Stop trying to Lose Weight

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It’s that time of year…

…where Christmas parties, family, friends and general festivities will fill our calendars more than ever. It’s a great time of the year.

It’s also an interesting time.

From past observation, I can pretty much predict EXACTLY when the happy festive mood will switch 180 to “OMG, I’m a beached whale! This year I’m going to lose those 7.25kgs once and for all!”

What a funny cycle… If you don’t want to be caught up in that again, below are some mindsets you need to understand.

I believe that ultimately our mindsets and beliefs determine how we do life and the outcomes we achieve. If you keep getting yourself to the same place you don’t wanna be, it’s not because you “didn’t do it right”, it’s because of your mindset and beliefs.

I want to show you how mindset affects a very common goal that most people have:

To lose weight.

(or get “toned”, or fit into some jeans, or avoid putting on weight – they’re all siblings of the same family).

And why most people’s mindsets set them up for failure in their goals.

NOTE: I’m not addressing whether it’s really a good idea to want to lose weight (it depends), but we can’t ignore the fact that so many people are always trying to do this, so for the sake of staying on point I’m conceding that this is a sound goal.

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Mindsets that set you up for failure in losing weight:

(assuming you want to lose weight for the long term)

1. Framing your goal like everyone else

When people say their goal is “I want to lose weight”, they’re unknowingly shooting themselves in the foot before they even start. Because millions of people have set themselves that exact same goal and close to 100% of them have failed to keep the weight off IN THE LONG TERM.

If you’re scientifically minded, it’s estimated that 95% of people who go on diets for weight loss will gain it all back (if not more) within 5 years*

(I would wager good money that more recent studies will put that number closer to 99%). Even if you look at meta-analyses of weight loss studies (where many different and polarized studies are analysed together to look for common trends and averages), it still shows that everyone who loses weight on a structured weight-loss programme will on average regain 80% of the weight they initially lost after 4 or 5 years.

The results are in – if your goal is to “lose weight” you will not achieve it in the long term.

Part of the problem is simply because people are using the wrong words – “lose weight”.

You see, words are not just words. They can mean different things to different people depending on their experiences. Words can carry an emotional charge, an invisible layer of judgement, they can be loaded with preconceptions and some words are just downright hurtful.

When you say “losing weight”, it can conjure up so many different images for different people:

  • memories of being called “fat” when they were younger
  • feeling ashamed of their body because it didn’t conform to some stitched-together pieces of fabric
  • how their mum/sister/aunt/cousin/best friend was always complaining about their “flab”
  • and how all this makes them feel hurt, inadequate and insecure.

And this isn’t even taking into account the amount of shame and hate society as a whole has against “overweight” people. Boy, do members of society like to get on their high horse and spit venom at “overweight” people…

Can you see how these simple words can unknowingly put you in a negative head space before you even start?

Try it out: say the words “I need to lose weight”. Now how do you feel?

A bit insecure? A bit stressed? A bit “not good enough”?… I feel heavy just saying those words!

When you feel stressed or negative about the thing you’re trying to get, the odds of you actually getting it are not good.

In fact 95% of the time you won’t get it.

(*Bray GA, Champagne CM. “Beyond energy balance: there’s more to obesity than kilocalories”. Journal of America Diet Association. 2005 Vol105.)

So, it’s time to Stop Trying to Lose Weight.

2. Believing that toughness and self-control will get you to your goal

The associated imagery that accompany “losing weight” is a tough road.

We’ve constructed the path of weight loss to seem like:

  • an uphill “battle”
  • a numbers game (calories in, calories out)
  • a cycle of “rewards” and “punishments”
  • a lot of restriction and control around food
  • a lot of willpower to push through workouts
  • a lot of guilt if we eat a “bad” food
  • a lot of shame when the body doesn’t look “perfect”
  • and a lot of self-judgement and self-attack sprinkled along the way

I don’t know about you, but if someone told me that this was the tough road to losing weight, and it will be “worth it” because at the end you’ll be happy and smiley, but then after that you’ll gain the weight back, and then you’ll have to do the tough road again to be happy and smiley, and repeat that for the rest of your life…

I wouldn’t do it!

And if by using the above strategy your odds of achieving sustainable weight loss is only 5%, why is anyone still trying to do it?

