Do you ever wonder why you are successful at managing your career, your kids, your budget, and your often crazy social calendar, but for some mad reason, you can’t manage your weight? You’ve got what it takes – you just need a little coaching.
“Do not look for expensive cures, new age fads.
Examine your thinking.”
~ © Alison Stormwolf ~
This Advice from poet Alison Stormwolf, is projected on a screen before each health seminar I host. This candid saying serves as a reminder that healthy living is about controlling our minds. On first appearances, it seems out of place in a healthy living seminar. However, as the weeks progress, members within the group are not only more aware of the mindset needed for healthy change, but are more capable of producing the actions needed to live a more healthful, energetic, and carefree life.
With no mention of weight loss as an outcome of the group health coaching seminar, you may be thinking, “So…. tell me ….how much weight do the members lose?” Good question, since losing weight is on many people’s minds as we enjoy mid summer activities. Let’s revisit this question of weight loss for a moment though, as some perspective needs to be shed in order to get up to speed on why focusing on health living perspectives vs. dieting information results in not merely a leaner, lighter, stronger and more beautiful body, but is a more effective and savvier approach than the old school mentality of “munching on celery while secretly craving corn bread.”
A little healthy living perspective on information overload
“I Can’t Think!” is the title of a recent health article by Sharon Begley in Newsweek magazine. Decision Science has only recently begun to make sense of research on how the brain processes information, but scientific evidence is suggesting we are living in an age of info-paralysis that is very difficult to prevent. Scientists repeatedly show that increased information leads to objectively poorer choices, and often times down – right bad decisions. In our health information overload society where we’re inundated with “do this – don’t do that, eat this – not that” kind of logic, it seems we are doomed for failure when it comes to healthy living and weight loss attempts.
What is a person to do? Psychologist Joanne Cantor author of the book Conquer Cyber Overload and Professor emeritis at the University of Wisconsin, says, “it is so much easier to look for more and more information than sit back and think about how it fits together.” When it comes to dieting, you’ve probably surmised, this is what’s happening to many of us who read countless articles online, in our e-mails, in e-books, paper books, not to mention( sigh) all the dvd’s, cd’s and I pod downloads we listen to in the hopes, by osmosis, we’ll lose weight, get fit, and live happily ever after. If our busy lives could be that easy!
Growing body of evidence
There is a growing body of evidence concluding that a more reasoned, mindful behavior style approach is not only more effective to weight loss, but most effective in keeping weight off for good. Increasingly, many coaches today trained in the area of positive living and healthy weight loss are turning their clients on to a behavior style approach for lasting change.
Coach Kellie hall of Atlanta, Georgia explains to her clients how behavior change is most difficult initially, but that the results can be life altering . “Change is most difficult in the beginning, in large part due because our habits are ingrained in the neural pathways in our brain. By repeating a new behavior over and over, and in small increments, such as eating fruit for dessert instead of pie, we are forging new pathways in the way we think and act.” Thanks to neuroplasticity which is the ability of our brain to change in response to new experiences, we have the capacity to change our habits, creating new neuropathways, and experiencing life in a whole new, more engaging, more meaningful, and more effective manner.” This new behavior which was once monumental, she explains, “becomes automatic when a behavior style approach is fostered.”
In my field of health coaching, potential clients are coming in restless. They know they need to lose weight, but they also realize changing behaviors is no longer an option. This is a good thing however, as it signifies a needed mind-shift that is necessary for real and lasting change to occur. In the past I would have to convince people of the merits of losing weight through behavior change, but now they are increasingly coming in with a driven sense of purpose for a smart plan that compliments their lives but yet is inspired by their own talents, strengths, motivations, and desires. I like to kid my clients and say what I do is make them smart. In reality, they are the smarty pants. I just nudge them along until they see how to make sense of applying the most personally meaningful health information smartly, just as they do with their own careers, families, and social affairs.
