Much of what we know about how people successfully lose weight comes from the National Weight Loss Registry which has been tracking people for over 20 years. Now there is an online site called the Global Healthy Weight Registry that is run by researchers at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab to study how people are able to maintain a healthy weight, in order to figure out how others can do the same. The participants in the analysis were 80 percent female, were an average weight of 136 pounds and are an average height of 5 feet 6 inches tall.
They found the overwhelming majority of adults (74%) who maintain a healthy weight do not diet. Instead they pay attention to the cues of hunger and fullness (exactly what I teach), eat healthy and unprocessed foods, don’t skip breakfast, and prepare more foods at home. Chicken is their favorite meat and 65% eat vegetable every night with dinner. 35% eat salad for lunch.
They also exercise frequently (42 percent work out 5 or more days a week).
This study confirms what I tell people all the time. Dieting doesn’t teach you how to maintain a healthy weight. Most people go on a diet and as soon as they’re off, they go right back to gaining weight. It’s a vicious, self-defeating cycle that most people stay stuck in for years. In the end, it leaves them fatter, demoralized, and feeling like utter failures.
There is another way. In my group coaching program that starts April 13th, what I really teach is how to eat and think like a naturally thin person. If you have years of dieting under your belt, much of this is about unlearning all the things that you previously learned about weight loss.
The biggest shift is to let go of the dieting or deprivation mindset and learn to trust your body’s instinctual wisdom. This means learning to listen to its cues of hunger and feelings of fullness. It also means tuning into your body’s reactions to the foods you eat.
People are always surprised that when they really start to pay attention to the foods they eat, they find that certain foods aren’t as appealing or as tasty as they once thought. Some find that foods they thought they really enjoyed actually leave them feeling unwell the next day, and once they make this connection, these foods begin to lose their appeal.
For example, one woman loved rich creamy food and ate a lot of it. With the mindfulness work, she made the connection that this type of food left her feeling queasy the next day and was contributing to an overall sense of sluggishness. Once she cut back on these foods, her sense of aliveness returned and she felt so much better that she had no real desire to eat them anymore.
Most dieters eat a lot of food that they actually don’t enjoy or even like. They eat it because it’s healthy, or low in points or calories. Part of learning to reclaim your power over food is to actually discover and eat foods that you enjoy and that you find nourishing on many levels. It also means to stop putting food into good and bad categories.
Another issue that has to be eliminated is the black and white thinking that most dieters engage in. Black and white thinkers have two modes of operating, either dieting or overeating. My program teaches you how to release distorted thinking so that you can find the middle ground, as this is where success happens.
Once people start to make these mindset shifts, they find that weight loss begins to occur naturally and they are no longer struggling. My program addresses the most common thinking distortions and shows you how to deal with them.
Successful weight loss is really about learning how to live, think, and eat in a way that is sustainable for life. It’s not something that has an ending. As long as you’re alive, you will need to manage and take care of your health. You notice I said health, not weight. That’s because this really needs to be about living a healthy life, not just losing some weight so that you can look better and then go back to your old ways.
And that’s the greatest secret of the naturally thin. They embrace and practice living a healthy life. How you do food is how you do life!
Ready to let go of self-defeating patterns around food and weight and learn a new way that’s sustainable for life?
For more information and to sign up for my group coaching program starting on April 13, click here.