Why weight loss strategies fail or are not sustainable

Thin and overweight women standing back to back

There are many well known strategies that are being promoted by the weight loss industry these days. You can go have your fat cut out, sucked out, get bariatric surgery, take various substances in pills that will prevent absorption or artificially speed up metabolism, restrict yourself on 800 calories a day, wire your mouth shut, and exercise your brains out. I’m not saying that any of these are good or bad, or that the people who have done these things are doing anything wrong. I have tried a few of these strategies myself. However, I do not subscribe to or support most of these methods, because I have come to realize that this is a form of physical self abuse. These extreme measures to lose weight leave you in disempowered misery and your body feels assaulted. Is it any wonder that the body feels an intense need to protect itself with extra padding, and so the weight returns.

Many people, including myself, who have achieved their weight loss goals by beating their body into submission with punishing exercise, depriving themselves of nourishment by controlling appetite, or forcing the body into weight loss with pills, sadly discover that they have to continue to abuse and attack themselves every day in order to maintain their new weight. This is a "false positive", because although they look trim and fit on the outside, inside they are living in misery, fear, deprivation and depression.

They are worried about not being able to maintain the regimen required to sustain their lower weight, and they fear that the fat will come back. This person is stressed, self rejecting, self judging, is anxious and fearful, is pushing and striving. When they binge eat or the weight returns they feel guilty and think they are a willpower weakling. This is emotional self abuse. Is this any way to live?

Slender doesn’t always mean healthy. I know this from experience. People may lose weight, but they don’t feel good. There isn’t a sense of health, vitality and a glow about them, because there was not a true metabolic victory in the body. That’s because they didn’t lose the weight in a healthy way. Sadly, this weight loss is rarely sustainable and the weight returns, plus some. Every time this happens they lose muscle, which is where fat is burned, and it raises their set point weight, while lowering their base metabolic rate. This causes them to not be able to burn fat efficiently and so they gain even more than the last time. To lose weight in the future, they will need to reduce their calories even more, which continues a vicious cycle that is extremely unhealthy.

The person who is constantly thinking about losing weight believes they are not good enough as they are. They think, “I will not be happy with myself until I lose this weight”. “I can’t start living the life I want or be the real me until I lose this fat or get my health back”. Your body was not designed to be a project that you continually need to work on. No one can self-reject and hate their body into sustained weight loss, and be happy. That’s not living! That’s a stressful and unfulfilling life.

Life happens now! Not sometime in the future. There is a numbing power that comes with numbers. We give our power away to numbers every time we get on a scale. You gain a pound and you hate yourself. You lose a pound and you love yourself. You gain a pound and that determines your mood, and if you will have a good or bad day. This is an insane way to live life. You are driving yourself crazy! The scale has become a parasite, and is no longer a useful tool. It grabs hold and sucks the energy out of your body. It’s time to own, love and care for the body you have now, so it can express on the outside the inner transformation that can take place on the inside. When weight loss happens in a healthy and sustainable way, as a by-product of a healthy lifestyle, the person is transformed. They look great! Not because they lost weight. They looked great, because they have a brightness and lightness to them that resonates from within.

You may lose weight. But truly, isn't that your smallest goal? What you really want is to be a happier, healthier, more authentic "you"; physically, emotionally, socially and perhaps even spiritually. I am committed to your bigger goals. I want to help you heal, empower and elevate your inner being.

We will look at your story. Your journey is the perfect one for you. I want to help you see that your journey was uniquely chosen to help you grow as a person. It’s time to show yourself some compassion. It’s time to understand that your unwanted habits, symptoms and excess weight is your body trying desperately to take care of you. It’s trying to get your attention. It’s asking you to look deeper. So many of us are stuck in our heads or we’ve disembodied. I will show you how to get out of your head and start living in your body; paying attention to what its' feeling below the neck. I want to use your weight loss goal as a doorway into self-empowerment, embodiment, forgiveness, self-love, self-compassion, being your most authentic self, having better relationships, developing and deepening in your own unique personality, growing in character and enjoying the rewards of conscious living. We will also be addressing secondary health complaints. These are your higher goals, and that’s what I am committed to. When we focus together on your higher goals, the smaller goal will naturally and effortlessly fall into place and align itself with the you that you were meant to be.

