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The truth is weight-loss companies, fitness and wellness companies know how to sell to our insecurities. They make us feel insecure and unworthy, and the more and more of these messages we hear, the more desperate we become to change our bodies.
The last piece of the puzzle in the dieting rollercoaster is your thoughts, beliefs and cognitions.
Thinking of a diet as only a short-term thing will ensure that after the diet is overweight will return. Even more so using diets to manage feelings of unworthiness ensure that no matter what changes in your body you will never feel satisfied internally.

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Short-term thinking

If you can’t see yourself sticking to your diet one year from now, you need to re-think your strategy. There is no point starting an 8-week shred with no plan as to what you might do after the diet is done.
Unfortunately for most people fat loss starts from a place of desperation. We are seeking short term-solutions and immediate gratification. We tell ourselves it’s worth depriving ourselves of food, socializing, energy. It will all be worth it when we get our goal. Our focus is plainly on the goal with no thought after how we might maintain these goals or go back to some sort of normal life.
For most of us, we won’t even get close to our goal because of all the reasons we mentioned before, our body is working hard to keep us in homeostasis. You are also relying solely on willpower to get you through the torture of another meal of chicken and broccoli. If you don’t like the way you eat, you won’t stick to it for long, and it’ll only be a matter of time before life happens and you ‘cheat’

 

 

The f*ck it mentality

For people who have dieted before the Fu*ck it mentality is common. Weekdays have been going well, sticking to the plan and then the weekend rolls around. A couple of wines, some nice Avo on toast and the diet is broken. From here there are two options.
Option 1 Get back on the bandwagon the next day and keep working towards your goal. Option 2 Say F*ck it and get 2 large pizzas and 1liter of coke for dinner followed by a bowl of Messina.
The next day we feel so guilty and ashamed we keep going down this path of destruction, comforting ourselves with our favourite Burger and telling ourselves we will start all over on Monday.
Don’t’ worry we have all been there. This second hit of failure now compounds into feelings of guilt and shame and the cycle starts over once again.

 

Shame & guilt

Starting our new diet from a place of shame and failure is a guaranteed failure. Because no matter what your goal is the goalposts will always be one step in front. What you are chasing is not a number on the scale but a sense of worthiness and accomplishment.
We feel unworthy and unhappy in our skin, mostly internalised from messages around us both from social media as well as the important influencers in our life.
We believe that the solution to this problem lies with weight loss, a new diet, a new commitment.
We treat our diet as a sprint, not a marathon. We believe there are only two options either fail or succeed. We decide the only way forward it to go to extremes, either FK it and blow the whole diet, or restrict even harder and more extreme.
Once the diet has been broken, again, we are with feelings of guilt, shame about willpower and discipline. We will turn to food or alcohol to numb or comfort those feelings. In the cycle will start all over again.

 

What can we do?

If you are ready and willing to change it is not about being good or bad, being on or off the bandwagon. It is about setting up your environment, your habits and your lifestyle so that these changes feel easy. Start with a mindset of compassion and health-positive behaviours. The truth is with any change, new diet, new fitness regime you can have all the strategies in the world, but it’s got to be the mindset shifts to make it stick.
It will require more than a meal plan; it will require a commitment from you to let go of your old identity and create and a new one. This stuff is not easy! If change was easy, we would all be ripped millionaires living our lives on our personal island.
So now you know why diets fail, what can you do about it?
Firstly, stop the fad diets, no more 8-week challenges, shakes, or meal replacements.
Take time and space to build and healthy relationship with food and start to think about what will work for you.
Understand your relationship with food dieting and your body and get support from a coach, dietician or nutritionist, a therapist or counsellor. Be patient and stay consistent.

Want to know more? Grab your FREE guide to Mastering your Mindset for sustainable Fat Loss here.


