8 Myths About Weight Loss and How to Get the Results You Really Desire

Here you are, on the cusp of a shiny new year! This is the year you’ll find peace in your relationship with food and your body, stroll into that office potluck without a second thought, and begin to focus your energy on more important areas of your life, rather than having guilt and thoughts around food consume you. You’ll be consistent this year. Life’s too short to put this off. You’re all in!

This is what you tell yourself. Yet, you also sense that a part of you doesn’t feel so confident. You remember past new year’s, past diets, and what it feels like to have other life priorities take precedence. Consistency is hard for you. I’m writing this article based on the common assumptions that I notice are tripping up many very capable, resourceful women in their pursuit of feeling at peace with food and their body. This is because, ironically, many attempts at weight loss actually perpetuate and strengthen unhealthy assumptions. When this happens, old patterns and those all-too-familiar feelings of defeat inevitably loom on the horizon.

By changing up your approach, and intentionally nurturing a genuinely healthy relationship with food, you may discover you’ve found the path toward freedom that you’ve been yearning for, right where you least expected it! Why not proactively make sure your new year’s resolutions are in line with what actually works? In this concise list I present 8 myths about weight loss, along with what you can do today to counter destructive assumptions in your life.

 

1. Losing weight requires willpower.

Trying to lose weight by increasing self-discipline may work temporarily, but in most cases this runs the risk of seriously backfiring in the long run. You may find yourself set back even further than if you hadn’t even tried. Bullying yourself into trying harder will not translate into consistent success long-term. Failure here is a result of playing a losing game!

Often, an attempt at increasing self-discipline is actually an attempt to bypass the underlying problem, and avoid the real work that is necessary in order to become truly healthy. In actuality, the very idea that more willpower is needed is a red flag that you need less self-discipline and more self-compassion. Being harsh toward yourself goes hand-in-hand with self-deprivation and restriction, which will continue to build a growing desire to give up or binge.

How can you start challenging this assumption today?

Notice how scary it can feel to imagine letting go and trusting yourself to eat intuitively without controlling your food intake based on how you should eat. This fear and discomfort can be intense and is important to acknowledge because it can perpetuate struggles with weight loss. Simply becoming aware and mindful of your emotions is a great way to start breaking down unhealthy assumptions. You might consider an outlet for your emotions in the form of journaling, art or expressive movement. A therapist can also support you in successfully navigating these emotions. In many cases, acknowledging and accepting our emotions will allow them to dissipate.

 

2. Being thinner means you are healthier.

The size of your body is a poor determinant of overall health, which depends on many other factors including exercise, sleep hygiene, stress levels, and whether you drink or smoke. A person can be overweight and relatively healthier than a thin person. It’s healthy to embrace your body size, and focus on your overall health versus hyperfocusing on your weight as the primary determinant of your health.

How can you start challenging this assumption today?

Spend a few minutes reflecting on all that your body can do for you, and be grateful for your health.

 

3. Going on a diet is a great way to jump-start weight loss.

Going on a diet may increase your chances of regaining the weight you lost while on the diet, and actually gaining more in the future compared to if you hadn’t even bothered going on a diet. Also, when we consistently diet and restrict our food, our metabolism tends to slow down and we may inevitably overcompensate down the road.

How can you start challenging this assumption today?

Instead of focusing on how you can restrict and control your food intake, why not focus on noticing which foods help your body feel energized and nourished. Create a routine of preparing food for yourself with the same care and thoughtfulness that you might show someone you love dearly, and allow yourself to really enjoy the process of preparing and savouring your meal. Notice how a focus on giving yourself nourishing food can feel very different than having food from a place of restriction.

 

4. There are foods that are helpful to avoid.

When we convince ourselves that certain foods must be avoided, and ignore our body’s natural hunger signals, we are living in a pattern of restriction. It is natural that if this continues for long enough, our body’s hunger signals will eventually rebel and overpower the restriction. This often results in an  overcompensation in the form of overeating out of fear of the restriction starting again. When we approach food this way, it is as though we are waging a war with our own body.

How can you start challenging this assumption today?

Let your body’s hunger signals guide you to make food choices that satisfy you both physically and emotionally. Allow yourself to eat a wide variety of foods, and notice how you no longer feel deprived. A positive side effect is that over time your body will notice that you are no longer waging a war, and that there is no need to overcompensate by overeating because a trust develops that you will respect your body’s hunger signals. Sometimes this means that eating “unhealthy” foods simply for the pleasure of it, and giving yourself permission to enjoy these foods actually helps protect you from the diet-binge cycle.

