Discouraged with your attempts at weight loss?
Every year, 45 million people in the United States alone start a new diet. They spend $33 billion on diet products. $33 billion down the drain because 95-97% of them will fail.
Meanwhile, the number of people who are overweight or obese is at an all-time high and continues to grow. That’s because more and more people are eating for reasons that have nothing to do with hunger, AND almost everyone who tries to shed their extra weight approaches the process in the wrong way. By dieting.
Don’t despair! Permanent weight loss is possible! I’ve done it. My clients have done it.
To succeed, you need to forget the model you’ve used in the past. The one the diet industry has spent billions of dollars trying to convince you is the way to lose weight. While they’re raking in the bucks, what they don’t tell you is that research shows that you have a 3-5% chance of succeeding at losing weight and keeping it off by dieting.
So abandon it. What have you got to lose? It hasn’t worked, right?
Here are 8 things to look out for that may be hindering your efforts:
1. You restrict entire food groups or forbid yourself from eating your favorite foods
This goes to the very core of diets, especially the biggest fads nowadays. As if diets like Keto weren’t bad enough, all you need to do is spend a few minutes on Pinterest to see some even crazier ideas, like the miraculous 14-day boiled egg diet or the coffee diet.
Losing excess weight should make you healthier, but it’s unhealthy to eat tons of fat and no carbs, or eat hard-boiled eggs all day. Plus when you don’t allow yourself certain foods, you want them even more. You even think you like them more than you do. Research has proven this.
This restrictive approach to eating also creates one of the biggest barriers to weight loss--the scarcity mindset. That’s the totally false notion that food is scarce in your life. But you create that scarcity when you don’t allow yourself to eat what you love, and you set yourself up for a binge.
2. You really don’t know why you want to lose weight
Sure, you think you want to lose weight because we live in a world that unfortunately discriminates against and shuns people who are overweight. Or so you can wear certain clothes, or look and feel sexier, or meet someone special. But you need a very clear vision of why you want to lose weight to keep you going through a process that takes time and perseverance. That means you need to set goals you feel really good about. Ones that generate positive emotions, like, “I want to be healthy so I can play with my grandchildren and live to see them graduate from high school.”
3. You expect to do it perfectly
This is another unproductive mindset learned from dieting. Diets have lots of rules, and people like rules because it means they don’t have to think. They can just do what someone else tells them to do. But humans are meant to think and question, and most of us get pretty sick of not being able to decide what to eat after a while.
Strict diet rules don’t allow you to live a normal life, attend parties and socialize. What’s the point of that? With rule-laden diets, we actually look for an excuse to quit because we’re so miserable.
But when you give up dieting and change your habits, quitting is the only way you can fail.
The thing is that no one who succeeds at permanent weight loss does this perfectly. You’re learning new skills, new habits, and that takes practice. The important thing is to do your best, learn from your mistakes so you don’t make the same ones repeatedly, and get back on track. Because everyone gets off track at some point. Everyone. So give up the idea that you can set out to lose weight and do it perfectly. After all, you're human!
4. You eat to avoid dealing with negative or difficult feelings
It doesn’t matter how you try to lose weight, or whether you even reach your goal--if you don’t learn how to stop eating for emotional reasons, you’re going to gain the weight back. Eating to avoid feeling your emotions--whether you’re sad, angry, frustrated, bored or stressed out--is what causes overeating for most people. When you eat for emotional reasons and you aren’t hungry, your body stores the energy as fat. Those few people who manage to lose the weight but don’t stop emotional eating gain the weight back. Every time.
Learning how to feel your emotions and use healthy strategies to deal with them is essential for permanent weight loss. Check out 30 Days to End Emotional Eating Forever, my eCourse that will give you the tools to break the habitual cycle of emotional eating HERE.
5. You believe you can’t lose weight
If you’ve been dieting for a while, you’ve had more than your share of failures. This is another horrible thing about diets--we think we’re the failure because we didn’t lose weight on the diet. But it is really the diet that is the failure. The whole diet method of weight loss sets you up for failure. The problem is that because of confirmation bias, we try to prove that we’re right! So we believe we can’t lose weight, and when we mess up, we think, “I knew it!” Do you really want to prove to yourself that you can’t lose weight? Wouldn’t you rather prove yourself wrong?
To shed your extra pounds, you need to start believing that you are capable of doing this. Stop blaming yourself for the past. You failed because you didn’t have the right tools. Now that you know that diets aren’t the way to go, and that you need to change your eating habits and stop emotional eating, believe that you can learn these new skills and succeed. Seriously, you need to change your beliefs to change your body.
6. You think you can hate yourself thin
You can't heal a body you hate. So many people think that if they are willing to love or even just accept the body they have, they’ll have no motivation to improve. But think about this--when was the last time that hate motivated anyone to do anything good? Are you really going to want to treat your body better if you hate it? Unlikely.
Start appreciating all your body does for you. Be grateful for it. It may not be the way you want it to be, but it has served you for many years, and is the only one you’ve got. It’s time to stop treating it badly by either starving it, depriving it of things it needs like carbs, beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and to stop giving it more food than it needs to function optimally and for you to feel great. Exercise it daily, but not as punishment for what you ate. Exercise as a celebration of all your body can do. Thank it and treat it with the respect it deserves.
7. You expect weight loss to be fast and easy
There are so many fast weight loss schemes online that I understand why people think this. But if it sounds too good to be true, it is. There is no coffee drink that’s going to help you lose 15 pounds in 2 weeks. Losing 15 pounds in two weeks is unhealthy anyway if you aren’t morbidly obese.
Don’t get on the scale every day expecting the number to go down. If you choose to weigh yourself, which I think is a great way to see whether what you’re doing is working, then do it once a week. Don’t expect to drop more than a pound a week, although some people will lose more. Some weeks, you may do everything perfectly and lose no weight. That’s normal.
Think of where you’ll be a year from now if you stop overeating and emotional eating. The time will pass anyway, and weight lost slowly and in a healthy way is much more likely to stay off, especially since doing it this way fixes what caused you to be overweight in the first place.
8. You make losing weight the ultimate goal
The process of changing your habits and becoming healthier is so much more important than the weight loss. Since changing your habits so that you eat in tune with your body’s signals and stop eating to avoid your feelings is what will allow you to lose weight effortlessly, you should focus on your progress in making these changes. When you go to a restaurant and order what you really want, and leave half the French fries because you’re honoring your body’s fullness signals, celebrate that. Every time you don’t eat the candy in the candy bowl or the free food just because it’s there, celebrate that. Every time you notice when you want to eat because you’re bored, and decide to do something else, celebrate! You did it! Enjoy the process. Notice your progress towards establishing your good eating habits. When you celebrate your little wins, your brain associates doing your new habit with feeling good, and that makes it more likely that you’ll repeat that behavior.