The 6 best ways to lose weight authentically (hint: it doesn’t involve fad diets or gym memberships)
The 6 best ways to lose weight authentically (hint: it doesn’t involve fad diets or gym memberships)
Lately I have lost over ten kilos.
But even writing it like that feels wrong, because I actually didn’t lose anything. I gained my true shape back and understanding the difference between those two statements is the key to how I did it.
But first: this is how I didn’t do it.
I didn’t do it with fad diets or gym memberships or punishing discipline. I didn’t do it with any of the usual methods. Why? It wasn’t for lack of trying – I just never got any of them to work. Despite all the various fads and efforts, for nearly all my adult life I have been bloated and a chronic over-eater.
There was a short period in my early twenties, after a bad break up, that I got relatively skinny, but during that time I had swapped food for alcohol and ‘party drugs’. Needless to say this lifestyle wasn’t sustainable and soon the weight returned.
Later I tried gym work-outs. This often caused me to put on weight. After a workout I would find myself feeling really hungry and I would over-eat as a result. Hunger for me was a green light to go to town on how much I ate. Cos I was hungry right? I was just listening to my body. I chose to ignore the salt-factor and how it rewired my brain to override the natural ‘stop eating’ message my body would have otherwise given me. I also chose to confuse the difference between a craving and actual hunger, but more than that I chose to ignore the reason that I was over-eating in the first place. But more on that later.
When the gym failed I tried to control my diet instead. But despite Atkins and Raw Food fads and countless other things tried, I would always rubber-band-snap myself back to a broader waistband. Nothing was sustainable.
Until Now. This time the weight has stayed off. Why? Because I didn’t do it with superficial get-thin-quick fixes, I lost the weight authentically.
Here are 6 key understandings that supported me to lose weight authentically:
1# Stop telling yourself you have a problem with food. You actually don’t.
Yeah right, I hear you say, obviously you weren’t sitting next to me when I finished the whole packet of biscuits before I could even take the shopping out of the car. And clearly you don’t realise I once ate a family sized pizza and then ate the cardboard pizza box as well to hide the evidence from my hungry now pizza-less family.
Ok, you’re a chronic over-eater, I get that. But why? Is your primary problem really with food? There is a reason why you are compulsively over-eating. What is it?
A friend once shared with me a piece of gold from a session she had with complementary healing practitioner Michael Benhayon. While she lamented her latest foray into cake eating he asked her super lovingly but decidedly bluntly: “What if you don’t have a problem with food? What if you don’t actually have a ‘food issue?’ Is it possible that you have an issue with not wanting to clock and feel the intensity you encounter every day in your job? If the answer is yes you are likely going to eat to try to numb yourself from feeling it.”
Food had become not only the mechanism by which she numbed herself from feeling and dealing with the issues of the day, but also a scapegoat – a problem she could focus on that avoided her actual problem. How many of us do this?
2# Stop telling yourself you have a problem with your weight. You actually don’t.
The weight is there because you want it there. Trying to lose it without working out why you need it, is like trying to let go of something while simultaneously gripping it so tight it is making your face red.
There are two aspects to this dilemma:
- Your loathing of yourself, for being at the weight you are, is the glue that binds it to you. You can’t beat fat like that.
But there is a deeper issue.
- There is a pay-off for being the weight you are that you will need to expose and heal before you can let it go. Until then you will only lose so much weight before you quickly make moves to regain it and stay at your ‘safe’ weight. As much as you may say you hate the extra weight you will hold onto it like a safety blanket. The reasons for this will be different for everyone but a study of people with obesity in America[i] catalogues the issues that often underpin people battling with obesity. Ariana's story also echoes these themes.
In 1980 a doctor named Felitti noticed that despite the success of a weight loss program for his obese clients, they were dropping out of the program at a rate of 50%. It didn’t make sense. These were people that were on a roll, they were losing weight steadily, not gaining it. Then suddenly, despite them starting to lose significant amounts of weight, they would drop out.
