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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.

Don’t want to wait and be part of my inner circle and get it fresh in your inbox.

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.

Want the latest news in your inbox, subscribe here.


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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.


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Self-love and body positivity are all the current rage in marketing and #inspo. I applaud everyone who posts their bikinis pics feeling all jazzed and confident with the tag #bodypositive. But for most people this concept is unrealistic and these images feel completely fake and contribute to those feelings of unworthiness.

 

A client said to me, I saw this post on Instagram that said you just have to put on a bikini and love your body and that’s all there was to it.

“that’s just never going to happen”.

And she is 100% right that is really unrealistic for most people and in fact  just gives them one more thing to feel like they should be doing but are failing at.

If you have had a chequered relationship with your body, with food or fitness just loving yourself is not going to be a quick or easy task,

To say to your body I am going to forget the years of torture and torment I put you through and instead just say, I love you just the way you are, it’s not going to work.

 

So my suggestion is to lets completely tone it down, forget about loving our body and instead focus on something we all should be working towards and able to achieve.

Let’s start with practising kindness towards our body and our self, respecting our body and accepting our body.

I think respect and acceptance are what most people can work towards and most people should be working towards rather than the fluffy feel good self-love.

 

So, I’ve got four tips for you; how to literally like your body.

 

TIP #1

 

Change the self-talk

 

When you notice you are having these same negative dialogue with yourself;

Saying “I don’t like this about myself, I hate this about myself”

“Oh, this feels Yuck. I hate my belly, I hate my arms, I hate my legs”,

Notice it and stop it.

Nothing good will come from body shaming and hating yourself.

Repeating that internal dialogue is only going to just re-emphasize the thoughts and the negative thoughts that you have about your body.

 

As soon as you notice this negative story creeping in break the cycle by:

1: saying something kind about your self

2:Stating out loud one part of your body you like

3:Stopping and start an activity that is pleasure able and kind to yourself; brush your hair, paint your nails, pick out a nice outfit.

 

Begin by paying attention and practicing  awareness where we go down that shame spiral,  so that you can bring these thoughts back to a place of kindness.

 

TIP #2

 

Don’t join in body hate.

I notice so often then when we get into groups it is common to create a group bond by talking down to ourselves.  Spending time with friends where negative conversations about bodies constantly come up can normalize body dissatisfaction and body hate.

If you receive a compliment it is expected the response is downplayed,  and deflected to something which puts a negative spin on it.

I love your new haircut!

Ohhhh I only got a fringe to hide my wrinkles.

When you notice that you’re having these sort of conversations both with friends or family ask yourself

Is this a positive conversation?

Is this a productive conversation?

Is this something that’s going to make me feel better or worse afterwards?

 

Knowing that if the answer is no do not be afraid to speak up, change the topic.

 

TIP #3

The comparison trap.

When you are spending time with friends, also when you are spending time on social media and alone. Think about how much time you spend looking at other people’s bodies, comparing yourself to other people’s bodies, commenting on other people’s bodies, and around people who constantly comment and critique on other people’s bodies.

How many hours of the day are given to these kinds of thoughts, this headspace and this negativity?

When we spend time comparing ourselves with someone else, it’s only going to lead to more negative feeling for ourselves. Start with culling your social media, unfollow anyone who makes you feel negative towards your body or yourself.

Be prepared to have this conversation with your friends or family that when they are either criticizing someone else’s body or comparing themselves to someone else, it is going to be creating negative feelings for both of you.

Try instead, “let’s see how long we can go without making a negative comment about our appearance or someone else’s body.

So, having a conversation about what? Things are like could we talk about or just about how we can possibly let go of that comparison of “she looks like this, I wish I looked like that” sort of thing.

 

TIP #4

Do something for yourself and your body that you have never done before.

Something completely different that might be fun, might be crazy, it might be something which you would love to try but you’re too scared to.

Maybe try rock climbing; it could be going for a long walk with some beautiful scenery, it could be jumping out of a plane or it could be signing up for your first 5km fun run.

Putting your attention to something that your body can do rather than what it looks like is something that can really kind of perhaps open up your eyes and create space for more positive thoughts about your body to come in.


