If you are struggling to lose weight and keep it off, you are not alone. According to the latest statistics 98% of people who lose weight put that weight back on (and more) within 12 months!
Although this is a shocking statistic, it highlights the importance of changing what you are doing so you are no longer in this 98% of people. So, if you have been on continuous restrictive diets and it has not helped you lose weight and keep it off, there is a very good reason for this.
Dieting has been the main ‘go to’ for most people when trying to lose weight. So, why is it, with so many people on so many different diets, there is only 2% of the dieting population having success with sustainable weight loss?
These are definitely not good odds and a very good reason for you to look at a more positive way to lose weight and keep it off without restrictive diets!
Lets take a look at why this strategy of restrictive dieting may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
1. Dieting – The Main focus is Food and Calories
Most diets focus strongly on food and calories and don’t address the many other areas in a persons life that have contributed to their weight gain. We focus on food and blame food, however it may not be the food at all.
There often can be short term success with dieting, however once you stop following the specific diet plan, the weight seems to sneak back on, and on many occasions you can end up weighing more than when you first started your diet.
We are all on our own personal journey and have many different influences in our lives that impact our health and weight. So, when your diet only takes into consideration food (and calories), it is not surprising that it is difficult to lose weight and keep it off. This one size fits all strategy is simply not working.
Your body has a very unique individual story compared to everyone else.
How you think is different. The way you eat your food is different. Your metabolism works differently. The emotions you experience in your life are different. All of these impact your health, your weight and your body very differently to how others will be impacted by their personal journeys.
If your diet plans does not look at your whole of body including your mind and body connection, then it will be difficult to have permanent success when your diet is only focused on one area of your lifestyle.
Your mind and body are connected in a very intricate way and one can, and does, affect the other dramatically. Especially when it comes to digestion and storing weight. So, it is difficult to fix a problem if you don’t look at the whole picture.
2. Dieting can impact negatively on self love
With every diet there usually comes a list of foods that you can eat and a list of foods to be avoided. Usually we tend to call foods either good or bad and this in its self can have a very negative impact on you, especially if you are unable to stick to the diet plan and then indulge in one of the self titled ‘bad foods’.
So, right from the get-go your diet plan can set you up for failure as the restriction on food often provides unrealistic expectations of forever banishing certain foods from your life. This usually makes you want it more.
If your decision to no longer include something in your diet is not coming from the right place, then as soon as our brain receives a message that you can no longer have a particular food ever again, we want it more than ever. It is very hard to fight against this compulsion.
When you make weight loss purely about food, it affects your relationship with food and your whole life becomes about food. Food you should eat, food you shouldn’t eat, food you just ate that you now feel guilty about, and the focus on food starts to take over your life and can often be on your mind constantly.
If you have a bad day and slip up by having one of the forbidden foods, you then can self attack and become very disappointed with yourself. This leads to stress in the body which impacts on your digestive system and works against your weight loss efforts. We will talk more about this in supportive strategies below.
It is so easy to get into a pattern of negative self talk and beat ourselves up for not having enough willpower to avoid certain foods.
You will be relieved to know that this has nothing to do with willpower.
It is very easy for us to be in constant self attack when we are unable to maintain our diet. However, when you consider that most diets are not coming from a holistic approach, it is not surprising why it is difficult to maintain momentum with these diets.
So it has nothing to do with willpower, you are experiencing the power of your body’s wisdom overriding everything to get you to eat more, in the hope that the foods you choose will have the nutrients to support your body’s needs.
3. Most Diets are not sustainable – this is why they fail
Quite often you can lose weight by following a specific diet plan when you first go on a diet, especially if your diet plan is linked with a rigorous exercise program. However these diets are just not sustainable due to their restrictive nature.
If you are looking at a diet for the purpose of quickly losing a few kilograms (pounds), this is perfectly achievable as you can restrict foods and push your body with harsh exercise for a limited time, and this will get results. Unfortunately as soon as you stop, the weight comes back. I am sure many of you have gone through this frustration a few times.
