While most people assert that weight loss is as simple as calories in versus calories out, many professionals now suggest that losing weight has much more to do with mindset than diet and exercise alone. Dieting can certainly lead to weight loss. However, it also leads to hunger, feelings of deprivation, as well as weight gain and feelings of failure. Weight tends to yo-yo with diets. For weight loss to be sustainable, you will need to learn how to leave the dieting mindset and still lose weight.
The dieting mindset
The dieting mindset is about counting calories, macros, or points. It entails restriction and seeing certain foods as good or bad. It also entails exercise which often leads to burn out, hunger, or injury as you might go from one extreme to the other (no exercise to intense exercise). Dieting certainly promotes healthy eating and a general sense of wellness. There is nothing wrong with that. However, the dieting mindset contributes to guilt and shame for eating certain foods that may not be considered “healthy”, right? Or, if you miss a day at the gym, you’re “lazy”.
Most importantly, dieting can indeed lead to weight loss, but it is very hard to sustain. Diets are not meant to be long term. They are short term solutions that usually lead to weight gain, often even more weight than what initially was lost. The bottom line is that diets are sabotaging your weight loss goals.
The dieting mindset does not lead to long term, sustainable weight loss. You need a new mindset so that you can be healthy without dieting and still lose weight.
A new mindset
Mindfulness, the act of being fully present in the current moment, is gaining notoriety as an effective approach to boosting weight loss efforts, decreasing incidents of binge eating, and promoting an increased sense of overall wellbeing. Here 4 suggestions of how to leave the dieting mindset and still lose weight.
1. Learn to be mindful of hunger and fullness
Many of you were taught to eat at the first sign of hunger and to eat everything on your plates regardless of your feelings of satiety. You tend to rely on cultural and emotional cues rather than being mindful of what your body requires at the moment.
Learning to become more mindful of your hunger and satiety levels will teach you to rely on what your body is telling you about how and when you need to eat rather than being influenced by emotional or environmental cues. You must learn to distinguish true hunger from boredom, thirst, or emotional influences. You must also learn to recognize your body’s satiety signals rather than relying on external cues.
2. Becoming mindful about the act of eating
Today’s busy world encourages you to eat meals quickly and often while engaging in other activities such as driving, watching tv, or while working. The act of eating while distracted does not allow you to monitor how much you are eating or when you feel full. Mindful eating allows you to fully experience the vast array of smells, tastes, and textures of your food as well as the sensations of chewing and swallowing.
Eating mindfully requires you to eat slowly and contemplatively. It can be helpful to put your fork down between bites, to pause mid-meal to reflect upon your physical and emotional state, and to take the time at the end of your meal to ponder your experience. This exercise creates a habit of mindfulness that increases satisfaction in the process of eating while decreasing the likelihood of emotional eating or overeating. You also get to really enjoy your food!
3. Creating mindful meals will help you leave the dieting mindset and still lose weight
It has been said that when one fails to plan, one plans to fail. Eating mindfully necessitates that you plan. While there will always be times of impromptu eating, most of your meals could be created with thoughtfulness. For example, can you craft your schedule with rhythm and regularity? Can you be intentional to make sure your kitchen is stocked in a way that sets you up for success?
4. Adopting a mindset of gratitude
Learn to cultivate a habit of gratitude for each meal. Take a moment to pause before your first bite to give thanks for the gift that food is. Contemplate the effort involved in the production of your food as well as the opportunity to enjoy meals with friends and family.
Gratitude is also important for every area of your life. You may not be exactly where you want to be weight wise right now, but there are still valuable things, relationships, and experiences in your life that you can be grateful for. It’s easy to forget those things and feel like you’re swimming upstream all the time. When you shift that mindset and can start to see the good in every day, suddenly you feel lighter and more energized. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way when it comes to the process of weight loss.
The role that mindfulness plays in the ability to eat well while losing weight is widely acknowledged. Studies have demonstrated that mindful eating reduces overeating and encourages healthier habits that lead to weight loss and an improved sense of overall wellbeing. Dabbling in the diet world will only sabotage your efforts at sustainable weight loss. That is why I strongly encourage you today to commit to leave the dieting mindset and still lose weight, but this time, keep it off!
Lesley Goth, PsyD is a licensed psychologist and weight loss coach. She has developed an 11-week on-line intensive that is transforming women’s relationship with food, and therefore with their bodies. For more information on how to get support for your health and weight loss issues, you can watch this free webinar. In it you will learn 3 powerful ways to start your transformation today!