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This is a question that has been going around in the online circles I hang out, Does a personal trainer need to look the part?

It has also been on my mind since the recent Brittney Dawn scandal, which if you haven’t been following you can catch up here, but basically, she scammed a whole bunch of clients. She is a fitness infleunce with tons of young and impressionable followers.

 

Personally, I don’t follow any ‘fitness influencers’ because I don’t find they have any value and their fake persona just irritate me. But I know they are out there and they are popular. So the fact that they have millions of followers leads me to believe: our clients and society as a whole place a whole lot of value on appearance, and as these people pay money to their programs, it is a general belief that having abs makes someone a good trainer.

 

If you believe this, I am here to blow your mind.

 

So going back to the question, does a personal trainer need to look the part, what does a good personal trainer look like?

The question was asked to a group of online personal trainers.

The comments were a resounding YES, Hell YES!

 

“Your clients want to aspire to be like you or even look like you”

“Your body is a walking resume”

“Be healthy and practice what you preach”

 

These kind  of trainer I see around, you can spot them a mile away. If you spot one, avoid them like the plague.

 

The body shaming trainer

“Your clients want to aspire to be like you or even look like you”

 

This is beyond concerning, this comment is at best ignorant and stupid and at it’s worst completely narcissistic.

 

Surely you realize that even if you give your client the exact same program and nutrition plan that you follow, they will not look like you? Because everybody is different, we have different genetics, bone structures, metabolism, gut health and of course mindset and beliefs.

Even if you look at a 6-week challenge end result, where they have had the same 6-week carb-phobic food plan and the death by burpees training regime. Look at it, tell me, do they all look the same?

 

These trainers post photo after photo of their abs or butts and are doing two things:

 

  1. Looking for external validation through likes and comments because deep down they don’t believe in their own worth.
  2. Trying to make you feel insecure and like shit about your own body so you buy their crappy program

 

Be very wary of this type of trainer they lack any empathy and will push their shaming and bullying tactics on you.

 

How to recognise them:

 

Genetically blessed with a big butt or naturally lean

Post quotes like “Put in the work” “quitters never win, winners never quit”

Social media is filled with tons of photos of their abs and butt

About as much personality as a rock

Post loads of videos of themselves doing Metcon or booty workouts

Selling some sort of MLM shake

Use shame-based marketing, their underlying message is “one day you could look like me, but you are too lazy”

 

The body dysmorphia trainer

“Your body is a walking resume”

 

So if our bodies are a walking resume, does that mean if your not 6% you are out of a job? Because I know a lot of people who think that and this creates a whole big vicious circle.  Females out there, it is not in any way healthy to maintain 6% year round. For most of us it will mean we are malnourished and undereating, yes there will be a few genetic outliers who can sit that low

When this happens your period stops, your hormones and fertility is a mess, your mental health and quality of life suffer.

So many people are getting themselves stuck in this trap of I have to maintain this leanness year round and then give themselves a full-blown eating disorder.

Body sculpting or bodybuilding is one part of fitness, but it is not everything, broaden your horizons.

I hope you have at least read a book about coaching, psychology or change. You can get abs by eating 1200 calories a day. You can tell your client to do that and spend an hour a day on the treadmill. But then what, are they going to sustain that? Hell bo, becasue it’s torture.

 

This kind of trainer can be found:

Posting lots of photos of themselves posing or training with no shirt

Spend at least 2 hours in the gym every day

Militant with their training regime and expect their clients to be too

Spend hours in front of the gym critiquing their body

Can only eat from their meal plan and have anxiety when anything deviates from it

Believe they are fat

Have some sort of body dysmorphia

 

 

The fatphobic trainer

“Be healthy and practice what you preach”

 

Let’s get one thing straight, you cannot tell how healthy someone is just by looking at someone.

 

WHO definition of health:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

 

Nothing in this statement says you need abs. I know just as many people who are unhealthy in a smaller body as they are in a larger body. People whose mental health is completely wrecked because they obsess about calories and body fat. Who can’t socialise in case there isn’t something on the menu that doesn’t fit their macros?

