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I received sad news today… a woman I first met on social media, asking for help to lose weight, has had serious complications from surgery intended to alter her stomach’s ability to hold nutrition (gastric bypass surgery).

After years of pretending she was concerned for her health, I watched her dip in and out of diets, always despondent when they didn’t work. She embraced (and had personal evidence) diets were never going to work, but she preferred to keep “trying”, rather than face herself.

Am I surprised? No. Not really.

This is the saddest part of my work as a professional weight loss coach.

Nurse and doctor examining xray

I’ve helped hundreds directly with coaching and thousands through my online programs, but not everyone wants to lose weight, and lose weight permanently.

Anne (a pseudonym) gave me permission to share her story with you.

She called me for help, but never quite signed on to begin a coaching relationship. Or a class.

She had a million excuses.

Actually, she was waiting for something to force her to act. (We usually wait for something ominous to force our hand – by then, it’s too late.)

Anne wanted someone else to take away her excuses. The rock-and-roll and in-and-out of diets seems comforting after a while, always living in the future, living in hope with no action.

Of course, hope with no action is fantasy.

Anne knows that now.

Really, she didn’t want to change. Most of us don’t!

Many people cling to the thinnest shred of any possible reason NOT to take charge. It’s a big step. They know there are no excuses available after they begin to work with me – they sense I teach an ultimate form of RESPONSIBILITY. (After all, I teach a class in responsibility called Own Every Bite!)

I get it.

I could not have seen my own weight rise to 242 lbs., if I didn’t have to work through the same shit everyone else has to work through to get to a point of change.

And I’ve had more than one potential client decide not to pursue coaching or healing their food addiction, clinging to their “safe” world of food-as-problem-solver and food-as-soothing-agent, and wind up right back in my office a few years later with a breast cancer diagnosis or diabetes (excess weight is a major contributing factor to both). Even then, they don’t quite see the connection of what they have created in their bodies, but their doctor told them to get their act together.

I don’t really want to see you in my enLIGHTen Your Life! Mastermind Class or as an individual coaching client when your doctor sends you… I want you to show up BEFORE that… when there’s still time for you to make positive change and ALTER the path you are traveling, a path that leads to poor health, body breakdown, and loss of power.

I want to see you when you recognize you have choices and are choosing health and self-care over your old martyrdom story of “everyone else comes first.”

No job, no relationship, and even the kids don’t come before your health. If you don’t put the oxygen mask on yourself first, you can’t help them. You won’t be there to help them.

And you’ll have given them a piss-poor example of how to manage life if you can only cope by stuffing your face.

No, you are not hiding that from the kids either. They know fat. Just like they know if you secretly drink, or drug, or cut yourself.

Believe me, I was once in your shoes. I walked that walk, until I got a new one.

 

Here’s what I think keeps most of us from receiving help: 

SHAME

It takes some real humble acceptance to recognize and admit we need help, or need to learn a new way to cope.

We often feel, if we avoid getting help, we’ll solve fat alone, and no one will be the wiser to what we’ve been doing or (worse!) what we’ve been thinking about ourselves. Because we feel a lot of shame about our physical condition.

Here’s what I think encourages us to move beyond addictions:

WORTHINESS

Somewhere, deep inside, you have to know you are worth more than the scraps you are getting in life. After all, if you were getting what you truly need, there would be no drive to augment life with excess food.

  • That boring job, with the stress and headaches? Yes, you can do better.
  • A terrible parent or relative who constantly judges and puts you down? Yes, you can find supportive, loving new “family.”
  • The ungrateful children or siblings, who don’t understand your needs? Yes, we all need to be understood and loved. It’s possible.
  • A spouse or partner who doesn’t hear, see or revere you? This costs a fortune in esteem.
  • The toxic relationship you’ve forged with yourself, where you berate or excuse (or both) yourself for your choices and habits… it’s time to release it.

Overeating is about making up for something, stuffing real feelings, hiding.

We all need to love ourselves enough to choose to live differently.

Holidays are tough for many people but, if you are actively trying to lose weight, the extra stress can be a diet killer. What do successful weight loss survivors do? Here are some helpful weight loss tips from experts and coaches who’ve actually been successful losing weight themselves.

I specifically spoke with experts who understand the concept of sustained weight loss too. This is a big distinction, as permanent weight loss, defined by the medical community as weight loss sticking around over five years, is illusive to many.

10thAnniversary

Research shows permanent weight loss is more likely to result from lifestyle and attitude change. Diets just don’t do the trick for long-term change.

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This is the prime week for weight loss depression in the United States.  Dead of winter, resolutions a thing of the past… reality sets in.  Weight loss can feel hard.  Goals can seem F…A…R… away.

Needless to say, a weight loss coach hears these things a lot.  But, the failure or lack of original gusto for a weight loss resolution doesn’t have to be “hard” or “depressing.”  It doesn’t even have to suck the life out of your energy.

ScaleMmmm

It’s all a question of perspective.