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Dieting is merely controlled starvation. Our body does not like to be starved and much prefers to sitting happily in homeostasis, and will therefore start up a range of physical mechanisms to slow weight loss.

body self-defence
Image from FatLoss Forever Layne Norton

 Your body’s self-defence mechanism

Once you start to restrict energy your body goes into high alert and turns on self-defence mechanisms. Though we live well in the 21st century our body’s internal systems still have not evolved past caveman days, and so when energy is restricted your body believes you are in a famine.

 

As a result, your body does everything to conserve energy, including storing fat, increasing your appetite and slowing your metabolism just like it would in a famine hundreds of years ago. You are therefore fighting an internal battle with your body, a battle which is very hard to win!

 

Your body’s set-point

Your body likes to stay at homeostasis and this is referred to a ‘set point. Genetics play a large part in determining the weight at which our bodies tend towards, and this depends on bone structure, metabolism, musculature, and much more.

Your set-point is the weight your body sits comfortably at and is likely to be different to what you would LIKE it to sit comfortably at.   This creates a challenge when your body sits comfortably at 22% body fat, but you don’t like what you see in the mirror.

All attempts to diet are going to be pushing against your bodies natural desire and will active the self-defence mechanism leading to a vicious cycle where you are fighting against your own body.

 Your Neat 

Your NEAT )Non Exercise activity thermogenesis plummets). Again your body thinks you’re going to be in a famine so it goes into shut-down to conserve energy. You will fidget less, walk less, and use less energy in your daily life. You will feel sluggish, tired and needing to rest more often and therefore be using less energy in your daily life.

All of this happens subconsciously so much that you may not even know it is happening.

Weight regain

In fact, your body is so determined to stay at this set-point that in an energy deficit or a diet, your fat cells are prepped and ready to store fat just in case there is another famine.

Which means as soon there is an energy surplus your fat cells will start to store the excess energy, leading to the rapid fat regain AND overshoot.

Each time this happens your body becomes more and more adept at storing fat, meaning each time you diet it will be harder and each time you stop dieting you will store fat quicker AND are more likely to end up a higher weight than when you started.

The next time you decide to lose weight using the exact same methods as before, these methods won’t work as fast or as well, in turn leading to more drastic behaviour and restrictions.

This is why people who yo-yo diet often end up much heavier.

In short, your body makes it hard to lose weight but easy to regain it,  each time you decide to diet you are more likely to end up even heavier than when you first started.

Stay tuned for the Part 3 Why your latest diet is making you Fat.

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Simply subscribe here.

 


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The research shows that fad diets fail 95% of the time. Short-term restriction leads to weight rebound and regain. But we are inundated with these before and afters and challenges, you know that people around you are losing weight. What we don’t see is the 2 years after or 4 years after. The After Afters..

after after
Image from Fat Loss Forever- Layne Norton

These short-term diets are designed to produce max weight loss results in the shortest amount of time possible. Fad diets work by only leaving you with a very small amount of calories per day, leading to weight loss. Due to energy demands, this cannot be kept up for long, with the body fighting back in various ways including a spike in the hunger hormones, influencing the dieter to eat at an ever-increasing rate. Once calories return to the pre dieting amount so does the body weight. This rollercoaster in calories and body weight can lead you to having another go at a crash diet to lose the bodyweight that was regained after the first attempt, and so the loop of crash diets/weight loss, binging/weight gain begins. Maintaining results earned through crash diets has almost always failed due to the unsustainable way that the weight was lost in the first place.

3 Biggest reasons why diets fail

1.  Restriction and elimination

Too restrictive, cutting out whole food groups will result in rapid fat loss but rigidity and restrictiveness mean the long-term implications on socializing, cooking and cravings mean that people will just return to old patterns and the weight will return.

2. Our body fights back

Our bodies defence mechanism. The human body does not like to be restricted of energy and as such when we diet it will set-off a range of physical and hormonal systems designed to stop weight loss and ensure weight returns.

3. Our relationship with food

Disordered ways of thinking about food, our bodies and diets. Thinking of a diet as only a short-term thing will ensure that after the diet is overweight will return. Even more so using diets as a way to manage feelings of unworthiness ensure that no matter what changes in your body you will never feel satisfied internally.

