Losing weight isn’t something we get taught in school. It shouldn’t be something we have to learn, but with obesity becoming one of the world’s biggest epidemics, maybe it’s time we started educating ourselves on how to deal with it.
So how do you lose weight?
Science tells you it’s to do with calories in vs calories out and that we should be eating in a deficit in order to lose weight. Sounds easy, right? But try putting it into practice.
There is no one size fits all. Although I have my own personal ideas, which I’ll share below, Some people find exercising and living a healthier lifestyle beneficial, while some people calorie restrict. Yet, the result of these lifestyle changes can potentially leave dieters gaining more weight than losing.
Unless you’re developing your mental attitude towards food and your body, the chances are any efforts you’ve made to lose weight have failed you. Especially when using restriction as a weight loss method.
Why are you not losing weight?
Perhaps we should look at why people gain weight in the first place.
For me, gaining weight is directly linked to my emotional state. I am an anxiety eater. Our bodies don’t like pain, be it physical or emotional pain. Any opportunity your body gets it’ll try and replace the pain feeling with pleasure. Which for me, and possibly you, means eating.
Eating is a pleasurable experience. We associate meals out, sugar, caffeine and more with feelings of happiness and euphoria. Is there any wonder with today’s increase in depression and anxiety that there’s also a rise in obesity and eating disorders?
What do you do, when you’re bored, waiting for something or feeling like you are missing out on things? I open my fridge.
Pacing round and round in circles, walking to and from the fridge, to the cupboard until I find something to occupy my time.
It’s not that we’re greedy. It’s that we’ve never been taught how important controlling our thoughts is. We need to look at the bigger picture. I personally feel weight gain is to do with controlling negative emotions. Unfortunately controlling emotions with food isn’t the right way to do it and inevitably leads to a catch 22 situation.
- You’re emotional
- you eat
- you become overweight
- it leads to more negative emotions
- Which leads to more eating
It’s a cycle hard to break.
OK, so how do I reverse the weight gain?
So now you’re starting to understand what causes it, how do you undo the damage?
Respect Your Body
The first step, I believe, to losing weight or becoming healthier, is finding respect for your body. If you emotionally eat, you’re using your body as a punching bag. You’re not treating it with respect – you’re abusing it.
And restrictive diets? Punishing yourself into losing weight, simply won’t work. Sure, you’re determined and hardworking. You may even be losing a lot of weight. But, the second you start messing up your “diet” feelings of guilt and distress start filling your brain. Negative emotions, which you’re likely to fuel with either more food or more restriction. Leading to a pretty awful relationship with your own body, your mind and food.
PLUS, even if you lose weight on your diet, without having that respect for your body the chances are you’ll still hate it just as much as you did when you started losing weight.
Listen To Your Body
Once you’ve started to respect your body, you need to be listening to it. Listen to what your body wants. Craving Chocolate? It’s probably not chocolate alone your body wants it’s the magnesium. Check out this article by Care 2 to find out what you’re cravings actually mean.
In order for your body to be working at it’s best, you need to be eating easily digestible foods which won’t leave you with gas and bloating. By listening to your body and its feelings you’ll start to understand which foods affect you in different ways.
I’ve found that drinking too much caffeine and consuming lactose causes my body bloating and breathing issues, so, although difficult, I have cut down immensely on coffee and yoghurt. Although I’ve not given up just yet, I do plan to once I’ve found some suitable replacements.
In order to listen to your body, you have to start eating more mindfully. Eating away from distractions like computers, phones and televisions. Carrying on eating, even when you’re full is common when your mind is focusing on the TV over the food going into your mouth. Eating mindfully will ensure you know when you are full and can stop eating. It’s not rude to leave food on your plate.
Speaking of mindfulness, I’m a big fan of meditation and here’s a quick, less than 10-minute meditation about listening to your body and eating mindfully.
Think about your happiness
Dieting is a source of misery. Seriously. You deprive yourself, you beat yourself up, you feel guilty and you end up self-sabotaging – where is the happiness in that? Sure you lose a pound, it cheers you up. But, what about when you gain a pound? That negative emotion is so much stronger than the positive.
Through respecting your body, listening to your body and finding happiness without scales and counting you’ll know when you are where you want to be. It may take some time, but you’ll make it there happier and healthier.
Through a painless, uncontrolled, enjoyable process, you’ll lose weight whilst still finding pleasure in food. Remember, you only get one body – It’s vital you look after it.
For further reading, check out my review of Allen Carrs “The Easy Weigh to Lose weight” where he discusses some similar ideas and some more controversial ones. And for a great body positivity and self-love with a focus on food and dieting then give The Goddess Revolution by Mel Wells a read. Both these books have changed the way I look at food, dieting and the whole health industry.