What bothers most people about weight loss is that it doesn’t happen quickly enough.  And, if we switch perspectives, that’s a fantastic fact.

Quick weight loss comes back. If your weight loss is slow, it’s much more likely to be permanent.  I’ve been helping clients lose weight for over 10 years, and I’ve done it myself – I’ve lost almost 100 lbs. and next month will mark 13 years I’ve sustained that weight loss.  I’ve been able to see what makes people successful:

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Today, I celebrate 12 years of sustained weight loss.  If you are new to this blog, after years of yo-yo dieting, I set out to lose weight permanently.  My initial weight loss of 74 pounds was an incredible journey for me, an education in life I never expected.

After losing that weight, I was determined to “keep” the results.  I knew from my research that permanent weight loss is defined by the medical profession as weight loss sustained for 5 years and more.  I also knew, sadly, it is very rarely achieved.

I had to keep learning and growing in order to maintain the weight loss.  In the last two years, I’ve lost more weight.  Today, I’m 92 lbs. lighter.

As I was thinking about this anniversary, it occurred to me that I got what I wanted.  How many times can you say you got exactly what you wanted (and more) in life?

I don’t call it amazing anymore, because I know the work that was involved.  It’s no miracle.  I literally “grew myself up” out of food addiction.  I found, for me, most addiction theories don’t work.  To me, they just get a person addicted to a program, instead of freeing them from the addiction.

In essence, the entire medical and therapeutic community says, “You are damaged and will always be addicted.  Here, be addicted to this, which we deem healthier, rather than that substance (food, alcohol, drug, sex).

That just didn’t work for me.

What I wanted was freedom.  Freedom was a huge value and driver of my behavior.  In fact, as a weight loss coach, it’s something I hear practically every day from a client, or two, or three.

“I just want to be free to eat what I want.”

It’s perhaps the most common derailer of the average diet, and why diets don’t work long-term.  When I was in the throes of addiction, the minute anyone told me “you can’t eat that” or “at your weight, is that wise?”, you could be damned sure I was going to eat it!  That’s the freedom value showing up.

Well, today, I am free.  I’m free of the compulsivity of addiction, feeling as though my actions are occurring without my permission.

I am free of excess weight, which hindered my movement, my self-expression, my comfort in the world.

I’m free of a host of medical problems.

I’m free of my excess weight making, refusing or coloring decisions for me.

Once I grew up, I discovered huge gifts:   Choice.  Opportunities.  Meaning.  Connection.  Self-esteem.  Love.

And true freedom.

Here in the U.S., it’s Thanksgiving week.  All around me, I’m hearing a collective intake of breath:  those who eat, those who do not eat, those who eat by rules, and those who eat in disordered patterns — they are all in a panic.

Thanksgiving is feared by anyone who isn’t living in a peaceful relationship with food.  Laden with high-fat, high caloric food, it’s a celebration of abundance that Americans translate into plenty of food.

Celebrate your happy body.

We could celebrate the abundance of ingenuity, fun, humor, love or… just about anything… but we have translated it into food.  Too funny, when you think about it.  What if we celebrated an abundance of energy and lined the highways, exercising all day?

Hmmmm.

Don’t mind me, my mind just works that way.  As I direct my thoughts towards the past 15 years of my life as I have lost weight (and not refound it), I find myself grateful for many things this Thanksgiving:

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Weight loss takes time.  I’m often asked to define the best loss rate.  My answer is:  “The best rate is what your body and mind will allow.  It will take as long as it takes YOU.”

There are natural restrictions on what your body will release in terms of weight.  If you are careful to burn fat and nothing else (optimal because the body fights back when other elements of the body are threatened), you will release as much as your body can process.  The process of burning fat is quite complicated, and doesn’t happen as efficiently as burning some butter on your stove – misunderstanding this is a big reason most people never achieve permanent weight loss.

The Scale Can't Tell What's Going on Inside the Body

Did you know that, if you could burn one pound of fat in a day (and you can’t), it would take

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No, I’m not talking about her skimpy outfits or the skinny half-naked dancers flanking her live shows.

Lady Gaga is the most famous woman in music/culture right now, and I don’t think it’s because of her music (although it’s quite good) – it’s because of her message. Music is only part of her life played out as performance art.

Her deeper message to her “little monsters” (her fans) is screw everyone if they don’t like you, be who you are, because, no matter what that might be, that’s perfect.

Lady Gaga at the 2011 Grammy Awards

Lady Gaga at the 2011 Grammy Awards

What’s the connection to weight loss? Listen to

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Having traveled my own quite complicated journey out of body hatred and losing over 70 lbs permanently, I’ve come to believe every body is different and unique, though we’re led by society/culture to believe their is a “standard.” I’ve had the experience of coaching hundreds of women towards their own unique “optimal” weight, and discovered we all lose weight at different rates (and, yes, in different places!).

WomensGroup

Loving and appreciating our own distinctiveness isn’t the easy road in our society, but it can be done.

I once had a client lose weight at a rate of a pound a month, and be upset

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