Are you trying to lose weight?
Do you struggle to maintain weight?
Are you tired of yo yo dieting?
When I have tried to lose weight in the past I have tried a million different diets, while busting my butt in the gym. In the end, did I lose weight? Sometimes, sometimes not. What wasn’t working for me? I wasn’t dealing with the underlying issues of what was causing to me have such an unsustainable weight loss. We need to deal with the underlying issues that aren’t allowing us to be our fittest and healthiest selves. We can’t use willpower to bring us to the gym and to eat healthy for the next 80 years, we aren’t robots! And if we don't deal with the underlying issues our weight continues to yo yo.
So take a look at my diagram. How often do we start at the top and work our way down? Usually people assume if they work out more, work out harder, limit calories, you will lose weight and be happy with your body and live happily ever after. Am I right? What I am going to suggest to you today is that things work in the other direction.
An unfulfilled person, a person with no passion in life, a person without close relationships or communities, a person who hates their job, a person living a life without joy is not a person in love with life! Not a happy person! An unhappy person isn’t driven to exercise everyday, isn’t driven to cook healthy meals for themselves, isn’t excited to take care of themselves and their bodies. A person struggling with relationships, negative self talk, annoying coworkers (!!), is a person probably with more cravings, is more tempted to indulge, is less motivated to exercise. A person who is challenged by managing their own emotions may need junk food, and sugars, and caffeine to improve their mood and make themselves happy. A person with low self confidence and esteem, perhaps struggling with some body image issue will find it challenging to commit to an exercise program or healthy eating patterns. A person with a weight issue is never struggling with a lack of knowledge of what to do in the gym or in the kitchen, there is always some behind the scnes work to do. How do I know all of this? I've been there, and so have many of the 100's of clients I have worked with over the past 4 years.
And believe me, it's not a direct correlation! You don't sit there eating a tub of peanut butter thinking "hmm I must be craving and binging right now because I am not living out my purpose". It doesn't work that way. Urges to overeat, make ourselves feel good by eating sugary foods, or numb out by eating huge portions are just symptom that something internally, whether it's psychological or physiologically. You might even look at your life right now and think there's nothing major going on that must be causing weight gain. It doesn't have to be major. The smallest fear, insecurity, issue, etc. can be altering how we make food and health chocies.
What I am suggesting is that when we improve our self confidence, tackle our relationship issues, find a job or career that inspires us and drives us to improve and achieve, have hobbies that spark our creative interests, and overall feel fulfilled then exercise and nutrition is no longer a struggle. A happy person with a well balanced life doesn’t think twice about indulging here or there, because they know that indulgences are part of a well balanced diet. Not only does the person who manages that bottom tier of the pyramid lose weight, but they successfully maintain it long term.
When I worked a job I wasn’t super into just to pay the bills, I wasn’t happy. When I lived my days forcing myself to do certain exercises, activities etc. that I wasn’t pumped about, I wasn’t happy. When I was hanging out with people that I didn’t totally connect with, I wasn’t happy. When I wasn’t being authentic, honest with myself, sharing all aspects of who I am to those that are close to me, I wasn’t happy. As a result I binged, I craved, I overate, I overe xercised.
Throughout the period of two years I sorted out those aspects of my life through personal development, Homeopathy, coaching, and having friends who truly listened to me! I transformed my work life, personal life, relationship with self and others, and as a result now food no longer has a grip on me, I eat when I am hungry, and exercise daily for the joy of it. It’s a nice change from the crazy cycle of bad behaviour I was stuck in for years.
Not every weight issue is due to an issue in the bottom tier of the pyramid. Some people in fact are on a poor eating program simply because they don't know the optimal way to eat. So don't let me sit here and tell you that your extra pounds are caused by imbalances emotionally/psychologically. I just offer this first tier as an explanation as to why weight loss and maintainence can be so challenging and often not sustainable when the root causes aren't adressed.
Tier 2: Once we have these aspects of our lives sorted out we can take a look at our nutrition and physiology. There is no one diet program that works for all. The principles that do work for everybody are: 1) eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. 2) Get enough of all the food groups in, 3) don’t restrict or deny yourself.
I also suggest working with alternative health practitioners to sort out the physiological side. Take a look at your hormones, your liver health, your vitamin and mineral status. Lacking certain vitamins or minerals, having your hormones out of balance, or having a thyroid issue are all challenges that may affect your weight.
TIer 3: Next up is really start to master your heavy strength training routine. Building a solid muscular base to your body is key for being able to easily maintain your weight long term. Mobility is also next most important. If you don’t have range of motion, stability, proper motor control, and good posture I don’t think you should be moving up on the ladder yet! We need to build our strong flexible base first before we start running or cycling miles everyday! What most people do is start doing massive cardio without getting strong and mobile first. This is just a recipe for disaster and potential injury.
Tier 4: After you have mastered all of these aspects it’s time to move up to the cardio. Cardio (walking, running, swimming, cycling sports etc.) is important, and I firmly believe it is one of the last things you should think about. If you are largely overweight, have always yo yo dieted etc. cardio is not the solution to your problem! Fix the other levels first, then bring this in to a greater degree. Cardio should be equivalent to active living, something you get in throughout the day, doing activities you enjoy that elevate your heart rate!
I am not suggesting you ignore all the levels until one is mastered, stay focused on them all, but master the bottom one first, then move up. Look at weight loss as a long-term life changing, lifestyle altering goal.
I am also not suggesting that all people who have struggled with their weight, or who are overweight aren’t happy. What I am suggesting is that our emotional and mental states play a much greater role in our overall health and fitness than we realize. And that maybe if you have tried the cardio and cutting calories approach, it might be time to try something new. I am not a psychologist, I am not a counsellor, I can't support you in overcoming life long emotional issues. What I can do is bring awareness, and connect you with people who may be able to help! I challenge you to learn from my experience and compare it to your current reality. Does anything I have written about here resonate with you?
PS- I get about 5-10 e-mails a week of people who read the blog and want to share their story, or their experience from reading it. I challenge you to post your comment to the bottom of this blog. One of my goals is to create a community of people that connect and support each other. By posting your comment there we can all interact with each other!!!