When Felitti looked more deeply for the cause he found a disturbing trend. Almost all of the people who had dropped out had suffered trauma and abuse in childhood, with childhood sexual abuse being a common theme.
But there was also another factor. He discovered this after interviewing a woman who revealed that she had been raped at 23 and in the year following had gained 105 pounds. At the end of the interview she muttered, “Overweight is overlooked, and that’s the way I need to be.”
He discovered that, “for many people, just being obese solved a problem. In the case of the woman who’d been raped, she felt as if she were now invisible to men. In the case of a man who’d been beaten up when he was a skinny kid, being fat kept him safe, because when he gained a lot of weight nobody bothered him.”
There are many different reasons why people use their weight as a shield to protect themselves, but they are all reasons that provide a pay-off, whether consciously acknowledged or not.
The reasons may or may not be as extreme as in the above examples, but there will always be a reason. For me it was taking on the emotions and dilemmas of others, a then poison inside me, sympathising and then eating away my discomfort if others around me weren’t feeling great. Being ‘homely’ looking was also a great way not to threaten others with my otherwise off the Richter power and beauty. This is not a unique problem only to me. We are all off the Richter beautiful in our power. But can you really handle being as hot as you actually are? For many a few pounds can cushion the fallout of others' jealousy, or the attention from others that you don’t know how to deal with.
3# Observe when you eat and why, but don’t try to control it.
The overeating is the symptom not the cause. Nuff said. Stop sweating and trying to control your cravings as your shaking hand is reaching into the cookie jar. Stop beating yourself up after the biscuits.
Do ask yourself what preceded the act. What situation, relationship issue or old theme arose that got you bee-lining for the pantry? But just observe it, don’t go all Army Sergeant on yourself. With understanding you will build a willingness to deal with the binge catalyst. This tip, one that was a game changer for me, comes courtesy of Curtis Benhayon (yes, a Universal Medicine complementary healing practitioner like his brother, and FYI this man is pretty buff and should probably be listened to).
4# Understand that Salt and Sugar are the cocaine in your kitchen.
Imagine how hard it would be to shake a ‘food’ addiction if everything you ate was sprinkled with a liberal amount of cocaine. News flash. It kind of is. Studies have found that sugar ignites the same pleasure centres in the brain as cocaine.
In fact, research in France found that, "Intense sweetness – not just refined sugar, but also artificial sweeteners – surpasses cocaine as a reward in laboratory animals.”
Salt has a similar effect. There is a reason why all these substances look the same and it is not just coincidence. Cocaine is actually a form of salt. It is the salt of the cocoa plant.
The burning question is, how often are you using drugs in your cooking?
I no longer add salt to any of my cooking and guess what? I now seem to have a natural stopping point at dinner time. I may go back for seconds sometimes but I am no longer in a battle with having a third or fourth mini meal after my two first meals. This is a revelation for me.
And more good news. Once you recalibrate your taste buds you realise that meat and vegetables are naturally very salty anyway. I know you don’t believe me now. I know this because I was a raving salt addict like most of the rest of the world and I grew up in a house where my father never ‘pinched his salt’ – he grabbed it with his whole fist and released the palm full of powder slowly through all his digits, not just a measly index and thumb. This was on top of all the salt that had already been added during the cooking to ‘infuse it’.
You will probably sweat and get grumpy when you give up sugar and salt. In fact sugar was harder for me to give up than my ten year cigarette addiction.
Still, three days is all it takes to get over the initial physical symptoms. For me my skin was crawling like an addict, I was moody and irritable and angry, and all the emotions that I had been suppressing with sugar started to surface to be dealt with.
However it was the increased sensitivity and awareness that I got when I was not in a sugar-cycle-fog that inspired me to keep going. . . 3 days is all it takes, but you have to want to feel what comes up to be dealt with.
