I hear it all the time… “I’m doing everything I am supposed to do but I can’t lose weight!”… “I just don’t know what to do anymore…” I have been challenged with keeping my weight under control most of my life and I really get it! It is super frustrating. I have learned some surprising reasons why you can’t lose weight. One of the most surprising things is that weight loss isn’t always about the food! Let’s look at 5 surprising reasons you can’t lose weight.
Okay Dr Kris, help me understand why I can’t lose weight, especially if it doesn’t include another diet.
- We all have patterns or habits in our lives that can be virtually undetected unless we become more self aware. This awareness around our habits is not easy to look at without serious focus and a coach.
- For some people there is an underlying belief that losing weight leads to illness. This may run deep in you family values and words that were said to you while you were growing up.
- We may believe that hunger is a bad thing, or we don’t even recognize hunger feelings because we have been eating for some many other reasons.
- We don’t really have a handle on “why” we want to lose weight in the first place. Motivation must come from the inside
- What happens to your family and friends when you lose weight? Positive and negative things can happen in our relationships when we embark on this weight loss thing. Is there sabotage?
- BONUS! Negotiating with yourself that ‘just this once” or “it’s just a little” or “it’s only one glass of wine” and other similar things run in your head. This one is about the food, but is also mindset.
Patterns and habits around food are established first by our parents then we carry them into our adolescent and adult life without really thinking about it at all! All you have to do is look at your parents habits and compare them to your own habits. You were fed a certain set of foods, you had your favorites, and you may even shop for and cook those favorites on your own now.
Growing up in our house, my mom made all our food. If we had cookies, they were homemade, as were pudding, cakes, pies, and brownies etc. You get the picture. I didn’t really bring sandwiches to school, I had a thermos of whatever we had for dinner the previous night. Guess what my kids bring to school – thermoses…
Certain foods were made at the holidays. However, when I had my kids and was running a practice I made a conscious decision NOT to make everything my mom always made. There just weren’t enough hours in the day. So, we cut down on the sweets and carbs and kept the healthy stuff. Does that mean no Christmas cookies? NO!
What it does mean,is that we make one or two kinds of cookies, not the dozens she would make. We also make different side dishes than she made. My kids didn’t grow up eating jello, or drinking Hi-C. What is happening in your world? Do you have habits carried over from family traditions?
SOLUTION: Could you change or shift so they make a more positive impact for you and your family? What if there was a healthier version? What if you started a new tradition? You are an adult now, create the life you want…
This same idea also floats through relational habits we will discuss later in the blog.
This underlying belief that we may get sick if we lose weight is certainly set around something from your family or the belief that weight loss equals illness. Recently, one of my client who has lost over 30 pounds and kept it off for a year, was a a conference for work. She had several people ask if she was sick, then proceeded to tell her not to lose any more weight. I was shocked by both statements. But it got me thinking.
Why would weight loss equal sickness?
- Some diseases, like cancer say a symptom is unexplained weight loss. This is clearly not the same as intentional weight loss
- When we get sick, our appetite changes and sometimes we do lose weight when we are sick, but again, this is very different than shifting your lifestyle to drop some poundage.
- Maybe you grew up with someone who was dying and you watched as the ravages of their illness caused them to lose a tremendous amount of weight. Now you equate weight loss with dying.
Think about your own value system around illness and weight. Somewhere in the recesses of your sub-conscious, you too may be harboring some unfounded fear about weight loss equaling illness. What did you find in those cobwebs?
“I will do your program Dr Kris if I don’t get hungry”. So, help me understand what that means. “Well, I do not like to be hungry, it just doesn’t feel good and I won’t tolerate it.” Those are some strong words from someone who had about 50 pounds to lose and was already on the cusp of being diabetic and soon to be put on medication.
Being hungry is okay. NO! Not hungry for hours on end or to the point where you can’t think straight. Not “HANGRY” – hungry and angry. The feeling of hunger is something that many people who have gained and lost weight have learned to ignore. So, when you feel it again, it seems kinda icky.
Let’s reframe those hunger feelings. I like to think of it as a sign that I get to eat soon, and in the meantime, the fat on body is being used instead. It is a sign that my body is “consuming itself” and if you are in fat burning mode, this is a good thing. Let’s get real, I think about the fat melting of my fanny!
Please remember, if you are eating Paleo style, or several small meals a day to keep your blood sugar even, do not go more than 3-4 hours without food. That gives you a guideline, and so when you feel hungry, check your watch, how long has it been since you fueled your body?
If it has only been a short period of time, you may want to check your fat and protein content of your last fueling. Fat and protein will keep you full when combined with small amounts of carbs. Download my ebook, Clean It Up for more ways to shift yourself to a healthy diet.
