Why You’re Not Losing Weight: You Have To WANT To Eat Less

Wanting to lose weight and wanting to eat less are two entirely different things. People want to be thin, but they aren’t always ready to do what it takes to get there. Food is pleasure and a comfort for many people.  So who would actually want to give it up? But, until you want to eat less, you’ll continue to struggle with losing and gaining weight.

Wanting to lose weight by itself, is not enough to get people to eat less which is why 90% of the small percentage of people who lose a significant amount of weight, gain it back. Success with weight loss is largely about a person’s relationship with food, not behavioral changes or habit alteration, though those things are certainly parts of the process.

Often, it is very hard to recognize and accept how you really feel about food.  If you truly don’t want to give up food, it’s important to own that mindset.  Basically, facing this single detail gives you great information about yourself; it’s not that you CAN’T lose weight; it’s that you don’t yet really WANT to eat less.  I don’t blame you!

It’s a continual internal conflict.  Part of you tries SO hard to lose weight (of course you want to be thinner), and the other part of you resists giving up or changing what you eat (of course you love food and don’t want to give it up).  If you are able to admit that you love food and don’t want to give it up, then you have finally arrived at the place you really are, and you can begin your journey.

You can’t leave a place until you arrive.  You can’t move forward until you meet yourself at the starting point.  Trying to begin by restricting food that you love and need emotionally is skipping a step that can’t be skipped.  You will continue to try and you will continue to fail until you accept that while you want to lose weight, you love food and don’t want to stop eating it.  Once you accept your starting point, you can begin the work.  You can start to explore your real relationship with food.

There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to eat less.  After all, food gives you comfort, pleasure, eases anxiety, and provides a sense of well-being.   In addition to what food gives you emotionally now, as children, before our brains and bodies developed, we were limited to what we had access to in order to self-soothe. Often, starting at a very, very young age, we reached for food and/or masturbation to soothe ourselves because that’s all we had access to. Food is soothing. Your relationship with food is strong and deeply ingrained. It takes more than just a desire to lose weight to be able to do it. It’s complicated. Our attachment to food begins before we’ve even learned to speak! Wanting to give it up or change your relationship to it is not easy.

It’s not that you’re lazy or you have no will power.  Rather, it’s that you don’t yet want to eat less.  When you do want to, you will.  I’m willing to bet that you are able to do the things you truly want to do.   But until the parts of you that resist eating less, join with the parts of you that truly want to lose weight, you will struggle; we all do.

So, how can you start wanting to eat less? The answer to that is unique to each person. In therapy, I help people go from wanting to want to eat less, to truly wanting to, to actually doing so and, finally, to losing weight. This transition is a process that takes time. You can’t expect yourself to wake up in the morning with someone else’s eating habits. Expecting yourself to instantly eat like you’re someone else, is one reason for the high rate of failure with diets; one of many reasons.

Two important things to work on are: first, changing the way you view food; and, second, you’ll have to begin creating a life that gives you pleasure, comfort, and fulfillment.  

First, ask yourself, is food a source of pleasure, or does it cause you mental and physical pain? Can you view it as a source of your sadness and low self-esteem? If you can both alter your perception of food, and create an enjoyable, exciting life, then food becomes fuel for your incredible life, not what makes your life incredible. 

This is what I mean when I talk about changing your relationship with food, your world and yourself.  Creating a life that gives you pleasure, comfort, and fulfillment involves having other things to think about besides food. If you’re always thinking about food and planning what and when you’re going to eat, you’re going to eat, eat, eat. You will need other things to think about. Then, you will need to begin training your brain to automatically think about those things, rather than automatically thinking about food. Changing your brain is a process, and it takes time and effort. For me, I trained my brain to think about my work and theories. But, if I always thought about food, following plans, menus, etc., I’d be eating it!

I tailor my treatment for weight and body issues to each person individually because the key is to figure out what works for you. There is no one method that works for everyone. This is another reason that mass produced diet programs don’t generate lasting changes. I help people tap into their strengths. Often, these strengths are what people think are actually holding them back. Really, it is learning how to use the powerful forces that are working against us, so that they work for us.

Losing weight is a difficult, complicated process. I believe the therapeutic interventions that I use are necessary to fill the gap that currently exists in other interventions.



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