Are Your Attempts to Lose Weight Failing? 5 Things You Can Do to Stop Sabotaging Your Efforts

Jen had a big meeting that afternoon with her largest client. She’d been prepping for days and wanted it to go well. For the past three weeks, Jen had also worked really hard on her diet. She’d avoided sugar, eaten more salads and finally got her ass to the gym after months of avoiding it. She secretly hoped that she could now squeeze into her favorite power skirt.

Standing in her closet, she held her breath as she slipped on the skirt. She pulled it up and wrestled with the zipper, knowing immediately that it was too tight. As she let out her breath, she also let out the hope that she’d held.  Not only did Jen feel frustrated, she felt defeated.

Why am I even bothering? All those workouts. All the sacrifice. For what? I’m the same exact weight. I’ll never lose weight.

Jen hung her favorite skirt back in her closet and put on her “go to” safety dress. As she made her way to the office, she tried to push all of these defeatist thoughts of her mind. But underneath the surface, Jen was taking this battle to heart.  Not only was she second guessing her ability to lose weight, her confidence was crushed. A familiar train of thought  passed through her mind.

I can’t lose weight and keep it off. I don’t deserve to have a skinny body.

Jen, a composite blend of my own and my coaching clients’ experience, is in a negative thought cycle. Most of us experience these without even realizing it, and they can do incalculable damage.

Let me spell out the cycle:

  • Jen was looking for evidence to support her beliefs that she would never be free of the weight, or keep it off.
  • When she tried on her favorite skirt and it didn’t fit the way she wanted it to, she got the confirmation she’d been looking for.
  • Even though her client meeting went well, the days and weeks that followed looked nothing like the weeks before. She stopped going to the salad bar and skipped the gym more often than she went.

Jen’s thoughts and beliefs created her actions, right from the get go.

What if Jen believed that she could lose weight? Or at least, didn’t believe that she couldn’t lose weight?

When she tried on her favorite skirt that morning, the conversation with herself would have been entirely different. She might have thought, Well, it fits better than it did a month ago. I just need to be patient. Or, My body feels better and lighter. Eventually, my body will catch up.

As human beings, we have a hard-wired psychological need to be right. When we’re right, well, we’re justified and validated,  which is the ultimate goal. Sadly, our wiring doesn’t distinguish how we are right, it just needs to be. We look for situations, words, actions, and circumstances that we can interpret in a way that will support our belief system. When we find this evidence, our beliefs are affirmed and we are right. Our beliefs and the evidence we gather can serve us well. Or, our beliefs may tear down our confidence and our self esteem. We will interpret conversations and situations all around us to make us right about that too.   

When her skirt didn’t fit the way she wanted it to, Jen interpreted that as confirmation of her belief that she can’t really lose weight. That little voice said, “I told you so. You’ll never have the body you dreamed of.” And with that, she made herself right.

This is why what happens on the inside is so incredibly important. Because we react and make choices based on that I-must-prove-myself-right mechanism.

Having an acute awareness of your thoughts and beliefs is critical to breaking out of those past unproductive patterns and cycles. The one’s that are keeping you hating your body, exhausted and feeling hopeless.

Let me warn you: Becoming aware of negative beliefs isn’t a pretty process. It’s not fun to look at beliefs like:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I’m unlovable
  • I’ll always be alone

But when we shine that light on this dark side of us, we can see that our actions and reactions have been reinforcing these beliefs.

The good news is that you don’t have to excavate all of your beliefs to change your life. You don’t need to buy into the belief that you will have a life you love when you finally really love yourself. So, while you are practicing loving yourself and your life:

  1. Make your commitment to your highest self bigger than your commitment to lose weight. Losing weight for you isn’t just about dropping the weight. Deep down it's about how we feel about ourselves and our self worth. Commit to nourishing yourself in a kind way. Instead of focusing on losing weight, how about focusing on feeling great, light and energetic in your body?
  2. Practice identifying those moments you’re looking for evidence. We’re interpreting situations all of the time. Some big, some small. Looking in a full length mirror at the Mall? Just finishing  bowl of ice cream? Notice how these situations support the beliefs you want to hold for yourself.
  3. Focus on the long term. You want the changes in your life to stick. To do this, there is no quick fix. No short cuts. Habits take a while to reinforce and permeate through our lives. Give them the benefit of time and notice all of the successes along the way.
  4. Don’t argue with your thoughts and beliefs. When that little voice says. “You’ll never lose weight,” you don’t have to turn around and say, “No! I will lose weight.” When you argue and debate, you’re just giving the negative thought more time and energy. Instead, simply acknowledge the thought and move on. You can even say, “Thanks for sharing.”
  5. Acknowledge the power of choice. Yes, you have your beliefs and you have your thoughts. But you don’t have to believe everything you hear and everything you think. You get to choose your actions.

