Sometimes I say to myself that if I hear one more thing about losing weight I’m going to quit my job, run away to some tropical island, and eat vacation food for the rest of my life. But then I remember that one of the most important commitments of my life is to be the best expert and teacher and practitioner when it comes to eating psychology – which means I’ll probably be hearing about all the latest weight loss information until everyone on earth is finally skinny. This may take a few years.
Which is why I decided to come up with my own list of 4 strategies that work for weight loss, and 4 strategies that don’t. This way, I won’t have to complain about someone else’s knuckleheaded methods, but I can sit back and listen to anyone else who cares to complain about my own. The truth is though, I think I’m onto something. Keep reading and let me know what you think.
Let’s start with what doesn’t work when it comes to losing weight:
1 – Dieting for more than 10 years – one of my favorite questions to ask any weight-loss client is this – “ how many years have you been dieting?” In over 3 decades of professional practice, I’m still fascinated how people will casually respond with answers such as 10 years, 20 years, 30 years and more. My rule of thumb is that if a strategy continues to fail after a decade of use, then it’s time to step on it, kill it, and toss it in the trash. The art and science of dieting for weight loss has some usefulness in the short term. But the long-term practice of dieting is oxymoronic. It’s unscientific. Friends don’t let friends diet.
2- Artificial Sweeteners – after almost 50 years of artificial sweeteners in the food chain, not a single peer-reviewed scientific study has shown any correlation between the use of such nasty tasting stuff and long-term weight loss. In fact, all kinds of embarrassing research demonstrates that artificial sweeteners regulate appetite upwards, and indeed causes us to gain weight. Whoops. Generally speaking, any artificial food that has been invented in the laboratory and that’s not natural to the food chain has failed miserably when it comes to nourishing the human form. You know the moral of the story – eat real food.
3 – Thinking you’re fat when you’re really not – have you ever met someone who’s clearly slender or thin but spends a good amount of inner airtime and life energy thinking that she’s fat and needs to lose a pound or 3 or 10? If you answered no, then it’s time for you to get out more because they’re everywhere. So here’s the challenge: the same people who constantly think they’re fat even though they’re not never seem to reach the place where they finally say “I’m thin.” I think such people think that by thinking that they’re fat, somehow the universe will take pity on them and give them a few pounds of weight loss just for charity. After all, they’re not asking for much. My prescription is this: don’t think you’re fat if you’re really not fat. Just think that you’re silly and you need a big hug and lots more love. This is more factually correct.
4 – Staying on the sidelines – a significant number of those who are trying to lose weight have a very interesting strategy – they take themselves out of the game. They stay on the sidelines of life. They’ve made the well-thought-out choice that if I can’t be at the weight I want, then I can’t possibly be the real me, which means my real life really hasn’t started yet, which means that I really can’t play with all the other kids in the game of life. Ouch. If this describes you, then the truth is, the sandbox isn’t as fun without you. If you’re using weight as an excuse to hold back from life, I’ll bet you the billions of dollars of profit that the weight-loss industry makes each year that you’re not nearly as happy as you could be. But you needn’t worry any longer. Now’s your time to come into the game, no matter what you weigh. Can you hear all the fans cheering your arrival?
Now consider these 4 strategies that work when it comes to losing weight:
1 – Eating – oddly enough, one of the best ways to achieve long-term sustainable weight-loss is to eat. When I say “eat,” I mean creating for yourself a relationship with food that has us loving food, feeling nourished by it, receiving pleasure from it, celebrating it, and eating with a hearty satisfaction for life. Eat. Trust your body. Indulge in your God-given biological imperative to add nutrition to your every cell via the tasty vehicle of food. By being willing to find your natural appetite and your inner nutritionist, your body will begin to find its’ way home. It’s that simple.
2 – Being Loved – a practitioner that I’m mentoring recently complained that she knows she supposed to love her body as it is, and she knows that it would be best to accept her body exactly where it’s at, but no matter how hard she tries, she just doesn’t love her body and lives in constant self-criticism. I suggested to her that she was right, and it probably was too hard for her to love her body. I postulated that sometimes, we just cannot do things alone. We need to call in the reinforcements. I knew she was married, and upon previous questioning I knew that her husband loved her body and wanted more of it, so I suggested that if she can’t love her body, then let her beloved spouse take over for a while. He was up for the task, nothing was in his way, and I was serious about this. The body needs to be loved, but not exclusively by the one who inhabits it. So if you just can’t seem to love your body as it is, try to find someone who can and see what happens.
3 – Support the skinny people – I’ve noticed that some women can get pretty competitive with each other when it comes to body weight. They look at each other, compare, criticize, silently attack, and seem to go against the very people that they want to emulate. For sure, this is simply part of human nature. But at the same time, we’re here to grow and evolve and raise the bar in how we relate with all our fellow creatures. So not only is it a cheap shot when we unfairly judge fat people, it’s equally unfair to judge the skinny ones. Were all trying our best, so in general, the judgment thing tends to fall flat when it comes to getting us what we want. The next time you see someone who has the body or the weight that you want, send them a silent blessing. What goes around comes around.
4 – Do some spiritual sit-ups – Warning: I’m being metaphoric here. I don’t mean actual sit-ups. I mean that it’s time to exercise our spiritual muscles just a bit more. For far too many people, dieting and weight loss and good nutrition can become its own full-time religion. We can spend a huge amount of our life energy worshiping in the Church of Our Lady of Calorie Burning. It pains me to see how we drain so much of our life energy praying to a false God that never delivers the miracle we’ve been hoping for. Strengthen your spiritual abs. Find your true guiding star. Talk to your Guardian Angel. Tune into your Life. Inquire of the universe about the grander plans that it may have for you. It just might be that as we move towards our destiny that matters most, the body we’re meant to have will finally have the freedom to reveal itself.
I would love to know a time when you trusted your body, even if it was small, temporary or happened years ago.
Institute for the Psychology of Eating
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