Choose to Lose - The Simplicity of Weight Loss and Understanding Emotional Eating
Permanent Weight loss is not about Diet. If you are looking for the latest pill, magic potion or perhaps some celebrity's amazing secrets, then you've come to the wrong page. However, at some point you will be back because at some point you will realize that unless you address the cause and the truth about your eating habits you will end up on the merry-go-round again. There are many products and services promising fantastic results. Some are good, most are average, usually they cost more than they are worth, and some are outright dangerous. Losing weight is a simple matter of either decreasing calorie intake or increasing energy output. Most people combine both to achieve fast results.
Most people have tried this method often enough to know that it works and I have found that most dieters know more about food than anyone else. My main aim is to address the many causes of weight gain and focus on the creation of new habits in order to bring about permanent weight loss maintenance.
I once worked in a very innovative weight loss clinic. The programme focused on Nutrition, Relaxation Techniques, and Psychology. I was a counsellor at the time and worked there for almost 10 years. Although I was working as an expert, I think I learned more from my clients than I did from my textbooks. I counselled thousands of people over the years and it became very obvious to me that they all had a lot in common. Almost without exception they all had an emotional connection or response to food. Their eating habits had become an automatic response. They all knew a lot about food and calories and they all knew how to lose weight. They had all lost weight and regained it a number of times. This we referred to as the "yo-yo syndrome".
If you happen to be one of the very few people who do not understand diet, I will lightly touch on it to give you a crash course in weight loss. The most important thing I learned about diet in relationship to losing weight is this:
There is no such thing as a fattening food.
No one food is either fattening or slimming. It's this simple: Food contains calories, calories are units of energy. There are no fat calories or thin calories, 2000 cake calories are exactly the same as 2000 celery calories. Calories are burned by the body to produce energy. Just being alive burns calories. However, the more active the body the bigger the burn. If you burn the same amount of calories as you eat then your weight will remain the same. If you eat 3000 calories and burn 2000 then 1000 are stored. (as fat)
It's the same as banking; if you put $100 in your account and only spend $80 then $20 is saved. If you did this for 10 weeks then $200 will be saved. Overweight people do not necessarily eat a huge amount of food or a huge amount of, 'bad food', they simply consume more calories than they need. The unused calories are then stored in the body as fat. If you put too few calories in, the body will take the stored calories (fat) and use that for energy, thereby, creating weight loss.
I am not going to go to any great length to discuss food or diet on these pages. It is my experience that overweight people know as much as I do about food and calories. If you wish to know more about food or nutrition there are many books available. (See the links page.)
One point I do wish to make about food is this: Vitamins, Minerals, Protein, Carbohydrate, Fat, etc. are vital to maintaining health. Foods heal, build and repair. Foods balance your metabolism and produce energy and well-being. You will not get fat from eating cakes and drinking soda, however, if you are putting in calories that have little or no nutritional content, you will become tired, depressed, unmotivated and ultimately, very sick.
When you decide to use fat storage for energy you will lose weight. As in the banking analogy above, put less in and use more, then you will burn up the balance.
Let's say your weight maintenance requires 2000 calories a day. You decide to put in 1000 a day; your body will then rob the fat stores of 1000. This is where food choices are most important. Because you are reducing the calorie intake by 1000, you need to be very diligent about getting the maximum amount of nutritional benefit from the food you eat.
Most diets emphasis fresh fruit, salad, grilled or boiled fish or chicken etc; not because these foods are thinning, but because they have the most amount of food value (nutrition) for the calories.
High nutritional foods give you vitality and well-being. Low nutritional food will make you feel tired, grumpy, and unmotivated (making it more likely to binge eat).
Reducing calories will get you to your ideal weight. The purpose of this page is not to motivate a diet; this is about looking at long-term habits and changing those habits so that your future behaviour will become automatic, without conscious thought or will- power. By following the guidelines below you will lose weight, keep it off, and maintain health, vitality, and well-being.
Your weight can be about many things or a combination of many things. Overeating may be part of the problem, but what is the cause of overeating? Your reasons may be unique, but many of the common causes are:
Many facets are related to body image, self-esteem, and even sexual issues.
You may, on a very logical level, desire a thinner body. However, subconsciously you may associate being normal or comfortable with the shape of your mother, siblings, or friends. If you are a wife or mother yourself, you may subconsciously feel that your body image should not suggest you are a single or available woman. Sometimes becoming a wife and mother creates conflict with being sexually attractive to other men. Maybe being a good mother requires a motherly look?
Some people feel safer or stronger by being bigger and may panic or feel insecure when they have lost weight. Sometimes weight can be thought of as being 'Big'. If you have a history of being bullied or made to feel small in some way you may use this 'Being Big Image'.
Being overweight can often be used to repress sexuality. Teenage girls often find sexual advances intimidating and sub-consciously put on weight as a barrier, which continues throughout life.
If your sex life is unsatisfying you may unconsciously use your weight as a turn off. Maybe you are so self-conscious about your weight that you deny yourself your sexuality. Some women who have experienced sexual abuse will use their weight as a sexual defence or a personal barrier.