5# If Sugar and Salt are the cocaine in your kitchen, then Gluten and Dairy are the downers.
We are not just flesh. We are grand lights masquerading in human form. Look into anyone’s smiling eyes for the truth of this. There is a lightness of being that is our natural way that often we don’t honour.
We all know what it looks like when somebody's eyes are flat and they are not connected to their natural joy, what if there is an equivalent flatness we experience in the whole body when we eat certain foods?
Gluten has started to emerge as a major dietary issue for people globally, but beyond the extremes of coeliac disease many are finding that it has other effects – that it makes your body feel heavy and drags you down; that it will dull your light and awareness; that it will make you feel sluggish and slow, even depressed.
Similarly dairy may provide a comfort and smooth, silky creaminess that reminds you of baby food, but the subsequent clogging of your sinuses will keep you from freely breathing the fullness of your own breath. And with this a freedom is lost. When you are physically being smothered internally by foods that can’t easily be processed by the body, this affects the way you feel about yourself. Don’t believe me? Try completely cutting these substances out for 6 months and see if there is a change in your disposition.
Philosopher Serge Benhayon, not one known for looking at life compartmentalised, describes these foods in their total effect on both the body and the being. In the case of Gluten and Dairy particularly, he suggests that they hinder the energetic relationship between the body and the soul, particularly the light of the soul having free expression in the body. Yep, for me that was a pretty grand reason to try to give gluten and dairy-free eating a go. 8 years on and I will never go back. Some other bonus side effects I found included: not waking up snotty everyday, having less bloat and losing weight.
Another way this could be said is, “Eat first for the Being, then for the Body.”
If you eat like this you find there are certain foods that just don’t support your state of being – caffeine is a good example – it makes you racy, it can make you feel anxious or wired or give you an artificial alertness at the expense of your mood later (e.g those hours before you can get your caffeine hit in the morning).
6# Eat to Nourish not to Numb
Easier said than done right? The key to this, is in truly wanting to nourish yourself and that starts with building a loving relationship with your body. You are not going to love what you loathe and it follows that you won’t treat it right either.
Key for me was bringing love to the details first.
- The ritual of doing my make-up daily in celebration of myself
- Putting moisturiser on lovingly and gently
- Taking note of how I felt in my body without reacting to what I felt there
For guys it might be:
- Doing your hair gel
- Putting on your favourite coloured shirt
One of the biggest traps is seeing the extra weight in the mirror and berating yourself for it. Don’t get me wrong, when you are carrying weight that is not true to the natural shape of your body, you will never be fully at ease with it. And nor should you be, because it is telling you something. It is a reminder that there are pockets of emotional issues, trauma or protection for you to deal with.
The question is how are you going to deal with what you see? Are you going to degrade yourself and punish yourself, or love and support yourself to face the issues that underpin the weight?
Embracing the True You instead of battling the weight, is the key to embracing the true shape you have so far avoided. At the start of this article I said it didn’t make sense to focus on weight loss when really it is a process of gain – the building of a loving relationship with yourself is the ultimate win.
The key for me was that I had stopped trying to lose weight altogether and had instead started to change the level of tenderness and understanding I had for myself. Weight loss became a byproduct and was not the goal.
A goal will always place something ahead of you and out of reach. And even if you do manage through sheer willpower to reach your goal weight, you will not have rekindled a love for yourself that will sustain it. Or you will sustain it but you will find something else to hate on yourself for – like your now saggy and stretched post-weight skin!
Re-connecting with yourself, on the other hand, is available to you in every moment and is an end in itself. From there goals become token and life becomes all the more sweet (without the added sugar). You will no longer seek protection with the weight-buffer you use, even as you are telling yourself you want to lose it.
Slowly, inevitably, your outer-shape will come to reflect the inner experience you have of you, the steadier and more loving way you have developed with your self.
And your shape will come to more fully embody your infinite inner-beauty, a beauty no scale can measure.