Despite ever newer and more promising fads and diet trends popping up on every corner of our social media-driven little world, we seem to grow bigger as a nation year by year. Obesity and diabetes but also other eating related issues such as anorexia or binge-eating are on the rise. It seems all so controversial and at first glance does not appear to make any sense.
When we think of weight-loss, we usually pretty much contemplate lots of different ways on how to trick or force our bodies into shedding some weight via dieting, calorie restriction or any other form of food deprivation. Right? Have you already tried going Paleo, Raw or Keto to free yourself from those extra kilos that are bothering you? Well, I have and I know it feels like being trapped in a pretty frustrating one-way road without happy escape. You start off being all motivated and everything is going well. Until suddenly you seem unable to keep up your dieting mojo and instead are overrun by the weirdest food phantasies. Needless to say, that with such all too vivid culinary dreams – and they are unfortunately rarely about kale or quinoa – comes a whole lot of guilt and a seemingly irresistible urge to also fill your hungry belly with such eats. Which would be fine if you did all this in a controllable manner. But you seem to totally have lost your food plot and can’t stop eating even though you know you are going way overboard. Argghhh ….
In case you were wondering … I can assure you there is nothing wrong with you or your precious body. But rather a lot with our dieting mentality. Let me explain why dieting or excluding certain food groups from your life over an extended period of time does not give you that slim, trimmed body you were after. But, if worse comes to worse, rather has the contrary effect and has you pile on even more weight than before onto your waistline.
- Physiological factors that might ruin your best weight loss issues when we are dieting:
Our metabolism slows down which means we are holding on to our fat stores more vigorously and are having even more trouble releasing any extra fat.
The hypothalamus releases viewer leptin hormones which makes us hungrier, and ups our appetite and cravings (all those junk foods seem all of a sudden so irresistible).
The hypothalamus causes the pituitary gland to release more cortisol into the bloodstream (higher cortisol levels will also increase appetite, hunger, cravings and decrease ability to burn fat).
Dieting changes our cognitive function and makes us notice those foods we are trying to avoid even more (it also makes them taste better and rewards us with more pleasure when we do indulge in them which makes them so much harder to resist).
- Other environmental factors counteracting your best weight loss efforts that are made worse by eating a smaller variety of foods – which obviously is exactly what you are doing when you are dieting:
Our different microbiota burns the food we eat differently (even if we eat the same food). In practice this mean someone with a healthy gut and lots of different bacteria may burn much more calories than someone whose gut has been somewhat compromised. Research suggests that a diet rich in healthy wholefoods – including wholesome carbohydrates and healthy fats – can help to promote good gut bacteria in healthy individuals.
- Psychological factors you might not be aware of that have a lot to say on your weight loss journey (and are definitely aggravated by any form of dieting or food restriction:
It is important to recognise that, for most of us, food is not just nourishment for our bodies but also for our souls and mind. That is food is a way to make us feel good. If we are unaware of such emotional attachment to food, it will be very difficult to come up with other non-food related ways to reward, relax, or deal with our daily stressors. If however, we acknowledge a link between our emotions and food, we are much better equipped to come up with more healthful ways to soothe that sweet tooth.
Factors like stress, anxiety or depression have a huge impact on our daily choices. In practice this means that your weight loss resolution you set with a happy mind in a relaxed situation, can all too easily be shattered into tiny weak pieces by less happy emotions. As a result, your next challenging, all-taxing life situation you are confronted with has you buy that creamy cake or ice-tub and before you know it your spoon has magically found its own way digging away into the forbidden good.
Ask yourself whether you are truly ready to lose that weight. It might sound controversial but even though you might think you are, you might be less ready to really let go of it. For some people holding on to extra kilos symbolises safety. For others it may be a sign of wealth and love. Who will you be without that weight? Are you truly willing to reinvent yourself?
So, what is the solution? Does this mean you simply have to embrace your larger waistline and ignore your GP’s advice to lose those extra kilos for improved health? No. If you are not feeling happy in your beautiful body because it is too heavy and quite literally weighing you down, by all means, I totally encourage you to opt for change. You deserve to feel insanely amazing within your precious self. You were born to live your purpose and achieve greatness.
If your heavier frame is not allowing you to do so or is giving you other health issues, it is time to rewrite your story. But I urge you to do so with a holistic approach and without falling into the dieting trap. Instead I encourage you to fall in love with nourishing your body, mind and soul with fresh wholesome foods. Foods that are as natural to their original state as possible; that are low in salt, unhealthy fats and added sugars; that are free from preservatives, colours, fillers, MSG and other nasties and instead full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants, and other beautifying, health-promoting goodness. And to do so in a balanced way. Combining such whole foods with mindful intuitive eating is the most powerful tool for sustained and successful weight loss.
So, to answer the question why weight loss is so hard? I don’t believe it has to be. I rather believe we have gone about it in a way that makes our attempts of shedding kilos almost impossible. We still think the answer to our weighty problems is found in restriction and dieting. Considering the fact that dieting is not sustainable on the long run and that it does not deliver the wanted outcome but rather sets us up for failure, frustration and reduced self-esteem such thinking has to stop. Our dieting culture is full of unrealistic expectations, unhealthy eating behaviours and highly processed convenient foods that rather lead to more weight gain and problems in our fast paced, seemingly perfect world.
It is upon us to reverse such thinking and discover how relatively simple and fun weight loss can be. Are you ready to turn your back to all those diet shakes, pills, and highly processed produce that promise you to solve all your belly-fat problems? Are you prepared to replace counting calories and food deprivation with total wholefood abundance? Can you embrace a mindset that does not equate healthy with super skinny but rather allows room for all of our different body shapes – sexy, healthful curves included?
It is time, gorgeous, to nourish your beautiful self with what it needs to feel and look insanely wonderful from the inside out. I promise you, going about your weight loss goals in this very competent way will not set off any unwanted physiological or psychological responses that are too hard to manage. What will happen though is that bit by bit, one day at a time, you will set yourself free from those undesirable side-effects of yo-yo dieting. Self-shaming, blaming, more weight and fat gain, negative self-talk, emotional eating, cravings and so on will slowly but surely move into your scary past and make room for a new eating goddess within you. Do you think you can do this and trust your own body cues and instincts more than what our dieting obsessed marketing society is telling you? Let’s dive right into this new era of empowered weight loss with wholesome, fresh goodness, love and kindness. You totally got this, gorgeous, enjoy your new healthy-licious beautiful self!