Your life is the most important thing about you. Life is not about the numbers - the scale, tape measure, size on the tags of your clothes or even your age. Life is about relationships, spirituality and giving your unique gifts to the world. Always being in “survival mode” is not how we were meant to or were physically designed to live. When we work together on your goals, we will be working on all aspects of your life. It’s going to be an exciting, eye opening, rewarding and fun journey.

I can guarantee that the things which are required as a prior condition for weight loss to happen, will be addressed. You will be equipped with tools that will help you maintain the authentic and real you for the rest of your life. This is what differentiates me from 99% of nutritionists, life coaches, fitness trainers, health consultants and weight loss counselors. This is what makes me feel good about what I do and sets me apart.

Where you eat

Your Eating Style: What, Why, When, Where, How & How Much to eat

My relatives were “thick” around the middle, but not what many would consider as “obese” by today’s standards. My family was mostly a combination of German, English and Italian decent. I used to excuse being “heavy”, by claiming to have big bones. Years later, when I was a size 2, I realized that I had been lying to myself. When I was a child, I remember that Grandma was always on a diet of one type or another. She lost a lot of weight and then gained it all back, + more. Her example taught me "diets" were not for me. Being self-conscious about my weight was a subconscious thing most of the time, but my food addiction was a very real problem. In my teenager days, I exercised excessively (Bulimia) to compensate for bingeing, but when I began working, sitting all day driving trucks packed on the pounds.

For the majority of individuals, becoming overweight or obese is a process. Reversing that process, is also a process. It starts with the mind. I had to face the reality of the situation, and that is, that being overweight was the result of years eating too much and making poor food choices.The statistics about the percentage of Americans who are overweight, and what health problems that causes over time, is all over the media. It is also obvious as you look around at those you pass by in public places. Many unhealthy “tricks” have been devised to fool the body into thinking it is full, like adding flax fiber, or having the stomach stapled, which has devastating nutritional consequences. Taking a pill to alter the chemistry of digestion, so that what you eat isn’t absorbed, is not healthy. Tricks and pills often cause other health problems, and they do not contribute to long term success. Counting calories is necessary, but only to a point, because what matters most is how your food talks to your genes.

I have heard it said, if you want to loose weight, it is a matter of simple math. Consume fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight and the pounds will melt away. That is only partly true, and I wish it were that simple.

What, why, how, when, where and how much we eat is a lifestyle that is chosen, every meal - every day, but there is more to it than that. Like smoking or alcohol abuse, an addiction to food can be just as difficult to quit, due to the biological processes that occur in the body, of which we are unaware. The problem is, you still have to eat. It is not an "all or nothing" proposition, and control is the key. There are automatic processes that take place in the body that we can't control, but we can control______.

Lasting change begins when you adopt a new attitude. If you keep doing the same things you have always done, you will continue to get the same results you have always gotten. If you want different results, you must make a change. You must change your thinking about food and how you view your body. To develop the right attitude about your food, health and lifestyle, you need to start by asking yourself a few questions.

Why do you eat? Is it for taste? To satisfy a need to chew something? Do you eat emotionally, like when you are bored, upset or depressed? A vitamin D deficiency was contributing to my depression, but even more so, I had a severe Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) and protein deficiency that predisposed me to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and I eat more when I am depressed. I was chronically depressed, so I ate all the time. I also ate to calm my nerves. Some people eat more when they are trying to quit smoking. Was I trying to make myself feel better or reward myself for something I did right, or endured? Did I eat because other people were eating or for social reasons, like at a party? What was the attitude my family had toward food in my childhood home? Was I rewarded or comforted with food? Was there not enough to eat or too much? Asking yourself these questions and honestly answering them is the first step toward freedom from food addiction or overeating.
Frequently, we reach for food, when what the body really needs is water. More often than not people are dehydrated, not hungry, between meals. I drink a tall glass of water, not soda or coffee, which dehydrates the body even more. I tell my husband, “If you are feeling and/or hearing your stomach growl 30 minutes after drinking the water, then eat a healthy snack (not a light meal)”. Pure water is the healthiest beverage; God only serves water. What would happen to a plant if you only watered it with soda?