 

Young woman eating healthy salad after workout

5. If you’re struggling, it’s because you’re weak.

In our society, high calorie foods are readily available, and portion sizes have steadily increased over the past few decades. Food availability has increased while physical activity has decreased. As well, our body has evolved to defend against weight loss. Combining this with how media places a strong emphasis on physical appearance and body type, while perpetuating unhealthy ideas around food, far too many people are living in shame of their body, while not appreciating the degree to which the cards have been stacked against them.

How can you start challenging this assumption today?

Take note of how the media implicitly supports unhealthy ideas around food. Knowledge is power! Increase your awareness of this ploy, and you will be less susceptible to being subtly influenced.

 

6. Struggling with weight loss sucks all around!

There are social benefits to being part of weight loss culture. For many, it is an important way to connect and deepen relationships. Think about the last time you felt a sense of comradery while struggling alongside someone else, who related to your struggle with food.

There is another silver lining to identifying that you struggle with your relationship with food. By delving into your relationship with food, you start a potentially life-changing journey that may ripple out in positive ways into many aspects of your life (your relationships, your career, how you treat yourself overall, etc.). More and more, it is becoming apparent that the way we relate to food is intimately connected to how we relate to nearly every other thing in our lives. A struggle with food presents a unique opportunity to begin a valuable journey to finding deep fulfillment in your life. Once you resolve to address the underlying issue, you may find that you are feeling more assertive and confident in your relationships, finding the drive to carve out time for yourself, and feeling more motivated in your career path.

How can you start challenging this assumption today?

Getting to know how your struggle with food may actually be serving you and becoming aware of when you are relying on this to form connections with others will loosen the hold that it has on you and may help you realize and develop alternative ways of relating to others. Imagine how different your life may look when food becomes a non-issue.

 

Woman eating cherry salad

7. Weight loss is straightforward.

Diet plans and hacks are rampant. You might get the impression that if you stick to one of these simple “foolproof recipes to success”, then you can reach your goal weight, brush your hands off and call it a day. However, building a healthy relationship with food takes real and consistent effort, and each journey will inevitably look different from the next.

How can you start challenging this assumption today?

Recognize that part of progressing means rolling with setbacks, and practice reframing these experiences as a springboard toward your next breakthrough. It is helpful to surround yourself with people who are already practicing this helpful mindset!

 

8. You’ll be happier when you’re thin.

At the end of the day, if you’re losing weight in pursuit of happiness, you’re fighting a losing battle. True happiness comes from loving and accepting yourself as you are. If you’re holding shame around your body, losing weight will not change this mindset. Even if you lose weight, you may continue to live in fear of food if you have neglected to do the deeper work and accept your body regardless of your size.

How can you start challenging this assumption today?

Practice accepting and appreciating your body as it is right now. Notice all that your body does for you already. The more time you spend appreciating your body, the less time you’ll spend shaming it.

 

Resources to get started in Edmonton

 

It is one thing to let your logical brain nod along as you read this list, but there is a whole other level of learning and transformation that you’re able to achieve when you invest in exploring and letting go of these assumptions on a deep personal level. This goes hand-in-hand with beginning to instinctively let go of the need to control and restrict food. Think about it: is it your logical brain that goes on autopilot around food, or is there some fundamentally deeper learning that needs to happen? That deeper, lasting learning is exactly what I support my clients to achieve. I help them to release the many ways they’ve been unconsciously tripping themselves up for years.

I am currently accepting new clients to work one-on-one to build a healthy relationship with food and their body. Are you ready to really shake these assumptions, and get yourself on track? As of January 1st, I am accepting 12 women to participate in a 6-week pilot group called Eating Bravely, where we will be building skills and exploring insights to ignite a healthy relationship with food. This group is led by a Provisional Psychologist and Dietitian duo, to address both what we eat and how we eat.

Over the 6 weeks, you will:

  • examine how your personal life experiences predispose you to struggle with food
  • explore the relationship between food and how you feel
  • understand how stress impacts your body
  • learn how to harness self-compassion to increase motivation
  • get to know your deeper unmet needs
  • practice satisfying these needs in new ways, without relying on food to numb them

If you would like to pursue this important work either individually or within the Eating Bravely group, please email lindsay@liferoots.ca. Or, if you’d like to stay tuned for the release of an online version of Eating Bravely, launching after completion of the pilot group, visit www.LifeRoots.ca and subscribe to our newsletter.

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