Stop the Busy work
In your desire to lose weight you may have found it easier to keep reading the vast amount of information, than to process what appears to be most important. If this is you, here’s where to begin. Make no bones about it, smart savvy readers know traditional dieting is not the answer to losing weight. We are looking for solutions to lose weight, feel better, and look better, and know that ultimately changing behaviors is a definite must do. Here’s how to begin. Read the following.
Note the mind-shift needed and start putting healthy living into action today!
Step One: Use movement to inspire you
Movement has the capacity to inspire a vision of how we want to live and feel.
Move more daily. Tell someone. Start today. Worry about the details later.
On the opening day of my healthy living seminars, I encourage clients to begin their daily routines with exercise. The act of moving our bodies makes us feel better about ourselves, has the capacity to inspire a vision of how we want to live. And it makes us feel better about our lives in general. Movement sparks in us a desire to do better at whatever we do!
One client of mine illustrates this ability of exercise to enhance her life when she tells the group, “I went for a walk yesterday and without even trying I ate less at dinner.” This is the power of what exercise can do. “It makes me feel more alive”, says another member, “It makes me realize there are other things to do besides eating.” Don’t get me wrong”, she continues, “I still enjoy eating, and I know it’s ok to like to eat, but I am beginning to feel more satisfied and in control of how much I really need to eat. Eating is more enjoyable when you know you did a little work for it.”
As a health coach I encourage people to expand on these thoughts. Talking cements these connections in place so we’re more apt to continue healthful ways. We don’t get all emotional. We simply tell it like it is and carry on. This, to me, is the beauty of how others who are in similar situations can propel themselves forward. Exercise, combined with articulating connections undoubtedly helps us to see more clearly the possibilities of how we can, and will lose weight. Tell a friend. Tell a spouse. Your life is important. But just go out and exercise! We’ll work on the details later.
Step Two: Seek Progress Not Perfection
Seek progress not perfection. Do not use perfectionism to quit trying.
Take baby steps. Start small with exercise and healthy eating changes.
Coach Kate Larsen said it best in her book, Progress Not Perfection: Your Journey Matters, when she illustrates the importance of progress as a means of measurement instead of perfectionism Too often it seems we get caught up in this all or nothing attitude. You’ve heard it before, “I’m going to lose weight; I do nothing half way and this includes weight loss!” These people typically fail, and often are the ones that use this approach as an excuse to stop trying to lose weight and get healthy. “I’m a capable person. If I’m going to do this it will be with gusto – exercising 2 hours a day and eating nothing but clean food. That’s just the way I am!” It may sound heroic, but the truth is, ironically these actions reflect the opposite. They have used perfectionism as an excuse to stop trying.
Don’t let this be you. Weight loss is not about being perfect. The true heroes persevere, and do not use this mindset as an excuse to give up. A persevering mind is a strength. Let this be you.
Step Three: Focus on what really matters in weight loss
Savvy people don’t get caught up in all the hype of dieting tactics. They get down to business and get the job done.
Stop reading expert advice tips. Get real. Eat less of whatever you eat and get started now.
“Should I eat only protein and vegetables at dinner time? Should I eat fruit with every meal or just in the morning?” Here’s my best advice to you if you feel inundated with do- this not- that kind of information – stop reading. It’s paralyzing you into inaction. Here’s what you need to know. You will lose weight if you eat three quarters to half of what you normally eat during most meals of the day. That’s it. “Really”, says one client, “I am so tired of all the information out there.” When asked to describe what he feels is holding her back from losing weight, she pauses and says, “I just eat too much. But then sometimes I hardly eat, and then I eat again too much.” I can’t tell you how often I hear this in training and coaching clients. It’s ok though. Awareness is the first stage of weight loss.
We all know what to do. We’ve just allowed ourselves to get consumed with tidbit dieting techniques because that is how advertising affects us. However, advertising cannot get all the blame. Too often we use dieting techniques as a diversion to keep from doing the real work of eating less.
