January 2012

From Resolution to Reality - The Weight Loss Solution that Lasts

Author: Linda Hopkins

At the stroke of midnight on December 31, over half of all Americans resolved to lose weight. While a few will succeed, statistics show that as many as 95 percent will be wearing the same pounds plus a few more this time next year. Why? Because they embark on a plan—usually a combination of diet and exercise—that is neither complete nor sustainable.

While good nutrition and regular exercise are obvious components, successful weight management is never just about the dinner table and the gym. It’s about the way we live—our actions and daily habits as they relate to work, play, stress, sleep, responsibilities, relationships and more.

Why diets fail and what to do instead
Many people are attracted to the promise of quick, easy weight loss through fad diets that restrict certain kinds of foods or prescribe specific food combinations. While you may lose weight initially on these diets, they’re not designed to be followed for a lifetime, nor are they healthy over the long term.

Most of us know what to eat. We’re not overweight because we lack information about healthy vs. unhealthy food. For a great majority of us, the problem lies in how much we eat and, more importantly, why.

If you want or need a structured eating plan, many reputable diet programs are available. And here’s a little secret: they all work. Because of our biochemical individuality, including food sensitivities and hormonal balance, you may be more successful on one plan than another. But you can and will lose weight on almost any “diet” as long as you follow the rules. And that’s where the trouble begins.

The restrictive, negative thinking of the diet mentality sets us up for struggles and virtually guarantees defeat. We get caught up in the dos and don’ts—counting, weighing, measuring and depriving ourselves—until we can’t take it anymore—or until the diet is “over” and we revert back to the old behaviors that made us fat in the first place.

According to psychologist and nutritionist, Dr. Jonny Bowden, “A weight loss program is a three-legged affair. The diet part is only one of those legs. The diet doesn’t fail because your metabolism suddenly changed. It fails because you haven’t taken care of the other legs of that stool, which are your thoughts, beliefs and feelings.”

Extra weight is a symptom, not the problem… So, if diets are not the solution, what is?

Like it or not, lasting weight loss is a slow process that requires us to make sustainable lifestyle changes. It all boils down to what changes you are willing to make. If the change is too sudden or drastic, as many diets require, it’s too easy to fall back on the familiar. For changes to stick, we can’t rely on a list of rules. We must gradually adjust the way we think, react and behave.

Everyone deals with food differently, and we overeat for different reasons. The first step toward change is to identify what leads you down that path. Many people who struggle with their weight discover that overeating is a response to an emotion or feeling such as boredom, loneliness, sadness, frustration or exhaustion. The good news is if you are using food to feed your feelings, that is simply behavior, and behavior can be changed.

Food is neither love nor comfort. Pleasurable? Yes, as it should be. But food isn’t the solution to any problem other than physical hunger. People, places, thoughts and feelings can all serve as triggers to eat when we’re not hungry. When we recognize the signals that are driving the behavior, we can work towards a different way of responding.

The power of choice
What’s most empowering is understanding that we really do have a choice. Every day comes with a new opportunity to make decisions, small and large, that affect our health and happiness. When we stop going by someone else’s arbitrary rules and start paying attention to our true needs and desires, the matter of feeding ourselves can become more instinctive and natural. This doesn’t mean that we ignore nutrition. It means that we love ourselves enough to make appropriate choices, feeding ourselves what we really need, physically, emotionally and spiritually instead of stuffing our feelings with food.

Get motivated…or not
Most people think that losing weight requires lots of motivation, but that’s not necessarily so. Motivation is not something you get from the outside. You need a skill set and a plan. The motivation is irrelevant if you have the skills and techniques to move beyond what you are feeling in the moment. Following through, managing stress, dealing with temptation, handling frustration…these are skills that can be learned and mastered like anything else.

What if we take motivation out of the picture and make it about keeping your word? For example, when you promise someone to be at a certain place at a certain time, you are likely to show up, right? What’s so different about making a commitment and showing up for yourself? If you have one skill—the ability to keep your word—whether you are motivated or not, you can and will succeed. When it comes to exercise, meal planning, cooking or any other part of your health routine, you do it because you said so.

How coaching can help
Achieving your weight-loss goal is a process that involves clarifying what you really want and why and then taking consistent actions to get there. Coaching provides the focus and structure to keep you on track. By mixing and matching available resources, including eating plans, exercise programs and other self-care regimes, your coach will help you find what works for you so that you can achieve your goals and live your healthiest and happiest life.

If you are one of those Americans who resolved to lose weight this year, why not lose it for the last time? For more information, visit Lifescapescoaching.com or call (843) 686-5958 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Linda S. Hopkins is the founder and owner of Lifescapes Coaching, LLC, a life coaching program focusing on women’s weight loss, fitness, body image and self-esteem. She is a former educator, professional writer, author and editor. With a deep personal interest in fitness and health, driven by her own tumultuous affair with food and exercise, she brings a unique perspective and realistic approach to weight management. She combines compassion for people with strong communication skills to deliver a powerful message of hope to her coaching clients.

Linda holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Georgia Southern University. She earned her life coaching certification through The Change Place, an ICF approved training program based in Boulder, Colorado. She received additional weight-loss coaching certification at Coach Training Alliance, studying under Dr. Jonny Bowden, and is a licensed facilitator of Am I Hungry workshops based on Dr. Michelle May’s book, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. But it is her lifelong pursuit of higher learning through the School of Hard Knocks that resonates with truth, inspires trust and brings heart to her coaching.

In addition to her private coaching business, Linda serves as a wellness coach for Hilton Head Health Institute. Read what clients have to say at lifescapescoaching.com. For more information, call (843) 686-5958.

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