New Year, New You?
It’s the new year! That magical time when everything seems to lie ahead of you and you envision yourself anew. One of the ways that many of you will do this is with a slimmer body. Over the past year (or even the past few years), you may have put on a few pounds, and you believe everything would be better if you lost it. Or maybe you catch yourself as you walk past a mirror; you gaze uncomfortably at the reflection of a larger self than you realized and can’t help thinking that you’re not the way you know yourself to be. Either way, changing your body typically means going on a diet. But if you’ve gone on diets before, you know you usually gain the weight back…if not more. You think if you could only do it better or if you could just find the right diet for your body type, then it would be different. You end up feeling like a failure. But have you ever stopped to wonder if you are really the problem? Maybe diets are the problem. On that verdict, the jury is in. Statistics say and have said for years that only 2-5% of those who embark on a diet will lose the weight they want and keep it off.
Those who do “succeed” often do so because they are willing to see the rest of their lives as a form of diet. Even the “saner” exercise-based programs for weight loss do not fare much better. And yet one of every two US women is on a diet right now. Girls are going on their first diet younger and younger. More and more men are joining women’s “dieting” ranks. When you include diet pop, gym memberships and bariatric surgery, in 2013, Americans spent $66 billion dollars on the weight loss industry. Canada is not far behind with its numbers.
Why is permanent weight loss so hard? I mean really, it should be as simple as “less in and more out.” To add insult to injury, obesity rates in the affluent western world continue to rise. I believe that there are many interesting reasons for this, and will be writing a series of articles on this in the coming months on this blog.
The first thing I want to emphasize is that diets don’t work. Why not? Because they are based on deprivation, and deprivation sets up an equal and opposite reaction. Weight gain. There is a brilliant illustration of this in the aptly titled book Diets Don’t Work! by Bob Schwartz.
Schwartz was a specialist at working with people who wanted to change their weight—either to lose or to gain. He explained to some of his skeptical clients that he really could help them gain weight. In fact, he had such a good technique for having people gain weight that he made them sign a release form that they would not hold him liable if they put on more weight than they wanted. They normally laughed and responded that they had spent their whole lives trying to gain weight; there was no way it was going to be an easy, uncontrollable thing. Yet he did succeed.
So, what was his secret? What did he do? He put them on a diet. The deprivation at the core of dieting set them up to gain any losses back and then some. (Some would actually then go back to him for weight loss!) It shouldn’t be a shocking idea to you that diets don’t work. I mean really, if dieting were actually the answer it purports to be, why does it seem that every edition of every women’s weekly magazine is touting a different “secret” special food combination for weight loss or that the New York Times non-fiction bestsellers list is trumpeting the latest key scientific research on metabolism that will finally make the difference? Dieting is like the contemporary holy grail!
But some of you don’t give up on diets. Why not? This for me is the most profound and moving truth. You know that something is amiss when you see your body as larger than it was or reach for food that is not good for you, and you want to change it. It is not that something is wrong with you. But something could be more right. There just seems like no alternative between giving up on dieting and giving up on yourself. So you go back to the diet. What if there were another way?
I want to introduce you to intuitive hunger eating. It is letting your body’s signals determine when to eat, what to eat and when not to eat. It means starting when you are physically hungry, eating what your body craves and stopping when the feeling of hunger goes away. More great news? When you follow your body’s natural rhythms, it also determines the perfect weight for you. You don’t have think about it or strive for it.
That means that answers are not outside of you. They are within you, and they have been all along. You just need to be reminded of them, reconnected to them. Isn’t that a relief? It’s like you’re Dorothy and you’re wearing the ruby slippers. In fact, you’ve been wearing them all along. With those answers you can shine as the person you really are. You can be comfortable in your own skin instead of doubting or judging yourself. The best part of this is the trust, trust in yourself. Being delighted to be you. Yes, there’s no place like home.
Have diets ever worked for you? Are you willing to try something different that will support you in your life? I have a four week course coming up in January. Follow this link for more information. What have you got to lose?