As you change what’s happening on the inside, what’s happening on the outside will change too.


 

Stressed Out About Stress Eating? Don't Do These Three Things

Do you have your stash of snacks hidden in the top left-hand drawer of your desk? Do you know that the code in the vending machine for pretzels and Peanut M&M’s are B6 and A4? Or, if you are lucky enough to have a home office, do you find yourself in front of the food pantry every day at 3pm?

Why you are stress eating at work.

More and more Americans are experiencing significant stress in the workplace. The Huffington Post published “Work Stress On The Rise: 8 In 10 Americans Are Stressed About Their Jobs, Survey Finds” in April 2013.  According to the Harvard Health Publication “Why Stress Causes People to Overeat”, when someone is under high levels of stress for long periods of time, their body produces a hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol is known to increase your appetite and your motivation to eat.

One way to look at stress in the body is to consider what happens when a seltzer bottle is shaken. Fizz and bubbles build and the cap is difficult to twist off without seltzer spraying out. Similarly, stress often feels like that same tension and pressure. In the human body, this is very uncomfortable. The natural response to relieve discomfort is to want to let out that tension. Depending on the food chosen, eating can relieve this tension by creating a distraction, a relaxation response and/or a short term increase of energy.

But eating when stressed never resolves the actual causes of the stress or it’s symptoms; it just hides them.

Ready to make a change?

Stress eating not only has an impact on your waist line, it can also erode your confidence and limit your ability to build the momentum you need for optimal health. Lori, a coaching client of mine, hated herself when she kept reaching for the bowl filled with miniature chocolates in the kitchenette in her office. Sure, her boss was driving her crazy and had incredibly high and unrealistic expectations. But more importantly, Lori was distracting herself from what the real issues were. Eating chocolate allowed her to avoid them. Her self esteem also plummeted when her belly felt so stuffed. On days like those, Lori often chose to come home from work and sit in front of the TV. Her yoga mat and walking shoes stayed in her downstairs closet.

Think about it this way.

There are two components to stress eating. The stress you are feeling at work on a day to day basis and the choices you are making around food. In order to stop stress eating, it’s important to shift the way you think and your actions in both of these areas.

Don’t work harder and faster.

When the to-do list is a mile long and deadlines are coming fast and furious, you may automatically want to put your head down and plow through it. You may be thinking that you will feel less stressed when you’ve finally finished this one project. But you know how it goes. Once you complete one milestone, the next one is there waiting for you. To stop stress eating, you must manage your stress daily. You have to take yourself off the gerbil wheel that will have you running endlessly and perpetually stressed out. I encourage all of my coaching clients to make it a habit of doing 3 core daily practices. These practices reduce stress, improve how you feel and offer a clearer connection to yourself and your purpose. My core daily practices include meditating for at least 10 minutes, practicing yoga or running, and journal writing. The practices don’t need to take much time but the key is that they are done daily. Choose your core daily practices, practice them consistently and you will be on your way to reducing stress in all areas of your life.

Don’t avoid the candy bowl.

I’m suspecting that you have tried to avoid the candy bowl in the past and it hasn’t worked. You’ve tossed out or given away your snack stash, tried to avoid the vending machine and even did your best to decline the birthday cake and bagels sitting in the kitchen. Trying to avoid something doesn’t work permanently and easily because of a simple law of energy. Energy increases where you place your attention and focus. When you spend time thinking about the candy bowl (even trying to avoiding it), you are creating more energy around it.  To be successful avoiding the candy bowl, you need to put your energy onto what you do want. Pivot your attention from the candy bowl toward other habits that will help you feel better and less stressed. Focus on drinking more water, walking outside at lunch time or taking some deep breaths throughout the day.  Do that and you will forget all about the candy bowl.

