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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.

bikini body cycle

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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What do you think about when you hear the word binge?

You might think of someone sitting down to eat three whole pizzas, followed by a milkshake and a sundae. Or you might think of someone going to the shop and buying $40 worth of lollies to eat in one sitting?

What about the word compensate, is that something you have thouight about and if so most likely you would only think of someone throwing up?

So what if I said eating half a packet of Tim tams and then jumping on the treadmill to burn off the calories falls under the spectrum of disordered eating?

But that happens all the time, I hear it in my fitness class, from my trainer and from other gym friends? Just because we hear it all the time does not mean it’s normal.

The truth is it is all much subtler than that.

The spectrum

Binge eating like many things can be considered within a spectrum, there is a subjective binge and a diagnosed binge (read more).  In this article, I am going to talk about a subjective binge which is ‘the feeling of overeating more than a normal meal’

So what that looks like in reality:

  • This could be having two servings rather than one
  • Having a compulsive urge to overeat even though the total caloric intake is rather low
  • Eating off the meal plan and feeling shame and guilt around this
  • Eating something high in calories that makes you feel bloated or full

If you notice the distressing part is the feelings and emotions that come alongside the eating rather than the food or behaviours themselves.

Language and emotions

There is one common factor around someone who is describing a binge and it is a feeling of guilt, shame and being out of control around food.

The negative language often used is overeating, overdoing it, being bad, breaking my diet, falling off the bandwagon, being naughty.  These statements bring about negative thoughts and feelings around food and one’s behaviours.

     Statements about these behaviours reflect the extreme’s between good and bad, black and white.

On the other end there is being good, being good means dieting and reversing what I did when I was bad.

I am going to burn those calories off, making up for it today, back on the bandwagon, no thanks I am being good.

These statements are also highly linked with someone’s identity.

I am being bad > I am a bad person.

The language we use reflects not only our actions but also how we feel about actions and how we feel about our self,

What behaviours might we see?

  • You don’t go out to dinner and enjoy some nice wines only to feel guilty the next more so get to the gym on the elliptical for an hour
  • You don’t have a big night of ben and Jerrys and Bridget jonese’s diary only to wake up the next day and decide you are only going to eat an apple
  • You don’t have a fabulous date night with your main squeeze and then decide for the rest of the week you will only eat 1000 calories

So are you saying that if I overeat one night and then the next day decide to go for a big walk to clear my head and get my digestive tract functioning I am stuck in the binge compensate loop?

Not necessarily, It is all about understanding where and why these behaviours are happening.

Black and white thinking

Thinking in black and white and rigidity is one of the number one patterns that keep someone stuck in a cycle of disordered eating.

Because you are letting your feeling about yourself, and your worth dictate how you are going to eat. You are living in the extremes, all or nothing approach.  If you have a goal you achieve, set your self realistic plans in advance and make choices that match your goals.

But compensating after the fact because you are filled with guilt and shame is only going to set you up for failure down the track.

Let’s break down the cycle.

bikini body cycle

Step 1: You overate on your calories- you feel guilty and shamed – you tell yourself you are a bad person because you failed in your will power-

Step 2: You vow to make it up the next day- you exercise twice as much as normal or skip lunch to compensate

Step 3 – your bodies hormones which you can’t control go a bit nuts and you desire to eat ALL the food.

Step 4: you overeat, you ignore your internal hunger cues and your brain tells you to keep eating and eating

Step 5: You feel shame, guilt and embarrassment – except this time you feel twice as bad

This is where the cycle of overeating and burning it off starts. And this is where so many people get stuck, in yo-you dieting, being on or off the bandwagon. Life should not be a constant cycle of overeating and compensating.

What to do if you are noticing these patterns?

