Recently I’ve been working with women who are focusing on weight loss. It is very interesting and it’s made me wonder, what is the difference between women who manage to lose weight and those that find it nearly impossible? (Keep in mind there are complex reasons why it is difficult to lose weight. Our obesogenic society doesn’t make it any easier but I’ll save that topic for another time.)
As a nutrition coach I take into consideration each woman’s emotional, spiritual, hormonal and physiological factors. Each woman is different and needs to be treated as such. (If you are interested in some of the hormonal factors that affect weight loss, please click through for my free E-book: 5 MUST Hormone Fixes for Weight Loss. ) Most women who come to see me are complicated cases. Often, they have been trying to lose weight their entire lives and have yo-yo dieted for years. Many of these women arrive in my office with a similar mindset:
“I want you to show me exactly what to eat and how to eat and when to eat and I want to be held accountable!”
The problem with this strategy is that it simply DOES NOT WORK but the outdated “going on a diet” mentality is embedded in our thinking. Just take a look at the latest women’s magazine. Why do they have to print a new quick fix weight loss scheme every issue if any of them worked?
Let me ask, how many “free” meal plans have you tried? We see them online all the time. These plans come with all the bells and whistles: the recipes; the shopping lists; the breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack breakdown; and you go to the grocery store armed with a list so long you spend $300 for a weeks’ worth of food. You bring the food home with fantastic intentions and end up eating only the simplest stuff because who the heck has time to make from scratch twenty different meals for the week? Not only does food go to waste but your fall-back is usually something boring like rice cakes, salad, and chicken. And who wouldn’t want to binge on an entire weeks’ worth of carbs in one meal after eating like that for 10 days?
The part that pains me the most is that after another dieting “failure” of this type, most women blame themselves.
What we usually don’t consider is the way we think. Many of my weight loss clients believe they are either on a diet or they’re off. They want to know everything they can do in one week and expect themselves to follow a meal plan right off the hop. What they haven’t done is look ways to balance their lives.
You cannot make changes in your life around food, eating, and diet if you don’t look at the other aspects that need changing. Many women come to me burdened with responsibility for a full time job, aging or ailing parents, teens or young adults in university or coming home from university, plus the baffling hormonal symptoms of menopause such as stubborn weight gain, itchy vaginas (seriously? what next?), brain fog, and sleeplessness. Something’s got to give!
Many women automatically take on the caregiver role and expect more from themselves than they can possibly give. They then tell me that they were unable to make the dietary changes I suggested to them because of laziness. You are not lazy! You are far from lazy; in fact you are overworked and not giving yourself the time you need to heal your frazzled body.
So, let’s have some good news. What are some of the things the women who have taken off 10 to 20 pounds have in common?
- They have stopped trying to be perfect. Perfectionism is a huge liability. Choosing one or two goals per week is more than enough. These goals might be simple things like making a recipe on the weekend so your lunches are covered; or cleaning out your fridge; or eating protein for breakfast 5 of the 7 days; or making a vegetable soup or stir-fry on the weekend so your vegetables are prepared for the week.
- They have stopped beating themselves up for making unhealthy choices. It’s natural to crave sugar or chips when you’re exhausted. Forgive yourself and ask, “What is something I can do to take care of myself?” Some achievable 10-minute self-care activities might be going outside for some fresh air; or taking a walk around the block; or listening to a guided meditation; or taking a yoga, meditation, or Pilates class.
- They check in weekly for support with a coach, friend, mentor, or Facebook group, or all of the above!
- They realize and accept that weight loss is not a quick fix. Realistically, if you want to lose weight, and keep it off, you have to get rid of the notion that following a 12-week diet is going to cure you. My successful clients realize that slow and steady wins the race. Changes are made one goal at a time. That is how it works. Go back to the small goals listed in #1. Make one goal. I dare you.
- They realize that weight loss is not just about food. Weight loss is a spiritual, emotional, and physiological journey. At the core of it you need to learn to look after yourself before anyone else.
You can start your weight loss by making one to two goals a week. You don’t have to follow a strict meal plan but you do need to set goals and learn to think differently about weight loss, food, and self-care.
For me, a crucial part of nutrition coaching is allowing my clients to set goals for themselves that they know they can achieve, that they know they have an 80% chance of succeeding at.
I’d love to hear from you. What are one or two things you can do this week to help kick start your weight loss or better health goals? I’ll tell you mine: I am making a crock-pot meal from my favorite cabbage & ground meat recipe given to me by a foody friend. Let me know if you’d like me to share the recipe with you. And have a great week!