Don’t eat on the fly.

In a former office of mine, Katie, our office manager, kept a full bowl of M&M’s on her desk. She was very sweet and I know she meant well. To get to the main conference room, we had to walk by her desk (and the M&M’s). Many of my coworkers (and I included) would scoop a handful and eat these M&M’s on our way to or from a meeting. Eating mindlessly can lead to overeating. Stress eating can be significantly reduced when you pay attention to what you are eating. When you are eating, do it with all of your attention. Don’t eat and walk, eat and text or eat and work. Just sit and eat.

Life can be hectic, fast paced and even stressful. And your health and vitality doesn’t have to be compromised. Stress eating isn’t the underlying cause, it’s the symptom. Stop stress eating by taking time for yourself daily, focusing on nurturing the right habits, and bringing more mindfulness in your life. When you do, your relationship with the vending machine will be a thing of the past.

Sound simple? It is, but there is so much more. If you want to know more for yourself and incorporate these guidelines in your life, contact me to set up a free exploratory conversation.

 

 

Why Stepping On The Scale Is Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Efforts And 5 Things to Do Instead

Lauren had her morning ritual. Before she got out of bed, before her feet even touched the floor, Lauren would ask herself “How is this day going to go?”. She then walked into the bathroom to step on the scale and find out.

Lauren would have two numbers in her head. Her goal weight and what she weighed last. Depending on how she worked out and ate the day before, she may be mildly scared or a little hopeful.

When the scale offered good news, Lauren felt that little high and privately celebrated. She felt good about herself.  When the scale offered bad news, Lauren was in disbelief. “Maybe the scale is wrong”, she thought.  She would step off and on again, hoping for a lower number. When the number didn’t change, her stomach would drop and she felt defeated. “I can’t believe I let myself get here”, she would say to herself. She felt disgusting.

For Lauren, the scale isn’t just assessing how closely she had followed her diet plan. It’s personal. When Lauren sees that number on the scale, she also sees if her hard work has paid off, if it’s worth it to keep trying to eat so well, and ultimately, if she has been good or bad.

What comes next is critical. How Lauren felt about herself and her body in that given moment would set the tone for how she ate that day. If she felt good, she would likely eat well. If she felt bad, she would likely throw in the towel, and would inevitably overeat and binge.  

For Lauren, who is a made up aggregation of many of my coaching clients, stepping on the scale every morning put in motion food patterns that were destructive and disconnected from herself and her body.

The scale is a tool to measure body weight. However, for many dieters and those interested in weight loss, weighing themselves isn’t as simple as finding out how much they weigh at a given point in time. Ultimately, the number has meaning. The number becomes a personal story of individual self worth and value. The dieter will then choose how to eat based on how they see themselves in a positive or negative light.

Our self worth doesn’t come from something that makes its home on our bathroom floor. Nor do we need to let the number on the scale determine how we treat ourself and our body.  

It’s time to stop the madness that comes from stepping on the scale. This ritual is NOT the way to achieve long lasting health, vitality, and yes, even permanent weight loss.

At first, Lauren was afraid to not weigh herself. She was panicked because she believed the scale was her way of staying in control. Until she understood that stepping on the scale was ultimately creating chaos in her day to day life, was she able to consider something different.  Until she saw that the scale was disconnecting herself from her body, determining her mood, and dictating how and what she ate, did she find the courage to try something different.

If you have found the same courage, here are 5 things you can do to stop letting the scale rule your life:

  1. Create a new morning routine that doesn’t include weighing yourself. A large glass of warm water with lemon is a beautiful way to start the day.

  2. Move your scale to a part of your home where you won’t see it regularly.  If it’s in your bathroom, take it out.

  3. Find 3 other ways to measure your health and vitality. Consider being aware of your energy levels, how well you sleep, how clear your skin is, and your patience.

  4. Ask yourself, “how do I want to feel today?”. Keep that intention in the front of your mind for the whole day.

  5. Connect with yourself by asking “what do I need?” throughout the day. More often than not, drinking more water, rest, movement, and getting outside are all things that will make you feel better.  

Permanent weight loss, health and vitality comes from creating daily habits and rituals that are rooted in love and connection. Start your morning with the question “How is this day going to go?”. Instead of letting the scale answer for you, choose for yourself.   You have the answers you need.