For decades women (and men) have been bombarded with misinformation about how to lose weight and keep it off. Nutrition scientists and researchers have also tried to unravel the mystery of weight gain and loss and its impact on our overall health. It feels like every other day there is a new headline that contradicts the one put out a few months prior…What gives? Who are we supposed to believe?
There are gurus from every walk of life trying to sell you weight loss and they all guarantee THEIR way is the path to success. Sometimes they have a plan that will cause the added weight to seemingly melt off, but rarely is the weight loss sustainable and is quickly regained. Research finds that this yo-yo approach is actually WORSE for your health than living in a larger body indefinitely.
Here’s the thing. If someone had created a magic pill, diet, or prescription, the industry wouldn’t be worth $72B and you wouldn’t be hopping from diet to diet trying to figure it out. You wouldn’t be looking around for the next big promise or get lured into another supplement scheme would you?
If diets worked, then WHY are we still on the hamster wheel? Why do people make billions of dollars on our vulnerabilities?
Isn’t it time to take the power back? I definitely think so.
After working as a dietitian for over 15 years, dishing out nutrition advice in every shape and form to every walk of life, I have come to see a few common reasons why those who want to lose weight can’t keep it off long term.
1. You weren’t taught to TRUST yourself or your body
When you were born, you were naturally great at regulating your nutrient and calorie intake. You ate when you were hungry, stopped when you were full, and refused food when you hadn’t expended enough energy. Watch a breastfeeding infant who is feeding on demand and you will see the beauty of nature working through her as she easily regulates her appetite.
As you grew up, you were taught to clean your plate, or control your impulses. Over and over again, it was repeated to you that this food is good and that one is bad. You were rewarded with food and punished with food. You learned that food helped you cope with uncomfortable feelings but were never given an alternative method. You were handed highly processed foods that were hyperpalatable (over stimulating) and full of flavor but devoid of nutrients, so you stayed hungry and kept eating.
Over time, you lost your innate ability to self-regulate and check in with your body wisdom about what foods are best for your body and when to eat them.
This loss of TRUST is a foundation of why you can’t NOT diet. You believe your intake must be controlled with food diary that tracks calories and macros or that you must wield your “will-power” when you are faced with temptation.
From a very early age, you were taught not to trust yourself but, the good news is, it’s a skill that can be relearned.
2. You see your body as BAD
Make no mistake, the larger body has been identified as “bad” or less healthy by our culture for the past century or more. We can blame the movies, magazine covers, peer influence, or our mothers, but the truth is, the undercurrent in popular culture is that a larger body is a less good body in more ways than one.
Is this true?
New research from the Healthy Body At Every Size (#haes) Movement indicates that when we focus on healthy behaviors such as listening to our bodies, finding exercise we enjoy and find ways to feel better, instead of the drive to lose pounds, we actually improve biological indicators of health to include improved blood pressure, lower cholesterol and increases in physical activity. The HAES movement also focuses deeply on mental health playing a key role in producing life-long improvements in health. Hallelujah!
Accepting your body where it’s at right now can be one of the best things you can do for yourself not only for your mental health but your physical health.
When we start seeing ALL bodies as good bodies, and dismiss the belief that larger bodies are “bad” or “less good” than smaller bodies, we can then focus on making healthy behavior changes from a whole new place. Yes, sometimes the body changes on a physical level as a result of taking good care of it, but that should be a side effect, not the main event nor the intended goal.
3. You’re eating under STRESS, like, all the time…
Your growing waist line and perception of food as the enemy is adding to your unsurmountable levels of stress.
Food was meant to be enjoyed and as a way to unwind and reconnect with our bodies. Instead, food is being seen as the enemy and the very thought of a bad food ignites the bodies stress response.
The literal thoughts and beliefs you have about what’s on your plate, can illicit enough perceived stress that it affects your actual ability to digest food properly and is responsible for spikes in insulin and cortisol; two hormones responsible for fat storage. So, if you’re thinking what I know you’re thinking, YES, stressing about foods can lead to fat mass increases over time.
But, possibly even more important, it’s a huge waste of time and energy spent on other things like your family, your work, or your life’s purpose.
The average dieter is stressing about food or body 50-75% of their waking hours (think about how much energy that expends and takes away from other areas of your life). You deserve better than that.
Identifying this behavior then shifting it, is a key to your food liberation.
4. Your pant size may fluctuate but your IDENTITY hasn’t shifted
One of the biggest reasons women and men are unable to keep weight off for the long term, even if that excess weight takes pressure off joints and supports a higher quality of living, is because they have not transformed withIN first.
What does this mean?
When you make changes from a place of willpower or struggle, but you haven’t changed the programming that got you there in the first place, you are basically doomed to repeat the actions and behaviors you define yourself by.
On the very deepest levels of our psyche is something psychotherapists like to call, your identity. This is how you see yourself and relate to the world around you. It defines your choices, actions, and behavior on a day-to-day level and is how you see yourself as you relate to the world.
For instance, if you are a smoker, you may wake up in the morning and immediately grab for your cigarettes and head outside without a second thought. If you are not a smoker, that thought will never cross your mind because you don’t identify as a smoker.
As with food and body, if you see yourself as a person who’s unhealthy, sick, genetically “flawed” or uncapable of loving yourself, you’ll have a very hard time creating lasting change despite how badly you say you yearn for it. The truth is, you must first see yourself in a new way by retraining your identity before physical changes stick.
The work most people ignore, is the deepest work done at the subconscious level of our being. It’s a redefining of how you exist in your world, regardless of your current environment, and it’s the work that will set you free for a lifetime.
Do you see yourself in any of these? Most of the women I talk to see themselves in one or more of the above truths and get excited to learn that moving toward the healthiest version of themselves doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be full of ease and joy if we approach it in the right manner.
About the Author: Beth Basham MS, RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian and Transformational Food Freedom Coach. She helps women reprogram their relationship with food and body so they can ditch diets forever and feel total freedom in their bodies from the inside out. Her programs are aimed at teaching women to relearn how to approach food and body which results in a transformation in other areas of their life. Beth has been practicing as a dietitian for over 15 years and has helped hundreds of women. You can watch her FREE training here and join her FREE FB Group here.