How long have you or someone you know had an on again/off again relationship with the same 10, 20 or more pounds? Have you gone on strict diet and exercise programs and lost weight only to gain it back once you started eating “normally” again? You certainly are not alone.
I see a great number of patients to help them with their weight loss goals and have noticed in many individuals a certain self-sabotaging pattern. I call it the, “all or nothing I’m a failure diet pattern.” This pattern must be addressed in order to achieve life long weight loss.
Perhaps you recognize this scenario- Jane goes on the latest fad diet. Jane is on the diet for 2 weeks and loses several pounds. Jane has a stressful morning at work one Friday, slips off her diet and has pizza and ice cream for lunch. Jane then beats herself up for giving in to her cravings, looks in the mirror, hates her body, hates herself, feels like a failure, gives up and goes on overeating rich and sugary foods the rest of the weekend. Monday morning comes, feeling bloated and terrible about herself some more, Jane goes on the cabbage soup diet for a week to try to drop the weight she has gained over the weekend. And the vicious cycle continues….
Many of you can probably relate to at least some aspect of this story. Weight gain and loss are VERY emotional issues for many people, and self-esteem and weight are intimately connected.
Here is a different scenario- Jane throws the word “diet” out of her vocabulary. Jane commits to the greater goal of health because she recognizes the beauty and love within herself and in her life. She learns how to choose foods that will truly nourish her body like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and satiating healthy fats like coconut, raw nuts and avocadoes. She finds exercises she enjoys which energize her, make her stronger and lift her mood. Jane goes out on a Friday night, enjoys some wild salmon, a salad, a glass of wine and some flourless chocolate cake for desert. Jane does not feel guilty about the cake or the wine and enjoys each sip of wine and bite of cake. Jane still loves herself, gets up the next morning, has a protein shake and heads to a yoga class.
The second scenario works better for a couple of reasons. Negative self talk and criticism increase stress hormones. Stress hormones increase hunger in two ways. First, from an evolutionary perspective, stress hormones signal danger. Our bodies instinctively crave rich and sugary foods for a quick burst of energy in order to escape the perceived threat. Our bodies also put out more of the hormone grhelin to defend from stress, depression and anxiety. Grhelin actually makes us hungrier, as it is a hunger hormone. And there is your vicious cycle.
In contrast, feeling loving towards yourself and celebrating your achievements, no matter how small, increases happy hormones and neurotransmitters like oxytocin and serotonin. These decrease hunger and cravings. And exercise is nature’s most powerful stress reliever and antidepressant. I personally prefer this method.
It’s difficult to love ourselves and our actions 100% of the time. Self-criticism is way too easy, but will sabotage every time. It’s important to differentiate the behavior from the person, meaning recognize it’s the behavior you dislike and want to change and not yourself. You are not your behaviors. You are pure potential. So love yourself.
Wishing you much love, health and happiness,
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Sandra Olic, NMD – Visit Dr. Olic’s website here.