Make it your job to focus on decreased food consumption regardless of what you typically eat. As with exercise, we can work on the details later. It’s not necessary to change everything all at once. Eating less works! And it works with whatever foods you are familiar with eating. You will see beautiful results. You will feel beautiful results. Think about this. Really! We are silly. “We must start thinking rationally again!” By the way these are not my words, but the words of one group member that lost 17 pounds in 11 weeks.
Step Three: Weigh yourself to keep awareness
Don’t be afraddy cat of the scale. It’s a valuable tool that keeps you aware. Recognize the power of accountability.
Weigh yourself daily; naked if you must. Record to further cement your conviction.
Awareness is Key Factor to Weight Loss
Weigh yourself. It’s ok. A daily “weigh in” compels us to be aware. You will hear different opinions on this, but those who weigh themselves daily hold themselves accountable increasing their resolve. Weighing ourselves helps because it compels us to be aware. If you don’t think this is true, then consider if you ever purposely did not weigh yourself after a day or two of eating too much. You did this because you did not want to deal with reality. Getting on the scale daily is a tough discipline to establish, not physically of course, but mentally.
We love to be weighed when we know we’ve lost weight, but the challenge is to weigh ourselves after a full day of eating too many calories. This is where most people stop.
Go ahead, get on the scale. Let reality set in and get going again. Keep in mind that it is all about progress not perfection. You will lose the weight you need to lose to feel better and look better if you keep this mindset and commit to simply continuing on. “Think of it this way”, says one client who lost 42 lbs, “It’s not like you are starting all over again when you get on the scale and your weight is up, you are just continuing with trying to reach your goals and life goes on. If I got upset about a weight increase every time it happened, I’d never lose weight. I have to keep on moving. It’s the only way. And the sooner you realize it, the better. “
It is insight such as this that has helped me as a health coach and trainer realize that weight loss is best done in the context of joyful living. And this is the 5th mindful connection that if acquired can help you not only lose weight and keep it off, but will elevate your life in ways you’ve never imagined.
Step Three: Live joyfully while losing weight
We change best in the context of positive living.
Exude confidence and good cheer as you go about your weight loss journey.
Live joyfully while losing weight. Sounds a little hokey I admit, but this field of health coaching changes not just those who I assist, but it has changed me as well. Years ago, I never fully realized the impact positive living and attitude had on our ability to change. Like everyone else, I did not discount its significance, but I never gave the idea that we change best in the context of positive living the status that it deserved.
Since the time I began coaching, I’ve learned much about what positive living really means, and especially what it means in changing some of my own behaviors. What prompted me to include positive living into my own seminars is that I was seeing a pattern of how people dealt with weight loss.
Many people literally tried to make their life miserable while striving to obtain a desired weight. One 40ish male said he was going to work out 3 hours a day until he lost 20 lbs. I thought to myself at the time that reality TV was making his life miserable.
Another woman said she was not going to go out with friends until she was thin. Another client admitted that in years past she would punish herself while dieting by not letting herself go on vacation until she weighed a certain amount. Maybe these extremes are not indicative of how you lose weight, but what I know is that we have to stop the insanity of punishment as a means to better ourselves.
During times of behavior change we need to be driving ourselves in the opposite direction. We need to ask ourselves how to establish an environment that is conducive for healthy change.
Scientists know rewards are central to continued behavior change. We should be rewarding ourselves after a day, week, or month of behavior changes. Our brain functions best with a reward system and scientists have unlocked the secret that cements the newly learned brain connections so necessary for lifelong change. I tell my clients, “Go ahead. Make your environment beautiful. Reward yourself for doing a fine job. Go to the movies. Go out and enjoy your vacation. Have a party for friends and enjoy it all. What really is the point of losing weight if we are not experiencing life as it is now?”
In essence, whether our goal is to lose a few pounds or many, waiting to be happy and content with all things in our life before we begin a plan of healthy living should not be a prioroty. Go ahead and begin today. Follow these five mind-shifts, and get moving with a more enlightened, smart, and savvy weight loss approach illustrative of today’s new generation of smart weight loss losers!
Our Wealth is in Our Health,
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