Want results? Turn your attention inward.
When it comes to our bodies, we tend to focus on how we might look to others, feel inside ourselves. We think about how our belly makes us look fat instead of what it says about our underlying health. We worry more about how the dullness of our skin makes us appear older in zoom meetings rather than what it says about our nutrition. We are more frustrated by the cellulite on our thighs than the increasing stiffness in our knee joints.
This focus on appearance over health is concerning for so many reasons, not the least of which is the belief that we are somehow at odds with our bodies. This me vs. it mentality has a huge impact on our emotional wellbeing, making us susceptible to make even bigger and often more damaging mistakes over the longer term. When we forget that if we take care of our body it will take care of us, we become vulnerable to all the diet noise, the fads, and the quick fixes. We discount our intuition and, repeatedly, follow a path of restrictive eating instead of nourishing ourselves. As a result, we continuously rebound like an elastic band, unable to sustain what is not a lifestyle but the latest diet trend. Our body and mind rebel, and the scale returns to where it was, or maybe it even ticks up slightly higher. And this is only what we see on the outside.
Diets work until they don’t.
The reality is that if you spin the wheel, pick a diet, any diet, you will probably lose weight for a while. But research shows that eventually, your body will fight back. When you diet, not only does your body start slowing fat loss, it engages your mind in sabotaging your efforts, making it virtually impossible to continue losing and keeping it off.
For more than 50 years, scientists have known that calorie restriction and deprivation cause us distress and anxiety. This response triggers hormones that push us to eat more and store fat. If your body is fighting you every step, the cravings will overcome you, willpower won’t work, and you will end up unhealthier, heavier, sadder, and more frustrated than when you started.
Even, more importantly, dieting can be dangerous. The repetitive cycles of gaining, losing, and regaining weight, otherwise known as ‘yo-yo’ dieting, have been shown to have serious adverse health effects. It can increase your body fat percentage at the expense of muscle mass and strength and even lead to fatty liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. As we age, we can’t afford these risks anymore. What we may have gotten away with in our youth – on the outside anyway – can accelerate aging and negatively impact our quality of life and even our lifespan.
On the positive side, when you stop dieting and learn to eat for health, your body will respond by sharpening your intuition. You will know when you are hungry or full, whether to eat more veggies, clean proteins, healthy fats, or whole grains or when it’s okay to skip a meal altogether. You will do this naturally, not because you are on ‘a diet’, but because you are tuned in, confident, and in control.
And I promise, not only will you drop the unhealthy weight, that new focus on feeling your best will go hand in hand with looking your best.