The Right Way to Lose Weight - by Sasha High MDOct 05, 2020
I want to talk to you about the right way to lose weight.
This is something that comes up literally every day in my practice. How do I lose weight? How can I lose 50 lbs? I read this article about this liver detox, should I do that to lose weight? I get so many questions about the “right way” … So here it is.
Ok, you ready? The right way to lose weight is from a place of self-love, not from a place of self-loathing.
I know there are some of you right now who are like, what? And you’re disappointed that I didn’t tell you that the right way to lose weight is keto, or paleo, or plant-based or intermittent fasting. We can talk about diets another day. But hear me out because I truly believe this is foundational. Self-loathing sounds harsh, but it can often be more subtle. It can take the form of dislike, shame, self-criticism, being angry with yourself, getting frustrated… and it always leads to failure. Because negative input never leads to positive outcomes. So I want to share 4 signs that you may be trying to lose weight from a place of self-loathing and how this can actually lead to weight GAIN in the long run:
1) You’re in a rush. When patients come to me and they’re in a rush to lose weight, alarm bells go off in my mind. I have patients come in and tell me: If I don’t see results in the first month, I get discouraged and give up. If you’re in a rush, it’s because you are so unacceptable to yourself right now that you believe you need to lose weight to make yourself acceptable. Weight loss doesn’t make anyone acceptable! Many people after weight loss, if they haven’t managed their thinking, still find themselves unacceptable! Because weight does not equal happiness. When you’re in a rush, you’re desperate, you’ll do crazy diets that are unsustainable in the long run just to achieve some short-term weight loss. And what happens? You end up not being able to keep to the crazy diet, or the intense exercise regimen and you “fall off the wagon”… You feel guilty and upset with yourself, and guess what? More self-loathing that leads to weight gain.
2) You beat yourself up. Punishment is not a good weight loss strategy. I need to say that again because I feel like so many people approach weight loss from a place of punishment, restriction, “you’re bad, don’t eat that”… I have patients who will come in a tell me “Doctor, I’ve been bad…” I’m like, “No, there’s no moral value tied to this!” Punishment is NOT a good weight loss strategy. When you approach weight loss, actually I’ll make this more broad, when you approach your health and wellness from a place of punishment, or judgment (I’m good if I do this, I’m bad if I do this), what happens is it creates a lot of resistance within you. Everything is hard. You’ll be fighting with yourself about what to eat, feeling deprived, hating exercise…. But when you love yourself and want to care for yourself, you’ll accept that some things are uncomfortable for the greater good. It’s uncomfortable to say no to the dessert table but from a place of self-care you know it produces a longterm benefit for you. And it’s way easier to say no out of love and care, than it is out of punishment and restriction.
3) You’ve yo-yo dieted, a lot. You’ve tried every fad diet, every juice cleanse, every diet pill and you can’t figure out why you just can’t stick with it. Now let me tell you, there are real biological reasons that people tend to regain weight after they’ve lost, but I’m talking about the on again, off again dieting culture we live in. Where you swing from being super strict with your eating, to not caring at all… When you love yourself, you know that each day is a series of decisions to care for yourself, some days are better than others and one important characteristic is resilience – being able to pick yourself up when you get a little off track. But when you haven’t learned to love yourself, you’ll focus in on setbacks as evidence that you’re a failure and you’ll beat yourself up, this produces feelings of failure, frustration, despair – and these feelings make you give up on whatever diet you were trying and throwing in the towel.
4) You get discouraged if the scale isn’t moving down every day. This is a big one. I spend a lot of time helping patients celebrate successful behaviours rather than celebrating the scale. The scale is not a reliable or valid source of affirmation. You cannot receive your affirmation from the scale because there are many biological reasons that your weight changes on a daily basis. When you look to the scale to validate whether you’re doing well or not, you’ll be on an emotional roller coaster. I have patients who do well for several months and then the scale stalls, and they start getting discouraged and their brain starts telling them: Why are you working so hard at this? The scale isn’t even moving? Don’t bother. What’s the point. These thoughts sound justified, but they are entirely self-defeating because inevitably they lead you off course and the result is weight regain. This is so incredibly common. I hope you hear me on this one. I’m going to borrow a phrase from a friend of mine: “quitting never speeds anything up.”
So rather than asking HOW to lose weight, ask yourself WHY.
When you love yourself, you may decide that you want to lose weight to improve your health, or improve your ability to participate fully in the life that you want, or because you feel that your weight is negatively affecting you in some way and you love yourself enough to make behavioural changes. Loving yourself enough to want to improve your health and your future is much more effective than beating yourself up to lose weight.
Ok – I suspect that even after all of this, some of you are rolling your eyes and thinking “yeah, yeah, what’s she talking about…” but I’m going to tell you that your thinking is everything. The story you tell yourself is the difference between success and failure. It’s all mindset. And this is the HARD WORK. Many people don’t see the connection between their thinking and the scale. It’s so easy to just focus on the scale and beat yourself up for why it keeps going up and down. Managing your thought life is the real work. And it has real benefits beyond just weight loss. I have discovered that mindset is the most critical component to wellness, a healthy lifestyle, and to managing your weight. So much so that I have spent the last year learning everything I can about mindset coaching and learning to manage your thinking, and it’s a big part of what I do with patients.
So yes we can talk about diet and nutrition and exercise in the future, but I’m also going to be sharing more about managing your thinking, about values, about mindset - and how these can help you stop yo-yo dieting and really learn to manage your weight longterm.
I hope this was helpful! If you know that someone who needs to read this, please feel free to share the link. Have a wonderful day!