Did you know that an estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet every year?
Many of these same people are actually chronic dieters – meaning they’ve been on a diet for many years.
And what’s even more shocking is that so many dieters never achieve lasting success for themselves; they either never get to their desired weight, or they only do so for a short time and then put the weight right back on.
If you’ve been dieting for years without lasting results, it might be time to take a different approach.
The majority of people I worked with over the years report that they achieved their weight loss goal with extreme dieting, often accompanied by intense exercise.
In other words, they got where they wanted to go by unsustainable measures.
The interesting thing is that so many people have the false belief that, “When I look or weigh differently, then I’ll be happy.”
By the way, you didn’t invent this kind of thinking, if you have it. The world did.
Diets don’t work because when we consistently eat in a way that is too low in calories for the body–which means too low in nutrition, too low in essential nutrients, and too low in what the body needs as its energy requirements–our metabolism adjusts downwards over time.
Dieting instructs the body very directly to store fat and to not build muscle.
Muscle tissue, by the way, is by far and away the main source of calorie burning in the body. So you want your body creating muscle.
Instead of robbing yourself of the nourishment you need, your job is to learn how to nourish yourself with food.
In the end, your job is to learn how to be an eater.
That’s what this episode is all about-ending the malnourishing cycle of endless dieting so you can thrive.
We’d love to hear your own experience or thoughts about this episode – please drop us a comment below!
P.S. Interested in learning more about emotional eating and finally finding freedom with food? Would you like some deeper wisdom and guidance in your emotional eating journey? If so, we’d love for you to learn more about our special program, The Emotional Eating Breakthrough. This is a 10-week online transformational experience that’s designed to help you finally find peace with food. You’ll learn from the originator of the field of Eating Psychology, Marc David – and you’ll be guided through a true mind, body, heart and soul approach combining the best of psychology, science, and personal development. The powerful tools and techniques you’ll discover in the program address the root cause of why we emotionally eat, forever changing your relationship with food.
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Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating
Greetings, friends. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Thanks for your time.
When it comes to shedding pounds, I always ask this question of my weight loss clients: how many years have you been dieting? The answer to this question tells me so much about people. True it is that so many people want to lose weight, and they usually know precisely the number of pounds they want to let go of. People will stay quite focused on that number. The interesting thing, though, is that few people are genuinely aware of the number of years that they’ve been on a diet. So, I think it’s time we pay some honest and thoughtful attention to this. Here’s what I mean.
I find it shocking that, on average, weight loss clients who are, let’s say 30 years old, have been dieting for at least 15 years. On average, weight loss clients in their 40s have been dieting for 20 to 25 years. Most weight loss clients in their 50s have been dieting for over 35 years. My friends, I have worked with women in their 80s who have said they’ve been dieting for over 60 years! It boggles my mind, and I hope these numbers are startling you just a little. For me, I get a bit outraged about it. I remember as a child, my mom, my aunt’s were forever dieting, talking about dieting, lamenting about it, complaining about it. And of course, never quite having much sustainable success with it all. Dieting was a constant conversation that I observed in the adult world ever since I was like five years old. So, no matter what your age, I’d love for you to ask yourself the question, how many years have I been dieting? If the answer is more than 10 years, then please consider re-evaluating immediately. If you’ve been dieting for half your life, you owe it to yourself to ask the question: Why? Why would I continue to do something that’s been consistently ineffective? Why would I put so much of my life energy into a strategy that has consistently failed me? Why would I keep looking for success in a place that’s always failed me?
Part of the challenge is that for some people, they did have success once or twice in their life. They lost the weight. They hit the target. They reached their goal. And when they did, they likely felt great. People have often said to me: “I felt so light, I just want to get back to that place and that feeling.” But it’s often more than a “lightness” of carrying less weight. People can get a bit of a high after an intense weight loss. It can be like a drug; a drug that we will constantly long for. Let me explain. The majority of people I have worked with over the years report that they achieved their weight loss goal with extreme dieting, often accompanied by intense exercise. In other words, they got where they wanted to go by unsustainable measures. Think about that. The proof that their method was unsustainable is that they gained the weight back, and they’re dieting once again, longing to return to a heightened state from the past.
So, here’s what I’d like to suggest. People can become “state addicted”. By the way, that’s not my term or concept. It comes from certain schools in the addiction universe. A state addiction, just as it sounds, is that we can get addicted to a state of mind or being. For example, we can get hooked on constantly being stressed out. We might complain about being stressed out. But the odd high from our own stress chemistry, can have us wanting to return to it again and again. People who are addicted to romance, quite literally, are hooked on the chemistry of courtship and early sexual bonding. People addicted to gambling, are hooked on that chemical state that accompanies the risk and excitement of winning. The list goes on.