Strong cravings for refined carbohydrates and sugar can be caused by an undiagnosed condition, such as Systemic Candidiasis (yeast overgrowth) or cancer. I used to have uncontrollable sugar cravings. Yeast and cancer cells actually cause a person to have strong cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates, because both convert into glucose, which is food for “the enemy.” Systemic Candidiasis is a silent epidemic in America. Think about it. A person gets Systemic Candidiasis before they ever get Cancer or Aids. Add the numbers of people who have cancer and this will give you an idea of how prevalent it is. You can’t starve candida or cancer, but you can stop feeding the enemy it’s favorite foods! If you have intense cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates, stop feeding your craving and find out what is causing it.

Knowing why I ate was the best place to start to change my attitude about food. Now I think of food only as fuel, which produces energy for the body and nourishment, nothing more. It’s like the gas in my car; when it gets near empty, I fill it up. The tank (my stomach) is only so big and is intended to hold only a certain amount. Overfilling it causes waste. Putting in the wrong fuel causes engine problems and breakdowns. How many of us take better care of our automobile than we do our own body? When you examine your motivation for eating, put food in it’s proper perspective, and decide to apply the discipline necessary to correct bad lifestyle choices and habits, then you can enjoy the results of your efforts and success. Later, you will learn to reconnect with your food in a natural, balanced and healthy way.

Eating style

I considered - When and where do I eat? I ate while driving, working, reading, watching TV, before bed, and in the middle of the night. Now I eat seated around a table during the appropriate meal time? I used to eat when I was angry and upset. Now I eat when I am hungry and relaxed? Your emotions affect your digestion, positively or negatively, depending on your mood.

The answer to this question was the hardest for me to accept and adjust to - What do I eat? The Standard American Diet includes ingredients, like fructose corn syrup and others, that actually make you want to eat more and over consume. Cravings can be the hardest to correct, because they are connected to the emotional part of eating. The body is often starving for nutrition, not more calories. When it receives the nutrition it needs from whole foods, the physical symptoms of cravings subside. However, the emotional or pleasurable part of eating certain “comfort” foods is often a residual problem that requires discipline; like quitting an addiction. What did I choose when it was time to eat? I used to grab the easiest and quickest thing I could get. Now I plan ahead of time for my next meal? What do you shop for at the grocery store? If you fail to plan a food budget, menu, grocery list, and time to prepare meals and eat, then you plan to fail at changing your lifestyle. Instead, plan to succeed and you will. What ever you set your mind to do, that is what you will do.

Another big issue for me was - How much do I eat? I literally wore my digestive system out. All I could think about, every waking moment, was the next thing I would eat. I had a food addiction. Look at the portion sizes at most restaurants and you will see how much the perception of a portion size has changed over the past 80 years. One meal served in a restaurant is often enough food to feed two or three adults. Do you return for seconds at home or at a buffet? If so, why? Is it for more of experiencing “good taste”? Wait 20 minutes after you finish a plate of food before returning for more, and only if you are still truly “hungry”.

It is vitally important to make every effort to be consistent about your new attitude and lifestyle, so “you will stay in control, and keep your focus on the goal.” If you fell back into old habits today, don’t allow it to have power over you. Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes.
Exercise helps to speed up metabolic processes and tone muscles, which assists in the weight loss process, but it isn’t absolutely necessary in order to loose weight. People who are too ill or too heavy to exert themselves, can loose weight. Those who are disabled are not doomed to live out the rest of their lives being overweight, because they can’t “exercise”.

When I started taking care of my friend, who is a paraplegic and uses a power wheelchair, I taught her by my example, about making good food choices based on blood type, and about the chemistry of digestion. She agreed to let me do her grocery shopping and meal preparation. In less than one year she lost 30 pounds, just sitting in a wheelchair. She went from a mens’ size 44” to a 36” pants. She felt better and was able to lift her body, using her arms and transfer, with less effort. She was able to get a used hand cycle and now she has the energy to exercise, which helps her mentally and physically. Her service dog walks along side her.

