Why weight loss is not about the food
This is a bit of a personal blog. But I thought it might help those of you struggling with weight loss to understand that it is never really about the food itself or simply a lack of willpower. It is always about feelings and emotions.
Until we understand that – we are always going to struggle. Why do you think you keep losing weight only to put it back on time and time again? Why is it you turn to food when you are feeling down, sad, bored or even happy! What makes you go back for seconds, thirds or to hell with it, the whole packet of biscuits or tub of ice-cream. Perhaps even a second packet or tub?
Our feelings and our emotions drive this behaviour. It might be as simple as this is the way you were comforted or rewarded as a child – with nice food.
Perhaps food played a big part in your family social events and that makes you feel good. Maybe you dealt with loneliness as a child by eating. And whenever you experience that feeling in even the smallest way you turn to food to fill the emptiness.
For example – your partner goes out for the evening leaving you in alone with only the telly for company. Of course you are not really lonely – you are just alone. But you have just had a big button pushed and you do what you have always done. Because we are creatures of habit, right?
Weight Loss is more difficult than giving up drugs
Actually it is not as simple as that. If this were just a habit – surely we could break it doing things differently for an extended period of time. That’s how weight loss works isn’t it?
And you have done that already – I know you have. You have dieted – ‘been good’ for long periods of time. The weight came off and then, boom, you put it all back on again.
I can feel your frustration – I have been there. For most of my adult life I struggled with my weight. Recently I lost about 6 and a half stone over 3 or 4 years and this time managed to keep it off. How I did that is a story I will share with you in another blog.
The problem is – that it’s not just about habits we have formed or learned behaviour from our parents and families. It is about the feelings and emotions we have attached to food and eating over the years. And it is not a habit – it is hard wired into our neural pathways.
Understanding more about our own reasons for overeating or the abuse of food (yes abuse) in the first place is key.
There is a second part to this and that is around why we sabotage our own weight loss efforts over and over again. Most people can identify why or in what circumstances they eat too much, have cravings or the need to binge. But most have no idea where the sabotage comes from or what creates what you might call lack of willpower.
Food can be a safety net
It usually has to do with keeping us ‘safe’ in some way. It depends what your ‘thing’ is. We all have our own story. But if you are sabotaging your weight loss efforts you can bet your bottom dollar that your subconscious is beavering away quietly in the back ground doing what it thinks is best for you.
It could be your ‘thing’ is lack of self-esteem. And you (subconsciously) worry that if you lose weight people might start looking at you. Noticing you and paying attention to you. If your tummy flipped at that thought – that could definitely be part of your problem.
Perhaps when you were young you knew someone who was slim but who was not a nice character. And you are afraid (subconsciously again) that if you lose weight you will change and become like them.
This may all sound a bit woo woo to you – but believe me – the subconscious works in weird and mysterious ways. Its job description is to do whatever we want it to do – and it work’s really hard to do the best job it can. The problem is that sometimes it is working to an old job description and we haven’t got round to updating it.
You need to update your subconscious before you can lose weight
In order to amend your subconscious’ job description you have to have a copy of the old one. You have to understand what objectives it is working to before you can scrap those and start afresh.
This was my problem a little while ago. Having lost all that weight and having kept it off I was getting very frustrated because try as I might I could not get below the 13 stone mark.
This had been going on for about a year. I would be (amazingly) ‘good’ throughout the week with very little effort – I am not boasting here – just putting it into context for you! I would lose a couple of pounds by the end of the work week and the moment I hit the weekend I would ruin it all by ‘treating myself’.
I went through all the excuses under the sun. It’s easier when I am at work because I am too busy to think about work, I am more organised in food planning during the week. There are more temptations at the weekend. There are more social events involving food at the weekend…..
On and on with the ‘reasons’ why I couldn’t do this. I lost the same 2 or 3 lbs over and over again. Had I been able to keep it up at the weekend I would have lost about 3 stone!
When the frustration kicks in!
It didn’t make sense – I had previously achieved a 6 and a half stone weight loss without sabotaging myself. I kept trying to figure out what was different – what was going on? Of course I had a lot more weight to lose when I started off and the sabotage didn’t kick in till I was nearly at my goal weight.
Only a little stone and a half to lose. What could be so hard about that? I knew I needed to figure this out and turned to my tapping for a bit of help.
With tapping, we focus on the feeling, emotion or issue (or all three) whilst tapping gently on acupoints on the face and upper body. It is a way of literally tapping into the subconscious and taking the intensity out of previously formed emotional charges attached to the subject in hand.
I worked with a fellow practitioner because although you can tap by yourself, issues around weight can be really deep rooted and we sometimes need guidance to get to the bottom of it.
How does the tapping work?
I tapped whilst thinking and talking about my frustration around not being able to lose this last bit of weight and not being able to get under 13 stone. As happens with tapping – I quickly realised that there was some fear for me around weight loss and being thin.
When we explored further – I had a really strong memory of a time when I was about 12 or 13 years old. My Father had lost a lot of weight very rapidly and was having tests. There was a genuine worry that it was cancer (it wasn’t) and it was a very stressful time for the whole family.
At that time – although it wasn’t something I shared with anyone – I genuinely thought we were going to lose him. He looked so thin and gaunt and ill! So unlike himself.
As it turned out – there was nothing seriously wrong. And although it felt like this horrible period of worry went on for a long time, in reality it could only have been a couple of weeks. To be honest from that time to now – I had never really thought about it as being a traumatic time for me.
But clearly made a big impression on me. And on my subconscious which 35+ years later was still doing its job of trying to keep me safe from becoming ‘too thin’ because of what I had associated it with.
Time to change that job description! I tapped and talked until I could think about that memory without feeling emotional and reliving the emotions of worry and upset. The memory was replaced with the real outcome – which is that my Dad is now 77 and being thin had no adverse effect on him at all! The next week I got under that 13 stone barrier!
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