Trying to lose weight can be a nightmare. Whatever diet you try, the experience that most of us have when we are trying to lose weight is that it works only for as long as we are ‘being good’. And, as soon as you stop the ‘diet’, that weight simply piles back on again, and some.
And not only that, over time, it takes more and more effort to achieve the same result and it becomes harder and harder to keep the results. All of you serial dieters out there will know exactly what I’m talking about!
Eventually, we simply give up trying and we try to accept and find peace with those extra pounds. All whilst deep down we know we would feel so much better in a slimmer and more vibrant body. The truth? Those diets are just too hard-going, unsustainable and suck the joy out of life.
So, what is going on? Why is it that diets don’t work? Why are the results so short-lived? And why do we not get to keep our hard-won slimmer body, without having to be on a diet for the rest of our lives?
Before we dive into all of that, let’s just check in for a minute:
Are We Worrying Over Nothing?
There is one very important question about the ‘overweight’ issue: are we worrying over nothing?
➤ Is it just our cultural stereotype of the ‘ideal body’ that needs updating?
➤ Should we be reforming the fashion industry to embrace larger models?
➤ Should we be looking for role models who can champion the larger body?
➤ Should we be focusing on normalising obesity, and changing our cultural ideas about what it means to be an attractive woman or man, instead of trying to lose weight and inhabit a slim body.
Unfortunately, the answer is that being overweight brings with it very real health and wellbeing issues, which can have a huge impact on our quality of life. Especially as we get older.
For example, did you know that being obese increases your risk of dying from COVID-19 by 37% (University of Liverpool)? Not to mention an increased risk of ‘not so nice’ long term health conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, alzheimers, and breast cancer?
And even if you don’t (yet) have such a medical diagnosis, simply being overweight means you will generally have less energy, are more likely to struggle with low self esteem, have poorer quality sleep and have more joint aches and pains.
So, whether you are on the side of ‘banish the female slim body’ stereotype or not, working towards keeping a healthy weight is fundamentally an act of self love and self care.
Why I Want to Declare War On Diets
But it goes much further than that. When we are overweight and we want to lose weight, whether that is for health reasons or otherwise, most of us reach for some kind of diet to help us reach our goals.
And even if you can figure out the best weight loss programme from all the hundreds of options out there, it is my opinion that ‘diets’ are simply not good for you. In fact, I want to declare war on diets.
Diets Are Restrictive
Most diets are basically a set of restrictive ‘food rules’ that you have to obey, in order to encourage your body to melt the fat, and reclaim your waistline. The trouble is that this basically turns you into the food police.
What ensues is endless monitoring, weighing, measuring, and calibrating. Food becomes something to be ‘counted’ rather than the source of joy and delight that it deserves to be. It shifts your relationship with food to being ‘good’ or ‘ bad’, and ultimately deprives you of the joy, pleasure and love that food really is.
What I would like to see instead is a new relationship to food. One built on ‘food abundance’ – even when we are trying to achieve certain health goals like losing weight, optimise diabetes control, or enjoy a calmer menopause.
Diets Focus On The Wrong Thing
Most diets are calorie restriction in some form or other and/or promote fat burning (think keto and fasting of any kind). This really is a ‘one size fits all approach’ to weight loss and utterly fails to recognise that being overweight has multiple causes.
Most people who are overweight, it is hardly ever because they simply decided one day, hey I know, I’ll overeat just for the fun of it! The situation is much more complex than that!
Here are some of the reasons why someone might become overweight:
- Being tired – this is the biggest reason for making ‘poor food choices’ and eating a low nutrient diet.
- Carb cravings – think adrenal fatigue
- Emotional eating – think stress and upset
- Sleep deprivation – major snack attacks incoming!
- Bored – think life purpose and getting reconnected to what lights you up
- Depression – the overeating that is part of low mood and/or anxiety
- Hypothyroid – your body putting the brakes on your basal metabolic rate
- High estrogen status – the classic big thighs, bum and boobs scenario
- High cortisol status – lose your waistline
- Leaky gut – think food sensitivities, SIBO, dysbiosis, maldigestion
- VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) stored in adipose (fat) tissue.
Can you see how for each of those situations, going on a ‘diet’ to lose weight is simply missing the point? It’s treating the symptoms of an underlying health situation, instead of treating the health issue itself so that you would lose the weight naturally.
By not addressing the underlying cause, you are literally doomed to a lifetime of ‘dieting‘ battles. This is why as soon as you stop the ‘diet program’ or ‘ fall off the wagon’, the weight all comes piling back on again. Because you simply haven’t addressed the real root cause.
And then there are all the reasons why your body might be trying to hold onto the weight, because it is actually trying to protect you. We store all sorts of harmful chemicals in our fat tissues including organic solvents and heavy metals. This is one of the reasons why some people get so sick when they lose weight rapidly: all that toxic stuff is released from its fat tissue safe storage place, and then your body has to actually clear that stuff out.
And if I told you that even in the umbilical chord of a newborn baby you can measure about 30 or so different types of volatile organic compounds, (because that’s the toxic soup we live in), is it any wonder so many of us struggle to lose weight?
The chronic stress response can eventually put us into a state of adrenal fatigue, and part of that scenario is putting on weight, especially around your middle. Most of the women I work with who want to lose weight are also struggling with feeling tired all the time and there is a degree of adrenal fatigue playing out.
If you are overweight and have adrenal fatigue, then going on a diet where you either restrict calories, burn fat or do some kind of fasting practice, makes the adrenal fatigue worse.
Let me put that very simply and clearly:
Adrenal fatigue + overweight + diet = BIG DISASTER
So it goes back to my point above – it is essential that you figure out the underlying reason for being overweight. Because at best the diets simply don’t work, or they give very limited short lived results. At worst you are actually making the situation worse.
Are You With Me?
I hope you have picked up this article because you want to lose weight and do so safely and sensibly.
I hope that you too are now ready to declare war on diets, and that instead you are ready to commit to building a beautiful and healthy relationship to food based on abundance not limitations.
I hope you now recognise the importance of looking for underlying root causes as the intelligent way to tackle your weight issues, and that ultimately working towards and maintaining a healthy weight is a radical act of self love and self care.
And if you are reading this and thinking HELP… than you know where I am!