Mind Matters: Losing weight isn’t just a numbers game
It seems that health care professionals’ most favorite weight loss cliché is “calories in, calories out”. It makes perfect scientific sense, if you burn more calories than you take in, you lose weight. But have you ever wondered why two people can follow the exact same eating plan and workout routines and get completely opposite results? Is there a non scientific factor that may play an even greater role in helping us achieve a healthier, leaner body?
“Dietary improvements and exercise programs are doomed to failure unless they are accompanied by a great deal of self-love, humor and personal flexibility,” says Dr, Christiane Northrup in her book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom –Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing.
Northrup names eight factors that “profoundly” influence our metabolic processes. Emotional state is at the top of the list. So whether you’re trying to lose weight or just trying to make better nutritional food choices, it’s paramount that you begin this journey in your head –not with the calorie counter, the food scale, the tape measure and the scale. As a matter of fact, I often tell my clients to ignore all of those things when they first begin a new eating and exercise plan. They really are only numbers and not the most important ones. Instead of weighing yourself, imagine what you want to look like and hold that vision in your head. Don’t assign it a number. Most of the time what we think we should weigh doesn’t match up with what is best for our body to be its healthiest. I promise envisioning yourself as you want to be will bring you better results than to watch the up of and down of the numbers that you’ll witness on the bathroom scale.
In other words, if you believe and experience the connection between your mind and your body, you’re onto something that no diet plan can offer you. Northrup mentions in her book that liking and respecting yourself regardless of your shape and size will only rally around you reaching your optimal size. Northrup writes “…feelings associated with self respect create a metabolic milieu in your body that is conducive to optimal fat burning. By contrast, the metabolic processes associated with unresolved emotional stress tend to keep excess body fat firmly in place.”
That’s powerful stuff to know that by managing your thoughts, you can increase your weight loss and health. Rather than committing to one of the millions of diet plans that the $35 billion a year weight loss industry is happy to provide you, be mindful of what works for you. I believe that we all have an inherent guidance system that knows what’s best for our own body. There isn’t a one size fits all plan and it’s a very small percentage of people that actually maintain weight loss by dieting.
Stop labeling foods good and bad, rather think in terms of what offers you more nutrition, aka, better health. Read the information that really counts on food labels. It’s not the calorie count and the sugar grams. It’s the list of ingredients. If you don’t recognize what’s in your food, don’t eat it. Take note, fruits and vegetables don’t have labels.
If you’re a calorie counter, give it up for a few days. Your body doesn’t begin each day counting calories. It knows what it wants to give it optimal energy and nutrition. Tune into that. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you feel satisfied. Stay off of the scale. Your weight will fluctuates from day to day because of fluid retention, muscle building, hormonal changes, etc… The number on the scale is not necessarily an accurate reflection of your health. Mostly that number is self defeating. You’re not weak and out of control if the number on the scale doesn’t match up with what you think it should.
Just make peace with all of your gadgets that count and quantify –judge you with a number. And if you find yourself still fascinated with the need to count, choose what really does count: the hours you spend with your family, volunteering, reading a great book, learning something new, the steps you take while out walking.
Allow yourself five minutes every day to daydream your perfect state of health. Imagine what it would feel like to listen to your body and trust its messages. What if you were no longer afraid of fat grams and calories and bread? Pretend your body is a friend, an ally that does exactly as you want it to do. What would you have it do? How would you create it? How would you treat it differently? Things to think about. Mind matters.