 

What worries me is the number of people who have had their own transformations and are now a trainer and instead of learning how to be the best possible trainer they just spout the same methods that made them lose weight.  Your weight loss advice is giving people disordered eating patterns.

 

These types of trainers can be found:

 

Posting tons of before and after’s and throwbacks

Are fat-phobic

Are very stuck in black and white thinking

Will encourage disordered eating patterns such as cutting out all whole grains

Believe their diet is the best diet and will tell anyone who listens:”I lost 45kgs on Keto”

Often struggle with secret or binge eating due to their excessive food restrictions.

 

 

If you are thinking about buying a training service

Consumers it is time to step up and take some responsibility. Turn on your bullshit detector.

Stop buying from people just because they have abs, it mostly comes down to genetics!

And anyway what is so inspirational about having abs??

Yes, there is skill and mastery in building and transforming your own body, but doing it in a healthy sustainable and maintainable way is not something that often gets talked about.

No, we don’t need 10000 thousand photos of your abs and butt to prove that you can transform someone.

 

There are loads of trainers who use science and research in their methods and who have a damn good body because of it.

However they

1: don’t feel the need to post about it every 5 seconds

2: often post to share information and value

3: are human, they talk about themselves their failures and their learnings

A good personal trainer does not have a look, they have skills and education, they are dedicated and compassionate, they know how to help someone grow and change.

If you are stuck and need a good one reach out to me, I can help you.

 

 

 


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Working in a gym and I often hear the conversations about shredding, bulking, leaning up and cutting daily. Clients and trainers talk about food, diets, calories, macros, weight and restriction constantly.

Trainers and clients celebrate dramatic weight loss without a question of how or why. High fives are given for double sessions and smash and grab training, reinforcing the idea that clients need to be leaving the gym barely able to walk after the session.

Yet on a weekly basis, I am having conversations in private with clients, trainers, and staff about their screwed up relationship with food, their bodies and themselves. This is not a mere few people struggling, this is more and more people on a weekly basis who are trying to get fit and healthy that have gone too far and is no longer healthy for their bodies or their minds.

Struggles include obsessive exercise, binging, fear of food, carbs and fat, obsessing over the scale or body fat percentage and spending hours comparing themselves to others both on social media and in real life.

These may seem like not such a big deal but these all-consuming thoughts can be absolutely debilitating to someone’s social life, ability to create healthy relationships, mental health and their belief in their own self-worth.

As someone who has been on the other side and worked as an Eating Disorder counsellor, I have spoken to hundreds of people who are struggling with this daily.  These thoughts and feelings do not just go away by themselves, it can take a lifetime to build back a healthy relationship with food exercise and yourself.

 

Why do we as health and fitness professionals need to know about this stuff?

Clients who are struggling with disordered eating are highly likely to be accessing a gym environment. As health fitness professionals we are in a unique position where we are trusted, we are relied upon for advice and we can create a safe place for clients to ask for support.

We are likely to see our clients regularly enough to be able to notice some of these concerning behaviours and to suggest someone gets help.

It’s important for trainers to look out for and recognize the warning signs when people are starting to develop negative thinking patterns around their food and body and know what to do about it.

A reminder that someone struggling with an eating disorder does not have a “look”.  What is important to realize is that someone struggling with their relationship with food or their body does not have to be underweight in fact most individuals are in the normal weight range. A sufferer can be any shape or size, male or female, young or old.

 

Giving nutrition guidance

Trainers without proper nutrition training should not be giving nutrition advice beyond their scope of practice.

The scope of practice does include behavioural based changes, eating more whole foods, 4-5 cups of vegetables, reducing processed and packaged food.

For the majority of our clients following these guidelines is enough to make a physical change.

But our clients want dramatic changes, they want to see abs and they want to see them now. So combined with pressure to “get results”, old fashioned information, trainers feel the pressure to encourage clients into more and more restrictive behaviours.

No one should be recommending extreme low-calorie diets,  cutting whole food groups, or severely restricting without any reason.

Similarly, trainers should not be encouraging clients to do the same diet they have done because it worked for them. Just because you lost 12 kgs on Keto does not mean your clients should be doing the same.

 

Red flags

One or two of these behaviours may not be a concern, but noticing more than three is worth exploring more with your client, or listening in to how they speak about themselves  when you speak with them.

