End Your Weight And Food Struggles Once And For All
By now we all know that diets don’t work, right? Even so, with a 68 billion dollar weight loss industry constantly enticing us to jump on the diet-and-deprivation bandwagon, it’s hard to just say no. I get it.
But here’s the thing: Going on a diet is like putting a Band-Aid on a broken arm. They’re ineffective and exasperating at best, emotionally damaging and physically harmful at worst.
Diets don’t help you understand WHY you overeat in the first place, so they don’t get to the root of the issue. Diets also don’t show you HOW to eat, or teach you how to form a healthy relationship with food and your body.
And without those critical (and I mean CRITICAL) missing pieces of the weight-loss puzzle, you’re going to struggle. The allure of dieting is everywhere, but diets—most of which only focus on WHAT to eat—not only create an obsessive relationship with food and throw your metabolism out of whack, they also set you up for failure and frustration.
Please let go of the idea that there is a perfect diet or cleanse that will finally solve your weight problems. Realize that the answer lies within you. You have the power to transform your relationship with food, your hunger, and yourself.
Here’s how to lose weight without dieting in 4 (simple-ish) steps…
Step 1: Modify Your Mindset
Don’t start by changing what you eat; start by changing how you think. Do the mental work first.
First things first: Stop criticizing yourself…
Accept and love yourself exactly as you are, extra weight and all. You’re not giving up, you’re empowering yourself to feel good now, so that you can take positive actions towards your goals with confidence. Start now (yes, right now!) by forgiving yourself for the past. You did the best you could with the weight loss resources you had at that time, period. Release the past and begin again.
Next, start asking the hard questions…
What is the downside of losing the weight? For example, are you using weight as an excuse for failure? (“Because of my weight, I can’t be successful, I can’t get a boyfriend, I can’t be happy, etc. etc.”) Or does the weight make you feel safe or protected in some way? Are you terrified of being abused, abandoned or rejected once you’re thin? Once you understand your fears, you can gently work your way through them, and this will give you the psychological green light you need to lose the weight, for good.
Finally, shift your shadow beliefs…
We all have a set of memorized behaviors, emotional reactions, beliefs, and attitudes that run behind the scenes. This subconscious program determines how we live and make decisions on a moment-to-moment basis. And when you have limiting beliefs that don’t support your health goals, you end up constantly sabotaging yourself. Shift your beliefs and you’ll fast track your success.
(For more help modifying your mindset, please check out my Smaller Size Bigger Life group coaching program – you can hop on the waitlist and sign up for a free introductory weight loss class HERE).
Step 2: Eat Only Foods You Love
If you’re thinking…
“Hold up, Heather. I LOVE French fries, chocolate, burgers, and pasta. How can I possibly eat those foods and still lose weight!?”
Here’s the thing: You do not have to give up the foods you love to lose weight.
Try to stop seeing foods as “good” or “bad.” If you eat only when you’re physically hungry (see Step 4) and stop before you’re uncomfortably full (see Step 3), you can eat anything (yes, anything) you want… and still lose weight.
But you’ll reach your goal weight a lot faster, and you’ll feel a heck of a lot better, if you nourish yourself with whole and delicious REAL foods more often than not. Here’s what I do…
Most of the time (maybe about 85% or so) I eat nutrient-dense, clean foods I love (I shop at farmers’ markets, I drink green smoothies, I cook delicious real-food recipes, and I search out healthy foods everywhere I go). And the rest of the time, well, I just don’t worry about it. And neither should you. It’s all about eating real food in the real world
I also incorporate movement into my daily life, I eat mindfully and I stay in tune with my body…
Step 3: Tune Into Your Body
Remember when you were a kid and you instinctively knew when and how much to eat? It’s 100% possible for you to find that kind of freedom with food again.
Your (perfect and beautifully designed) body instinctively knows exactly what it needs to thrive and naturally reach its ideal weight—you just have listen to it.
Think of your hunger as a scale…
Once you reach a 1, 2, or 3 on the scale (the Danger Zone), you’ll trigger your primal drive to overeat. And then you can kiss moderation, mindfulness, and conscious eating (not to mention weight loss) goodbye. And H-ANGRY is never pretty!
As often as possible, eat in the Fuel Zone. Start eating at around a 4 or 5. Eat mindfully and stop when you get to a 6 or 7. Also, eat only foods you love (see step 2 above), and, as often as possible, eat REAL food, not food-like products that your body can’t process or identify.
Honoring your hunger and respecting your fullness will help you build trust with yourself and food. And it will help you reconnect with your body’s natural cues which, I’m guessing, have become pretty blurry from years of controlling and binging.
A balanced meal plan can help you get a feel for portions and nutrient combos while you start tuning in. But remember, your body knows better than any expert (including me!) how much to eat, when to eat, and when it’s time to stop eating.
Step 4: Deal With Your Emotions Directly
If you find yourself heading (OK, sometimes running) for the fridge when you’re at a 7 or above on the Hunger Scale, most likely you’re using food for emotional relief—to comfort, to reduce anxiety, or to reward. And it’s no wonder…
Eating is a seductive distraction that immediately soothes negative feelings. And certain foods (sugar and carbs, I’m looking at you!) trigger a release of feel-good chemicals in the brain.
But, as you know, the relief found in food is temporary. In fact, it lasts all of five seconds—then you go back to feeling sad or stressed… and now you also feel guilty, stuffed, and disgusted.
There’s a big difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger…
The truth is this: If your food craving doesn’t come from physical hunger, then you can be sure that eating is not going to satisfy it.
The next time you have an intense emotional food craving, try this: First take a few deep breaths and really acknowledge any accompanying feelings of fear, anxiety, or whatever. Once you make yourself aware of your feelings, simply say to yourself, “OK this is how I’m feeling right now, and that’s OK, I have a right to my feelings.”
Next dig into the feelings. Write out exactly what you are feeling (and why), or what you are trying NOT to feel (and why). And then for ninety seconds (set a timer) just sit with the feelings. Honor and allow the feelings and let them just pass through you.
Then take a few more deep breathes and say, “I choose to see this differently” or “All is well. Out of this situation only good can come, and I am safe.” or “I choose to see peace instead of this.” Concentrate on your breathing and just repeat a mantra until you feel a little calmer.
This begins a powerful new habit of accepting and releasing your fears instead of stuffing them down with food, ignoring them, or resisting them. We often think our emotions are too big or too scary or just too much. We think they are unacceptable in some way.
But here’s what you need to know… ALL of your emotions are absolutely valid (even the guilt or shame after a binge!) they are a part of being a human being, and ALL your emotions deserve to be acknowledged, welcomed, and felt.And once you train yourself to do that (and you CAN do that), you will stop emotional eating.
(For more help with emotional eating, go HERE to sign up for my free weight loss class.)
So what do you think? Are you ready to ditch dieting, forever? And please let me know if you have any questions, I’m here to help.