Tips for holistic weight loss
Nutritional advisor Rebecca Andrist explains why losing weight isn’t just about what you eat, or don’t eat. If you want to shed pounds you need to take a more holistic view.
Our western society is plagued by obesity and diet-related illnesses. We are constantly deluged with the promise of diet plans and wonder-supplements, with countless “experts” all offering quick fixes to shed those extra pounds. But the research shows clearly that 99 percent of those who lose weight will gain it back once they come off the diet – and often they gain back more than they originally lost. Excess weight is a multi-dimensional issue and it’s unlikely that one quick fix will make you lose it – and keep it lost.
Let’s bring a fresh perspective to our weight loss stories.
- Love yourself NOW – with mirror work
Too many people (especially women!) tell themselves that they will love themselves once they lose their excess weight or once they can fit into that size 8 dress that’s been hanging in their closet since 1999. We have to get rid of this toxic way of thinking because not loving ourselves right now leads to pain and suffering: beating ourselves up about our weight is never an effective weight-loss strategy. Mirror work is a great way to practice self-love. Simply stand in front of a mirror for five minutes every day and tell yourself over and over again that you love yourself.
- Reduce stress
More and more research shows the negative impact of stress on health and weight gain. Try to determine what stressors in your life are self-chosen and see how you can transform them into something more positive.
- Slow down!
If you rush through your meals then you are not allowing maximum time for digestion, assimilation, appetite regulation and calorie burning. It takes the brain 20 minutes to register that the stomach is full, so ploughing through a meal in five minutes means that we often end up eating too much. Try chewing each mouthful at least 40 times – digestion begins in the mouth.
One of my teachers calls this one Vitamin O for Oxygen. Deeper breathing equals more energy, more calorie-burning, less stress and an enhanced metabolism. It’s a win-win strategy.
- Enjoy your meals
This one is Vitamin P for Pleasure. Too many people are in a constant battle around food, denying themselves the foods they love and then binging on them as a reaction. Slowing down and learning to enjoy everything we’re eating brings greater peace and weight loss will result.
It’s not just food either. Take a “pleasure inventory” and incorporate more pleasure in all areas of your life, not just around your meals.
- Time your meals
Late night eating has been shown to be a factor in weight gain. Studies have shown that when you eat before 6 pm it will lead to weight loss while the same amount of food taken between noon and 10pm will lead to weight gain. So eat early and don’t ever go to bed on a full stomach!
- Find out why you eat too much
What are your relationships like? Do you enjoy your job? Are you holding onto past resentments with family or friends? Are you using weight for protection? Are you angry? Sad? Disappointed? Overeating is often linked to other things going on in our lives and when we can deal with these issues, weight loss is often a result.
- Learn to trust your body
Get connected and embodied. Many people with excess weight are not “in their bodies”; they mistrust them and don’t feel that their bodies are “on their side”. Embodiment practices such as yoga, exercise, massage and dance help to get us more in touch with our bodies – a very important step on the road to lasting weight loss.
- Take the no-diet diet for a few weeks
Get rid of your scales; stop doing punishing exercise you don’t enjoy; stop counting calories, and just tune into your natural rhythms of relaxation and pleasure. Start to trust your body to eat what it needs and get the exercise that is necessary to lose the extra pounds. Do exercise that you actively enjoy: if you’ve always hated going to the gym then try walking in the park, cycling, or taking a dance class.
- See your symptoms as teachers
Excess weight is always a symptom of something deeper and any symptom we experience in our bodies needs to be seen as sacred and as having a lesson to teach us. So instead of attacking your excess weight, try to see what it has to teach you. Approach it from a heart-centered place instead of hating it. The key to successful weight loss is to approach it in a loving and holistic way in order to lose it and keep it off.
We humans can pour huge amounts of energy into suffering about how we look and how much we weigh. If we poured all that extra energy into expanding who we are, living the life we are meant to live and loving ourselves more, it would be extremely powerful. When we begin to love ourselves now, no matter how much we weigh, our lives will be more fulfilling and the weight will come off in a truly loving and healthy way.