Many people get addicted to the state of weight loss that comes as the result of intense dieting, calorie restriction, and extreme exercise. It’s actually all a package deal for a lot of people with the end result of weight loss feeling like the ultimate high. But like any other addiction, I’m trying to point out, it’s not sustainable. People will lament: “but I felt so good! I felt so light! I felt like the real me!” My friends, that’s like a cocaine addict or an alcoholic saying: “I feel so good when I do my chosen drug. I just want to do it again!” That’s what it sounds like to me. These can all be seen as state addictions and it’s the kind of addiction that will keep people dieting for decades because they want to get back to that place. Now, of course, not everyone who diets for decades falls into this category. Many people are simply hooked on the promise that losing weight, or having the perfect body is going to bring them. We’ve concluded that the body I have right now is not the right one for me, and therefore I’m not the right person for me. In other words, we confuse our self- identity and self-worth with a certain weight or body type. We believe that a different body that we think is better will be our salvation and make our life far better than it is right now.
Let me ask you, have you ever met someone who had the perfect body, or the perfect weight, or the perfect looks, and they still weren’t happy? Likewise, have you ever met someone who weighs similar to you and has a similar body type, and while you’re not happy with your body, they are clearly having a good time and they’re happy with there’s? My point is this: weighing a certain amount of pounds or kilos guarantees absolutely nothing. You think it does, but it doesn’t. The interesting thing is, so many people have the false belief that when I look or weigh different, than I’ll be happy. By the way, you didn’t invent this kind of thinking if you have it. The world did. You just adopted it like unknowingly taking on a bad virus. You’ve been exposed to this toxic belief, likely since childhood. You have learned it from television, from the movies, magazines, images from advertising, and in a million ways that you don’t even know you learned it. The message is so pervasive. Who you are, as you are, ain’t lovable or acceptable. We need to look different. Now, once again, this toxic viral belief is so powerful, that it will infect our minds and make us diet for a lifetime, even though we haven’t had any sustainable success. That’s a bad virus.
Now, in case you haven’t learned yet, I want to share with you the simple science. If you’ve been dieting for a decade or more, here’s the simple science of why it hasn’t worked sustainably for you. Know that there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not a willpower weakling. You don’t need to finally find the perfect weight loss diet so you can then you can live happily ever after. Diets don’t work because when we consistently eat in a way that is too low in calories for the body, which means too low in nutrition, too low in essential nutrients, and too low in what the body needs as its energy requirements, our metabolism adjust downwards. Over time, low-calorie dieting literally signals the body to slow down its calorie burning capacity. Dieting instructs the body, very directly, to store fat and to not build muscle, just the opposite of what any Dieter would like. Muscle tissue, by the way, is by far and away, the main source of calorie burning in the body. So, you want your body creating muscle.
Now, the reason dieting has this effect is rooted in what’s actually our brilliant genetics and our brilliant body wisdom. When the human body is faced with starvation conditions, the body has developed a fantastic approach to help us survive. In the absence of food, or enough food, our best chance for survival is indeed to slow down calorie burning, vigorously store fat as an emergency energy reserve, and halt muscle building . This is because muscle building requires a great amount of energy and nutrition, and we just don’t have enough to spare when we’re in a famine. Low calorie diets will mimic this starvation response. When you drop down your calories, or when you eat very low fat, or very low protein, the body does its best job to assess the situation. It thinks that you are on a desert island, or that you’re in a famine time. Your body loves you, and it wants to save you. So, it’s doing the right thing.
So my friends, your job is not to diet. Your job is to learn how to nourish yourself with food. Your job is to learn how to be an eater. Yeah, there’s certain approaches to food and nutrition and eating that can put us in the best part of the probability curve for weight loss, but this is going to vary from person to person because everybody’s biochemically unique. But the point for today is: food is not your enemy, and dieting is not your friend. It’s the other way around. If you’ve been dieting for more than a decade, then it is time for a change. If you’ve tried anything for a handful of years and it didn’t work, you’d want to try something else. Now’s the time to save yourself from years of disappointment. I really mean that.
Now is the time to create for yourself a whole new relationship with food, and with your body. Now’s the time to begin to make friends with food first and to make friends with your body. Once you begin this part of your journey, you’re going to have the best chance to shapeshift your body in a sustainable way. Hope this was helpful for you, my friends.
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