  1. Stop compensating, it’s doing you no favours.A compensate behaviour could be anything from over-exercising the next day, restricting food intake straight, skipping meals during the week or jumping on the treadmill to burn it off.
  2. If you overeat one day just continue the next day as per usual. Eat three meals, lots of fruit and veggies and fuel your body
  3. Focus on getting to homeostasis, getting level, getting to balance. Your weight should not fluctuate wildly, it should remain fairly stable within a few kgs. When this is happening your body functions happily and healthily.
  4. Work on your mindset. Notice when you are freaking out when you are eating off-plan or eating more than you planned for. Breathe. Remind yourself that life exists in shades of grey, not black and white and move on with your day.

And lastly, we need to untie your self-worth with what you eat. This one is something that many of us will struggle with and we may need professional help from a counsellor or a qualified coach.

 


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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.

 

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Your success will depend almost entirely on how well you can motivate yourself.

Consider: a self-motivated but otherwise average person always outperforms a genius who can’t get going.

When it comes to achieving any goal, having a propelling reason behind why you want to accomplish it is the number 1 key to of success. However, if your motivation is purely for external rewards to buy big things, validation, and recognition and success, no matter how hard you try you will never find happiness.

You will be forever running away from feelings of not good enough, unworthiness and not-enoughness rather than running towards the very best version of you.

External Motivation

External motivation is the desire to gain a reward or avoid an adverse outcome and it is driven by an outside/ external demand obligation or reward.

Here are a couple of examples of external motivation.

>You complete a 10km fun run solely because you want to beat your friends time and show you are better than him.

>You decide to start your health and fitness journey because the doctor told you should lose weight or you will have to take diabetes medication.

>You work overtime on a project with a strict deadline because your boss has told you there is a cash bonus if it’s completed on time.

So what do you think happens to the runner who beats his friend’s race time, the guy who needs to lose weight because his dr told him so or the hard worker driven by financial reward.

They succeed in their challenge, collect their prize and forget about it. Do they learn anything?

Maybe?

Do they continue with the hard work, training and push through when things are tough.

Unlikely.

Are any of these familiar?

The young woman who feels alone and desperately wants a boyfriend. Struggles with her self-esteem and feeling worthy because she believes she is fat. Spends hours on social media comparing herself to others and eventually decides to compete in a bikini competition because she sees the other girls looking amazing on the but also just how many likes and comments they get online.

Or the guy who is depressed and struggles with his self-image so he starts his own business. He thrives on getting the positive feedback and validation from others, the success and recognition. But deep down he feels empty inside because he never really believed in himself.

Using motivation to kick start 

The majority of us start a health and fitness goal start by chasing an external reward.

I want to lose 5kg, I want to fit into my size ten clothes, I want to look great at the beach.

The translates to I want more attention from the opposite sex, I don’t want to buy a new wardrobe or I am seeking validation from friends and family.

It can also mean moving away from discomfort, eg not being teased, being able to sit comfortably on a plane.

All studies show that whilst moving away from pain, chasing validation and likes is a great way to get you started validation from others burns bright and fast, but extinguishes quick.

So what is the answer?

Doing something for you.

Striving toward being the best version of yourself.

Intrinsic Motivation AKA Self-Motivation

Intrinsic motivation aka self-motivation involves engaging in a behaviour because it is personally rewarding; essentially, performing an activity for its own sake rather than the desire for some external reward.

Studies show intrinsic motivation is more likely to produce long-term behaviour change, and lead to more personal fulfilment.

Intrinsic motivation is also linked with your values and having a powerful why.

When your ‘why’ is great enough, your conscious and subconscious mind will help you to align your actions in accordance with achieving your goal.

Having a powerful why will give us the determination to overcome any setbacks.

Ask yourself why do did you work out today or yesterday or last week?

Skip past the I want to look good naked and dig a little deeper.

Is it to be a better role model for your kids?

Is it to lead a long happy healthy life because you have seen so many others struggle and suffer as they age?

Is it that being able to create some space and time for yourself makes you a better wife, mum and friend?

Is that that feeling confident in your skin means you feel more able to speak up at work?

Is it that you realize you’re not living up to your potential, your letting your standards for yourself slip in all different area of your life?

Is it that you know deep down you have so much more potential to give?

