Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why focus on LIFESTYLE and NOT on weight?

Most of my clients come to me to lose weight.  I ask them to put that goal on the back burner and try focusing on their ACTIONS instead.  I am so pleasantly surprised that there are so many people willing to take this brave step. But why on earth would we do such a radical thing as focus on lifestyle instead of weight?  The reason is simple.  Focusing on weight loss can CAUSE people to give up on their healthy lifestyle and actions of self-care.  These are some of the facts that I share to help people give up the old weight loss paradigm in favor of the LIFESTYLE paradigm.

When people focus on weight and then do not lose weight fast enough, they become frustrated.  This frustration often causes them to stop their healthy behaviors.  “Heck, if I am working this hard and I only lost this puny amount, what’s the use in trying!”

When weight loss is the goal, and the body responds by “plateauing” or leveling off at a stable weight.  People get frustrated and either stop their healthy behaviors or they ramp up their effort and eat less / exercise more.  For most people, this ramped up effort simply cannot be sustained long term and that causes people to give up on their self-care.

Sometimes when hitting the plateau, people ramp up their food restriction and workout intensity to the point where they embrace eating disordered thinking and actions.  If this ramped up effort combines with a pre-disposition toward eating disorders, then a full blown eating disorder may develop. 

And then there is the reality of weight cycling.  Almost every large and very large person I know has "dieted their way up to this higher weight".  Even though 95% of weight loss dieters gain back the weight they lost plus more, when the body asserts its weight set point and causes weight gain, people often blame themselves.  This causes increased body dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem, which robs people of the motivation for self-care.  They give up on the actions of healthy living because they are devastated by the weight cycling process.

If focusing on weight so often causes people to give up on the actions of self-care, what else can be done?  Understandably so, people often say:  “I cannot just stay this way at war with my body and in a battle with food!  I cannot just give up and eat my way into oblivion.” I do have a response to this desperation.

I ask you to do something very familiar ... and something revolutionary.  The familiar activity is to work on your healthy eating, fitness, etc.  Only this time we will include intuitive eating and enjoyable movement.  We will pay attention to your whole self, including relationships, environment, stress, sleep, and more.  

The revolutionary part is that I will encourage you to do all of these actions because your wonderful body deserves the CARE, totally independent of weight or weight loss goals.

Whatever happens with your weight will be an inconsequential
side effect of your healthy LIFESTYLE.  

You take care of yourself and let your weight take care of itself.

1 comment:

maggie said...

Amen, Sistah!! Sooo wonderful to see it explained this way. Thanks! Maggie

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