If something hasn’t worked after 50+ years of good-intentioned folks trying it out (over and over again), then it’s time to try something different.

This belief: that the way to more happiness and self-appreciation means doing the “hard yards” of joyless exercise, food deprivation, self-control and self-punishment discipline…

It’s Not True!

Sorry, but treating yourself with hate and shame will only lead to more hate and shame at the destination. If you want your destination to be a happy and uplifting place, that’s how your journey needs to be. Treat your body with love and respect, and it will show you love and respect in return by being in its best form.

Trying to control and beat the body into submission is like trashing up your own house and expecting it to be clean later. Whaaat?

So, once and for all, throw out this stupid belief that you need to be tough, unloving and try to hate the fat off your body.

Just. Let it hit the dustbin.

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Mindsets that will serve you 200% better

 (you should try these)

1. Fully own your current weight (ie. accept yourself as you ARE)

People are so determined to lose weight.

The minute they detect an extra pound they want to get rid of it now, burn it off, DELETE. They convince themselves that this weight is not theirs, it doesn’t belong to them, and they cannot be their real selves until they lose it.

But let me ask you something: How can you lose something if you haven’t owned it first?

I can’t lose a ring unless I have it first. I can’t understand what it’s like to lose my wallet unless I own a wallet first.

How can you lose the weight before you’ve even owned it?

Have you even acknowledged the presence of your extra weight with some respect? Do you really understand the responsibilities of owning it and living with it? Or are you mostly dismissing it as unwanted, ugly, shameful and you’re either trying to avoid looking at it, or you’re putting all your effort into exercising it off so you don’t have to look at it. How’s that working?

Here are the simple universal laws:

  • Step 1 = you learn what it’s like to own something.
  • Step 2 = then you can understand what it’s like to lose that something.

If you don’t understand what it means to own your weight, you cannot possibly understand what it means to lose it.

If you don’t accept and own your weight as it is, you c-a-n-n-o-t skip to Step 2. The universe won’t allow it!

That’s why the weight k-e-e-p-s coming back – you haven’t learned your lesson in Step 1.

Usually, there’s something to be learned from the extra weight. But you can only learn it if you take ownership and responsibility for that learning.

This means: Not trying to get rid of it now, and Not trying to change anything now.

Instead: relax into your body exactly as it is and get comfortable with the weight you have.

All things respond positively to love and kindness.

I’m not saying this is easy to do at first, especially when we’ve all been conditioned to feel that we’re not good enough as we are. But considering the “tried-and-true” method of “just eat less and exercise more” has an incredibly high failure rate, it won’t hurt to try this approach.

It will take some time. But when you can relax into your body exactly as it is, then it becomes possible to help it become the best form that it can be – for the long term.

Take a deep breath and say to yourself “I am OK”.

Accept your body for all that it is – not just the parts you like.

Then you might have a shot at understanding why the weight got there (and how you can lose it if you really need to lose it).


2. Make your goal “I want to Gain Life”

Instead of saying your goal is to “lose weight”, re-frame your goal as “I want to Gain Life”.

Our journey on Earth is really about personal growth and evolution – reaching the highest and most wonderful expression of ourselves.

If we just focus on “losing weight”, that’s reducing our full expressive potential to a faint and feeble whisper. It also keeps our consciousness small and dumb.

Beware of the attempts of popular culture, media, the diet and weight loss industry trying to keep our consciousness small. They reduce the story of personal growth to “losing weight”, so all your value and worth is measured according to this small reference point. Don’t fall into that trap, no matter how pretty and shiny it seems. We are bigger and better than that.

Ultimately, when people say they want to “lose weight”, what they really mean is they want to feel better about themselves and be happier in their bodies. That way, they can be more vibrant, more confident, more fun to be around and more… themselves.

What people really want is to “Gain Life” – why not say that instead?

Let’s try saying it out loud: “I want to gain more life.” How do you feel?

A little inspired? A little excited? Feel yourself wanting to smile?

So, let’s go with that.

Stop trying to lose weight.
Try to Gain more Life.

Comments

Veronica Cole

Absolutely love this post! The universal laws you listed are so important but also a valid marker for anyone contending with these issues. We can learn so much by listening to our inner voice and practicing self-love. Thank you!

Lulu

Thanks for your lovely feedback Veronica 🙂

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