How would you like to have weight-loss super powers that help you release those unwanted pounds without all the trauma and drama?
That would be insanely awesome! Sign me up.
But what keeps people from experiencing this? What keeps people from actually achieving their weight-loss goals and having the health and happiness they deserve? I believe that many people suffer from what I call “secondary gain syndrome.” This is actually the unseen emotional “benefit” from holding on to or gaining weight. And it absolutely kills your weight loss efforts.
First, let me explain secondary gain syndrome and then I’ll give you some tools to help you eliminate it forever. Sound good?
It’s important to understand that weight and weight-loss is not just about physiology. It’s also about psychology. And psychology can effect physiology. If that layer of fat has a subconscious benefit to you, then you’re in for a long road of yo-yo dieting, road blocks, self-sabotage and lack luster motivation.
You’re probably thinking… “Benefit? Are you saying that I actually like this extra weight?”
Actually yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. However, you don’t consciously enjoy it. Consciously it’s the bane of your existence.
Subconsciously however, your weight may…
- help you feel safe
- protect you from sexual advances and experiences that may make you uncomfortable
- comfort you
- keep you from “outshining” siblings or parents
- provide a great scapegoat for why you haven’t advanced in your career – “I didn’t get the job because, I’m too fat and they discriminated against me.”
- keep you from taking risks in life – protecting you from possible rejection or feeling like a failure
- help you feel love and attention – people want to comfort and help a suffering victim and as long as you’re overweight you’ve got a never ending pity pass.
- keep you distracted from confronting deeper wounds.
- help you feel smart and full of substance – if you have a subconscious belief that thin women are vapid, selfish and arrogant then it’s going to be a challenge for you to let go of weight.
“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.” John W. Gardner
What can you do to kick secondary gain syndrome to the curb forever and begin to lose weight without all the trauma and drama?
1. Take responsibility for your life. By continuing to blame others – your parents, your siblings, your boss, your friends etc. you continue to push the power away from you. A victim has zero power. A victim has zero control. A victim is helpless. Are you helpless? Hell no!!
You absolutely must take 100% responsibility for your life. By doing this you are literally super-charging your subconscious with the motivational mind-juice it needs to help you make better decisions. And it’s those day to day decisions about what to eat and how to move that add up to long-term results and the weight loss you desire and deserve.
And for God’s sakes, if you do not know what to eat or how to move for weight loss, save yourself the time, money and heartache and hire a health coach a trainer or a holistic nutritionist. That way you skip all that “trial and error” and self experimentation and start experiencing some progress. I can’t tell you how many people have emailed me for help, didn’t take any action, then emailed again 6 or 12 months later with the exact same problem and then some. This is not success mentality.
Successful people take responsibility and take action. Your weight-loss will suck without a success mentality.
2. Stop self-bashing and start self-boasting. If you really stop and evaluate your inner dialog you’d be amazed at how self-abusive and self-destructive you are towards yourself and other women. It starts when you wake up, you’re getting dressed for work and you look at yourself with disgust in the mirror. You roll your eyes, throw your clothes on in haste, murmur something about your “fat thighs” under your breath and rush out the door or work. While at work, you notice an attractive thin co-worker who just got a promotion moving to her new office and you think, “Whatever! She only got promoted because she’s pretty.”
And your day continues this way until you’re getting ready for bed and again you murmur something about you being a “fat ass loser.” Wow! This is not the type of motivational mind-juice that will help you re-shape your body.
If you want change, then stop being a woe-is-me-whinny-pants. Because believe it or not, this type of psychology creates stress physiology. You will NEVER lose weight if your body is bathing in stress hormones.
You can not, under any circumstances treat yourself this way and express such harsh, hurtful judgements towards other women and expect to achieve a radiant beautiful body.
Commit to a 21 day consciousness cleanse. Make a decision that for 21 days you will refrain from any bad-mouthing of self or other women. Refrain from gossip magazines, reality TV or any other form of media that encourages you to question your value based on superficial and trendy unrealistic airbrushed stereotypes. Instead, give yourself daily praise. Make a point to tell yourself how beautiful you are and focus on what you absolutely love about yourself. After all, not a star in the sky can compare to your brilliance!
In other words… pretend you’re already healthy and at your ideal weight. Begin to walk, talk and behave just like the thin version of yourself and before long your body will start to match that vision.