Binge eating is usually about punishment; this is very common in high achievers. (Anorexics and Bulimics are often in this category as well.) Bingeing is about trying to get it perfect and then destroying all effort if there is a slight slip up. This is the 'All or None Approach'.
Binge eating is also very common with Pre-Menstrual-Syndrome.
P.M.S. can cause women to be emotionally fragile. Their thinking can be fuzzy, their body may retain fluid meaning their body feels fatter or bloated. There is discomfort in the stomach area and sugar cravings are common. If you are serious about long-term weight maintenance you must be prepared for this. You must plan alternative actions; like being kind to yourself, more flexible, self-loving and forgiving. Keep a calendar and be prepared before you hit crisis point.
Some people find they that have an emotional attachment to food. If you were rewarded with sweets for good behaviour or sent to your room without dinner for bad behaviour, you may very well be treating food as a reward or a punishment. Your eating habits may have become confused with approval or disapproval.
If your family was poor you may equate food with being prosperous or successful.
For most people the stomach area is the emotional centre of the body. Stress, worry, fear and unhappiness will create tightness there. Often overeating is an automatic response to releasing this tension.
Observe yourself for a few weeks and you will notice how easy and common it is to push food down into the tightness of your stomach area when you are stressed.
You may use food to release and stretch the area, this is particularly obvious in a binge eating session.
Food can nurture and food can provide comfort. By detached observation you learn a lot about yourself and your food habits. Watch yourself without judging yourself for a few weeks and you'll be amazed at how often you are feeding your emotions
I am only touching lightly on some of the issues here. I hope this information may lead you to considering some of the many facets that create a habit. Some of the issues will be common to most people or at least make you start thinking about your own unique psychological make up.
By understanding your eating behaviour you will be in a better position to bring about permanent changes and lose weight without great effort.
There are some basic principles that need to be addressed and explored if you sincerely wish to lose weight and keep it off.
Eating well means providing your body with the highest nutritional values. If your nutritional needs are not met, you will quickly become tired, unhappy and unwell. The right foods help to rebuild and repair your body, increase energy, improve immune function, detoxify, build muscle tissue and eliminate waste products. Most importantly, the food you eat can influence how you feel. How you feel influences your behaviour. Within just a week or two you may be happier, more energised, more motivated and slimmer. From this point the food thing becomes easier and easier.
The foods you choose need to be enjoyable. There are many options and a huge variety of choices. Don't eat things you hate just because they are low-cal. The money you save on some things can be put back into more expensive and enjoyable options.
If you reduce the quantity then increase the quality; swap sausage for crayfish, biscuits for mangoes. If you like seafood then buy oysters, prawns, smoked salmon and expensive fish. Don't just eat lettuce and carrots; explore all the fruits and vegetables.
Make your food delicious and special; cook with herbs and spices; garlic, chilli, basil, or coriander etc. Turn ordinary food into something special.
Keep a good veggie soup in the kitchen for those times when you will be tired, cold and starving. Soup is quick, hot, and filling.
Eat less and more often. Large meals zap your energy. Too much food, particularly high in animal fat or too many protein combinations, will almost put you to sleep. Remember that being tired physically or mentally will be the biggest enemy to your success.
Dieting is the easiest thing in the world to understand. I have previously pointed out that you need to put fewer calories in or more energy out. Eat high nutrition and eliminate or greatly reduce empty calories.
Eat 5 serves of vegetables a day and at least 2 pieces of fruit. Minimize or eliminate fat, sugar and flour. How simple is that?
All diets will have this information within their content, but to sell a magazine, pill, potion, video or book you will be led into some spin on 'Scientific Research' and some fancy talk justifying its merit. This is not about you, this is about selling a product.
For the Kids.
You do not ever need to have 'Junk Food' in your Home. If you make a conscious decision to eat junk food, then at least make yourself go out of your way to get it. If you need to walk to the shop to get a chocolate then you may just have a little time to re-consider it. No one is so strong willed that they will not go reaching for ice cream on a stinking hot day. Who wouldn't be temped to grab a slice of cake if it's sitting in the fridge every time you open it? If it's in your home you will eat it by impulse.
If you really want it, make a conscious decision to eat it, enjoy it and then forget it.
But don't just grab stuff just because it's there. Almost every dieter I have spoken to says, "I need to have it there for the kids".
The eating habits of your children will become the eating habits they will carry throughout their lives. Do you really want your daughter going through what you have gone through? Are you depriving your child of sweets or are you depriving your child of adult obesity?
If you were giving up smoking or alcohol, would you leave cigarettes and a bottle of scotch around just in case the kids might enjoy them? Would you reason that just because you are giving up smoking it's not fair to make your children go without something they may enjoy?
The habits that kids learn in childhood are the habits they carry for life.
When your 25 yr old son is lying in the Coronary ward of the hospital, are you really going to say, "I thought I was being kind by giving you treats?"
