#1 of Top 10 Things You Need To Lose Weight

It seems obvious, of course you know what you need to lose weight. You might respond with “A diet and exercise program!” Right? This is what many of my workshop participants would say, until we talked more about how and why they started to gain weight in the first place.

The problem with weight gain is that we have all been drinking the Kool Aid that the advertising agencies, gyms and weight loss centers have been feeding us for years. Theoretically speaking we should be able to lose weight with diet and exercise alone. However, there are about seven other markers that gyms and weight loss centers can’t address, so they don’t because it’s not their forte and they can’t make money from it. Those markers have everything to do with how your brain functions and how well it adapts to a variety of factors that can affect weight.

Here they are:

  1. Know why you gained the weight in the first place. Evaluate your personality and soul.

  2. Know what it will take for you to create new mental habits to support your weight loss.

  3. Choose repeatable, sustainable weight loss acts and journal about them for accountability.

  4. Arm yourself with predictable and healthy stress coping strategies

  5. Get the support you need, either in a group (online or in person), spiritual affiliation or with a buddy

  6. Investigate workouts that you will enjoy (and can repeat)

  7. Get an eating strategy that works with your budget and lifestyle

  8. Create the weight loss plan with your research and then be specific about:

How much weight you want to lose

How you are going to do it

What foods and exercise program will you follow

Where are you going to workout and purchase food

Know why you want to lose weight (get off medications, health, image, self-esteem, your kids etc.)

9. Have alternatives. Create a backup plan so you don’t miss a workout or eat fast food if you can’t make it to the gym or create your own meals.

10. Appreciate yourself when things don’t go perfectly. Self love is the core of your weight loss goals.

Let’s backtrack, why would your brain be so important when trying to lose weight? Because brain function represents seven out of the ten things you need to lose weight. You need to use your mind for 70% of your weight loss plan. With those seven things planned you will increase your chances for weight loss success for a very long time. Satisfying those seven things mentally will help your brain to make better choices for the hormones and chemicals in your body and how it does or does not create fat. As I have pointed out in other blogs your brain is the control center for the chemical, hormonal, gut and overall metabolic response. Not because of your emotional responses, although that has something to do with it. Nor is it because you are extremely intelligent, creative or shy but they all have influence in the brain and it’s functioning.

The main reason is that the part of your brain that says your physical body is allowed to expend energy, give you just the right amounts of hormones, chemicals, cortisol, endorphins, GABA, homosistein, etc. is the part that perceives danger, starvation, need for protection and lack of any kind. Send the wrong message to the brain either via your senses or your memory of a sensation that was negative your limbic brain will respond simply because your brain can’t discern what is real and what isn’t. All it knows is that your heart rate increased, your irises dilated, your nerve endings constricted and that all signifies a fight or flight response, which triggers the release of hormones and chemicals like cortisol, insulin and adrenaline. All of which play a part in weight gain.

I’m starting at this point because very often we start at what should be the end, the diet and exercise. But what made you gain weight to begin with? What happened to you in your life that preceded the weight gain? What stage were you in at that point in your life? Were you in college, just married, started a new job, lost a loved one? What was happening that made you change your normal behaviors? How did you feel? Were there feelings of loneliness, depression, confusion or anxiety? This is how I begin with my clients, what precipitated the weight gain and does that event or experience have relevance in their lives right now? Are they still reliving” this experience and are they capable of changing anything right now?

So the first thing you need to lose weight is:

  1. Know why you gained the weight in the first place. Evaluate your personality and soul.

If you can honestly answer this question you are well on your way to creating a conscious shift in your thought process to heal or change the bad behavior for weight loss. If you find yourself struggling with what it was exactly, try writing down the events in your life leading up to the weight gain, then work back from there. So if you were in a difficult divorce, perhaps you had feelings of anxiety, and depression relating to how you would continue to support yourself, find a job or move to a more affordable home. Simply acknowledging your circumstances can help you better process and move on from those circumstances to a clearer understanding of your personal power. You may want to replace some of those negative thoughts and conversations with a more positive take on those experiences like: “I learned a lot about negotiating and what I really want in my life.”

These events and our reactions to them are significant. Many believe that their life experiences and residual reactions and feelings exist outside of their body. I once had a workshop participant say “I’ve always felt my body was simply the vehicle for my brain and nothing more.” In fact, your body is the faithful record keeper and library of your experiences, recording everything in the corresponding energy centers. Relationship issues go in the pelvis and heart chakras, self-esteem issues in the solar plexus and throat, grief in the lungs etc. So why would it be difficult to see how these issues contribute to weight gain?

Symbolically fat weight serves to protect us both emotionally (a visceral cushion against the outside world) and physically from actual starvation. If everything is always fine and status quo, then why are our bodies storing fat? Why don’t diets and exercise alone work long term or forever? Part of the reason is we haven’t dealt with our prior emotional history or our reactions to stress. Those events linger in our energy until they have manifested physically as fat overweight or some sort of imbalance. If we haven’t had the support or done anything to reframe or in some cases forgive, release or heal an emotional response to an event we then become susceptible to weight gain and worse disease over time.

The other part is when our minds and bodies are under stress whether remembered, fictional (as in a movie) or actual, your mind will be less receptive to a change for a healthier lifestyle. Your mind and body have already accumulated a range of coping strategies to the stressors you are trying to manage. Unfortunately, for most of us the only coping strategies our parents taught us involved food or alcohol or some drug. If we were cognizant of the negative side effects of drugs or alcohol we may have felt justified in eating as our coping strategy.

Eating as a coping strategy can take many forms. You may suddenly crave pasta or bread for feel calm or temporarily increase physical energy. Chocolate and sweets can be a sign of your need for more love, intimacy or recognition. Cravings for salt or salty foods can suggest your need for a more emotional connection with your family and friends or that you may find certain emotions difficult to deal with or talk about. Or you may have a combination of cravings if you feel unsafe or unloved entirely.

Knowing what motivates you, your personality type and how you respond to stress, your circumstances, relationships or work is crucial to the rest of the weight loss puzzle. Ignoring it is like ignoring the bottom of the iceberg in the last blog I wrote. You simply can not leave you out of the picture. You are far more complex and deserving of a more thorough plan.

I will address number two of the Top Ten Things You Need to Lose Weight when I return with another blog. The creation of new mental habits can be tricky if you’ve never attempted it before but I’m happy to bring you some great ideas about that too! Until then, enjoy your mind and body!


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