Take a moment now to ponder what is your why, why do you show up, even on the days you don’t want to.  Maybe it’s not in the gym, but at home or at work or in places where you need to motivate yourself?

The secret to limitless motivation

We all have an internal drive to be the best version of us. If you want to start the ball rolling and tap into that limitless motivation I encourage you to take some time and answer these questions?

If you could imagine yourself 6 months into the future living your healthiest life what would you be doing every day?

If your weight, size or bf % wasn’t an issue what would you be doing differently than you are now?

If you could take one step towards being the best version of you right now, what would that step be?

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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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We are surrounded by images of bodies every day, and we know that these images can impact and distort the feelings we have about our bodies and create feelings of unworthiness and dissatisfaction. But what about the messages we received from the ones closest to use, how do they show up?

On a daily basis, we are seeing up to 600 advertisements a day and 1000’s of images of bodies on social media. This forms in our mind a picture and messages about how we should look, what we should wear and what our bodies should look like.

These images are actually a representation of only 5% of the population with the average woman being a size 14 – 16. They promote feelings of dissatisfaction and unworthiness, mainly so you will go and buy whatever product that is being promoted.

But for some people these images don’t really seem to stick, they float by and slide off like Teflon, and for others, every image of a woman exposed is triggering.

It may have something to do with what they were exposed to as a young child, the messages from family, friends and their world around them.

The messages we receive when we are children are what shape our world view. They help us form part of our identity and our beliefs about the world, ourselves and others. The messages are mostly part of our subconscious thinking and our brain likes to make things easy, so we look for information that supports our world view, rather than challenges it.

This is great because we don’t have to process 1000’s of thoughts every day, however it can create somewhat of a mental filter where we look for information that supports our belief and dismiss information that challenges it. These beliefs are so subliminal it can be hard to unpack out where they are coming from.

Take a moment to stop and reflect what are the messages that we have about our bodies and where have they come from.

 

What is the first memory you can think of that was a message about your masculinity or femininity?

Was it a comment about being a pretty little girl? Or a big and tough boy?

Were you told that is a girl’s toy, or that only boys wear blue?

 

This sort of comment could have come from anyone, a family member, an uncle, grandma, grandpa, parents, sister, and teachers. When we are growing our own identity these role models create a lot of influence in our lives. We take their opinions seriously and take them on as our own.

 

 

What did you hear being spoken about bodies, your own and others?

Did family members shame or judge others fain gaining?

Was weight loss celebrate and commented on?

Were people commented on based on their hair colour, skin colour, height?

Do you remember messages about what a real woman should look like:

Not too big, not too curvy, not too small?

 

And what about comments about real men:

Tall dark and handsome, strong and fit, sporty, not too fat and not too skinny?

When I reflect back to my childhood these are some of the comments, conversations and messages that I can remember. These are some of the messages I remember.

 

It’s ok to be big as long as someone else is bigger than you

Fat people = lazy =lazy = bad

Girls should look after themselves, do their hair and make themselves look nice

Women should keep small, nothing worse than a large angry woman.

Men should be men and do manly things (whatever that means)

 

 

Maybe your mom told you when you’re a kid that you’re “always going to be this short and fat, it’s your genes”

Or your dad told you when you’re a kid that you aren’t going to be popular if you didn’t “grow your hair and wear makeup”

 

And when you received those messages from the ones you care about around you how did you fit in the picture? Did it make you wish you were someone else in a different body? Or did it make you feel tall and proud because you fit just nicely into that ideal?

Now I wonder just how often does this message show up for you in your life now?

 

Is this part of the way you see the world?

 

Is it something that pops up for you now and then, makes you feel shame, hollow inside or not enough. These are the sort of messages that we get told, that we internalize, that live in our unconscious mind.

As adults, we can fall into the old traps of reliving the feelings we felt comfortable in as a child.  Forever dieting and trying to be smaller because we were told women should keep themselves petite to be appealing for the opposite sex.

Feeling guilty when we don’t work out because real men are strong, capable and handy.

