Weight management is probably the most misunderstood concept amongst the population, and also the most lucrative. Approximately $200 billion is spent on weight loss per year in the USA alone.
Diets, fads and the like do not work. They require will power to keep to, and will-power is a conscious process. The conscious cannot do more than about 7 things at once, so if you lead a busy life then will-power will fail.
The other issue with diets is that the UM doesn’t like external dramatic change. If calories or intake of particular foods is reduced suddenly, the UM will panic and put the body into starvation mode. Once the diet is over, the UM will stockpile reserves of energy into fat. This results in the common “yo-yo” effect that many people on diets suffer.
For successful weight management to work, it needs to happen at different levels, all at the unconscious level. The whole programming around food, beliefs, attitude etc need to change.
Firstly let’s talk about the concept of weight. Society has instilled some pretty rigid ideas around a person’s size. This is detrimental in itself, and has led over the years to an increase in issues such as low self-esteem, self-loathing, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and other psychological issues.
We are not all the same! I’ll say that again.
WE ARE NOT ALL THE SAME!
In nature there are fat animals and thin animals, they do not go around joining the latest fad to fit in with each other. A skinny lion doesn’t gather the rest of the pride to point at the fatter lion and laugh.
When talking to clients, I never refer to ideal or perfect weight. I refer to happy weight. This is the weight, size and shape that they are happy to be, the one that they choose as an individual, not the one imposed upon them by society. And everyone will have a different one. Some of the happiest, healthiest people I have ever known have been classed as obese, and some of the most miserable and unhealthy have been in the “ideal weight” bracket.
Establishing where someone’s happy weight lies allows them to strive to that level and reduces the risk of other disorders such as depression, body dysmorphia etc arising.
Another contributing factor to the issues around excess weight is nature and evolution versus society and convenience.
Evolutionally we are hunters and gatherers. Farming became a way to reduce the work needed for hunting and gathering, saved tribes following the herds, and gave a more sustainable food source, but it was still hard work, with risk of crop failure, disease to plants and livestock, and attack from other tribes. Even up until relatively recent times we relied on a lot of luck to make sure sustainable amount of food were available. Social and industrial evolution happened far quicker and natural evolution had no way to keep up.
We still have in built programs to hoard and eat as much as we can, to crave food with a high calorific value. This works well in a natural environment, as the ability to catch, hunt and gather food would be reduced the more unfit, and more fat we become. This prevents over indulgence on a regular basis. Even in early farming cultures, the amount of work needed to run a farm kept excess weight at bay. Nowadays we have an abundance of high calorie and unhealthy food at our disposal. The reward system in our brains activates in response to high calorie food, making chocolate, fizzy drinks, and mainly sugar some of the most addictive substances on the planet.
This is all pre programmed into us, however an even bigger factor in the weight management issue is the self-programming, and the programming imposed by others.
Emotion is what drives us in most aspects of our lives, and that is very important in the intake of food. Advertising companies play on emotions to encourage you to buy their products, even so far as calling an extremely unhealthy option for kids a Happy Meal. Advertising companies know exactly how to manipulate your senses to pull your internal strings and make you buy their products. Bright colours, appetising smells, videos to stir the soul, and music all come together to get you hooked. Promotions, offers, competitions etc also fuel the reward system to encourage you further.
We also have unintentional programming installed, especially as children. Phrases like “eat all your dinner and I’ll love you forever” or being given a biscuit when upset or bored leads to emotionally driven eating. How often do you see on the tv someone eating ice-cream or cake after breakup.
Lifestyles are a more difficult to control, but are also a factor in maintaining a happy weight. It is often cheaper and more convenient to eat unhealthy food, and its often difficult to find time or get motivated to exercise.
The final aspect of this in regards to the program is how they see themselves. If they are constantly weighing themselves, seeing themselves as over or under weight, buying low fat foods etc, then they are making a statement which becomes an affirmation in their programming. If they are acting fat, they will remain fat. Also if they enjoy certain things, such as cake, they need to be allowed to have them, but instruct them to have the portion sizes that their ideal sized person would have. Resisting something they enjoy or crave will lead to more focus on it and resentment will set in.
Fortunately, the programming and internal aspects can be changed easily and effectively without the need to advise diets or similar. Changes at the unconscious level will automatically encourage healthier eating, and increased metabolism, and to do more physically.
As Sanomentologists, we work at all of these levels for a successful long term happy weight program. It takes two sessions without the need of fad diets.