Diets are a one dimensional approach to a multi-dimensional challenge.
Every year in the US, we spend roughly 60 billion dollars on the diet industry. And of those people who manage to lose weight, 98% of them gain it all back PLUS some within 2 years of losing.
Clearly, when it comes to long term weight loss and changing our relationship to food, we've got the game wrong.
The reason we get it all wrong is because going on a diet; changing what you eat, how much you eat or when you eat is in reality, a minor part of the weight loss game.
You are not a one dimensional being and your struggle with food & body didn't come about merely because you ate the wrong things, had too many servings at dinner or ate one too many desserts.
You engage in the food behaviors you do, be it compulsive eating, binge eating, restriction or chronic dieting (or maybe all of the above!) because of a physical, emotional and soul motivation.
And this is why diets fail, because they don't address the WHY of your food and body behaviors. Diets attempt to address the symptoms, but never get to the heart of why you have a contorted relationship with food in the first place.
If you want to stop the crazy train with food once and for all, you need to address three main components of your human experience to have lasting transformative change. Like a 3-legged stool, you can't only address one or the stool won't work. You need all three, steadily on the ground, to find the lasting change you want with weight loss and body confidence.
Your Physical Body:
Diets are a like a poorly written prescription for health and taking care of your body. The mantra of a diet goes like this: "Eat this, don't eat that and no matter what you do, don't eat too much."
In no other area of our life do we put rules on our body's basic biological needs. And your relationship to food is a basic biological need. We allow the rest of our body processes to happen as they naturally do and to find ease with food once and for all, you have to do the same with food and appetite. To really come into right relationship with food and body, you have to start listening to your body, to come into relationship with it and honor the cues it gives you.
You do this by listening to your body in a holistic way. This is no small feat. It requires a wholly different approach than what we believe about food and boy. But the truth is weight loss, body confidence and wellness are about WAY more than just the amount of food you do or don't eat. So start by listening to how your body feels when you're tired, or when you're at capacity with your job, pay attention to how you feel when you're joyful, how you feel when you're hungry, when you're full, when you wired on caffeine. Through paying attention like this, you're building a relationship with your body so that you can make intuitive, instinctive choices around food instead of skipping meals, counting calories or secretly binging.
Your Emotional Body:
While I could write an entire article just on this topic, the core takeaway is that all eating is emotional eating.
Even if you are one of the 6 people in America who don't have a contorted relationship to food and body, you are still eating based on emotions, based on how you want to feel. You choose a green juice or a salad because eating them makes you feel good, either emotionally or physically. It just so happens that most chronic dieters and compulsive eaters are eating to shut out the shame, guilt and "bad" feelings they don't want to feel.
If you're anything like I used to be, maybe you eat whenever you have any type of emotional experience. Eating may quite possibly be the only coping mechanism for your emotional body (it definitely was for me) and thus you don't know how to deal if you don't have food as your trusty emotional companion. In my 10 week program, Body Soul Wisdom School, we get to the heart of working with emotions, noticing them and identifying them so that we can work with them and take care of them, rather than eat over them. So before you choose that chocolate croissant when you're feeling sad, lonely or stressed, see if you can, just for an extra 90 seconds, feel the emotion. No feeling is final, it will not last forever and you might be surprised just how much more resilient and capable you are underneath all that compulsive and binge eating behavior.
Your Spiritual Body:
If ever there was an area that diets and food fads ignore, it is absolutely our spiritual and soul hunger. I'm not talking religion here. I'm not even talking god, specifically. I'm talking about the part of you that needs nourishment and care outside of your physical hunger cues. I'm talking about the part of you that yearns to travel through Europe, the part that secretly wants to learn to Tango, the part that wants more than anything to let her wild heart soar. Most of us have buried these untamed desires so far down and instead adopted the way that society tells us to live, that its hard to hear what our soul is really hungry for.
But make no mistake about it, start doing the things you've tucked away in the back corner of your heart & soul and your relationship with food will begin to shift. When we fill ourselves up in the ways we TRULY crave, something remarkable happens to our habits and behaviors with food. Suddenly we feel good about ourselves, we have a little more courage, a bit more confidence and we realize maybe that cheeseburger and milkshake aren't actually the thing we crave.
In my 10 week program, I have clients make what I call "a list of 25", detailing 25 things beyond food that really feeds them. For most people, they can't get past 5 or 6. Make no mistake about it, we are deficient in a big way when it comes to soul nutrients, but it is the quickest way to really fill yourself up and stop using food as your sole source of comfort, coping and satisfaction.
If you take anything from this article, my hope is that you'll take the lesson to start listening to yourself, physically, emotionally and soulfully. It is absolutely the best and most holistic way to build a foundation for lasting weight loss, body confidence and truly living the life you dream of, as the woman you desire to be.