Restriction and elimination 

Every 8-week challenge gives out the same cookie-cutter carb phobic meal plan. 1200 cals for the girls and 1700 for the boys. I’ve seen them, done them myself and heard all about them. 
They are basically three meals a day 200g of protein with every meal, 2 shakes a day and carbs only from vegetables. These kinds of plans often come with a drastic elimination diet which cuts grains, carbs, sugar, dairy with no rational reason except to promote a calorie deficit.

Meal plans are so restrictive than staying on them for anything more than the recommended 8 weeks is absolute torture and once the challenge is done participants go and binge on all the foods they have been dreaming about for the last 8 weeks, and immediately re-gain all the weight they have lost and then some. 
These challenges do nothing to promote long-term sustainable change AND set people up to believe the only way to lose weight is to do it through punishment and extremes.
8-week challenges = aggressive diets low calorie diets which create rapid weight loss. This weight loss is exploited solely for the purpose of the before and after photots, the Rapid transformations.

Because this is what sells, we see the pictures and think that could be me! But we don’t see the after after, and 95% of those people will have regained the weight they have lost in the next 6 months to 1 year.
The more extreme the deficit and the diet the harder it is to maintain long-term. The meal plans encourage the fastest weight loss in the shortest time frame, leading only to the fastest fat regain. 

What next? Keep your eyes peeled for part 2 where we take a look at the body’s self defence system.

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You may have heard about this thing called diet culture. But what it is and who does it affect?
How do you know if you’re stuck in the Diet culture con?

What is the current diet definition?

The diet definition is currently “Diet is the sum of food consumed by a person” however in current terms this is far far from the truth. Your diet is what you eat when you eat and how you eat. Your diet is part of your identity, your value system and your cultural group.

But most importantly we all know a diet is eating as a way to lose weight.

The pervasiveness of diet culture

Look around you, pay attention to the messages we receive in advertising and all around us. The messages we receive in advertising remind us we are too fat, too old, too uncultured and too ugly to ever be worthy, happy or loveable.
These subliminal messages sell to our insecurities, selling a fake promise and a fake ideal. These promises are sleazy at best and manipulative at worst
But don’t worry if you buy this lipstick you will be happy and not only look exactly like this model on the cover, but live her perfect, happy fulfilled life.

In the health and fitness industry

The health and fitness industry push fear of fat and that fitness can only come in one shape or size. Fitness is often shown as only one size, one look, one aesthetic.
We are encouraged to believe that our bodies need to be shrunk, calories need to be burnt and we need to earn our food.

Do you notice that there are the times of the year when health and fitness advertising really ramp up?
There are the New years, New you, Summer’ is coming bikini body, and finally, summer bodies are made in winter. What we will start to see more of is shame-based advertising, before and after’s and an increase in short-term solutions.

The health, fitness and wellness industry is growing at a rapid rate and with it grows the message that we should forever be on a diet and always be trying to be smaller.

The diet industry

Diets, fad diets, crash diets have been sold and re-sold in pretty packaging over and over again.
A friend said to me the other day, isn’t Keto just Atkins rebranded. The diet industry is worth 60 billion US annually studies show that within 5 years most dieters re-gain weight up to 115% of the weight they lost.

Crash dieting is not sustainable long term, your body will reject the reduced caloric intake and instead try to hold onto every bit of food you have ingested as fat. The body is smart, if it thinks you are starving it, it will go into starvation mode to ensure you don’t die. Therefore the willpower and punishment you are putting yourself through may result in nothing or even worse weight gain.

It is not us who is broken but the dieting industry,

The tides are turning and now it uncool to diet. The language has changed from dieting, diets and weight loss to health, clean eating and wellness.

In 2016 Weight watchers basically went bankrupt because they failed to keep up with consumers who got sick of being told they are not enough. Now weight watchers have re-launched with a sparkly new wording and packaging but underneath it’s the same old counting calories.