When your 30 yr old Daughter is 100 lb overweight and won't leave the house any more, will you convince her, you were being loving?
Heart disease, Diabetes, Menopause, Obesity and Infertility are now being seen in very young people through-out the Western World and most Doctors will point the finger at one cause: Diet.
A habit is a behaviour that is repeated to such a degree that the sub-conscious mind computes the entirety of the information and creates an automatic behaviour. Eating habits are usually formed in childhood and changes will require conscious awareness, alternative reactions, and repetition of new behaviours. Ultimately your new eating habits will become your new automatic behaviour.
The goal is to get to the point where you do not think about food at all. The amount of food and the type of food you are used to are already set habits. The time of day you eat is also a habit.
What you may not have explored before are the emotional habits that drive your decisions. Food can pick you up when you are feeling tired or out of sorts, food can calm you down when stressed or anxious, food can replace boredom or loneliness. Food is used as a celebration, a reward, a comfort and an expression of friendship. Food can also be used as a punishment.
Most people do not break their diets because they are hungry. Most diets are broken because of the sense of losing an emotional crutch. In a way, food has become a lifelong friend and quite often dieting feels like losing a friend.
To successfully change and maintain a habit, you must know what your emotional connections are and have in place better alternatives. Food is a short-term diversion, and within an hour or two your stress or boredom will still be there plus the disappointment and remorse of having failed.
Seriously, food does not reduce anxiety, it will mask it for a while, but unless you pin point your issues you will keep yourself in this cycle.
Stress needs to be addressed at the onset not swallowed at the crisis point.
Don't eat your anger! Consider this:
Every pound of body fat could well be the weight and shape of last year's disappointments.
Your body is the most valuable asset you have. It is smarter than any computer, there is no scientist, doctor or chemist able to heal, repair, or protect you like your own body can, it is your home and your vehicle. There is no person and no thing in this entire Universe that will serve or protect you like your own body. Your life, freedom, happiness, pleasure, vitality, and health are all gifts to you from your body.
The most amazing thing to realize is that most people disrespect and sometimes even hate their bodies. Many people poison their own bodies. Certainly in our culture we have somehow taken on big fat lies about our bodies.
Stop for a moment right now and consider your attitude to your body. Is there a sense of shame? When you think or speak about your body, is there respect and admiration or self-loathing, criticism and indifference?
If you apply truth and logic, you will know (or you will come to know) that your body is the most fascinating, intelligent, and valuable possession you have.
You may spend most of your income on your houses and cars, yet neither will compare to your own body. You probably design, renovate, and maintain your home with unlimited commitment and yet you won't consider how little your body asks and how much your body does.
Your body requires air, water, food, sleep and movement, and that's all!
Think about what your body will do for you in return for these few simple requirements. Do you fill your car with sugar? Is your house filled with toxic matter and garbage? How much time, effort, and thought go into the décor of your home compared to the consideration of your own body? Surely you can see the reality of what I'm saying.
How much body disrespect has your weight created? Think about the unloving thoughts and feelings you have directed at your body.
Weight is simply too much body fat kept in storage; it's no big deal!
Have you ever really stopped to consider the billions of wonderful processes within your body or do you simply focus on fat and divorce your body from yourself?
Lies, or BS as we affectionately refer to them, are the single most fattening things you ever swallow.
In the past few decades BS has become fact and fact is no longer considered. We have all been conned into believing that our own self-worth is created by how we look, what we do for a living and how much we earn. Advertising, media and marketing have taken over truth and common sense. If there is a buck to be made, then the marketing people can convince us of anything. Look at how bombarded we have become with the beauty myth. We starve ourselves, surgically remove body parts, and practise acts of self-abuse in the great quest of beauty.
Be Beautiful and you will be happy and valued.
Rubbish! Take 2 minutes to think about the 5 most important people in your life. Consider your reasons for their value, I am sure that being good looking or thin does not even come in to it.
There is a lot of money to be made by others from your believing that you are unattractive, unacceptable or unlovable. Think about it, who in their right mind would buy a $500 bottle of perfume simply to seduce a man? When was the last time you smelled aftershave and were overtaken by sexual desire? We spend thousands of dollars on health spas and convince ourselves that rolling around in mud will make us beautiful. Look in your cosmetic cabinet and see the money spent on all those potions. Do you look like a movie star?
Think about the books, pills, supplements, clubs memberships and machinery you have purchased to lose weight.
Don't allow your self-worth to be manipulated by propaganda and clever marketing.
Stop getting caught up in one or two minor imperfections. Change only the things that you yourself decide to work on. Don't take on other people's neurotic concepts about yourself.
If you lose weight for your own reasons, with your own values and within your own truth, it will be easy.
When losing weight becomes a gift you give yourself, because you love yourself, it will be achieved effortlessly and with pleasure.
Copyright Sonya Green www.reinventingmyself.com
Sonya Green West Australian author and webmaster of www.reinventingmyself.com">http://www.reinventingmyself.com Weight loss consultant and personal growth course facilitator.