 

Client’s behaviours’ you might notice

Going to the gym every day, sometimes twice per day without rest days.

Pushing through classes despite injury or sickness

Solely focused on an aesthetic goal or weight goal

Reduced socializing, withdrawal and isolation

Weighing themselves daily and the day is dictated by the number on the scale

Avoiding social situations totally due to not being able to eat off the menu

Spending hours weighing food and obsessing over calories or macros

Spending a lot of time in front of the mirror analyzing body fat

A lot of selfies and photos of abs, leanness on their social media stream

Spending a lot of time on social media comparing themselves with others

Compulsive exercising-such as running in 40-degree heat or in rain or storm conditions

Cannot take a rest day even when on holiday, or have a serious life event such a funeral or wedding that they don’t attend

Constantly cutting out food groups and then more cutting and cutting – no flour, no gluten, no sugar

Abusing laxatives or diet pills

Steroid or legal steroid use

Extreme weight fluctuations or rapid loss and regain cycling

 

Conversations or language clients may use

The negative way they speak about themselves, or inability to see efforts as a success

Labelling food as good or bad

Feeling guilty about missing a training session because they didn’t have a chance to burn calories

Constantly talking about how much better other people’s bodies are

Talking about feelings of guilt, shame or embarrassment

The subtle signs in the way they talk about themselves as not good enough or useless

When they say consistently they hate their body

Feel that whatever they do it is not good enough

 

What can we do if we are concerned?

Be prepared with how you will open the conversation, don’t judge the behaviours or make comments on weight or appearance. Find a quiet place to talk, the gym floor at peak hour is not ideal. Invite your client to sit down with you after a session or grab a cup of coffee together.

Have some resources and referrals ready, even if the conversation is met with a brickwall you can provide your client with information to get support when they are ready.

 

Three conversation starters

Start by being curious and asking open-ended questions. All it takes is asking questions without judgement and creating a safe place for a response.  Even if you don’t feel you have the skills to start a conversation simply asking, “Is everything ok” and then listening can go a long way.

 

I’m hearing that you spend a lot of time comparing yourself to other people’s bodies, how does that make you feel when you’re spending a lot of time in that headspace?

 

I’m reflecting that it seems like it’s so hard for you to eat differently or eat more is that something that worries you?

 

How do you feel about the new changes you are making to your lifestyle, is this something that feels easy or is it stressful and taking up a lot of brain and thought space?

 

Wait and listen to their response.

These things will affect people differently, and for some, they won’t feel like what you’re noticing has much of an impact. However if your client says its feeling pretty stressful right now use this as an opportunity to suggest something that might feel less stressful using your professional judgement.

For others, it might be that they’re so stuck in it they don’t realize that it affects them negatively and this question gives them space to reflect on if it is a problem for them or not.

These kind of question gives your client an opportunity to reflect on how their actions can impact on their feelings, mood and daily life.  Your client may say I’ve never really thought about it, or they may say it makes me feel really horrible and I hate it.

From here you might be able to provide some resources or encourage them to speak with a counsellor or Eating Disorder support services.

You are not expected to be the counsellor but by knowing what is available you can point them in the right direction to get the support they deserve.

 

Where to refer

Ask them to speak with their GP to link them in with their local psychologist. Ideally, a psychologist who as training in eating disorders or body image concerns.

Ask them to make an appointment with a dietician or nutritionist so that you two can work  together to create a better relationship with food, a non- diet or Eating disorder trained clinician is best.

 

The national Eating disorders service in Australia is:

Butterfly’s National Helpline:

Call 1800 33 4673,  webchat.

Open 8am – midnight AEST, seven days a week.

They can also link you in with a specialized provider in your area.

 

Where to from here

One of the biggest challenges for someone struggling with food or exercise is that it can take time to reach out for help. There’s a lot of fear and shame around these thoughts and behaviours.

Letting go of these behaviours can feel like a loss of control, a step backwards, and a return to what may have been a place where they felt very unhappy. As a trainer we can provide support and encouragement that seeking professional help whilst scary will be worth it in the long run.

If you notice somebody or if the somebody is yourself there is definitely help out there.