I found that intense exercise made me desire to eat more, which didn’t help my food addiction or my weight loss goals, not to mention the guilt and feelings of failure that followed after an “exercise induced binge”. When I choose to do low impact exercise, like walking 20 minutes a day, I enjoy the benefits of increased metabolism, and I don’t feel an urge to binge.

Eating habits

It was important to examine - How do I eat? I used to eat in a rush, on the run, take large bites and chew just enough to swallow it. Now I eat consciously, take my time and chew small bites well? Digestion is a natural process, but it functions a certain way, in a particular order and at a set speed. Every system has limits and when those limits are violated, unpleasant things happen.

"My mouth is not a hole in my face, into which I try to stuff as much food in one bite as is humanly possible. Then, chew only enough to get it down my throat, and rinse it down with a gulp of beverage, followed by a repeat of this process - over and over again. When I have finished, I almost can’t remember what I ate or how it tasted, and I feel anything but energized.” I must remind myself of this often and teach it to my children,” JVW.

Eating is a ritual, something to be anticipated, enjoyed and benefited from. It is an experience, not an appointment we fit into our busy schedules, and rush through, to get on to the next thing in our hectic day. Eat consciously, take your time and chew thoroughly.

Advertising fools us into believing we can consume anything. “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, tomato, pickles and onions on a bun”. In our attempt to make eating more convenient, we have made digestion more difficult. What if we are the cause of our digestive complaints and poor health?

How to eat, was something that many of us were never really taught. While observing other people, we learn to do what we see other people doing. Grandma used to say, chew each bite 24 times before you swallow. With no explanation as to the reason “why” I should follow her wisdom, and the examples around me not enforcing it, I didn’t remember to do it. Bad habits took over and they continued until eventually my digestive system succumbed to the abuse. By the time I realized what was happening, the damage was irreversible. My father used to say, “Too soon old and too late smart.” I think many of us would agree with that saying. It seems to be one of the human dilemmas, and I wish it were not the case, but often times our most valuable lessons are ones that we have had to learn the hard way. I had to take responsibility for my past and realize that I gave myself the illnesses I must live with; by the food choices I made and how I ate. I cannot go back and change the past, but I can stop making unhealthy lifestyle choices and begin the process of healing. I also teach my children, so they will not repeat my mistakes.

It became a matter of life and death that I extensively research and study the subject of digestive health and holistic nutrition, for my own self preservation, because I was slowly dying of malnutrition. “It is always preferable to learn from the mistakes and wisdom of others whenever possible”, I always say. Now that I understand the wisdom behind my Grandma’s words, I would like to share with you what I have learned and my experience has confirmed to be true about how the digestive system works, the chemistry of digestion, what caused my diseases, and how I became aware of my eating habits. To regain my health, I used the principles of holistic nutrition, which is defined as: the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease, to help me find balance.

In the 1930’s Dr. Howard Hay’s formulated a diet plan popularly known as “food combining”. The key elements in Dr. Hay’s original theory were to eat more “alkaline-forming foods,” to avoid refined and processed foods, to eat fruit on an empty stomach by itself, and not to eat protein-rich and carbohydrate-rich foods together. More recently, this approach to eating has been perfected to include not only the chemistry of digestion, but also the attitude, emotions, habits, lifestyle, timing and the environment while we eat. All of these contribute to how our food is digested and the efficiency of our stomachs. This has helped millions of people improve their digestive health and overall wellbeing, myself included.

I would bite off more than I could chew. This is true in more ways than one. I would start with large meals and take large bites. My perception of portion sizes became unrealistic and doubled in volume, on my “now” larger plate, and I went back for seconds. If I wanted to achieve optimum digestion and obtain superior health, I must practice self-control. Self-control begins with a change of attitude. I needed to make a conscious decision to monitor my food intake at every meal. This requires discipline, every meal, every day. Not only how much I eat, but what combinations of foods I consume in a meal are vital to achieving this goal. It is a commitment I make to myself for the rest of my life.
The next blog will talk about The Chemistry of Digestion. Perhaps you will find the answers to your acid reflux, abdominal distention, gas, belching and other unpleasant symptoms.

Only God can turn a mess into a message,
a test
into a testimony,
a trial
into a triumph,
a victim
into a victory.

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