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Lower the Pendulum

By December 15, 2014March 17th, 201952 Thoughts for the Chronic Dieter

I sometimes find it hard to get excited about a client’s fast weight loss these days. In fact I always do. This is even the case if the person tells me they’re “not on a diet” – because they often are without knowing it….

Dieters often swing between two sets of habits, like a clock pendulum swinging from one side to the other. On one side, they have their overeating habits – eating unconsciously, overeating and bingeing, and gaining weight. Naturally, at some point people get sick of these habits, and the pendulum swings….On the other side of the pendulum, they have their undereating habits – obsession with eating, dieting (often under the guise of a “lifestyle change”), and losing weight! The trouble is, that eventually people get tired of these habits too…and the pendulum swings back again…

Unfortunately, for most chronic dieters, each time the pendulum swings, you gain a little weight. The graph of most dieters weight history most often shows short periods of weight going down, but trending up, up, up over time. While this is the trend you would want to see with your money when investing in stocks, I’m sure it’s not what you had in mind for your waistline when investing in your last diet. This is what happens, because the process of dieting stuffs up your body, mind, and behaviours even further each time you swing back and forth – to put it simply, diets are a BAD INVESTMENT.

So as Rick Kausmann so eloquently put it “If not dieting, then what?”

I have a principle I discuss with clients called “lowering the pendulum”. When the person becomes ready to move away from the overeating habits – typically when they first come to see me – rather than letting the pendulum swing all the way to the dieting habits (which are really undereating habits), we seek to lower it down towards the bottom. This is done by making slow and sustainable changes to eating, drinking, physical activity and other ways of self-caring that build and grow on themselves over time. By continuing to gradually lower the pendulum, the person finds a healthy middle ground and, rather than swinging between two sets of unhealthy behavior, develops one set of permanent healthy habits. When the pendulum stops in the middle the person can be mindful without being obsessed, eat in a balanced and sustainable way, and have the scales level out at where that person’s body wants them to. And most importantly the intertia of the pendulum stops – the new behaviours are far more stable.

It really works the reverse of a diet. With a diet it’s all bells, whistles, and excitement, until…..CRASH! When you lower the pendulum you start making little, sustainable changes, and building on them over time, until one day you look back at all you have achieved and say “WOW!”

When thinking about your 2015 health kick, favour balance…as Mark Twain said “Old habits are not to be thrown out the window, they’re to be gently coaxed down the stairs, and shown the door”.

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