The weight loss industry has now rebranded as the ‘wellness industry’ with a focus on clean eating and avoiding devils like sugar and gluten.

celery nutrtion bs

5 signs you may actually be trapped in diet culture

 

1. You focus on restriction or elimination. You are encouraged to cut out certain foods, reduce portion sizes, moderate and modify your daily intake. You may be recording everything you eat for review or eliminating foods at certain times, no carbs at night, only reduced fat dairy.

2. It’s short-term, you couldn’t see yourself doing it for the rest of your life. If you really loved chocolate are you not going to eat chocolate forever. It’s not sustainable, you are always thinking about the future when you can get back to eating what you really want to.

3. Diet culture It pits one food group against another. Fat is great and carbs are the devil. Sugar is the devil and clean foods are the only way forward. Carbs are evil.

4. It forces you to think about food all the time. At every meal, you are in a state of anxiety as you are weighing up the options and asking the waiter to put everything on the side. Food is no longer enjoyable. Food is stressful and anxiety provoking.

5. It uses terms like – lifestyle overhaul, results driven, transform your body, beach body, new you, challenge, detox.

 

So if you are going to jump off the bandwagon and ditch diet culture then what?

So maybe you are fianlly done with the diet bandwagon, the weight gain and weight loss and wieght gain. The food anxiety, the fear of fat and the obsession of every.single.bite.

The first step is to recognize the pervasiveness of dieting and diet culture. It is in our daily lives every single day and every single second. Some people are able to completely let go of these pressures and fear of gaining weight and find solitude with where the body sits when we stop dieting. Other’s very understandably are unable to find peace.

Here are some important strategies you can take to make an informed decision about your health and fitness.

  1. Learn more about intuitive eating, is a type of eating that supports you to pay attention to your internal cues. It is about reducing mindless eating and pay attention to your hunger signals and eating until your full. It can be challenging to being with but there are a number of books and groups which offer support around this.
  2. Understand the serious impacts of dieting on our bodies. Weight cycling increases the likelihood of weight gain post dieting. Dieting is the number one indicator of the development of an eating disorder. Disordered eating habits can lead to anxiety, OCD and depression. All of these consequences need to be weighed up when deciding the next path to take with your health.
  3.  Celebrate body diversity. Fill your social media with men and women of all shapes and sizes and recognize that beauty comes in all shapes and forms, not just one size.

And finally find a coach, therapist, mentor, group to work with and guide you through the process of celebration of your body and your own unique worthiness.

 

Are you part of my Inner Circle? Join my FB Group For the Love of Fitness for the all the best bits of Fitness,Nutrition and Mindset

 


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There has been more and more interest in the news about the prevalence and rise of Eating disorders and disordered eating.

So what exactly is disordered eating? What things should we be looking out for and should we be worried?

Firstly I want to break a couple of myths around Eating disorders and disordered eating.

Myth 1:

Unfortunately what is often portrayed in the media is the sensationalized stick-thin young girl surrounded by feeding tubes. The truth is anorexia nervosa is actually the least commonly diagnosed, the most common Eating disorder diagnosis is binge eating.

Myth 2:

You cannot tell someone has an Eating disorder just by looking at them, or judging them on their weight. Most sufferers have normal weight and normal BMI.

Myth 3:

You can help someone overcome an Eating disorder just by forcing them to eat, or making them stop exercising. Forcing someone to stop their coping behaviours without providing them support and strategies to manage the distress will likely lead to secret behaviour or different disordered behaviours being undertaken.

If you have a client who you are worried about, or you are worried for yourself it is important they seek professional help.

 

So what is the difference between Eating disorder and Disordered eating?

Eating disorders, disordered eating and dieting all exist on a spectrum. A spectrum of behaviours and thoughts around food, exercise and our bodies.

> Negative thoughts will lead to negative behaviours.

> Positive thoughts will lead to positive behaviours.

Whilst people will argue that changing your diet, exercising more and looking after your self are all health-positive behaviours, it is the underlying negative thoughts about one’s self that pushes these behaviours into excessive, rigid and controlling behaviour patterns.