These messages are insidious. It is not until you can see them and recognize the impact they have on lives that we can let the possibility for change come in. We can recognize these messages as not necessarily our own, but ones we have inherited. It is then that we allow space for a new view, a new way of thinking,  a new filter to our world view.

 

Ask yourself why these statements could be TRUE rather than finding evidence to dismiss them.

What if you could be irresistible to the opposite sex just as you are?

What if you could be a strong and capable man just as you are?

What if you could be perfectly happy within in yourself, but also capable of change and growth into something more?

Is there a possibility you could see things differently, a possibility for seeing the world in a different light?

 

The first step you can take is just being aware of those messages. The inner dialogue that runs inside your head and makes you feel small or worthless.

Recognize how they are holding you back.

Start being able to challenge these thoughts with your own messages, your own feelings and thoughts about your body, about your self and about others.

Ask yourself what do YOU think, and when YOU answer listen in carefully.


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Is this really the best we can do?

This week I have had a number of people speak with me in private about how fitness has completely ruined their relationship with food and their body.

This saddens me, but also makes me very angry.

What makes me more upset is these clients could have been better supported so that the negative thoughts and behaviours that were consuming them were stopped before they got any worse.

What makes me angry is some of these disordered eating behaviours come directly from highly restrictive meal plans, weight-based 8-week challenges and exercise prescribed to “burn calories”

From my work in the field as an eating disorder counsellor, I know that the negative thoughts that can pop up in 8 weeks, can take a LIFE TIME to repair, to bring someone back to a place of neutrality around food and fitness.

If you are noticing any of these behaviours in yourself and recognizing that these behaviours are making you feel unhappy and worthless please re-consider.

Let me tell you if this is you, there is a better way, and you do not need to feel like this every day.

 

Weighing yourself daily and your mood being dictated by the number on the scale

Spending hours obsessing over calories or macros

Feeling guilty or avoiding social situations totally due to your food fears

Spending alot of time in front of the mirror analysing your body and body fat

Feeling guilty about missing a training session since you don’t have a chance to burn calories

Being distracted and not able to sleep because you are so hungry

 

So what can we do? Here are my suggested steps in the right direction.

Training facilities and trainers need to have a though screening and intake process assessing someone’s relationship with food particularly if they are going to be giving any sort of nutrition advice

Trainers need to understand the warning signs when people are starting to develop negative thinking patterns around their food and body. And secondly, they need to be ok to speak with their clients to ask them to take a step back or speak with someone who can help them.

We all need to understand that there is no “look” to someone who is struggling with their relationship with food. You cannot tell how healthy someone is just by looking at someone.

If this post brought up any challenging feelings for you, feel free to reach out to me

If you are a fit-pro who wants to level up your knowledge on building a healthy body image, join the Movement subscribe here or join the MindBodyPeace FB group.


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Are you a high achiever on the brink of collapse?

In my field of work as a counsellor and personal trainer, I am fascinated by high achievers, by A types, the seemingly successful, driven and ambitious men and women. I speak with them on a professional level, I listen to them speak on podcasts and at conferences, I have dated them, and in recent times I can admit becoming one of them.   They exist in many different environments, in fitness, in business, in competition, and politics or even in family life.

 

The one thing I have learnt in many conversations and my own personal relationships and experience’s is that this badge of achieving, which is carried with pride, can also become a troublesome and heavy burden to carry.

 Your identity becomes wrapped in the pursuit of more

I’ve noticed when these behaviours: drive and commitment, the relentless pursuit of gaols, the stop at nothing attitude become part of someone’s identity is when difficulties begin. The identity of being a high achiever, competitor or perhaps being the smartest or most successful becomes all consuming.

 

We know the types, corporate high achievers whose relationships take a back seat and consequently are completely falling apart.  Or the bodybuilders who are addicted to steroids because what they see in the mirror is never good enough.  And finally, the weekend warriors who punish and drive themselves relentlessly through injury and illness who never rest.

