An inside-out approach to weight loss
Every January is a new beginning. We all perceive the first month of the year as a new chapter to write in the book called “life”. All our dreams and desires are accompanied by a strong sense of hope. The hope that the new year will be, in some way, better than the previous one.
In this period, New Year’s Resolutions are on everyone’s mindouth. People from all walks of life set good intentions for the next 12 months to achieve some of their most important goals and dreams.
With strong will power and determination, we promise to ourselves to finally take actions!
I call January the “void promises’ month”. You too are probably familiar with the statement.
“This year, I promise to myself, I will…” followed by a long list of good intentions, desires and hopeful wishes that we would like to accomplish.
Earn more money, change a job, find love, quit smoking, start a hobby, learn to play an instrument, become happier, the list is endless.
However, there is what I call “THE GOAL”. The one that every January (and September) comes back. The goal that has been on our wishlist for years and years and years. A goal that sounds like this:
“As soon as the Xmas period ends, I promise to start the diet and exercise every day. – This new year I must lose weight and I will. I will finally get the body I want“.
How many of you said something like that at least once in your life?
If all this sounds familiar, then keep on reading.
MY LIFETIME WEIGHT LOSS BATTLE
I have personally struggled with weight problems, eating disorders and emotional eating patterns for most of my life. Getting in and out of unhealthy FAD diets was my norm not only in January but throughout the year.
During a period that lasted for about 25 years, I must have tried hundreds of unhealthy ways of losing weight. I was getting in and out of starvation periods. Sometimes living only on weight loss supplements, fat burning pills or any other shit promising fast and painless weight loss results. I don’t want to even mention the money I spent during those years on gym subscriptions and fitness programs.
Year after year and failure after failure, the only goal I was continually achieving was making myself mentally and physically sick, disappointed at myself and fatter.
Despite the sacrifices, the effort and the determination I was putting in the process of finally seeing that fat leaving my body, nothing was changing.
Now, I am sorry if I will destroy your dreams of success, but because my painful experience, I am sure, with absolute certainty, that all the new year’s resolutions about weight loss you set for yourself are destined to fail in the next 3 weeks.
All your desires of finally losing those X pounds/kg are going straight back where they were. Again closed in the “drawer’s dream” waiting for another year to pass.
Now, if I’ve touched your deeper emotions and you are mad at me, that’s very good. It means you are finally tired of that shit. It means that you are tired of struggling and you want to see different results. Still, to see different results, you must stop doing what you’ve always done that’s not working and do something completely different.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein.
MY THOUGHTS ON ‘DIETS’
More often than not, we associate weight loss failures with our lack of self-control, maybe a lack of determination or will power. If, like me, you have tried to lose weight over and over again without any result, you might think that there could probably be something wrong with you.
The good news though, is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. What the issue could be is the lack of awareness of your relationship with yourself and with food.
We are emotional creatures. Emotions are what makes us do or don’t do things in life. Emotions are the cause of all our successes as well as all our failures.
Don’t you believe me? Let’s try something then.
Grab a sheet of paper and write in big capital letters, the word “DIET”.
Without overthinking it, writing down, every thought you have and every feeling you experience thinking of going on a diet.
Once you have done, think of a colour you would like to associate with the word “DIET”.
Below, some of the thoughts I had while I was doing this exercise:
- “I have to stop eating all the tasty food I like”.
- “I have to eat sad little tiny portions made of boiled chicken and boring salads”.
- “I am going to be sad all the time”.
- “I am going to fail again”.
Thinking about going on a diet gave me always an intense feeling of being forced to do something that I didn’t want to do in the end.
Ah! And guess what colour I have associated with the word diet? Brown! And to be honest, I was not surprised at all!
THE NEGATIVE LANGUAGE IN THE DIETING WORLD
Many of the people I work with today as an Eating Psychology Coach have also done this little activity. In many years, no one of them came up with a positive thought or emotion about dieting.
The fact is that in whatever way you think about dieting, you think about a restricted approach to food. This restriction is considered by human beings like me and you as a negative imposed rule that we are not happy to follow. Even when we set the rule, and it’s for our own benefit.
Now let’s examine for a moment the language used in the dieting world.
First, think about what you are trying to achieve. Let’s have a look at two common phrases:
- I have to lose weight.
- I have to go on a weight loss programme.
If you notice the words used are “lose and loss”. “Lose” by definition means “the fact or process of losing something or someone“.
Now, since the spoken language exists, those words have never defined something positive. When you are trying to lose something, or if you have lost something, you will experience some sort of emotional distress and pain.
How many times you’ve said something like:
- I don’t want to eat any more chocolate (put your fav food if you wish)
- I don’t want to be fat.
- I don’t want to think about food all the time.
Let’s focus on the word “don’t”. Now, our subconscious brain cannot really process the word “don’t” very well. Let’s try this!
For the next 30 seconds, think about anything you want to think about, but DON’T think of your favourite food. Don’t think about your favourite pizza, the chocolate donut you like so much, and the crips you eat every night watching movies.
So, what did you just think about? Let me guess! Your favourite food!
How did it just happen?
Well, it’s simple: when you don’t want to think about something, you do. You can not think about something without first thinking about it!
Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute. – Fyodor Dostoevsky, Winter Notes on Summer Impressions, 1863
In psychology, this phenomenon is known as the “ironic process theory” studied by Social psychologist Daniel Wegner first explored in 1987. Basically, when we attempt to suppress specific thoughts, the thoughts might become even stronger and more persistent. He also discovered that stopping unwanted thoughts is even more difficult during times of stress.
