Have you tried different ways to lose weight, only to gain it right back? Or have you ever dieted only to see your efforts wasted with little to no weight loss whatsoever? Or perhaps you’ve lost weight, but live in constant fear that it may come back?
As obvious as it sounds, many people don’t realize that just because something is called a diet, doesn’t mean it has any chance of actually working. Weight loss strategies that deliver real and lasting results are very elusive for most people. So in the interest of saving you your valuable time and life energy, let’s look at 5 weight loss strategies that you can cross off your list, because they simply don’t deliver:
#1 Fasting for Weight Loss
Fasting is a great temporary strategy if the intention is truly to cleanse and detoxify your body. It can give digestive organs a break so your body can then eliminate old, stored up toxins. This timeless nutrition strategy can really reboot someone’s health if they don’t have an eating disorder or other health contraindications.
However, for many people, fasting to just lose weight tends to backfire. We may lose water weight, or even some muscle or fat weight, but then a starvation mechanism kicks in and we gain back what we lost, plus some. For most people, fasting is simply not a sustainable weight loss method. Tricking the body into weight loss never really works long-term.
A slow, steady weight loss is often what works best for the long term. That means finding a way of eating that can nourish us on a daily basis. When we eat sustainably, creating daily habits that support overall health, we train our body to handle foods in the right proportions for our bio-individuality.
#2 Very Low Calorie Diets
Many people believe that, if they want to lose weight, they just need to decrease their caloric intake. It’s easy to believe this, because it’s what we’ve all been taught. However, the body is not a pure input/output calorie burning machine. It’s way more complex, and it’s intertwined with the psyche, soul, heart, and spirit.
Low-calorie diets paradoxically cause the body to go into starvation mode, which then signals our physiology to hang on to body weight because the body thinks it needs these stored supplies to survive. Think of the body like a wood-burning furnace needing a steady supply of fuel. When we get down to the last few pieces of kindling, our fire doesn’t burn as bright. Our metabolism slows. In a similar way, a low calorie diet sets us up to feel hungry. Then we can overeat or binge-eat in reaction to feeling starved, not knowing when the next meal is coming. It’s best to eat a steady stream of nutritious foods to achieve our natural weight.
#3 Intense Exercise
Whereas movement and exercise is a healthy thing for most nourished bodies, INTENSE exercise is not sustainable for many people. Moderate to light movement can encourage a sense of playfulness and joy. Intense exercise, on the other hand, can create a stress response that signals the body to hang on to weight. Intense exercise can backfire once we stop, creating a sense of fear of rest, and leading to a more compulsive and imbalance relationship with exercise. The bottom line is that over-exercise is a well documented phenomenon that can give us the opposite result we’re looking for.
If you feel like you’re forcing or dragging your body through exercise, chances are it may be too intense for your body. Try backing off, or simply experiment with movement that comes from a place of enjoyment. When we do exercise that we truly love, metabolic magic can happen.
#4 Diet Pills
There has never ever been ANY diet pill or prescription drug that is effective for weight loss. The drug and supplement pushers love to sell weight loss pills, but their effectiveness is woefully inadequate in both the short run and the long run. This strategy almost always falls flat. It’s a nice dream to think that taking a pill will make our weight problems go away, but it’s not a reality. What is a reality is that moderation with food and exercise and developing a loving relationship with our body puts us in the best position for finding our natural weight. Give your body the rest, nourishment, sleep, love, affection, passion and purpose it requires, and it will be easier to truly get where you want to go.
#5 Hating Your Body
Hating the body into weight loss is a dead-end strategy. The body reacts like a small child. Imagine telling a 5-year-old that they’re “too fat and ugly and need to lose weight.” Besides crushing that poor toddler’s soul, the likely reaction would be for that child to feel shame and think, “there’s something wrong with me.” When we think there’s something wrong with us, we tend to act out in ways that prove this belief true.
Self-loathing is a poor way to motivate or inspire ourselves. Instead of shaming or blaming yourself, try kindness. Instead of harming yourself with unkind words about who you are and how you look, take a breath and affirm your self worth. Call a cease fire on self attack. Choose to treat yourself with respect and acceptance. You’re worthy of love, just like everyone else. Being loving towards your body, even though it’s not up to your standards of what’s perfect, is the key to happiness, and it’s absolutely necessary in order to have any hope of truly getting where you want to go.
At the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, our approaches of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition encourage you to see your body in a holistic way, helping you to get out of the rut of yo-yo dieting. Once you can let go of these old habits that just don’t work, you can enter into a new realm of seeing yourself as more than just a body, but as someone worthy of love at any weight.
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