Do you think about losing weight at the beginning of every year, but find yourself at the end in the same place (or worse!) thinking something along the lines of:
“why can’t I ever seem to change?”
“how did I let myself get like this?”, or
“when will I finally get it together?”
Let’s be real. The on again, off again cycle really sucks. As I shared before in “Sarah’s Story” it can be consuming, confusing, and costly, not to mention draining, disappointing, and downright disheartening!
You must have asked yourself why you keep getting stuck here. Maybe you questioned:
“Do I not know enough about food?”
Unlikely…most of my clients know enough about food to write a book.
“Am I just lazy?”
Maybe, but I see clients all the time who take great care of their families, enjoy success in many other areas of life, and commit to working in some really challenging situations…are they lazy? I don’t think so.
“Have I not found the right approach?”
Probably…most people who want to lose weight do some version of a diet and exercise program, and while they all claim to be a bit different, we know they all tend to fail in the long-term.
If you have posed these questions, the first bit of good news is that you are normal. Although you may not always see it, people of all shapes and sizes struggle with their eating, weight, and body-image. The second thing I want you to know is you are in the right place. I work exclusively helping yo-yo dieters free themselves from these all-too-common struggles. It is my life’s passion and, luckily for both of us, I have quite a knack for it!
So let’s start your therapy!
Often psychologists aren’t so interested in what is happening, but why it’s happening. So I want to give you my top 5 reasons why people stay locked in never ending struggles with their weight so you can see if any apply to you. In general, I find people tend to struggle because they:
- Focus on weight too much. While it makes intuitive sense that if you want to lose weight you should focus on it, worrying about your weight actually backfires in the long-term. Zeroing in on the scales leads to unsustainable food and exercise plans, an obsession with the scales that leaves you unable to acknowledge all the non-weight benefits of healthy living, and feelings of restriction, deprivation, and rebellion.
- Ignore mindset. I always ask people “From 0 to 100%, how important is your mindset in achieving your goals?”. Ask yourself now. Is it 20%? 50%? More?* We all know the importance of mindset, but how much energy have you spent improving it in the past? So often the importance of this key factor nowhere near reflected in the time we dedicate to it.
- Prioritise results over habits. Focusing too much on the results you want can undermines your ability to create new habits. For example, if you had meal replacement shakes for 6 months you would likely lose a lot of weight, but learn next-to-nothing nothing about creating healthy habits. So when you stop the meal replacements (or any other change based on results instead of habits) the weight comes creeping back on…
- Overlook emotional eating. Not only is emotional eating like double dipping on a bad mood, but it keeps you locked in a struggle with your weight. Emotional eating throws a spanner in the works of any weight management plan, be it diet and exercise, bariatric surgery, or even a non-dieting approach. Emotional eating can sneakily “hide” when we are in the weight loss honeymoon phase, only to return when the novelty wears off, so it really is something we need to address if we want to see results that last.
- Aim to “Fix” themselves. Have you ever been frustrated with a loved one trying to “motivate” you to lose weight? Often, it makes you feel worse about yourself, pressured to be healthy, and maybe a little rebellious (or a lot – did somebody say “stuff you I’m eating all that chocolate!”). Of course, this all leads to gaining weight, not losing it. The thing is, though, that you often say the same harmful things to yourself. We don’t do well when we feel we are defective and to be fixed so it’s important to learn how to care for ourselves without the unnecessary self-criticism.
You may be able to see some of these self-sabotaging patterns in yourself and, honestly, if you have even one you are likely to struggle in the long-term. So if you really want to change for good, it may mean we are up for a bit of work. But that’s okay, while change requires action, it doesn’t have to happen all at once, and it doesn’t have to be overly hard. Here’s how I want you to start:
Print out and fill in the Weight Challenges Checklist. It will help you identify some of your “whys” and then we can get to work on them.
Weight Challenges Checklist:
❏ I tend to focus on the scales too much
❏ I don’t spend a lot of time improving my mindset
❏ I often struggle to make healthy habits stick
❏ My emotions affect my food choices at times
❏ I feel my body is defective and needs to be “fixed”
Once you have done that our work for today is done (how easy was that?). I’m going to write to you again soon, so we can ask an even more transformational question than “why are you struggling”…
“How do you change?”I want to know how to change. Sign me up for the free newsletter!
*When I consulted with the Biggest Loser: Transformed contestants this year, I asked them the same question, and they all said 100%.