If you have addressed the real reason for the weight gain and it is truly about food then the weight will not return. However, because it is often not about food, the weight will come back until you address the real reason for your body storing this weight.
When embarking on a new diet, the only way that it will be sustainable is to introduce patterns and ways of eating as permanent lifestyle changes. Feel confident that it is a change in eating that you will be happy to stick with for the long term.
However, there usually will be more to it than just food. There are so many other areas they can impact on your weight gain and these need to be taken into consideration for you to have success in finding your natural body weight and maintaining this long term.
4. Many diets have a skewed approach
So many diets with so many different philosophies, it is difficult to know which way to jump.
Low fat diets, high protein diets, low protein diets, juicing diets, detox diets, high carb diets, low carb diets…and the list goes on. All promising the magic fix and the royal road to success. Yet not one diet has come up with clear evidence that their diet can provide a high success rate for long term sustainable weight loss.
Such diets may be suitable for short-term weight loss, but cannot be sustained because the body has nutritional requirements that are needed for optimal health, that are often not met by many of these diets.
If your diet plan does not give you the balance of proper nutrients, then unwanted symptoms and dis-ease will result.
When the bodies essential requirements are not being met, the body can continually be in a low level stress response which can trigger the brain to store fat due to fear of famine, and other symptoms will also appear due to these nutritional deficiencies. All of which affect your weight loss efforts.
Overeating and binge eating can be a result of nutritional deficiency.
Our body is such an amazing creation and it can override everything to try to communicate with us. Overeating and binge eating can oftentimes be the body demanding that you pay attention.
Learning how your body works will give you a much bigger understanding of how your body is communicating. When our body displays symptoms, we often look for a quick fix for the symptom, however it could be our bodies response to the particular diet we are on.
We may become annoyed at hair loss, fatigue, intense cravings, mood fluctuations and poor memory, or worse still…start asking the ‘why me question’.
All of these symptoms can relate to protein deficiency and this is how your body is communicating with you? I am sure that knowing this would alter your diet strategy and change the way you look at how you are eating?
Did you know that digestive issues, mood issues, low immunity, brittle hair and nails can be symptoms from not enough healthy fats in your diet? So, if you are on a low fat diet and can relate to these symptoms, instead of looking for a medical fix for the symptom, it may be that by simply adding more healthy fat into your diet you can support your body to reverse these issues.
If your diet does not have enough healthy protein options and healthy fat options, then you will most likely experience binge eating and overeating as a way for your body trying to get the nutrition it is missing.
Unfortunately we don’t always understand what is being communicated, so we tend to eat whatever we can get hold of, rather than reaching for what the body truly needs.
Supportive strategies for your weight loss
So, now we have gone through the bad news on diets, lets look at supportive strategies to help you with your natural long term sustainable weight loss
1. No more good foods or bad foods.
Start looking at food in a different light as food has not been designed to be good or bad. Perhaps thinking about food as supportive or not so supportive may help.
Some foods are more supportive to your body than other foods due to their nutritional value. Other foods may not be as supportive to your body due to how they have been manufactured and processed. Then there are some foods that may induce an allergic reaction in your body and will have health implications if you continue to eat them.
Consider what your body may need for optimal health, rather than restricting your food intake as this will be more sustainable long term. Start to get curious about how the body feels when you have chosen a supportive food, and what effect this has on your energy levels, your concentration, your mood.
When you have foods that are not so supportive, what does your body communicate to you? Do you feel tired, do you lose concentration, is it addictive, does it make you want more?
Rather than reduce your food intake, could you eat more supportive foods and actually lose weight as a result? In many cases…the answer is YES!
If you have been dieting for some time and cannot lose the weight, then there may be other reasons and the answer may not be in restricting your food.
Change what you are doing and move out of the 98% statistic, rather than reducing what you are eating, look for healthy options to satisfy the nutritional needs of your body. i.e. don’t go with low fat as this usually means high sugar.
2. Understand where your cravings are coming from
Understand that when you are craving something, your body needs nutrition. Don’t beat yourself up because you have over indulged or had a session of binge eating, as this is not about willpower.