Just know that it isn’t always going to feel this way, that change is possible that you can build a healthy happy flexible relationship with food, with your body and yourself and that there is support out there.

 

If you are a Fitpro who wants to know more about helping your clients heal their relationship with food, exercise and their body subscribe to my  Mind Body Peace movement. 

Or join our online FB group


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You might have heard of this thing called orthorexia before, but what is it and why are we worried about it?

Orthorexia about an obsession with eating only healthy and clean foods. Orthorexia is a subsection of an Eating Disorder but it is currently not a diagnosable eating disorder as it is not listed in the DSM 5. However the longer these thoughts and behaviours are around the more likely  it is a diagnosable Eating Disorder will develop.

Orthorexia sits in the middle of the spectrum between healthy regular eating and up the other end an eating disorder, and somewhere in the middle of the spectrum is a whole lot of grey, or what can also be known as Disordered Eating.

 

Signs someone might be struggling

Increasing avoidance of foods because of food allergies, without medical advice

Noticeable increase in consumption of supplements, herbal remedies or probiotics

Drastic reduction in opinions of acceptable food choices, such that the someone may eventually consume fewer than 10 safe foods

Obsessive thoughts about the relationship between food choices and health concerns – digestive problems, low mood, anxiety or allergiesIrrational concern over food preparation techniques, especially washing of food or sterilization of utensils

 

What might lead to somebody having Orthorexia

In my experience as an Eating disorder counsellor Orthorexia most commonly begins with someone wanting to make changes to their diet to lose weight, for health reasons or reasons in line with their beliefs or ideologies eg- cutting out meat to support the environment.

What this triggers is distorted thinking about food leading to more and more food and foods groups being cut from a diet until someone is eating only from a very minimal range of items or foods.

 

My experience with Disordered Eating

I’ve done a couple of those eight-week challenges, bikini body king of things. I always do quite well because I am an A type and recovering perfectionist so I get really obsessed with things like that.

What is often part of those types of challenges is a very restrictive form of eating- cut carbs and eliminate dairy, as well as encouraging black and white thinking. Sugar is evil and only every brown food over white food.

When you spend a lot of time in that kind of environment and mindset these thoughts can become ingrained and part of your beliefs. Additionally, you start to believe that if you can restrict from the bad foods, you must be a good person. And indeed the more you restrict the better you are.

I found that my whole identity and worth was very much wrapped up in what I ate and how I ate. These thoughts are often very interlinked with feelings about our bodies and yourself. By eating the good foods we will remain lean and if we eat the bad foods we will gain body fat which is bad. Staying lean was the end goal no matter the cost.

I felt I was good for avoiding the office cake, and I felt wracked with guilt and shame if I ate some. I avoided social situations if I wasn’t sure there would be food I could eat, and I spent hours of my day thinking about food and what I was going to eat. Read more here.

What fuels these thougths

 

I have seen on Instagram lately influences really pushing #Cleaneating as a lifestyle and receiving likes and validation about their dedication and commitment, as well as comments on their body and leanness. This validation only fuels the cycle so that they feel forced to keep up this restrictive lifestyle and stay a certain body fat % even when their health might be falling apart.  You can read about the story of one vegan influencer who’s hair was falling out and period had stopped before she was able to reach out for help <the blonde vegan>

Thoughts around food and body image come from people’s fear or really kind of deep insecurities about their worth, their body shape or size, or feeling out of control in other areas of their life, which come out as a form of control around food.

 

Why don’t people get help

It’s very scary for someone who is experiencing that because it comes so all-consuming.The thought of trying to change these eating patterns can become very overwhelming and it feels like there is no way out. The fear of what may happen if “non-clean” foods are reintroduced often keep someone stuck in this eating pattern for a very long period of time.

What we know is the longer that they stay in these thought patterns, the longer that the harder these to break them.

To unpack these layers helps us to understand perhaps what we can do to help one another or what we can do if we see signs or symptoms for ourselves as well.

If you are struggling reach out to your GP, local Eating disorder support service or therapist.

If you are a fit-pro looking to learn more join the movement: Subscribe here, or join the MindBodyPeace FB group.