Weight Loss: Last 10-20 Lbs
Weight Loss: 10 Tips For Change That Sticks
We love New Year’s Resolutions. We’re enamored with the fantasy of instant transformation, hoping we’ll wake up January 1 as a person with the willpower to make changes that will stick.
The problem is that Instant Changes That Stick are rare. A rapid permanent behavior change usually results from a major life-altering crisis, also known as Hitting Rock Bottom. A person who finds himself in jail facing a DUI, a lost job and a spouse filing for divorce may be able to make a forever change. “Wow, I need to stop drinking.”
But more often it’s Gradual Changes that Stick. The Stages of Change model outlines six phases: Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance and Relapse. Please note that last one: Relapse. We all fail to live up to our ideals. The key to success is a forgiving attitude. All-or-nothing thinking is a set up to give up. A lapse is not a sign you’re weak; it’s a chance to tweak.
If your goal this January 1 is to lose weight, I’m assuming you’re at Stage Four: Action. Unfortunately, many Americans mistake “Action” for “Diet.” A diet is, by its nature, an all-or-nothing prospect. You are either On it or Off it. The more rigid the diet, the more over-indulgent the rebellion. This is why chronic dieters gain weight. Alternating between deprivation and rebellion has gotten you here.
It’s time for a new approach. This time, Action means “Re-Parenting” yourself.
A popular parenting program is called “Parenting with Love and Limits.” It promotes the idea that kids who feel loved while being provided appropriate limits (e.g. a predictable bed time, rules regarding acceptable behavior, etc.) are happier and better behaved than kids who are either shamed or over-indulged. The idea is to help kids develop an internal Yes and No so they do the right thing when no one is watching.
Doesn’t it follow that the same principles will work for you? Learning to eat well is about developing this internal Yes and No so you do the right thing when no one is watching. Often people with eating problems grew up in families that were deficient in either “Love,” “Limits,” or both. It follows that people struggle with food because they treat themselves the way they were treated as kids.
The new paradigm begins with Love. Instead of saying to yourself, “January 1 I’m going to whip my fat ass into shape because I’ve been a lazy, disgusting pig,” try this: “I want to take excellent care of myself from now on because I love myself, and I deserve to feel good in my body.” Aaahhh, that feels better. (If you don’t speak to yourself kindly, you’ll use food to soothe your own self-abuse!)
But remember, effective parenting is not over-indulgent. Parents who spoil their kids raise addicts and narcissists. There are Limits: there is a bedtime and sensible eating rules. Kids live in the moment: they want to stay up late and eat candy all day. Parents can anticipate consequences and say no because they see the big picture.
If you carry extra weight because you’ve ignored your body’s “No” signals, overeaten to numb negative emotions and exercised to punish yourself, then the new paradigm will lead to weight loss. The difference is that weight loss is the natural result, not the goal. While these tips might appear on the surface to be the same old same old, the attitudes driving the behavior make the crucial difference.
Here are your tips:
1. Figure out your optimal amount of sleep, get off Facebook and put yourself to bed. Even one hour of sleep deprivation derails the hormones Leptin and Ghrelin, which regulate hunger and fullness signals. If you’re trying to read the subtle messages in your belly, you want accurate information.
2. Eat a healthy breakfast. You wouldn’t send your kids to school with only a Venti latte to sustain them, would you?
3. Get out of your head and listen to your stomach; this is how “normal” people eat. You’ve marveled at these creatures as they effortlessly put down their forks while delicious morsels of food remain on their plates. Their big secret? They honor the “Yes” and “No” in their bellies. Period. Remember, your goal is to eat like someone without an eating problem.
4. Really taste and savor your food. Inhaling your food is rarely a highly pleasurable experience. Those first few bites are the most delicious, so slow down and enjoy! This also buys time for your stomach to signal your brain that you’re done.
5. Do something physical several times a week and view this as a “gift” instead of “punishment.” Dance in your living room, take a rock climbing class or go for a walk just because it’ll make you happier that day. Any activity is better than No activity. If you are judgmental about this, you will quit out of frustration.
6. Eat more delicious fruits, veggies and anti-inflammatory foods, but don’t label these as “diet foods” or you’ll rebel. These are treats that you feed your body because you’ll feel better when you eat them and you want to live a long, healthy life.
7. Don’t expect perfection. Assume you’ll have days where you eat too much of the wrong stuff and ignore your body’s signals. Rather than thinking “I blew it so I might as well REALLY blow it,” view it as a chance to discover something about your triggers. Then let it go.
8. Donate the scale to Goodwill. Remember you are changing from the inside out. You’ll know if you’ve lost weight because your clothes will fit differently. I’d hate for you to give up this important work if the number on the scale isn’t changing fast enough.
9. Buy yourself something pretty to wear right now. Treat yourself as if your worth is not defined by your weight.
10. If you’ve used food to soothe feelings, learn better ways to cope with your emotions. If yoga, meditation, snuggling with your dogs and knitting don’t work, try psychotherapy. Sometimes the roots of your complex relationship with food are buried deep. An outsider’s perspective can help you solve and resolve this mystery.
You are worth the investment to prevent physical and psychological problems down the road. If you are brave enough to follow this new paradigm in 2012, let me know how it goes. Share your success story and inspire others to do the same!
Dina Zeckhausen is a nationally-known clinical psychologist and author who specializes in treating eating disorders and body image in both adults and adolescents. She is a weekly columnist for ShareWiK.com. You can visit her on the web at dinazeckhausen.com and MyEdin.org.
©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC