Weight loss is a goal for a significant portion of our population. And, of course, the weight loss industry wants you to believe that it is not attainable without dieting and commitment to an intense exercise program. Of course, we all know the statistics that 98% of diets fail, but that actually helps support the diet industry by having you come back for more! That’s exactly why I have made it my life’s work to show people there is another way—- a way to change your life, your health, and your weight through behavioral, lifestyle, and cognitive change. A way to feel in control, confident, and capable while also being sustainable throughout your lifetime.
My approach to sustainable, non-diet weight loss is rooted in my 12 guiding principles. Let talk a little bit about these principles and what they mean.
1. We are always in control of our decisions and actions. You have the power to choose- ALWAYS. What that means is that you can always choose a different course of action, whether that be to eat something different, engage in an alternative behavior, or assess your behavior or thought patterns.
2. Healthful changes should be lifelong, not temporary. When we go on a diet, we are doing something that, by definition, is temporary. What that means is that the outcome is also temporary! If you are going to put time and energy into making change for your health and wellness, that change should be long-term.
3. Taking care of our minds is a necessary step towards taking care of our bodies. Our thought patterns, our self-perspective, and our beliefs are a huge factor in dictating our self-care. In order to truly change our physical health, our mental health needs to be addressed. We need to belief in ourselves, our capability, and our worth.
4. We are often our own worst enemy and we stand in our own way. Whether we like it or not, we are all victims of self-sabotage and our eating behaviors are a common form of that self-sabotage. In order to truly change our relationship with food, we need to examine and fight that self-sabotage.
5. All of our negative habits are learned, which means they can unlearned and replaced. Almost all of our eating behaviors are habitual, so they are not really dissimilar from biting your nails. Which means, they can also be changed. It is simply about understanding that habit change is a process that takes time and focus.
6. We need to prioritize self-care: taking care of our minds, bodies, and souls. If we don’t take care of ourselves, everything feels futile. We have less energy for ourselves, less mental bandwidth to commit to things, and less ability to follow-through on our plans. Prioritizing our self-care gives us the stamina, drive, and mental capabilities to commit and see things through.
7. Planning ahead is your best weapon against self-sabotage. We already know we all self-sabotage so, if that’s our tendency, we need to be prepared for it! Understanding our own personal brand of self-sabotage is the best way to get ahead because, with that understand, we are able to plan for it and ultimately defeat it.
8. Every journey starts with a first step: all valuable change is based on building blocks and baby steps. Change that is slow and steady is always the most sustainable. So if you truly want to change your health and wellness, you are more likely to succeed by changing one thing at a time, instead of diving head first into a complete makeover. Take a few steps, get comfortable, and then keep moving forward.
9. Restriction leads to cravings and gives power to restricted foods. When we restrict foods, we give them so much power over us to the point where we feel completely out of control around them. Instead of giving food this power, it is more effective to allow everything in moderation so that you are in control of your eating and your choices.
10. Our tendency to put ourselves down and focus on the negative keeps us from achieving success. The more we beat ourselves up, the more we believe we are incapable and not worthy. Instead of attacking yourself and putting yourself down, put your energy into acknowledging your capabilities and strengths and patting yourself on the back for your efforts. You will feel more motivated and have more belief in your ability to succeed.
11. Food should nourish us and make us happy; not create anxiety. Food is meant to feed our bodies and provide us with nutrients and energy. Food is meant to make us feel good. When we diet, restrict, and look at food as either good or bad, we create anxiety around eating. Instead focus on understanding how food makes you feel and honoring your hunger and your fullness.
12. We are all capable of breaking the yo-yo dieting cycle forever! It doesn’t matter if you’ve been on and off a diet for 6 months or 60 years—-everyone is capable of changing their habits and patterns and achieving success and being healthy and happy without having to diet ever again!
With those guiding principles in mind, understand that you are capable and worthy and that, although success is slow and steady, it is also long-term and 100% worth it!