I often hear people say: “I gained back all the weight I lost!” Did you experience this as well? If you struggled with weight loss for years, you probably tried all kinds of diets with the same results. The weight keeps coming back.
Each time you decide to give the weight loss another go, you hope that the new diet can work. This time, you think, you could finally get back to the body size that looks and feels good. And initially, the diet plan works. Initially, then it stops working! And what’s even worse is that you gain the weight back.
I understand your frustration with weight loss, and I can help.
Below I outline my approach and explain how most of my clients lose weight successfully and never gain it back.
Weight loss process overview
Because I’m a weight-loss nutritionist, people often expect me to talk about food primarily. Of course, I do talk about food and its effects on the body. There are usually some nutritional misconceptions to debunk, but it’s not the lack of knowledge that keeps people from losing weight. Most of my clients tell me they know what they need to do, but somehow they can’t stick to it.
I learned from working on the weight loss issue over the years that it’s very complex and uniquely personal. There is a physical aspect of it, combined with emotional or mental, multiplied by the environment. So, to solve this puzzle, we focus on the food you eat, thoughts, and feelings because they drive your behavior. We also make adjustments in your environment to make it easier to develop new habits.
Here are the four main parts of the weight loss process:
- We start with a thorough and honest assessment of what you currently do to determine what’s in the way of you losing weight.
- Then you come up with meaningful goals to keep you motivated and committed.
- Next, you start making gradual adjustments, starting with what you find the easiest and most effective change to implement.
- Finally, you practice new behavior patterns and skills until they become your habits.
We start with a thorough evaluation of your current situation. As a result, we identify what’s stopping you from having the body of your dreams.
We begin by assessing what you currently eat: the food itself, the timing of meals, and snacks. We also look at your eating style. For example, you might be a fast eater, or you eat on the go. You might eat once a day or ten times a day.
Then we look at your health history. It can undoubtedly reveal some issues that make the weight loss process more difficult for you. For example, conditions like insulin resistance, blood sugar problems, hypothyroidism, PCOS, and menopause can all play a role.
In addition, other factors such as poor sleep, lack of movement, and stress are common and can negatively affect your weight.
As we get to know each other and you feel more comfortable sharing, we learn more about the underlying causes of your weight gain. For instance, you might be using food to comfort yourself, have intense cravings that lead to late-night eating or drinking, or even have food addictions.
Create a Vision and Set Meaningful Goals
Many of my clients have attempted to lose weight multiple times. They gained back all the weight they lost and feel as if nothing works. As a result, they don’t believe they can be successful, fear disappointing themselves, and don’t dare to dream big. They also have a detailed knowledge of what they don’t like about being overweight but don’t necessarily know what they want instead.
Thinking I don’t want this extra weight is like getting in a taxi and saying: “I don’t want to go to the airport.” Okay, where is it you do want to go? It’s helpful to give your mind clear directions on what you want to accomplish. Besides, it’s hard to get inspired and stay committed to making changes when we focus on the negative side.
It’s essential to connect with your values to create a vision that will keep you motivated and engaged. What kind of person do you want to be, and how can weight loss help you become that person? Get specific answering this question.
If you only go as deep as “I want to look good or be healthy,” that might be too abstract. Challenging times can quickly shift your priorities, and a need for comfort can replace those vague, general goals.
You want to create goals that are genuinely compelling and meaningful to you. Think of something related to but not weight itself. For example, I want to lean forward easily to tie my shoes or feel confident to have my picture taken. Some more examples: I want my friends to compliment me on my looks, be comfortable traveling on an airplane long distance, want my knees to feel strong, or play with my kids on the playground.
After we figure out what’s in your way of losing weight and defining your vision, it’s time to start taking actions that will eventually get you to your goals.
One of the most common mistakes I see my clients make is trying too hard to lose weight. They make such drastic changes to their life that it becomes way too complicated and overwhelming to sustain.
Instead, I propose creating a step-by-step plan to gradually address food and eating patterns, environment, and mindset. You get to decide where you want to start. Of course, I make suggestions and recommendations, but you are the decision-maker.
Ideally, you focus on one or two new steps or changes at a time. You try it out for about a week, and then we meet again to discuss what worked and what didn’t. When things don’t work out, it’s an opportunity to learn and to adjust the program. We keep building on the steps that work, adding new changes, and addressing any roadblocks that come up.
Weight loss is never a continuous reduction of numbers on the scale. Instead, it’s more of a jagged, uneven line. There are downs and sometimes ups, and almost always plateaus. Think of a plateau as an opportunity to practice weight maintenance. You want to plateau once you’ve achieved your ideal weight, right?
Practice makes progress
Habits are like a train moving on tracks with almost no effort. Behavior that we repeat multiple times forms neural pathways in our brains, like tracks. Once triggered, the mind gets on the same “track,” and we do what we usually do on autopilot. Changing habitual behavior is like making a new route for your mind, and that requires energy.
For example, many of my clients tell me that they find themself snacking not because they are hungry but because it’s a habit. They sit at the computer and work for an extended period. Then they get an internal feeling of some sort that they recognize as a need to get away from the desk. They go to or past the kitchen and eat a snack. You see, what they need is not nourishment but a break. And there are plenty of alternative behaviors that can serve them as a break. In addition, easy adjustment to the environment, like putting all foods out of sight, makes it easier to make a switch.
Instead of focusing on controlling and suppressing old habits, you work on building new ones. As a result, you create more choices for yourself. With time, new behaviors become habits that serve you better and replace old ones. Your willingness to practice, curiosity about the process, and kindness to yourself are the key ingredients of your progress.
The secret to weight loss success is consistency and flexibility.
Consistency is not about perfection; it’s about regular practice. Repeating a behavior builds new neural pathways and, as a result, creates a new habit.
Flexibility is about accepting your human nature and the ever-changing environment. You can deviate from and return to your regular eating pattern quickly and without guilt when you are flexible. Flexibility also helps to keep an open mind about the program itself. If what you are doing isn’t working, it’s time to shift things around.
If you have struggled with weight loss for years, tried many diets, but the weight keeps coming back, it’s time to try something new.
Together with me, you’ll evaluate your current situation, the foods you eat, and how they affect your body and mind, unravel what’s in your way of getting the body you desire. Then, you create a vision that inspires you and keeps you motivated. You’ll start making changes gradually, aiming for a sweet spot between reasonably easy and effective, creating a sustainable eating pattern for yourself. In addition, you’ll find alternative ways to address stress and emotions, so you don’t need to rely on food to comfort yourself.
You have the inner wisdom to be successful, and I’m just an additional resource for you. I bring an outside perspective, knowledge of nutrition science and physiology. When you need cheering up or encouragement, I’m a friendly voice.
You will lose weight and will never say again: “I gained back all the weight I lost!”