Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Weight Loss Challenge: Swinging on a Moody Star

An important factor to our weight loss success...one that people often forget about or totally disregard...is our mood or mindset.

How we feel about ourselves, our bodies and even how we feel about food directly impacts our ability to lose weight.

It is extremely common to gain weight when we are feel depressed and to lose weight when we are happy. While that may be common, there are many people who gain weight when happy and, like my mother, lose weight when depressed. This demonstrates that there is no one "diet" or eating program that will work for everyone...not even in the same family. We all react differently to different foods, moods, exercise programs--everything!

If you are the type of person who, like me, tends to gain weight when depressed or stressed (or mad, or sad...or whatever) there is a way you can combat the trend!

Believe it or not, the real problem is not the food. If it were the food, you wouldn't be able to have it around ever...you'd eat it and gain weight all the time, not just when you are depressed. The problem is eating food in response to the emotion.

That is why substituting a lower calorie version of your favorite food or even substituting a healthy food doesn't solve the problem, because, I repeat, the problem is not the food...it isn't the calories.

By eating low-fat frozen yogurt in place of ice cream when depressed you are not changing the eating in response to emotion behavior. The behavior you changed was the one in the grocery store! Now, not only are you eating when depressed, you are probably less satisfied, but feeling deprived and yet martyr-like so you actually might eat MORE than before! Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

Replacing the chips with carrot sticks doesn't work either. Sure it is a healthy food, but we are still reaching into the frig (or pantry) and stuffing down our problems, rather than reaching into our heads and hearts and working on the real issue.

Don't want to work on your "issues"...don't think you have any? Fine. Whether you are numbing your feelings with food or not, you are engaging in unconscious eating.

Instead of eating, come up with a list of things that you can do that will help you feel more joy without getting you into the vicious cycle of eating and then gaining weight and therefore feeling bad again...which makes you want to eat, etc!

Everyone's list will be different...mine includes enjoying the sunrise, spending time in my studio, reading, doing puzzles, going for a walk and enjoying the fresh air, riding in the country...it could be playing with animals, playing on a swing, listening to music...the list can go on.

Write down YOUR list and keep it on the frig or the pantry...wherever the food you tend to reach for is stored...to help you remember your goal and give you some choices. It totally puts you in control...rather than eating unconsciously you begin to eat thoughtfully and that makes all the difference.


lesleytheletterist said...

Wonderful information!
I have 50lb to go and refuse to copy so much silly dieting advice on offer, preferring to 'fine tune' myself instead of letting every mouthful feel like failure. Permanent weight loss is a headstate, rather than a carrot stick!

Laurie Tossy said...

You are absolutely on the right track! We must change our mindset (or headstate as you call it.)

Simply eating more carrots instead of cookies is only a temporary fix--rather like having a fall and putting a bandaid on the scrape on our head when the real issue is the concussion we suffered!

Keep up the good work!

To the healthy, energetic and slender body that you deserve!