I can’t even begin to tell you how many years I spent STRESSING OUT over losing weight. I knew the ins and outs of fitness, nutrition, and food but still could never seem to come up with the right formula for my body.
It wasn’t until I began to understand that health and nutrition were more than just a science but an art as well. That’s when I was able to drop my shoulders and begin to relax into the process.
It’s a scientific fact that our bodies are not able to heal when they are in a stressed state. In order to heal and mend, our bodies need to be in relaxation mode. And since weight loss is ultimately a form of healing it only makes sense that in order to lose unwanted weight we need to find a way to relax into the process.
But the big weight loss paradox is that most diets and weight loss systems STRESS US OUT!
Diets tend to focus on willpower, deprivation, and restriction, which then result in feelings of failure, shame and guilt (totally stressful). So how do we begin to shift the stressful paradigm around weight loss and enter into a natural relaxed state that supports effortless weight loss?
I spent 15 years of my life yo-yo dieting and stressing out around food before I learned how to relax into my weight loss journey. Here are 5 tips that helped me relax into my weight loss journey:
- Let go of the need to FIX. Having the need to fix our selves is the single quickest way to halt progress and lock it unwanted behaviors. Why? Because it stresses us out and shuts us down. They key is to create some space between your actions and your thoughts to explore the behaviors that you want to fix (without judgement), once they have permission to come to the surface you can choose to keep them or let them go.
- Feel Your Feelings. When we fight against a negative emotion we only make them stronger. Many of us think that if we allowed ourselves to feel the depth of our feelings, they would destroy us. But remember, a feeling is simply a vibration in your body and we are all designed to feel our feelings all the way through and come out on the other side perfectly fine.
- Trust your instincts. There is no person, book, or diet out there that knows better than you what your body needs. Our bodies are way more intelligent than our brains so we need to trust them. Practice turning off the voices in your head and tuning into the sensations in your body. I promise, your body will not steer you wrong.
- Shift your definition of extra weight. Excess weight = potential energy. So ask yourself what kind of potential energy might you be storing when you carry extra weight? In other words, what would you being doing if you weren’t so busy trying to lose weight? This could be energy used for creativity, self-expression, withheld emotions, etc. Take the time to explore yourself and remember the excess weight is never the problem it is merely the symptom.
- Breathe. Taking long, deep breathes is hands down the quickest and most efficient way to get our bodies out of a stressed state and into a relaxation mode. And this doesn’t mean you need to sit and meditate for thirty minutes. Simply commit to ten deep breaths the next time you’re stressing out and see just how quickly you are able to unwind.
And most importantly, give yourself permission to be on the journey. Weight loss is a process, so find the patience and compassion that you would offer to a friend and be sure to slather it all over yourself.
Does trying to lose weight stress you out? Do you ever find yourself beating yourself up over weight loss or your body? How do you try to relax into it?
great post! left you a long comment over there!
Dani… this is SO TRUE! You have totally hit the nail on the head with this one. Having lost 70+ lbs, with the last 10 being the absolute toughest, I am reminded of how much easier it became to shed those last dreaded lbs after I met (and began dating) the love of my life and now husband. I went from military type dieting, which was NOT working, to a more relaxed, less-stressed-out state of mind, which included plenty of vino and dining out…and the weight sort of fell away like magic! I was still diligent in my daily activity and still maintained an overall reduced calorie diet, but I definitely attribute those last 10 lbs to a more zen and relaxed state of mind. So here’s a big THANK YOU for bringing it to everyone’s attention. You are, once again, amazing!!!
I think it’s all about relaxing. When I was a teenager I was so narrow minded, sometimes I even stopped eating for a day after an apple. I was afraid, really afraid to become fat, since I knew how it feels to be picked on – I was the tallest girl in every class for 10 years! Of course when I was 16 they all said, with your face and your height – you could be a model, but with 9 being even taller than the boys it’s everything but fun.
… I became sick. Lived a life in a hospital bed (more or less) with “pain and pills” – neither good for my soul nor for my body. And after all these years of fear I finally became fat. But, and here it comes, when I got out of the hospital, even though of course there was a society using every possibility picking on the way I am, I knew I’ve got my life back. Maybe it’s a little naive, but I stopped seeing the gazes, I stopped hearing the unkind words of the people not knowing, all I noticed was my husbands love, my friends and every single bit of life. I’m losing weight every day, with living conscious and happy, with using all the time I’ve got.
Of course my story’s different, but I think the bottom line is the same.
Marlies – Right back at ya! And here’s to lots of vino and dining out… it’s pretty amazing what our bodies are capable of once we get out of our minds:)
Sonja – I think the details of all our stories will always be a little different but the bottom line is EXACTLY the same. Sounds like you are doing great! Thanks so much for sharing:).
martha McKinnon says
Great advice Dani. The powerful of relaxation is so amazing. Have you read The Slow Down Diet by Marc David? The mind-body connection continues to amaze me.
Laura Houston Whitlinger says
Wow. I am shocked at how true this is for me…and the fact that the one time in my life when I lost 20 pounds and kept it off was when I did yoga. That was it. Just yoga. I had a rule…I had to go to one yoga class a week. That was it. Nothing else. No dieting. No five-mile runs. No trips to the gym. No stress involved. No judgment. If I missed, I could make it up with two in one week.
Your article was an excellent reminder that self-forgiveness and self acceptance removes the stress so much of us feel over our bodies. And it was timely, too, as I wrestle with how much I enjoy food. Fortunately, you provide alternatives for the foods I love to eat. (That buffalo cauliflower recipe looks amazing.)
Dani, I have to say you are one of the best “health” gurus out there…..because you can address the issues from all angles, and you have a natural, accessible approach. Thank you for this. I really needed your words today because I had forgotten to remove the stress from my diet and my self image. You have a gift for this.