A Holistic Approach to Weight Loss
Updated: Oct 24, 2020
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Why is it common to regain weight after a diet? Why are people unable to stick to a program? Partly because extreme diets don't work and partially because their mindset hasn't changed after slimming down. The problem is with how we see an eating program - we think of it as short term.
But weight loss is not temporary; it's forever.
One profound realization people have after losing weight is that their problems don't go away. They are the same person they were pre-diet. The misconception around weight loss is that it will solve all your issues. It will still be hard to find clothes or love your body, and you will have the same confidence level or insecurities.
That's why we need a holistic view of weight loss.
What does it mean to slim down holistically? It means working on every part of yourself, not just diet and exercise. It means working through issues that lead to weight gain, just as much as you are working on your eating habits. It means being better than who you were yesterday - progress, not perfection. That is what is going to make it last.
Spiritual. Why do you want to lose weight?
The spiritual aspect of dimensional health refers to your purpose in life. Some find it in a belief system or faith; others find their meaning. Your overall goal and your motivation to lose weight could be different.
My purpose behind losing weight does intertwine with my overall goal. I believe I was put on this earth for my religion, Christianity, but I want to lose weight after eating disorder, so I don't pass those patterns on to my future children. I am showing Christ's love by taking care of my children.
A holistic view of weight loss would require examining your motivation behind the lifestyle change. Your purpose for losing weight will get you through this journey. The problem is, for someone with a history of disordered eating, you have tried to motivate yourselves to lose weight before, but that motivation didn't work, and an eating disorder emerged.
Inspiration isn't always healthy, productive, or positive.
When I had an eating disorder, my motivation for losing weight was often looking like a supermodel, the ability to wear a bikini, or wanting to feel comfortable in my skin. Even if I tried to motivate myself through health (aka getting healthy), I would end up binging. It just didn't work.
Why is my current purpose working while my past ones didn't? There are many different types of motivations, with the two main types being internal and external. Often when someone fails, they are relying on external motivations. For motivation to have lasting effects, inspiration must be internal. The reason is once the external rewards or penalties are gone, the motivation is gone. External rewards or punishments are usually out of our control and finite.
Considering I can wear a bikini at any size, that motivation wasn't sustainable. I know it's not a great explanation but bear with me. Then when it was hard to resist food, eating-disorder me didn't think about swimwear, and I ate the food. Now when it is hard to resist eating, I think about my future children, and I don't eat. I now have an internal inspiration to reach my goals.
Your motivation should be internal, but that isn't the only factor in losing weight.
Mentally. How will you lose weight?
The mental aspect of dimensional health refers to the functioning of, the cognitive activity, or the thinking patterns of the brain. You need rhetoric for your weight loss journey, especially setbacks and success. What will you say to yourself when you fall off the program? What will you do when your pants are loose?
Your thoughts during your weight loss journey will determine your success! What will you do during hard times like when you are stressed? How will you incorporate your new mentality into your daily life?
The same concept as spirituality, what got you into your eating disorder or extra weight, is how you THINK about food and body image. And the same is correct for slimming down; a mentality will assist the process.
That means we need to break down some lies and rebuild them into truths for you to lose weight:
You need food to lose weight. The key is you need the right food in the right amount to lose weight.
Nothing is a be-all-end-all. Setting rules for yourself might be part of how you lose weight, but don't make them hard and fast. If you don't follow those rules all the time, don't beat yourself up about it.
Trial and error. Figure out what works. Give yourself some grace to test what method of weight loss works for you. Try keto or paleo. See what you can sustain for the rest of your life.
Positivity in everything. Positive body image. A positive view of food. A positive outlook on life. Research shows that a negative outlook is more common in eating disorder patients.
Progress, not perfection. You will get better at this. Slowly, but surely.
Emotionally. Where are your emotions taking you?
The emotional aspect of dimensional health is your mood. It encompasses how well you recognize, express, and control your emotions. How are your feelings going to affect your weight loss? But more than that, how do your feelings change your life?
Emotions play a significant role in my life; I will overeat if I feel a strong emotion. It's more real when I'm stressed or tired. That throws me off of my "diet." A significant aspect of my weight loss plan is emotional control or awareness.