THE NEVER-ENDING FIGHT
I am sure you’ll agree on the fact that dieting is a super stressful act.
If you think about your thoughts and behaviours while you’re dieting, you will notice that they are all restriction-based.
We impose rules and rules over ourselves without the intention of following them. “Don’t eat that chocolate bar”, “you can’t order pizza”, “Hey, stop thinking about the cookies in the cupboard”, “well, you shouldn’t eat another bag of crisps!
Your mind is bombarded with highly stressful “I should, I shouldn’t, I want, I don’t want“.
Junk food cravings are making you feel out of control, plus you have to deal with mood swings, emotional hunger and your brain telling you to give up.
Constant fighting thoughts about food, yourself, your past failures, the struggles you still have to face, and the beliefs you have built over the years about yourself and food.
Your reflection in the mirror shows how bad you look and once again reminds you to do something to change, while your brain is telling you to stop and to give up.
“It’s too hard, it’s too painful, and in the end, I won’t be successful anyway, so what’s the point!” You don’t even know how you find yourself sitting on the couch, burying all your emotional pain and stress under a mountain of chocolate ice cream. It sounds familiar?
Dieting in whatever shape or form is a daily battle. I know because I fought this battle over and over again and I never won and you won’t either
If you want to win your battle with weight, you must first study your enemy, once you know your enemy, you will create the correct strategy to increase your chances to win.
ARE YOU A YO-YO DIETER?
Now, if you still think that dieting is the solution to your weight problems, let me ask you another simple question.
Suppose the act of just eating less or simply stopping eating all the fattening, unhealthy comfort food was the right approach to weight loss. What’s the need for creating new diets and new dieting products almost daily?
I am not sure about your answer, but after 25+ years of battling with all sorts of FAD diets, I know for a fact that diets don’t work. Ultimately, they do not work in the long run.
Without a shadow of a doubt, to shred fat, there must be a deficit in your calories intake. Try to eat boiled chicken and lettuce for the next 30 days, and you will lose weight.
But, my question to you is: for how long will you be able to sustain up with this way of eating before going mad? For how long will you be able to restrict your food intake in your life? Trust me, not for a very long time.
That’s the primary reason why YO-YO dieters exist. What’s a Yo-Yo dieter? A YO-YO dieter is someone who goes in a never-ending cycle of dieting, losing weight, regaining weight, and dieting again putting under incredible stress and danger to his/her body, mind and health!
I have been a Yo-Yo dieter for the most part of my existence. Today after years of struggles and problems, I want to share with you the main reason why putting yourself under another restrictive diet is not the right approach to weight loss.
WEIGHT LOSS STARTS IN THE MIND
This is exactly what I meant to say. Your new body image, your new weight, your new life is in your head only!
If you are still reading this article, you are probably struggling with some weight issues, and probably you are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
So if you are serious about changing yourself physically and mentally, you must take some critical life-changing action towards your weight loss goals. This time, instead of focusing on your outside world, like starting another useless diet or wasting money in another gym subscription or fitness program that you will never use, you must completely change the approach.
This time, you must understand what’s going on in your mind first. Who are you? What’s your relationship with yourself and with food? What’s your emotional attachment to food?
No person on this planet struggles with weight problems not attached to some deep unresolved emotional issue. People struggling with serious obesity issues found a way to cope with their emotional distress by using food as a comforter.
Since I understood this crucial concept, I have finally started to work on myself, (and I still do) with an inside out approach. Analysing my inner thoughts, feeling and behaviour slowly changing my relationship with myself and with food. Doing so, I have not only lost more than 40 kg over the years, but I never get them back anymore.
Now I can’t explain just in a blog post, everything I have learned in the last 8 years of my life. But still, I want to give you something you can reflect upon. Something that could probably help you to shift your way of thinking and approach this all weight loss matter from a different perspective.
You can always get in touch if you want, it will be a pleasure for me to help you at the best of my abilities. For now, I am begging you, if you are thinking of starting a new diet or if you have already done so, please stop!
FOCUS ON YOURSELF
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein.
Spend some time discovering your real relationship with yourself and what part food is playing in your life. Start finding out the beliefs you are holding (positive and negative) about yourself and food. Are they true? How are they supporting you in the achievement of what you want?
Remember, the problem is not in the food, please stop blaming it. The problem is how you see yourself in relation to food and the power YOU gave to food over your life.
Reflect! If you need to look back at your life story, please do so.
Raise your awareness on your emotional attachment to food, write all your food-thoughts down, be honest with yourself.
How much do you still want food to be in control over your life and over everything you think and do?
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU WANT
Finally, focus only on WHAT YOU WANT, stop, thinking and talking about what you DON’T WANT or that you WANT TO LOSE!
You don’t want to lose weight! You want to have a better life, enjoy a slimmer body, feel more confident, in love with yourself, and proud of who you are.
You want to be healthier, faster, and stronger. You want to be in control over food, and you want to enjoy food again. You want to be free from everything that is holding you back and regain control over your life!
That’s what you want!
Start from your inner-self and day by day move towards what you want and not away from what you don’t want. This approach will change your mindset, this approach will let you discover who you really are and what you truly want. This will allow you to jump on a life-changing journey that will motivate you to keep going to get going even when the journey becomes challenging.
It always seems impossible until it’s done.
So far, I have only touched the tip of a huge submerged iceberg. The number of people struggling with psychological and physical problems related to food is enormous. The mental health problems coming out from those situations are still severely underestimated.
So, if you need, I am here to help. You can read more about my story here or finding out more about my Eating Psychology Training and Coaching Program Think Lean Formula.
If you want simply to share your story with me, then feel free to book a free 30 minutes call.