The Big Difference Between Losing Weight and Keeping It Off

Do you remember when you last embarked on a diet, and you stood on the scales and had not lost weight?  Maybe you even gained weight.  Do you remember how angry, upset or frustrated you were? 

In the seconds that it took for that number to appear, your perceived success or failure of your lifestyle and dietary changes was hanging on the hopes of that number changing.  It may be that in the time that you were eating healthy and exercising you experienced any number of other positive sensations; less bloating, clearer brain functioning, more energy, a renewed sense of enthusiasm, more regular bowel functions; so whilst you actually felt better inside yourself, the measure of success was only the number on the scale.

Dr Helena Popovic in her book NeuroSlimming sums up this paradox beautifully:

“Numbers on a scale can be very misleading.  Bathroom scales that merely tell you how much you weigh do not tell you what you need to know.  They do not tell you anything about your health or the direction in which your health is going.  They don’t tell you about your shape or your clothing size.  They certainly don’t tell you anything about your value as a human being.

Since when has a set of bathroom scales been given the right to dictate mood and self – esteem? Who came up with that brainchild?”

So, who did come up with that brainchild?

Look at all of the advertising around the diet industry (and beauty industry, let’s be honest) and you will see a number of reoccurring themes;

·       You need to dislike yourself enough to change (We touched on this in our last blog)

·       It will be easy (This really annoys me because its condescending and assumes we are stupid. If it was that easy then let’s face it, we would have all done it)

·       Eternal happiness will be bestowed upon you once you lose the weight and your life will forever be a picture of perfection. Red carpet will be laid out and angels trumpets will sound when you have reached your goal weight.  (Yes, hello sarcasm, but a subtler version of this is what is being marketed to us)

I can’t tell you how many clients that have told me if they could just lose weight everything in life would be better. 

Here is the honest truth, from someone who has been in your shoes – losing weight alone won’t break the shackles of your mindset and beliefs about yourself.  It won’t guarantee you a partner or that you will have an improved relationship with your current partner.  It will not shelter you from bad things that can happen in life and it will not suddenly make you a super mum or dad.  It will not guarantee a promotion or the perfect job.  It is also unlikely to help you like yourself if you don’t like yourself now.

I hear this over and over, and I know how that image of the “perfect, skinny me” can’t sustain the drive to change your diet and life, and regain health.  I lost 45kg and have remained at this stable weight for 7 years now. In that 7 years I have received the two most devastating pieces of news that I have had in my entire lifetime.  I still have arguments with my husband, and I still have arguments with my kids.  Losing weight did not make my life perfect.  The changes I undertook to achieve my weight loss, however, was a journey of self-exploration that helped me to appreciate my power over my mind and beliefs, especially around self-love and worth.  My story is a blog for another day, but what I will say is the reason I believe I kept the weight off when 95% of people don’t was all about the focus on health and sustainable habits and had nothing to do with focusing on weight only.

Being healthy feels fantastic. Having energy at the end of the day and having a body that functions at its best is a wonderful feeling.  Eating food that fuels your body rather than clogging it up just feels good.  Having a mind that works sharper is brilliant!  Loving and respecting yourself is so soothing for your heart and soul. With that mindset and intention, the struggles change.  You begin exercising and moving your body, not solely for the purpose of losing weight, but to be proud and explore how amazing your body can be if you help it. Studies show again and again that exercise increases cognitive function – it is a natural anti-depressant, and is a catalysing factor, in my experience, in building resilience. All of these amazing things have absolutely nothing to do with your weight.  Weight loss becomes a side-effect of a healthy lifestyle.

So, let’s do something really courageous.  Don’t buy into the strategy that we have to dislike ourselves enough to want to change. Buck the system, fight the lies.  Be so happy with yourself and treasure your body so much that you only want the best for it.  Don’t focus on weight, because it is only one part of your body’s story about your health.

At Verve we help you to understand how food and movement affects your body and mind, and we practice with an adaptive non-dieting strategy that allows you to get in tune with your body signals.  We focus on assisting you become as healthy as you can be without focusing just on weight. We focus on what matters – getting you healthy!  What’s more important than YOUR health and  YOUR happiness for YOUR lifetime?

By Wendy Burke (Naturopath, Nutritionist and Personal Trainer)

Ps. Stayed tuned as we dissect non-dieting approaches.  It will free you from all that diet angst and is clinically proven to be more effective for health than restrictive dieting practices.



Weight managementEmily Banks