I know my emotions tend to rule me so I know I have to avoid overeating when I'm emotional; I also don't beat myself up when I emotionally eat, I quickly hop back on the wagon.
I'm sure you have heard the following analogy before but bear with me. Emotions are like a superpower. When you first receive your power, you don't know how to control it or use it properly. It can cause you problems when not handled correctly. After much training and practice, you can apply that power for good.
During your weight loss journey, some old emotions will bubble to the surface. Create a plan to deal with those emotions? How will you express yourself? Will you start a weight loss journal, YouTube channel, or blog?
Socially. Who is going to help you lose weight?
The social aspect of dimensional health is the ability to make and maintain meaningful relationships. Do you have people in your life you trust? Individuals that you have depended on for a long time? Those are the people who are going to help you the most.
But how can they assist you in your weight loss journey? Your environment is a significant part of slimming down. What and who you surround yourself with influences your success. The best situation is to surround yourself with people who love you and want to see you succeed.
As with an eating disorder, individuals in your life may not understand what you are going through. They might not be supportive of you getting help or changing your life. If you want to know more about that, check out this blog posts:
Finding the right people is critical. Even if you talk about weight loss one a month or in passing, a positive influence can make all the difference. That is why I recommend a weight loss program.
There are tons of programs out there, and it might take a little trial and error to find one that is correct for you. Noom was right for me because it focused on the psychology of weight loss, not just counting calories or working out.
Let's talk a little more about your environment. Who you have around you is essential, but WHAT you have around you is also vital. If you have ice cream, cookies, and frozen pizza in the freezer, you are more likely to eat it. Likewise, if you have apples, oatmeal, and eggs in the fridge, you are more likely to eat it.
Physically. What are you going to do to lose weight?
The physical aspect of dimensional health is the body. It refers to the traditional part of well-being in that the body is free of illness and injury. Physical fitness may affect weight loss in that a knee injury can make it challenging to work out, or diabetes can affect dietary needs.
How is your physical health? Are you free of disease or damage? Is there anything that could prevent you from losing weight? Evaluate the affected elements and tailor your weight loss program to your needs.
Losing weight is an incorrect tag for what you are doing because you are not necessarily losing weight, but losing fat. You are composed of different tissues, some you want to keep, and some that you don't need. When someone is overweight, they have an excess amount of fat in their bodies that they need to discard.
I recommend a body composition scan. You can do this through an InBody or Dexa Scan near you or buy a body composition scale. A scan breaks up your weight into water, fat, protein, and minerals. It tells you how much muscle and fat is inside of your body.
When you get a body scan, you can set a better goal for yourself, because you know precisely how much FAT you need to lose, not how much WEIGHT you need to lose. It also puts weight into perspective. It's just a number, and it doesn't necessarily determine health.
I recommend a detailed plan for slimming down. Will you have a deadline? What foods will you eat? What methods will you use? Remember, this will change over time because some plans might not work. But having a blueprint can make building the house smoother.
For me, a version of the 5:2 method works. Getting into a calorie deficit for a few days helps me lose weight slowly; then, eating a reasonable amount helps me not feel deprived. Find what works for you!
Let's take a moment to talk about exercise. This one is last because you don't necessarily need exercise to lose weight! People have done it without training, so you don't have to either. Exercise is for overall health; one side effect can be weight loss. Find a program that you like and enjoy it.
The last question you have to answer is, what will you do after you lose weight? How are you going to maintain your weight? How are you going to enjoy your weight? Are you going to accept your body then, no matter what?
Have you ever watched Say Yes to the Dress? In one episode, a Biggest Loser contestant is searching for a wedding dress. It takes her a long time because she doesn't know what flatters her new figure. For the first part of the appointment, she picks gowns for her former self!
Post weight loss, you will require a new holistic view. You can get back to your original purpose and adopt a more effective mentality. Your emotional range might change, and your social circles may differ. And your eating habits will look a little different. The new you will be fresh in more ways than one.
"New levels, new devils." - Joyce Meyer
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