 

I can see where they are stuck, completely backed into a corner where they feel they have an image to uphold, that they need to show up with the air of success and having it all together. Slowly but surely this corner becomes one of high stress, high anxiety, and holding it together becomes impossible.

 

No matter how hard they go or how successful they are, it will never be enough.

 

On the outside all looks fine, the mask they show the world is happy and smiling.  Their social media stream looks picture perfect but behind the smile, the feelings of being overwhelmed and shame persist. These striving behaviours have become an identity and creating change feels impossible.

 

A 2-dimensional identity

This complete engross in a 2-dimensional identity of success makes admitting there may be a problem, talking about vulnerability and asking for help incredibly difficult.

Soon embarrassment and shame grow, and along with destructive ways of coping.

 

What if I stopped, what would others think of me?

What if I asked for help, would I be seen as weak?

How can I even begin to show up differently when so many others are relying on me?

 

Slowly but surely standards start to slip because perfect is impossible to maintain. Deep seeded fears bubble up and accumulate.  Overflow starts to happen and slowly but surely the walls begin to tumble and things start to get messy.

To stop listening to that voice that tells you every day you are not enough.  To stop chasing that validation and success that you will never find.

It takes awareness to recognize there is a problem, but courage to take action.

Receiving help

When the dust has settled and it comes time to receive help it can be harder still because the old way of bash, crash, push and grind is no longer working. After all, these methods of operating created this difficulty in the first place.

There is no greater strength than reaching out, than taking that first step, than wanting things to be different and having the courage to act on those thoughts.

Change takes time to readjust, to allow space for a new identity, to allow space for thoughts, feelings and difficult emotions, not just a 6 week turn around, but months or perhaps years.

It takes time for new pieces of the puzzle to be added to the sense of self, to shift the thinking from black and white to shades of grey.

To let go of the old way of functioning and embrace the new.

Learning to stop takes time.

Learning to lean into kindness and compassion for self can be hard. Once you start that journey of unpacking, unpeeling the layers and seeing yourself in different light things will start to shift. Your priorities, your values may change.

You don’t need to wait for the walls to come tumbling down, you can start to make changes now.

If any of the above resonates with you contact me today and learn more about my lifestyle coaching and personal training.


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Do you struggle with your weight, body image and self-esteem?

Are you on a mission to lose that last 5kgs?

Chances are you are one of the many millions in Australia who has a personal trainer helping you on that journey. I am here to ask you to stop for just one second before you spend another cent on Personal training and ask what is it you REALLY need right now.

You might be thinking but isn’t she a personal trainer, is she trying to go out of business? What I want to see is people succeed, to make long-term sustainable changes and to let go of the fears that are holding them back.

So much of what happens when we start to make change is the messages in our head change, the way we speak to ourselves shifts and we start to believe in ourselves and our abilities. Yes, that can certainly happen on the gym floor, but more likely it is happening during the 23 hours outside of the gym.

Want to change your fitness and health from the outside? Go see a personal trainer. Want to make a long-lasting sustainable change from the inside out, book in to see a counsellor.

Change must come from within first

Clients generally seek the services of a personal trainer when they are feeling at their lowest. They seek the guidance of someone they believe can support them to make the change towards feeling better.

Clients come in to begin their fitness journey often in crisis. They may be experiencing anxiety, depression, struggling with addictions, a relationship crisis or have gone through trauma or even grief.

These are some very serious and complex issues not to be taken lightly.
They may have gotten to the point where they can’t look at themselves in the mirror, are filled with guilt, shame, self-loathing and self-hatred.

They may have experienced an accident or injury which has totally changed their world perception where they no longer feel in control of their body.  Or work in a stressful and overwhelming environment where their cortisol levels are so high they are running on fumes.

Experiencing any of the aforementioned events often lead to an unhealthy coping mechanism such as over or undereating, substance abuse, shopping or gambling addictions.

These people are incredibly vulnerable and in need of help and support. So they turn to the most socially acceptable form of “help” available. These are not the people walking through the doors of a rehab facility, these are the people walking into the gym.

