I know you may not want to hear this. It’s going to sound counter intuitive and maybe even irresponsible, especially coming from a nutrition coach. I beg you to please keep an open mind and heart to what I am about to say because it is an absolute game changer that has the potential to make ALL the difference to your journey towards your most fit, healthy and confident self.
So here we go; here’s the one thing you should avoid at ALL costs if you’ve gained weight during this lock down. You should absolutely NOT restrict your food intake. Crazy, right? I mean, how can I seriously be recommending you to avoid at all cost the very thing you feel you need to do most to undo the damage?
Well, let me take a moment to clarify. Firstly, I want to start by saying that I do not believe extra weight is harmless and that you should simply embrace your curves and accept that there is nothing you can or should do to about it. I do firmly believe that we can only enjoy this life to its fullest if we have a healthy mind in a healthy body and being overweight often prevents us from experiencing either.
By saying that you should not diet or restrict your food, I’m not saying that there’s nothing you can do to become your most fit, healthy and confident self. What I am actually saying is that it is not the most effective way to get there. You should NOT let go of the desire to get healthier and loose weight; that’s a healthy desire which signals that you want to improve and take better care of yourself.
Dieting however (or simply restricting your food intake drastically) is by far the least effective way to achieve what you’re after. And this is true whether you have 2kg to loose or 20. This is because the very fundamental principle of diets and food restrictions is faulty at the root level. The idea that you should restrict your intake of food and “go hungry” for a while, just until you reach your goal or part of it, so that you can feel better about yourself is simply not going to work. I mean, can you truly feel better if you’re constantly hungry? You may feel better about how your clothes fit but you now have another, even more primal problem to deal with: you’re freaking starving all the time!
And even if you are not thinking of restricting your intake but rather avoiding certain “bad” foods at all costs the issue remains: you’re essentially telling yourself that you have to choose between looking and feeling good in your body OR eating the foods you enjoy most. This very mindset will lead to failure, sooner or later. For as long as you believe that you have to experience physical deprivation (hunger pains) or emotional deprivation (boring food) in order to reach your health and wellness goals, you will get in your own way and find unconscious, creative and very effective ways to self sabotage your efforts.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as an ideal weight, so much as an ideal weight range (we’re all subject to subtle fluctuations for a number of reasons). Think of your optimal weight range as a pendulum that swings minimally from one side to the other: if you look at it from afar it doesn’t even look like its swaying at all. When for whatever reason you start swaying too much on one side (too much food or too much decadent food therefore weight gain), you believe that the way to restore balance is to push the pendulum as far as possible towards the opposite side (too little food, or too boring food therefore weight loss). However the harder you swing to on one side, the harder it will come back swinging to the other. And that is precisely how you remain trapped in a painful “all or nothing” state which does NOT allow you to progress effectively.
Imagine if you were in a large rectangular room and you were trying to go from the south wall of the room to north wall. But instead of just walking straight ahead, you started walking all the way to the west wall, then all the way to the east wall time and time again. You would feel like you’re putting so much effort on your journey, yet you’re moving forward SO slowly. You may get to the point where you even stop trying altogether and sit down where you are because, what’s the point? It’s just too much effort for too little progress.
This is precisely what it looks like to be trapped in the diet/binge cycle or deprivation/over indulgence cycle. It is painful. It is tiresome. You waste all your energy spinning around in circles without ever feeling like you’re making any progress. You may even feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with you and that nothing will ever work or you are simply NOT meant to improve in this area of life.
I’ve experienced this myself form many years in the past and I see it at play time and time again in my practice as a certified nutrition consultant. It can be so tiresome and demoralizing. It is not necessary. It is not effective.
What’s the alternative, you may ask? If dieting doesn’t work, should you just accept to remain overweight for the rest of your life? Should you just learn to love yourself as you are, extra weight and all? Should you simply choose, once and for all, between a lean body and enjoying food? Yes. And no.
You should accept that you are overweight because whatever you don’t accept, you can’t change.
You should love yourself precisely as you are, extra weight and all, because self love is the most fundamental ingredient for self improvement.
You should not choose between a lean body and enjoying food. You CAN have your cake and eat it too (pun intended). I eat cake as often as I like and I am in the best shape of my life so far and continuously getting better. Our shifters eat cake as often as they like and they generally loose more weight than they even thought possible. Notice however that I did not say “as often as possible”: and that may just be the most poignant distinction of all, revolving around healthy eating and I will surely delve deeper into it another time.
If you want to get more insights on these topics and are looking for a way to actually achieve real results for good, you can join us for our upcoming Book Club on May 30th or jump onboard our digital and super comprehensive platform Whole Shift Wellness Plus.
In the meantime however, I beg of you, don’t diet! Stop swinging that pendulum. It does more harm than good. You’re wasting precious energy. You’re setting yourself back rather than moving forward. The only way forward, in my experience, is to #maketheshift.