QnA: I’ve gained weight! How do I lose it without dieting?
First of all – Don’t panic!
I know it’s not nice to put on your favourite pair of trousers and for them to be digging in and not buttoning up.
There’s a few things to do here when you have that initial moment of “Oh no!” and then the following days of slight anxiety.
If you feel a bit on edge about it, it’s because you are focusing in on your weight in an all or nothing way. This is not helpful. First things first – REFOCUS.
You need to get your head out of the box that says “I shouldn’t look like this. Shouldn’t have gained weight. Will be difficult to lose this. How am I going to do this?”
So you need to either create, or pick up a self-care practice.
Self-Care Practice 101
This would ideally include deep breathing exercises. The 4-7-8 breathe by Dr. Weil is great for helping anxious thoughts and feelings.
Another part of this go to self-care regime is appreciation and gratitude. This can be about your body or anything in your life. If it’s about your body – do not make it about looks or anything external validation based.
After this is in place, you can start looking at food and eating.
It’s okay to change your eating, and to have some intentions. But there are ways of doing this that aren’t self-destructive. You can either say “I’m going to cut down on x,y,z because I’ve let myself go. This is terrible. I’m so ashamed of myself. I’ve been such a pig!” Or you can say: “I’m going to be a bit more careful about eating x,y,z. I’m going to make sure I have loads of delicious foods that I know my body agrees with. I don’t like feeling this heavy and sluggish.”
Can you see the difference? It might look identical on the outside. A person who isn’t eating as much x,y,z that they were last month. But one person is feeling absolutely terrible about themselves. Not just how they feel – but how they look, who they ARE. They are doubting themselves as people. They are angry at themselves. The other person is a bit annoyed, sure. But there’s no hate, or shame. There’s love at the core. There’s a wanting to feel better. Not in order to look better, although that may be part of it, but to FEEL better. They believe in themselves as good people and that they don’t deserve to feel so rubbish. But no shame.
So how do you lose weight without dieting? If I were you – I’d get away from the ‘lose weight’ mindset. Losing something is not a nice feeling. No matter what it is. Change it to gain health and fitness. Gain a feeling of being bright and clear and confident.
List as many reasons for why you’d want to change your eating and how you feel in the body you have right now. But cross off any sentence that has to do with looks. If you are seeing yourself through the eyes of another, challenge yourself to think of a reason to eat in a different way based on something only YOU will know and appreciate. For example:
- Having energy
- Getting rid of foggy thinking
- To feel stronger and fitter
- To be able to work with focus
- Sleeping better
- Wearing my favourite trousers again (because of how they make me feel: like a rock star)
Losing weight should really not be your main goal. Weight loss is the result of changes you make to your everyday stuff. And a lot of these changes will have to do with food. So let’s look there.
The science supports the idea that fat is not fattening, some carbs aren’t either – but an excess of simple carbohydrates that increases insulin is fattening.
It’s not helpful to say “I will eat better.” This is too vague.
Depending on your relationship with food, you can do one of two things.
If you aren’t experiencing, or haven’t experienced any food related addiction issues, or any hangups around eating that have affected you and how you feel; then I would say that you’d probably be okay to change your eating based on some guidelines from an outside source. I say guidelines, and not dieting. Dieting is very restrictive, usually counts calories, and can be very black and white with no major science backing it up. So look for principles that make sense to you. Over time I have healed my relationship with food and I could change the way I ate without having any major hangups. It might look like a diet from the outside, but without any shame and lots of flexibility in thinking and feeling – it doesn’t become a diet.
However, if you are not having an easy time with food and eating. And you feel pretty hung up on your body and how you ‘should’ be eating – then I would say that you would be better off not reading or listening to any food related stuff out there. Don’t try Veganuary, don’t go paleo, don’t join a slimming club. Because your intentions are probably too focused on changing yourself, and you haven’t done enough work to accept yourself.
So in this case the only authority to listen to – is you. Eat what you have been eating, and see how it feels. Ask yourself “How do I want to be feeling? Is this doing it for me?” The diet you could really be on, is ridding yourself of negative thoughts!
I would recommend my eBook The Mindset Reset as it goes into self-acceptance and kindness in a lot more detail which is really the foundation you need for a life free of dieting.
To sum up:
Focus on what you are grateful for.
Create a self-care practice that is varied and do some of that daily.
Change your self-talk.
Change your eating by listening to yourself first and foremost. Guidelines can be helpful if you use with care and have changed a lot of your mindset.
Dieting starts in your head. So changing your mindset is always a good place to start