How many reasons do you have for loving or hating this time of year? For me, the holiday season is a time to be present with myself and my loved ones. I take pleasure in slowing down for a brief intermission from the daily grind to give some thought as to how I want to direct the course of my life in the coming year. For many of us, celebrating the New Year is the best time to start over and renew ourselves.
So many of us have one thing in mind come January 1st – weight loss! And I imagine the start to 2013 will bring the same fervor for weight loss it has in the past. What is it about setting resolutions to achieve that perfect body size or kick the junk food habit that has such a hold on our collective psyche and why do they often putter out after only a few short months?
To help you achieve your 2013 weight loss goal, I provide tips on how to eat in The Blood Sugar Solution. But amidst clear diet plans and simple eating guidelines, there is sometimes more to the weight loss story than mere fact- based knowledge.
For some of us, knowing is not enough. And that is why I am excited to share Marc David’s perspective on weight loss and how to make real change stick. Marc is a nutritional psychologist and a world leader who reveals the secrets to understanding the missing ingredient that many seekers of nutritional wisdom have been searching for.
If you are serious about succeeding on The Blood Sugar Solution, or any other health program, I encourage you to learn more about Marc and his Secrets of Eating Psychology. Visit his website where you can get your free video guide, Secrets of an Eating Psychologist – The 9 Challenges We Face with Food and How to Transform Them. The ideas expressed in his work can help you make thoughtful advances in your weight loss goals. Even more, they may completely awaken you to a whole new perspective on life.
Marc knows how sincere my patients are about their goals. I asked him to spend some time earnestly thinking about the struggles occurring in the mind of the eater. This is what he had to say:
- What is the single most common mistake you see in your work with people who are looking to make a real life sustainable change such as weight loss?
Perhaps the most common mistake I see is that people try to lose weight by attacking it. They see excess pounds as the enemy, which often means they’re in a constant battle with food. From this place of hating body fat, we often resort to intense exercise that we really can’t stand, or a lifeless and limiting diet that punishes us but never gets us where we want to go. And all the while we look in the mirror with self-loathing. Think about it for a moment: most of us want to lose weight so we can feel better about ourselves and love ourselves more. But how can we expect self-love as the end result of a collection of strategies that are all about self-hate? If the road we take is filled with attack and lack of self worth, then that will be the destination we’ll arrive at. We need to find a sustainable way to eat where food is truly nourishing our body, and a sustainable way to move and exercise that we honestly enjoy.
- Losing weight is often stressful and not a fun experience for many people. In fact, that’s probably why over 99 percent of dieters fail! What tips do you have for people who “know” they need to approach weight loss from a place of relaxation and low stress, but have trouble putting this into daily practice?
I believe we’re living in an age where we have a lot less free time. We’re so busy with work, family, and keeping things together that it’s natural to feel stressed out. Because the world is so connected via the web and media, we might even be more stressed than in times past. In weight-loss, as in life, stressing about our stress is a dead-end strategy. When we’re in a constant physiologic stress response, not only is our metabolic potential diminished in terms of digestion, assimilation, and calorie burning, but we don’t make good use of the part of our brain that’s responsible for higher thinking and wisdom. In other words, it’s easy to make bad decisions when we’re always anxious. Relaxation is a practice. Relaxing into stress is a practice. We simply try our best every day, and keep returning to a more heart-centered and trust-centered way of living. It’s a good bet that for those who’ve had trouble losing weight while leading an intensely anxious life – a regular practice of relaxation such as yoga, breathing exercise, dance, music, nature, and more – can help create a positive metabolic change. And even if we don’t lose any weight, at least we’ll be more relaxed and happy.
- So many people I speak with express profound guilt and frustration with themselves for not sticking to a diet and tell me they simply did not get the “discipline gene.” Why are discipline, restriction, guilt, and beating ourselves up actually counterproductive? What advice do you have for people who struggle with this mindset?
This is such an important place to do a little soul-searching. Contrary to popular belief, adults do very well with positive regard and inspiration-based change. Sticking to a diet is more than just about food. For many of us, it’s teaching us deeper life lessons. Life is asking us to let go of perfectionism and to relax into being imperfect. Once we stop beating ourselves up for not following a diet, it becomes profoundly easier to follow the diet. The old adage of “no pain, no gain” is outdated and limited. Try practicing a little self-love when you fall off the wagon and notice how much better it feels and how it gives a renewed energy to try again.
- I find having a comprehensive quiz to evaluate the level of imbalance really helpful when I begin my work with patients. When you begin your work with a client as an eating psychologist, what do you want to know most about a person’s relationship with food?
I love this question. If I could only have two key pieces of information about a client when it comes to their relationship with food, here’s what I’d want answers to: First, I want to know if they’re a fast, moderate, or slow eater. If someone’s a fast eater – which I find a majority of people are – this means that they are by definition in a physiologic stress response whenever they eat. This can have a negative impact on digestion, appetite regulation, and ultimately weight. If we want to receive the full nutritional value of any meal, we need to be in the optimum state of digestion and assimilation, which happens to be relaxation, also called parasympathetic nervous system dominance. I want all my clients to be slow, relaxed eaters. Next, I want to know if my client has a relationship with food that’s nourishing or punishing. Far too many people are in a battle with food. They believe appetite, calories, and healthy fats are the enemy. I call these “toxic nutritional beliefs” that need to be directly confronted and corrected as a way for each of us to find a healthy and sustainable way to eat and reach our natural weight.
- What advice do you have for people who say they don’t have time, money or the lifestyle required to make changes?
This is a common complaint, and one that requires getting to the heart of the matter. Indeed, lifestyle changes often do require more time, energy, and money. If someone says to me that they truly have weighed out all their options and they’re fine eating a poor quality diet or not taking care of themselves, then I have to honor that choice. But so many people avoid positive change because they’re afraid. Perhaps we believe we’ll fail, or perhaps our old habits simply seem insurmountable, so why try to transform them? Oftentimes, we need a compelling reason to adopt healthy habits. If we can tap into a higher reason to be healthy, we’ll usually find the resources we need to make the changes we know in our hearts are best for us, and for the world.
- Many people start the New Year with genuine goals but then lose momentum and go back to old habits. In your experience why does this happen and what are some concrete action steps people can take to make this year’s resolution stick?
I believe it’s an inherent part of the human psyche and of the natural world itself to show bursts of energy followed by periods of plateau or decline. In a way, it might be best to expect that momentum will naturally ease off. That’s why I believe one of the most important practices we can do to maintain our resolutions is to enlist the support of people who want to support us.
- What is one thought you would want to send people away with regarding weight, body image and nutrition during the holidays?
The holidays are a time of love, light, celebration, family, community, gift-giving and receiving, taking time off, reflecting on the year that’s passed, and opening ourselves up with a sense of hope and renewal for the coming year. In my experience, when I hold and celebrate the holidays in their truest spirit, the rest takes care of itself. Eating finds its rightful place. Negative body image can take a vacation. Fear about food can relax. Weight can wait.
Go deep inside yourself, give to others, and contact the greater wisdom of the universe. Then notice how much easier it is to feel nourished.
Wishing you and your family a very happy and healthy holiday!
To your good health,
Mark Hyman, MD and Marc David, M.A.
P.S. Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!
Marc David is the Founder & Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom, The Slow Down Diet, and Mind Body Nutrition. The Institute for the Psychology of Eating is the world’s only teaching organization dedicated to a forward thinking, positive, holistic approach to nutritional psychology. IPE is revolutionary in its approach – teaching students and professionals how to effectively work with the most common eating challenges of our times. Learn more at psychologyofeating.com.