Society dictates that seeing a GP is fine if you’re sick, going to the physiotherapist is cool if you have aches or pains, and going to the dentist is important for your oral health, but going to a counsellor if your head is filled with negative thoughts and you’re mentally all over the place?
No. No way. Line drawn. Only crazy people go to see a counsellor.

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The Mind-Body connection

It makes sense if you don’t like your body go see a body change expert, but it seems that society is blind to the connection between mind and body.

Our current society tells them that if they can change externally and what they see in the mirror that this will lead to happiness, satisfaction in life and relationships, leading to long-term success.
Sure you can change your behaviours, change what you see in the mirror but will it change what’s going on in your head?

For some these steps will be just enough to get the ball rolling, to engage someone’s self-determination and self-efficacy. For others, it may lead to a path of yo-yo dieting, disordered eating or over exercise.

Using food and exercise and unhealthy coping mechanisms, plus other distractions keep the real worries pushed down and out of sight.  Society sells this idea that looking like a size 6 will bring happiness, success and help one find the partner of their dreams.

In reality though, one needs only to read about some stories of women who made their ideal weight and felt absolutely miserable like Taryn Brumfitt, Neghar Fonooni, Nia Shanks to name a few.

Happiness can’t be bought and doesn’t come from a number on the scale.

Where fitness lets us down

A colleague commented to me the other day 80% of what we do in this job is counselling. As a career changer coming from a career as a counsellor to now working in fitness I always believed this concept to be true. Now after working in the industry, I have now seen and experienced it firsthand.

The fitness industry is poorly equipped to deal with the deep level of emotions that clients present. It is still 70 – 80 % male, fresh out of school, or career changers who have their own personal journey of physical transformation.

The current certificate 3 and 4 have one module on the psychology of change but doesn’t address what drives people to the gym in the first place. It is unrealistic to expect these new trainers to be able to adequately support clients with complex life problems. It is no wonder the industry is in disrepair and has garnered such a bad name for itself.
Clients go see a personal trainer expecting their weight to change and with that they will instantly become happier more successful and love themselves.

Adding to the problem, trainers graduate expecting to be able to help someone to get fitter and healthier by just directing clients to the exercise program and healthy nutrition and following the simple steps set out for them.

What happens when clients don’t follow the plan, self-sabotage, life gets in the way or completely fall off the wagon in a big way.

Changing your whole lifestyle is actually quite hard, and maintaining it is even harder.

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What do you really need right now?

If you are a fitness client and can recognize some of the above scenarios stop and take stock of where you’re at. Take a hard look at your situation, what is it you need right now? Is it emotional support, someone to talk to, to work through these feelings of unworthiness?

Great, don’t fire your P.T, book yourself in for a Mental Health Care plan and get a counsellor alongside for support.
Is losing weight something you are doing to heal old wounds, or because you had a difficult relationship with your body, or with food growing up?

Ok so maybe you need to do some internal work with a therapist before embarking on a weight loss journey. It doesn’t mean stop exercising, just put the focus on movement and other benefits of exercise over any weight loss goals.
Don’t set unrealistic expectations for your trainer, talk to them about what is going on and be open to accepting help from someone else.

If you are a trainer, learn, read and talk with experts in the field. Understand psychology, what makes people do the things they do. Don’t just say “they didn’t do what I told them to”a then fire your client.

Understand why people are not willing to give up their dysfunctional coping mechanism: alcohol, comfort foods, cigarettes, these are their tools to cope and to feel a sense of control. Learn how to help people develop healthier coping strategies and how to support them through change.

Build a network of health professionals you can refer to and know your boundaries and don’t be afraid to say “I think you need more specialised support than I can offer you”.  Don’t try and counsel your clients if you don’t have the skills and experience to deal with it because you will end up burnt out and overwhelmed.

If you want a personal trainer who has helped 100’s of people make change as a counsellor and focuses on health from the inside out,  you can learn more about my personal training and lifestyle coaching here.