Thoughts and behaviours down the negative end are often referred to as a disturbed pattern or disordered pattern or abnormal pattern which is where the term disordered eating comes from.

 

Can you have an eating disorder without having disordered eating?

No, To have an Eating disorder you must have disordered eating habits, behaviours around food and exercise which impact on your physical and mental health.

To be diagnosed with an Eating disorder means your behaviours need to be severe enough to meet the criteria under the DSM5. A diagnosis is usually given by a clinical psychologist or registered doctor. You can still have extremely distressing disordered eating behaviours it is just that it hasn’t been diagnosed yet.

 

So is it really that bad if I have some weird habits around food?

Some people will have disordered eating habits their whole life and accept it as normal and not feel the need to change or seek help.

Other people may have disordered eating habits like over-exercising or undereating that only pop up in times of stress.

And others will only have a few noticeable behaviours but are consumed with thoughts and fears around food, socialising and dieting. Only you can answer the degree which it is affecting you.

 

What are Eating disorder behaviours?

Extreme intake restriction

Bingeing and purging

Obsessive exercising/ compensating

Disturbed thoughts and feelings about one’s body

Avoidance of social situations where food is involved

 

What are disorder eating behaviours?

Chronic restrained/under eating;

eg: consistently eating in a 500 calorie deficit for many months or years

Compulsive eating/ secret eating

eg: feeling as if you HAVE to eat a bar of chocolate and are unable to stop

Cigid calorie and macro counting

eg: prepping food every single day to ensure macros are not over or under

yo-yo dieting/ diet hopping

eg: jumping from paleo to keto to Atkins

Excessive exercise

eg: training for hours on end or during injury

Eating only one type of food

eg: eating only ‘green’ food or food that is ‘clean’

Eliminating whole food groups (protein/carbs/fats)

eg: cutting out all carbs

Bingeing (subjective or binge)

eg: excessive eating in one sitting

Avoiding social occasions around food or eating in front of others

eg: bringing food in a Tupperware container to Christmas dinner

Compensatory behaviours

eg: Laxatives, water loading and fat burner/supplements

 

Here is an example of what sort of behaviours might show up

 

You might be eating out at a restaurant with friends. If someone is sitting down the healthy end, they can choose to eat and steak AND a desert because that is in alignment with their hunger cues, and they have no feelings of guilt about breaking a diet or cheating.

Compared to someone who is impaired and is so unable to choose a meal of the menu due to fears and thoughts and feelings around food that they have pre-prepared their own meal in a Tupperware box.

 

I think I have disordered eating should I be worried?

The longer someone stays in a disordered pattern of eating and a negative headspace around food, exercise, your body, the higher the chance of developing an Eating disorder.

Challenging these thoughts and behaviours will most often involve the support of a professional trained in these areas to break the cycle. Unfortunately, a lot of people I see try to manage the behaviours by being stricter, more rigid, or swapping the behaviour for something else. Without digging deeper under the surface as to why they are struggling in the first place.

Without recognizing the beliefs and thoughts that are driving these behaviours they can often resurface down the track with even more severity.

 

Where should I go for help?

The first step is to speak with a GP for a full health check, there are a number of health risks of disordered eating. From there you can get a referral to a psychologist who specialises in working with Eating disorders.

Most states have an Eating disorder service and the The butterfly foundation have a national support helpline.

 

 

 


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Our eating habits are not black and white, nor are they linear they sit on a spectrum from a healthy relationship with food and normal eating patterns all the way to the other end of the spectrum for diagnosed eating disorders.

The good news is we are slowly starting to talk about the impact of disordered eating, the bad news is from my experience working as an eating disorder counsellor it is much much more prevalent than we think.

Binge eating falls under the spectrum of disordered or disturbed eating patterns.

