I’m sure over the years you’ve tried countless diets, though those in the know say we shouldn’t call them ‘diets’ anymore because they contain the word ‘die’! – Who knew? Do you think not calling them ‘diets’ will help you lose weight? No, I don’t either.
Do you think worrying about calling it ‘fat’ will make our growing nation any less fat? No, I don’t either. We don’t want to lose weight, we want to lose fat, the issue is that many lose weight and, actually, some weight we don’t want to lose, but I’ll mention that later.
So, for those people who have got all upset about me using the F-word, take a nice, calming breath and read on.
Over these last month, I’ve seen countless weight loss shows on TV, many following similar themes.
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Some preferred to place blame on sugar, the shops for selling sugary products, restaurants for selling unhealthy food and even the government for not doing anything about this list of bad guys.
The big question here is, does believing it’s the fault of one of these things help you lose weight? I’d argue not, in fact, I’d say that for many people it just gives them a reason to stay fat – ‘well, it’s not my fault it’s….’ then just pick one, either way, it allows us to blame something else.
Let me state for the record now, being fat is not our fault, often things just creep up on us. However, it is our responsibility to lose the weight.
If you don’t know why you should lose weight and need a few good reasons, then check out this great list.
My favourite personal reason is that I’d like to wear clothes and not have to worry about them leaving imprint marks in my fat.
However, knowing all these reasons and seeing documentaries where they show diabetics losing limbs, oddly enough, doesn’t push the majority of us into action.
How many smokers still open a packet of cigarettes regardless of the horrific images on the front of the packets? The same principals are in place here, more later.
So, if placing the blame doesn’t work, and shocking images do not work, or even the fact that most of us know that we need to lose weight and yet don’t… if all that doesn’t work, then why not?
Here’s a few of good reasons:
Our conscious minds have a limited supply of willpower – I know right!
This means that by the time we’ve said ‘no’ to countless unhealthy foods throughout the day – from advertising, restaurants, and Barbara in accounts saying ‘come on, it’s my birthday... You can have one slice of cake’, and so on – well, by then, we’ve very little willpower left and we overeat in the evenings.
Most diets are effort.
They require so many choices. Most require forward planning, cooking and buying ingredients. Again, with a limited supply of willpower, the ‘latest’ diet might seem like a good idea at the start of the day but, by Friday afternoon, when it’s Bob’s leaving do and Barbara is at it again with the cake, you just can’t say ‘no’ anymore.
Most of us know that we should exercise, and we should, of course, for many important reasons.
What very few diets/TV shows bother to say is that if we exercise in a certain way, using resistance training, we’ll build lean body mass (muscle). Now the aim isn’t to look like a pro-bodybuilder (unless that is your aim, and then, GO YOU!) – the aim should be to start swapping out your body’s fat for muscle.
Why is this important? Well, a pound of fat requires no energy to stay a pound of fat, so if you have 50 pounds of fat (3.5 stone/22kg) dotted around your body, it requires practically no calories to keep it there.
Now lean body mass not only requires calories just to stay there, the resistance training required to gain it does a whole bunch of other useful stuff:
(Thank-you to www.verywellfit.com for this great run down.)
Not gaining lean body mass is one reason that fat people get fatter. It’s not this simple, of course, but most diets don’t concentrate on building lean body mass, just losing weight. And many people just want to lose weight as quickly as possible so, as well as losing fat, they lose muscle/lean body mass.
The issue here is that when you’ve dieted and put weight back on and done this on repeat for a few years, then many people are left with precious little lean body mass, which just exacerbates the problem.
Again though, most of us know that we should exercise yet a large percentage of us do not. People quote time, not knowing what they are doing and a lack of motivation, but again a lot of the issue is that we just don't have sufficient willpower for the things that are required of us each day.
I’m sure you’ve worked out by now that if you read long enough, I’ll tell you what to do about the lack of willpower. Before then, let’s look at a huge, often unspoken about, reasons why people don’t lose weight, and these are called Secondary Gains – these are so important in fact I’m going to give it it's own heading.
If the primary gain is the main reason we do something, the primary reason, if you will – like we love food, food is yummy, etc.… Then secondary gains are all the other reasons that we stay fat – and there can be lots of these reasons:
These might sound like silly ideas perhaps, but it is amazing what our subconscious actually believes. And, if our subconscious believes it, our much weaker conscious mind just goes along with it.
If deep down we worry that we won’t be liked if we lost weight, for example, why would we be able to stick to a diet for long?
And this brings us neatly on to the subconscious mind – this is that incredible part of our brains that takes care of any automatic processes (and other things), stuff like remembering to breathe, it knows how to walk without us having to think – step, now another step, and then another step… It also holds all our beliefs about ourselves – true or untrue.
The subconscious mind is incredibly powerful. It can process around 20 million pieces of information a second – that’s an insane amount!
Well, it is when you think that our conscious mind only processes around 40 pieces of information. This means that huge amounts of information arrives into our brain and, based on what our subconscious believes, or has been programmed to look for, it then filters that information down to 40 pieces of information of which we become consciously aware.
An example of programming our subconscious is when we want to buy something new. Do you remember the last time you wanted to change your phone or your car? We tell our subconscious what we’re looking for and out of the 20 million pieces of information it processes each second, it filters for what you’re looking for and all of a sudden you see the car or phone you want EVERYWHERE!
Now back to willpower. If we programme our subconscious mind, use it to build habits and good behaviour, then we require less conscious willpower to get things done.
When I work with weight-loss clients, I help the client to prime their subconscious mind so that they can use that massive 20 million a second’s worth of processing power in their favour.
I help clients look at what is keeping the client fat and help the client to understand their secondary gains. I talk to them about exercise, quite often helping the client to see that it’s not a zapper of time, but something that’s fun and important.
Plus, I help people really understand themselves. Many of us have low self-esteem and believe all kinds of odd things about ourselves. Many people put weight back on because they don’t actually believe they are progressing, or they still see themselves as the fat child they used to be.
Without challenging these beliefs about ourselves, we might lose weight in the short term but the chances are the weight will just creep back on. And without using the mighty power of our subconscious mind, we really are left to rely on conscious willpower alone, and we all know how hard it is to say no to one of Barbara’s cakes.
Okay, I’m pretty sure that none of us got to the weight we are overnight and, even when using the power of our subconscious mind, losing weight takes time. To avoid losing lean body mass, it’s better aiming to lose no more than 1 or 2lb a week.
With this in mind, I offer a four-session programme to help people who want to lose weight. This is run as two sessions close together and then two more spread apart so that the programme has time to get to work.
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The complete 4 session program is only £170 - many other therapists are changing this amount for one session, but I enjoy my work and like to keep my prices reasonable.
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