up. The body experiences any stressful or self attacking thoughts in the same was as if it were a real-life attack. The brain then initiates a cascade of stress chemistry which, over time, yields the opposite of the result that we want.
For some reason, many of us tend to believe that in order to get where we want to go, we need to stress ourselves to get there. But look at your own experience. Has this worked for you? Has it truly worked for anyone that you know?
Using fear, self hate, and self attack as motivators for weight loss has always failed us and will continue to fail us. And even those few who do lose weight in this way end up living in a continuous state of fear and fight, lest the weight return.
It’s time to cheerlead ourselves into weight loss, instead. It’s time to love ourselves in the direction that we want to go. After all, how can a journey of self hate possibly end up at a destination of self-love?
2. Quick fix methods seldom last for long
In business, “get rich quick” schemes don’t work. Some may have short-term luck, but if there’s not a true foundation built over time and ethical principles guiding decisions, the business fails. The same is true for weight loss.
So many people are trying to win the weight loss lottery. This means that they get hypnotized by promises of magic pills, magic drugs, a new Hollywood diet, or some new kind of surgery. If there was truly such a strategy that worked, everyone would know about it and we wouldn’t be in this conversation today.
Plus, when we inevitably fail at our quick fix strategies, we end up feeling disappointed and defeated. From that place, it’s hard to motivate ourselves or to feel good about the future.
The reality is, our natural weight comes when we live a more natural life. This means eating real food, quality food, getting air, getting sunshine, moving our body, and taking care of the needs of our heart and soul.
Let go of the quick fix, and embrace the fact that you have a lifelong relationship with food and body that’s asking you to take the slow, steady, natural road to success.
3. Highly restrictive diets inevitably backfire
If we starve our body into submission through an unrealistic diet, we may see some initial weight loss, but ultimately our body will seek more food and more weight. Food is essential to life. Pleasure is essential to life. Nourishment is essential for life. When we interfere with the natural need for enough food, the brain will eventually scream “hungry!” That’s because the brain is constantly scanning the body to determine its nutrient needs. When we shortcut the body because of a highly restrictive diet, the brain takes notice.
The brain understands that we’re operating at a nutrient deficit. So it signals our appetite to wake up, and our desire for food can become quite intense. From this place, so many people think they have a willpower problem with food, but what’s really happening is that the body is simply calling for the nutrition that it needs.
Restrictive diets simply don’t work. Eating regular, healthy, high-quality food does.
4. Loving yourself no matter what you weigh is a great place to start
And finally, one of the cornerstones of our message at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating: love yourself no matter what you weigh. So much of the torture we put ourselves through while dieting or self-punishing is so that we can attain a body that we think is worthy of love. Which of course implies that the body we have right now is not worthy of love. Which of course is simply untrue. Whenever we remove love from our life, things will tend to go south. If we live in a continuous state of an absence of love for self, it’s a guaranteed recipe for a lot of unhappiness, and dieting strategies that never get us where we want to go.
When it comes down to it, human beings want to be loved unconditionally. So, why do we put conditions on ourselves that we are only lovable if we attain some ideal weight?
Rather than punishing ourselves to perfection, we can love ourselves exactly as we are. Our body will respond, over time, to that knowing. It’s a much more sustainable plan, because we build trust with ourselves and with our body that we are worthy of love no matter what. And the best part is that we can make that decision right here and now.
If you’ve been trying to lose weight, but haven’t had the success you hoped for, consider whether one or more of these factors may be in play. As the field of Dynamic Eating Psychology teaches us, sometimes the answers are in the foods we choose – but sometimes they’re found within us, the eater. When you start bringing your whole self to the table – body, mind, heart and soul – you might find that your challenges begin to ease up a little, and your next step becomes clear.
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
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