Ready to shift gears? (Couldn’t help myself, I’m a car girl)
Why do YOU want to lose weight? Seriously, most people have no REAL idea why they want to lose weight. Although the answer may seem genuine….The number one answer is “ to get healthy”. If this were enough motivation to lose weight then you probably would have already done it! Right??? Just based on your results through today….Has “getting healthy” really been enough motivation to move you in a positive direction for very long? Although that is an admirable answer, it is the same to me as asking how are you and someone says “fine”. It’s generally just the auto-pilot, habitual answer.
Come on now, this will be fun! Lets get in touch with the real reasons “why” you want to get healthier. Answer the following questions to discover the underlying reasons:
- How is your weight impacting your life right now? Self esteem, relationships, clothes, career…
- What things do you wish you could do but cannot because of your weight?
- What will be different when you reach your goal?
- What do you want to do, wear, see, explore etc when you are at your goal that you aren’t doing now?
If you cannot come up with actual answers, “I don’t know” is not an answer! Just guess…Spend some time meditating, journaling, praying, talking to your friends, therapist or your health coach to figure it out. When the temptations come along, you will need more than will power to get you through and to stick to the commitment of reaching your goal. It’s your world – what do you want for yourself?
Family and friends….helpful or not helpful? How do your family and friends play into your weight loss? On the outside, they may appear supportive, but what actually happens could be completely different. Observe the behavior of your loved ones and answer these questions:
- Does your spouse/mom/dad/sibling/friend tell you “you look fine” and then bring a plate of cookies or a dinner that is not on your plan.
- Do you argue differently when you are on a diet versus not on a diet? One of my clients would fight with his wife, and finally realized she was jealous and fearful that he would leave her if he got all skinny and handsome again. She loved him fat because she felt more secure. This could apply to any relationship right? Girlfriends? Guy friends?
- Do they give you a hard time about your choices at a restaurant? Not wanting to ask the server for a substitution? Not wanting to “look” a certain way to your friends? Or do they give you a hard time about not wanting to drink alcohol for a short time? Are these the people you want to spend a lot of time with?
- Do you feel like you take care of everyone else and that leaves little time for you to take care of yourself?
The answers may be painful..This is what I call the “hard” of change. Right!?? Our currently reality of overweight is also hard, but so is change. These kind of relational upsets are difficult to navigate and may require a coach or professional. And, getting through this and shifting your relationships with these people will be good for you, and maybe you will inspire them, in the long run.
There was a time in my world when I literally had to fire my friends. It was hard! But, I figured out that they were not good for me on a certain level and were encouraging habits that were not healthy for me. So, I quit hanging out with them. Obviously, this is easier than if it is your mom or spouse. You will have to learn some skills to overcome and will grow as a result. OR will you slide back into the old habits we were discussing in the first part of this blog?
Co-dependency is rampant in chronically overweight and obese humans. Again, not an easy topic but is relevant when you can’t figure out why you cannot lose weight. Having those conversations about what you are no longer willing to do for the other people in your life can be very difficult…and are absolutely necessary for you to move forward. Again, a good coach or therapist can be the mediator in some of these conversations.
Let’s continue on this self discovery journey…This is the BONUS #6
What is really going on in your head when you go off your positive eating plan, aka diet? SLOW DOWN AND LISTEN TO THE VOICE IN YOUR HEAD….When you reach for the candy bar or bag of chips or entire box of cookies…What were you thinking or feeling?
- I deserve this because…
- It’s been a long day and I need…
- I am so frustrated, mad, sad, ashamed, happy…
- Just this one little thing…
- It’s only a couple glasses of wine, I can skip other food tomorrow
- Are you tired or thirsty?
- I’m never going to succeed anyway, I never have…
- I’m just a slug…
- I’m a loser anyway…
- My metabolism is slowing down because I’m getting older…
These are all just your subconscious trying to get you to go back to what is familiar and safe. This is your lizard brain telling you not to make changes because its uncomfortable. You can make the uncomfortable choice to move forward and ignore all this chatter.
Check in with yourself. Get to know what you are telling yourself about the foods you know are not part of your weight loss plan. If you are in maintenance mode, the answers will be different – another blog for another day. During the weight loss phase of your life, recognizing these thoughts and behaviors will change your ability to actually keep the weight off when you reach your goal. Remember there will always be tension between where you are in your journey and where you want to be – structural tension mentioned earlier.
These topics are not often addressed when someone embarks on the fad diet of the day. People make up their minds they are going on a diet but lose interest quickly because of some or all of these underlying reasons. Take some time to really think through the questions above and find your answers. It will make the “hard” part of change easier when you are not fighting the uphill emotional battles in your head and with your friends and family. Or fighting patterns and habits you weren’t even aware of until now. Remember, weight loss and maintenance is a journey. It is ongoing. Once you hit your goal, there is always more to learn.
If you are looking for a coach, I have several plans to help you move forward in your journey – go ahead and fill out the 15 Minute Consultation, on me….let’s see if we are a good fit…I can’t wait to meet you!