A binge is defined by two things

1: a caloric intake which is far greater than normal eating
2: where someone feels out of control or unable to stop themselves whilst eating

 

Subjective binge

Is when someone feels like they have binged, but it may be only a larger meal than their usual restricted intake. An example of this is someone who is dieting down for comp and eats twice as much as they normally would, but the amount of food eaten is quite small. You may also hear someone say they have “binged on chocolate” and whilst the amount is only 2 squares, it is the feeling of being out of control that is a worry for most people.

Recurring binges can lead to disordered eating habits as well as guilt, shame and discomfort. For someone struggling consistently with episodes of Binge eating is can turn into a full-blown Eating disorder.

Why do we Binge?

I often hear clients and trainers talking about their “binge” over the weekend, or looking forward to a cheat meal, or “day off”.
Patterns and behaviours that restrict food, all or nothing thinking, distorted beliefs about food and emotional eating patterns can all lead to someone binge eating.

Restriction of food

The more time we spend in a calorie deficit the more our body will try to resist and reset. When we are dieting our body’s “self-defence” system will set off a number of different hormonal responses, which started well back in the Caveman days of feast and famine. These responses include increased Ghrelin, increased appetite, increased thoughts and pre-occupation about food. These drivers and cues are physiologically driven and we often believe that we should be using our willpower alone to fight these urges. The truth is we are fighting our own bodies defence system, and this is a fight we will rarely win.

If you are dieting be aware that these physical cues and triggers are normal and have plans in place to manage them. For your peace of mind be aware of the overwhelming urge to eat and to overeat comes from a physiological driver and is not a test of your will power.

All or nothing thinking

The second we are told we can’t have something, what happens? We want it more and more. So the restrictive cutting out whole food groups crash diet are really just setting us up for failure. We are told no dairy, sugar or alcohol. And so when we inevitably slip off the bandwagon because LIFE HAPPENS this then triggers dietary disinhibition. Or the basically the F-it thoughts. Any of these familiar?

  • Well I have ruined it anyway might as well keep going
  • This might be my last chance to eat this deliciousness, I am going to go for it
  • I am going to break the rules, no one tells me what to do, screw this diet
  • I’ve been so good, I deserve this!

What usually follows is not just a cookie or two but a packet of the cookie, then the ice-cream and the whole pantry. The more regular this happens the more likely it is to turn into a pattern of binge eating.

Our unconscious thoughts about food

Food and diet is now part of our culture and our identity. If we are a health nut we have no problems dropping $12 on an organic maca tea smoothie. If we are a vegetarian we will get excited about the latest plant food restaurant. If we are paleo we will proudly sip our bulletproof coffee and tell everyone about it.
We all have a relationship with food and our diet which stems way back to the messages we heard growing up and the actions and behaviours we saw around us. These conversations form our beliefs about food, diets and health.

Maybe you heard conversations where people were judged on their gluttony or poor food choices. Perhaps you grew up only eating homegrown and organic fruit and vegetables and avoiding all sugars because it was better for the environment and sugar is toxic. Possibly every time something good happened the family was rewarded by going out for ice cream.
Any of these beliefs about food could set someone up for a pattern to overeat, secretly eat or binge eat. Black and white thinking about food being good or bad, distorted beliefs about food, identity and health can all lead to behaviours that result in a binge.

Emotional eating patterns

We ALL have a relationship with food. Food is joy, food is comfort and food is company.
The fastest way to change your mood is to grab a sugary treat. So if you are feeling low or sad food is the first thing we turn to. It is however only a short-term solution for what may be a deeper issue, and a way to avoid negative thoughts and feelings. Quite quickly this pattern can develop into
– negative thoughts and feelings – comfort eat- feelings of guilt and shame – comfort eat to avoid these negative emotions-

The challenge here is being aware of the triggers and emotions that drive emotional eating and create new strategies and habits to create healthier habits rather than turning to Ben and Jerrys every time you have a bad day.

Understanding why Binges occur is the first step to being able to develop coping strategies and alternative habits to manage a binge episode.

If you are struggling with your relationship with food feel free to join my supportive FB community we chat about building a healthy relationship with food, our bodies and fitness.