By restricting what you are eating, you are most likely missing the correct balance of nutrition in your body and your body will be prompting you to eat and continue to eat, hoping to get the vital nutrients for cells and organs.
Before reaching for the usual processed foods or coffee, feel into what your body may need. How did you start your day? If you started with sugary foods, you will crave these all day, which is the addiction of sugar kicking in. Could some good fat or protein be more supportive to your body?
Rather than fearing food, experiment with it. Try some eggs and avocado in the morning and feel into how that affects your clarity and energy. People often experience of lot less cravings or binge eating when they eat a healthy breakfast and lunch with good fats and protein.
3. Understand that there are no quick fixes
Life is a journey. Usually our weight gain has been over an extended period of time and there have been many influencing factors that has caused our body to store weight.
So, when we stop looking for the magic quick fixes, we are able to focus on a plan for true long term sustainable weight loss which becomes easier due to our change in thinking.
Make small changes that are supportive to your body and that you see as a lifestyle change. If you are considering a diet plan, make sure that it is nutritionally balanced and is something that you will enjoy.
If your diet is too strict and you don’t enjoy it, you will not be able to sustain it. If you fear food and then punish yourself for sneaking a treat, this will have the complete opposite effect to what you are trying to achieve.
4. How can you reduce the impact that stress has on your weight loss efforts
Stress which is also known as ‘Fight or Flight’, can be a main contributor to your body holding weight, so it is extremely important that you understand how stress impacts the body and try and reduce stress (especially when you are eating).
Your sympathetic nervous system is activated when your body is in stress response and this shuts down your digestive system and creates a lot of other changes in your body. In stress response there is an increase in cortisol, increase in insulin and your brain triggers your body to store weight, store fat and not build muscle.
The sympathetic nervous system kicks in automatically in response to a real threat or a perceived threat and is not just relating to a physical threat. A perceived threat can be negative thoughts, self attack and negative self talk, arguments, watching disturbing movies, news stories, thinking about past trauma and so much more.
The good news is that once you are aware of what is bringing stress into your life, you can practise simple strategies to support your body to be in the ‘Rest and Digest’ response, which is your parasympathetic nervous system response.
To support your weight loss, ensure that you are 100% present with your food and that you really enjoy what you are eating.
Take a few deep breaths before you start your meal and throughout your meal to help your body relax. This is a good short-cut to help your body move from the ‘stress response’ to ‘rest and digest’ response.
If you have a fear of food, you will be in stress response. If you are eating at the computer, or in the car, or in front of the TV, you will most likely be in stress response and your brain will not be aware that you are actually eating.
Bring your whole body into the present moment of eating and focusing on the food, slow down and enjoy your meal and savour the flavours.
This is a very simple, yet powerful strategy that will have an enormous impact on your weight loss efforts – but it may take some practise to keep your mind focused on what your are eating in the most positive way you can.
If you think the food is bad and you should not be eating it, then this is a perceived threat and your digestive system will not be working effectively. So keep it positive, enjoyable and appreciate the support you are giving to your body.
You will find that when you slow down with your food, it can yield more results than every diet you have been on. By taking time to really taste your food and enjoy the texture, your body is able to properly digest your food.
The other benefit of taking time and being present with your food is that you will automatically start to connect more into your body and will automatically start to change what you choose to eat.
5. Appreciate your body, it is an amazing creation
Your body continues to support you regardless of how you tend to it and it really is your lifelong friend and needs to be honoured.
If you connect into your body more and give it a little more attention, understand it’s needs and give it the quality that it deserves, you will continually be rewarded with good health and vitality – and ultimately your right size body.
Your body is constantly communicating with you, your weight and other symptoms that may appear are there for a reason. When you look a little deeper past the obvious symptom, you may find the actual message and once you unlock this message…amazing things can happen with your health and your weight!
By Kerrie Cox ~ True Body Connection | Mind Body Nutrition Coach & Mindfulness Eating Practitioner