By Lori Montry
Weight loss is often a difficult journey fraught with pitfalls. But if you are someone who is serious about weight loss, I have some helpful strategies and mindset shifts that will help you meet your goals. Here are some of my favorite tips that I believe will bring you real, sustainable, permanent results.
People often approach their weight-loss journey from a place of punishment. They consider themselves to be ‘bad’ for having eaten too much in the past. They deem their bodies to be ‘unacceptable’ the way they are, and therefore, they deprive themselves of favorite foods and even adequate nutrition in an effort to quickly whip their bodies into shape. This method is far from being an effective strategy, in fact, it is the surest way to failure.
Here at Nuuaria, we refer to this approach to weight loss as the ‘all-or-nothing’ approach. People who have this mindset are either on a diet or binging on whatever they want. They believe that in order to lose weight, they must commit to restrictive calorie counting, intensive workouts, pain, and struggle. This ‘all-or-nothing mindset overwhelms them when they try doing too much, all at once.
But such restrictive plans are difficult to maintain, the brain and body soon rebel against them. Dieters end up breaking all promises to themselves and are left feeling defeated once again. What is happening here?
It’s very simple really. The brain views excessive calorie restriction as a literal threat to survival; our brain believes that we are starving. This is because when we were hunter-gatherers, humans often endured periods of scarce food supply and our bodies adapted to that environment in order to survive by eating calorie rich foods when they were available to guard against famine.
In modern times, when a person adopts a restrictive diet plan, biology will protect them from starvation by sending powerful signals to encourage them to eat more, whenever food is present so that they will have a cushion against a future famine. This protective mechanism makes it all but impossible to maintain a restrictive plan for any meaningful length of time.
Rather than restriction, the best way to successfully lose weight and maintain the loss is to cultivate patience with the process. Then make small, meaningful shifts that build one on top of the other (like the nutrition plan I outlined below). Working with your body rather than against it, leading to better, more sustainable results in the long run.
Take a moment to ask yourself: in what ways have you found yourself in an all-or-nothing mindset with weight loss? What were the results? For example, do you tend to starve yourself all day only to eat everything in the refrigerator by evening? Perhaps you are very restrictive all week (like eating only salads) and then go overboard with pizza and sweets on the weekend.
The role of nutrition is extremely important in establishing a nourishing relationship with food while allowing your body to shed excess weight. Did you know that food intolerances have a significant impact on cravings, your weight, your mood, your health, your energy and your vitality? Certain ingredients found in foods affect your brain and nervous system, which are key players in your thoughts, emotions and therefore, your behavior. That’s why we recommend a period of clean eating in which you avoid preservatives, additives and foods that your body may not tolerate well, such as grains, dairy and sugar because they often contribute to weight gain or weight loss resistance.
Much of the problem is that the industrial food complex churns out hyper-processed, highly palatable, intensely addictive foods that effect our brain chemistry, health, and weight. There are people literally sitting around a table somewhere, trying to figure out how to make the food you eat even more addictive. They focus on the ‘bliss point’ then alter the chemical structure of food to produce a certain ‘mouth feel’. Recent studies, including one published in the Journal of Neuroscience, indicate that high-sugar foods are addictive in the same way as heroin and cocaine.
This is part of the reason many people feel stuck in unhealthy eating patterns. Human beings are hardwired to seek pleasure, the food industry takes advantage of this fact. They supply us foods that are unnatural, unhealthy, and even harmful to our health.
Taking the time to complete a period of clean eating can go a long way towards healing your body as well as helping you establish a healthier relationship with food.
We suggest easing into a period of clean eating by doing the following:
After this period of clean eating, you can reintroduce some of your favorite foods in a manner that is still satisfying yet allows you to continue to feel great and lose weight. Many people find that after a period of clean eating, they can enjoy 1-2 servings of grains and/or dairy a day. Sugar can be included 2-3 times a week while still achieving your goals. By giving yourself these allowances, it is easier to stick with a healthy plan that will become a new way of living rather than a hard-to-stick-to diet.
When you shift your motivation from trying to ‘fix’ your body using deprivation to lovingly caring for your body, restriction loses its sting. People, when confronted by this notion, have challenged me at first, but they come back time and again to tell me they couldn’t believe how much easier it is to follow their plan, when they approach it from a place of love.
In the beginning, it’s more important to focus on the specific foods you are using to fuel your body rather than the quantity. During the clean eating phase, the amount of food you eat is not the main focus. We recommend that being mindful of quantity but don’t let yourself get overly hungry. As mentioned above, when you are overly hungry, your body will send you powerful messages to go find calorically dense food that is often high in fat and carbs in an effort to protect you from a possible starvation. Making a good choice when you are super hungry requires a Herculean effort. As you become more in tune with your body’s needs, as well as hunger and satiation signals, you will be able to make changes to the quantity you eat as well.
Keep in mind is that we eat to satisfy our spirit, as much as our bellies. So, if you’re trying to feed yourself dry chicken and broccoli every day because it is easy, it’s not going to work.
Remember too, that if at some point during the clean-eating phase you choose to have something that isn’t part of your plan, the whole world doesn’t come crashing down. You absolutely do not need to start over. You can simply get back on track with your next meal or snack. Be sure that you have a support plan, remind yourself that it is not the end of the world, and then simply do your best.
Weight loss truly is a journey and a process. As such, it’s very important to understand your own particular challenges, because just giving you a list of foods to eat and telling you to try again is not going to be of any real help. It is crucial to approach change in a way that is going to work with your brain and body. Real results come when you shift your mindset to align with your goals. If you have dieted more than three times or have wanted to lose weight for more than a year, getting that help and support is extra important because long-term habits are hard to change.
Getting help and support is essential if you are someone who struggles with emotional or stress eating because there are often an additional set of roadblocks standing in your way. At Nuuaria, we take weight loss seriously in the sense that we recognize that it is an individual endeavor. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Customization, and personal one-on-one support with a mentor who has been in your shoes, are important components of all of our weight-loss programs. If you are ready to learn how to stop dieting and return to a natural, healthy, body weight in a gentler, more realistic manner, let us help get youstarted on your journey today.