I swore off dieting years before I took a job at a women’s health magazine. Somehow I had equated a health magazine with healthy living, not dieting.
Issue after issue we promoted the next new diet: Flatten Your Belly in 7 Days; Shrink Your Fat Zones; Lose 15 Pounds and 10 Inches This Month; Drop One Size in a Week; Shrink 1 Size in 2 Weeks; Drop 10 Pounds after 40.
If the diet I went on at 35 worked why would I need to drop 10 pounds after 40?
Because studies are telling us that after 5 years the majority of dieters regain their weight, and many of them regain more than they lost.*
Did you know that when you lose weight your brain tells your body to slow down to get you back to your ‘normal’ weight. Your brain tells your body to slow your metabolism to try to keep you from starving to death (nevermind that you are overweight, your brain doesn’t judge).
A recent article in the NYTimes discussed the results of a study on contestants from The Biggest Loser. Guess what it says: their metabolisms slowed after the weight loss—which means they need fewer calories to maintain their weight. So now they need to eat less than the average person of their height and weight in order to maintain their weight. And if that’s not bad enough, the metabolisms not only didn’t recover, they continued to slow.
This brings me back to my personal swearing off of diets. The summer between 7th and 8th grade my father offered me $100 to lose the weight I had gained in 7th grade (could it have been the hot chocolate and brownies, plural, I bought at the canteen every morning before class?). I went on a sensible diet, eating healthy and cutting portions. I lost 27 pounds and got my $100!!
I gained and lost that same 27 pounds (plus some) more times than I can count over the next 20 years.
After moving from L.A. to N.YC. to work in the aforementioned world of publishing I had a come to Jesus moment: I was on an emotional roller coaster controlled by my weight (or so I thought) and it was time to figure it out.
I wasn’t concerned with why I was gaining the weight back, I just wanted the pain and self-hatred to stop and I knew dieting wasn’t working.
It was the early 1990s and my search stumbled it’s way to Geneen Roth’s book: Feeding the Hungry Heart.
What? My heart is hungry? You mean it’s not the taste in my mouth, or the feeling in my stomach, or my love of food that I’m feeding? My heart? What does that even mean?
And so began my conscious relationship with myself, food, and dieting.
It has been 20+ years since I learned about what Geneen referred to as Emotional Eating, and how to overcome it. I’m 30+ pounds lighter than I was at my my heaviest and I haven’t been on a diet for almost 20 years.
What’s the secret? It is a simple idea that goes by many names these days—conscious eating; eating with awareness; eating mindfully—based on the belief that your body knows what it needs. If you tune into your hunger and stop eating when you are full (not to be confused with stuffed, or needing to loosen your belt or when your plate is empty) your body will adjust to it’s natural weight.
It is the calories we consume when we’re not truly hungry that become extra pounds.
It’s not a quick fix, it is a deep dive into you. It addresses the problem (emotions) rather than the symptom (overeating). It is a real solution that you will have for life.
If you are ready to stop dieting, and stop struggling with your weight and body image, you owe it to yourself to learn more about my program What Are You Hungry For.
to learn more about Emotional Eating.
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*Based on several articles and studies read online that report some version of this data.