Dieting isn’t fun. It usually makes us cranky and resentful when we can’t eat what we want. But all that suffering pays off when you look great for summer, right? Not so fast. Research shows that frequent dieting increases the likelihood of gaining weight. Even if you lose weight at first, within three to five years most people have regained all the weight.
3 Questions to Ask if YouÃ¢Â�Â�re Trying to Lose Weight
#1 Has dieting ever worked for you permanently?
Chances are it has not. Why? Because our bodies are hardwired from ancient days to be able to hold onto calories and keep us alive in what used to be times of starvation. Since dieting can be interpreted as starvation, no matter how hard we try most people who go on diets will reach a plateau, a time when the body holds onto fat in case it needs it for energy later on.
What to Do: No matter how much willpower you have, you canâ��t think your way into making a diet work. Itâ��s much healthier and more effective to lose weight slowly through a combination of a nutritious diet and regular exercise.
#2 What purpose is fat serving for you?
Your body is always working to protect you. For many people, being overweight serves a purpose in their lives. For example, it may help you feel safe from interactions with other people or it may help you avoid dealing with other issues in your life such as past trauma. Until you recognize what purpose fat serves in your life, it will be very difficult to lose weight and keep it off.
What to Do: Be more aware of times when you use food to deal with your emotions. Sometimes the emotional side of weight loss can be handled through professional counseling or talking with a spiritual advisor. Particularly if you have experienced trauma, experiential therapies such as Somatic Experiencing or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can be extremely helpful.
#3 What does your body need so that it doesnÃ�Â¢Ã�Â�Ã�Â�t hold onto fat?
A low-calorie diet slows the metabolic rate and triggers the starvation mechanism, sending a message to the body to hold onto the calories. This mechanism can also be triggered by toxins in your food or the environment, which get stored as fat to prevent damage to other organs. The body may also store fat if you have digestive problems such as gas or bloating. Addressing these issues first can help you lose weight and reduce food cravings.
What to Do: Listen to your body. Rather than depriving yourself of the foods you want, allow yourself to have them and then truly pay attention to how they make you feel. Chances are you will find some foods give you more energy while other foods make you feel sluggish or upset your stomach. Try eating a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables (organic, if possible) and foods that promote healthy digestion such as yogurt or a probiotic supplement.
Since a consistent intake of nutritious food tells your body it can trust you, try not to go more than four hours without a snack or small meal. After a few weeks, you’ll likely lose more weight than you would on a fad diet, and you won’t be angry or resentful about it.
Your body is your best friend, not your enemy. Instead of working against it, understand how it functions. When you give your body what it needs, it will give you what you need, including a healthy weight.
Images courtesy of Kidspot.com.au, Mindbodygreen.com
Dr. Carolyn Ross is an internationally known physician, author and speaker on addictions, obesity and eating disorders. She serves as a consultant to The Ranchâ��s eating disorder treatment program in Tennessee, maintains a private practice in Denver, is the author of The Binge Eating and Compulsive Overeating Workbook: An Integrated Approach to Overcoming Disordered Eating as well as The Joy of Eating Well and also hosts a weekly radio show, The Vital Life.