Stop hiding out and waiting to lose weight before you get out and enjoy your life! Be yourself sister and show us what you’re made of!
3. More Pleasure = Less Pounds Many women mistakenly believe that it was pleasure that got them into weight trouble in the first place. Not so. Diving into a bag of cookies after a long frustrating day at work because you “deserve it” is not experiencing true pleasure. However, really taking your time and savoring one cookie is an entirely different story.
I’ve come to believe that many women diet and deprive themselves not because they are trying to lose weight but because they aren’t comfortable feeling good and they are trying to avoid pleasure. They are trying to avoid the true sustainable pleasure that only comes from a healthy lifestyle.
Dieting perpetuates a feeling of deprivation, lack, distress, withholding, denial, hardship, suffering, stress etc. And many women are taught from a very early age that pleasure, feeling good and indulging are not virtuous and therefore should be avoided. Consequently many women feel more comfortable here – it’s familiar.
This “pleasure shame” is why there is so much guilt associated with enjoying 20% food (fun food, off plan food, food that’s only eaten occasionally) and there is so much resistance to long-term self-love and self-care. I see women using Facebook as a modern day confessional of their dietary sins…”I ATE COOKIES! Help!” A vegan friend writes, “I’m craving cheese sooooooooooo bad!” Another friend confesses… “I”m doing a 90 day cleanse! No wine, no sugar, no processed foods, no meat, no dairy, no grains. Only RAW veggies for 90 days!”
Dieting and restricting leaves many women feeling like a caged animal and constantly on the brink of a binge. One of my clients described the tremendous guilt she had from relishing in a few dates and almond better as an evening snack – despite the fact it helped her sleep like a baby.
I believe that many well meaning nutritionists and health coaches inadvertently perpetuate “pleasure shame” by imparting extremely strict food rules that absolutely forbids certain foods.
When you forbid something, what does that do? It actually makes it more appealing. It gives it a special “charge” and power that it never had before.
My goal is to help my clients get healthy and happy and I have my list of “optimal foods” too. But, there are no forbidden foods in my practice – unless a client has a true food allergy of course. So, if your health coach forbids fruit, or all forms of dairy or insists that a grain never pass your lips again, they had better have a damn good reason.
Ask them why you can’t eat a certain food. If you’re removing it to correct a GI problem for example, your coach should support you in correcting the underlying cause (which may not be the food, but a thyroid problem impairing digestion of that food for example) and although it’s often a very slow process if the root cause is resolved properly you should be able to slowly re-introduce the once-offending food so that you can enjoy it once again!
There are psychological consequences to imposing restrictions. And I think nutritionists impose far too many, too often.
Make peace with pleasure. Make peace with what your body desires. I can’t tell you how many vegetarians I’ve worked with who were up at night fantasizing about cheeseburgers, or low-carbers who had unbearable sugar cravings. Hmmm, you think your body is trying to tell you something? Perhaps there is a physiological reason you are craving the thing you are restricting? Do you think your body would send these signals to your brain just to be an asshole?
Now, a chronic craving for the exact cookie your grandpa used to bake for you every summer you’d visit is a whole different story. Nice try though.
Many women simply ignore these body signals because their food bias is so strong, they have “pleasure shame” or they’ve heard somewhere that “cravings are bad.” I wonder what else you are denying yourself? What does your heart desire that you’re also ignoring? Food for thought.
If your body is experiencing pleasure, stress chemistry is reduced and pleasure chemistry is “turned on.” Your body knows both psychologically and physically that it’s okay to “let go of weight.” Pleasure has metabolic super-powers! And without it, your weight-loss efforts will just plain suck.
Relish in real food. Turn on some music and enjoy the process of cooking and nurturing your body. Turn the computer off, your phone off, the TV off and really enjoy yourself. If you want a dessert, indulge in rich dark chocolate and savor the flavor and experience. Cook and eat like a foodie and less like a dieter.
If it’s weight-loss super powers that you’re looking for…
Number One: Take responsibility. Excuses are not sexy.
Number Two: Say goodbye to the pity-party and start acting like the bad-ass that you are. Strut your stuff sister!
Number Three: Eat for sustained pleasure. Ditch the deprivation mentality. When you slow down you experience more true pleasure from eating and your body get’s the picture that everything is a-okay and there’s no need to “protect” with the weight anymore.
You don’t need anyone’s permission to feel good, look good and have anything your heart desires out of life. Just yours.