What if your weight is not the real issue?

By  Justine Friedman

I may be unpopular for saying this – and that’s ok – but it must be said. The answer to feeling uncomfortable within yourself and your body may logically seem to be to lose weight.

BUT is that really what’s going on?

Yes, I hear that your clothes aren’t fitting you the same anymore (or maybe not at all), and you don’t recognise yourself when you look in the mirror. But does this mean that weight loss will be the magic answer?

Or is there more to this dance?

We are constantly bombarded by solutions to the most painful problems we have. And most of the time the promises offered neither solve our pain, nor do they bring the relief we are looking for.

  • Just eat this and you will lose weight
  • Just do this exercise and you will get a 6-pack in 10 days.
  • Take this pill and you will be carefree.

A quick result with minimal effort is what this instant generation craves.

But the truth is that anything valuable in life generally comes from hard work and dedication. The two important words I stress to clients are CONSISTENCY & COMPASSION.

I believe these are the keys to building habits and a lifestyle of health and well-being.

With consistency comes reward  – as long as we are putting into place the habits that are best for ourselves.

Regardless of what you choose, the habits that you decide on, first need to make sense for you and before you choose to keep them for good, I suggest testing them out and being curious about how they fit into your life and feel in your body.

Big declarations like “I will never eat carbs again” may seem like a good idea today when you hit the pit of self-loathing, but when your blood sugar dips, your hormones are all over the show, and you are stressed out and then tuck into a chocolate bar or packet of crisps, the result leaves you feeling angry and guilty for breaking the promise you made to yourself.

So before you toss the carbs out the window, and go on a 16:8 hour intermittent fasting regime, ask yourself:

 “Can I do this forever and how would it feel to give it a try and test it out first?” (Disclaimer – I am not suggesting intermittent fasting or low-carb diets!)

That brings me to the next important word COMPASSION.

Being hard on yourself may feel like the best way to get to your goal, but has it really worked for you?

Think about what happens if your kid makes a mistake. Do you “let them have it” by rebuking in deed and word how disappointed you are in them? Would that influence them to behave differently in the future? Or can you instead guide and help them learn from their mistakes so that they can do better – not perfect – next time around?

You are no different.

The little “you” within you needs the same kind of encouragement and understanding. After all, guilt and self-loathing rarely result in weight loss (unless you have an active eating disorder and if so, please seek professional help).

Being compassionate does not mean being weak….it doesn’t mean that you will allow yourself to eat whatever you want when you want because you are feeling “sorry for yourself”.

NO… it means understanding what you have the capacity for each day and tailoring your expectations on that day to what you can manage.

So on a day that you have good energy, it may mean enjoying more aerobic exercise and tackling more things on your to-do list. And on a day that you woke up after a poor night’s sleep, feeling hormonal and your kid is sick, you may move your body gently or not at all. Take care to have nourishing foods around, and do fewer demanding tasks.

So back to the elephant in the room: Your weight!

Is it ok to want to lose weight – yes of course.

Is it possible that making that the focus of your efforts and thoughts is causing you to make poor choices and try crazy eating plans that are unsustainable? Can we agree on a yes to that too?

So how DO you feel better, manage your weight AND achieve it without over-exercising, feeling restricted, hangry, anxious, depleted, starved, and avoiding all the foods that bring you pleasure?

One small step at a time. Winning a marathon doesn’t happen with a giant leap, and your life is not the 400m sprint.

Let me map it out for you and give you the gems from the process that I personally use and that my clients get the best results from.

Choose a goal unrelated to weight such as wanting more energy, to be less moody, enjoy better sleep, reduced cravings and to feel less bloated.

Look at when you feel this way naturally and focus on identifying the behaviours associated with that outcome. For example, if I read before I go to bed, do I sleep better? When I have more protein with my lunch, do I feel less of an urge to snack in the afternoon? Once you have identified the beneficial traits and act accordingly, you will begin to feel less hungry as well as less moody.

Actively implement this in your schedule and repeat it daily.

Next, choose a new habit that you want to include – most people choose to drink more water. I often hear, “I will drink 2 litres every day!” Is this realistic? If you are only drinking a glass a day right now, then aiming for 8 is a far reach. Focus on having 1-2 glasses extra each day for a week and when you are reaching that with ease, then proceed again incrementally.

When you attain your goal – albeit it small –  feel free to give yourself the proverbial big pat on the back. You deserve it. This positively reinforces that you are succeeding in your personalised approach. And just like a kid who thrives on positive reinforcement, you will be more likely to repeat this behaviour.

What if you don’t achieve what you set out to do? Instead of jumping to judgement and indulging in self-criticism, get curious and ask yourself what happened that made you drop the ball. By understanding what transpired, you can better prepare for the future. That way you’ll be able to prevent repeating the same mistakes. However, If you keep repeating these identifiable missteps, then maybe  what you believed were the right remedies were for you unsuitable, and you will need to reassess and try a different approach.

You don’t have to do this alone! If you feel stuck and don’t know where to start – reach out and work with someone who can tailor-make a plan of action that will support you.

It must be realistic and this may mean taking weight-loss goals off the table in the beginning while you focus on creating a lifestyle that supports your long-term health goals.

About the writer:

Justine Friedman works as a clinical dietician and a mindset mentor. She has over 20 years experience in supporting clients to make sustainable and practical lifestyle adjustments. Her focus is empowering women over 40 to make the necessary changes to feel confident with their food choices and at peace with food, while at the same time managing their weight without restriction or guilt. She works with women both 1:1 as well as in her online signature group program, “The Wellness Upgrade”. For more information visit her website on www.justinefriedman.com

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