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Laying the Foundation for Long-Term Change

Cart used in building a house
How to stop dieting and start living!

Are you sick and tired of going on a diet?

Do you tend to give up when you're only part way to goal?

While diet plans work for those who love keeping track of their stats and doing the math, they don't work so well for the rest of us.

This post lays out a better way by encouraging you to begin a self-observation program to help you to understand yourself and discover your true motivation for eating when you're not hungry.

How many times have you heard that Weight Watchers is a lifestyle and not a diet?

"Stop dieting and start living."

Isn’t that what the commercial on television encourages you to do? Stop dieting, they say. Use our program instead of someone else's. Our program isn't really a diet. It's a lifestyle.

But how do you do that?

How do you turn a structured meal plan that tells you what you can and cannot eat into something that doesn’t feel like a restrictive weight loss plan?

How do you actually build the foundation for lasting dietary changes?

How do you live instead of diet?

Eat Less and Exercise More? It’s Not That Simple!

Losing weight isn’t as easy as eating less and exercising more because the mind doesn't like caloric deficits. The mind and body don’t like change. They don't like seeing things get out of balance.

Empty out a few fat cells, lower your levels of glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrates), and you’ll suddenly discover your body is fighting to regain its homeostasis. It will fight to return to what was. It will literally protect its fat stores like a mama ape protects her baby.

Chimpanzee Mom Protecting Baby
When energy goes out of balance, the body takes steps
to correct the situation and defend it's fat stores
like a mama ape protects her young.

Why you eat, how much you eat, and what you eat is influenced by a variety of environmental factors, as well as your emotions and attitude. How much food is available, whether you’re stressed or relaxed, and how hungry you are all contribute to how much you weigh.

You can set up a weight-loss template, such as the Old Weight Watchers’ Exchange Program, and use that template as a strict guide to encourage a healthier eating pattern, but if you take a step back from yourself and actually watch yourself, you’ll find that having a template is only a very small portion of the weight-loss battle.
  • Weight loss is the aim.
  • A great exchange plan is the door.
But where’s the key?

How do you get from a desire to lose weight to actually doing it? How do you begin to make the Weight Watcher’s Program a daily habit?

Awareness is the KEY

Dozens of Smilies Floating Around in the Air
Becoming aware and staying aware of what you're doing
is the KEY to permanent, lasting weight loss!

You are a part of your mind known as awareness.

When you say, "I am following the Old Weight Watcher’s Exchange Program," you are that “I.”
  • I am on a diet. 
  • I am trying to lose weight. 
  • I want to look better. 
  • I want to feel better. 
All of that is awareness.

However, very few people are actually aware of what they're thinking or doing. Most people go about their daily lives in a mechanical frame of mind, living their lives by reacting to their environment instead of purposefully responding to it.

You do things, habitual things, but you are not totally mindful of what you're doing or why you're doing them. You have very little understanding about your self.

Yes, you want to lose weight.

Yes, You've set your self up to follow a particular diet program, but your thoughts and how you react to those thoughts are taken for granted.

You can think, feel, and react so quickly to a particular inner or outside trigger that you don’t know from which direction it all came, or why you did what you did.  
  • Sometimes, that’s polishing off an entire bag of potato chips in front of the TV or computer before you come to your senses.
  • Sometimes, it’s treating your self to a single chocolate chip cookie but waking up a few minutes later to discover you’ve actually polished off a dozen cookies, or more.
  • Perhaps, you are so rushed for time that you’re trying to eat your lunch while doing something else, so the mind doesn’t know you’ve eaten anything.
  • Maybe, you love to cook but don’t realize just how often you taste the food while you’re making it.
Having a diet plan is always a good idea, but your mind can actually sabotage your efforts (unknowingly) if you don’t stay aware of what you’re doing throughout the day.

Start By Observing Your Self

Laying a good, solid foundation for weight loss is essential.

You can’t begin to change or let go of the things in your life that no longer hold value for you if you don’t know what they are. You can’t evaluate what’s beneficial to keep or what needs to go, so you can drop the weight, if you haven’t taken the time to listen to yourself when you think.

Most people are so tied up with seeking after pleasure or avoiding the uncomfortable things in their lives that they don’t know what’s actually going on with them.

You might know a couple of things that push your buttons. You know that certain foods drive you to overeat, so it’s best to stay away from them, but for the most part, you're blind to what you believe. You have no clue how your subconscious mind works, so you have no idea what causes you to do most of what you do.

You can't begin to build a good, solid foundation for weight loss until you know what you’re up against. You have to know what your inner state of being consists of before you can replace it with a different set of ideas.

This is where awareness and mindful eating come into play.

You start by observing your self – your thoughts about eating and food, as well as your behavior. In addition, it can also be helpful to start observing others in your environment:
  • family members
  • close friends
  • the people at work
  • the voice behind what you read
  • what you hear on television
Others can help you to see your self better.

But don't watch others with the intention of judging what they’re saying and doing. Just watch them because learning about human nature is what will help you understand your self.

You can’t begin to understand your self if you continue walking around unconscious of what you think, feel, and do.

Don’t Try to Change

The idea of watching your thoughts, feelings, and actions isn’t to change them. It’s to get to know them.
  • So write down what you think. 
  • Write down what you discover about yourself. 
No one is going to see what you write down but you, so be brutally honest.

But don’t try to change anything yet.

Woman Writing in a Journal
No one is going to see what you write down but you,
so try to be brutally honest with yourself.

For example, I have vertigo.

The physical cause is bilateral vestibular dysfunction due to autoimmune disease, most likely.

The balancing mechanisms in my inner ear no longer function properly. They are permanently damaged. I might also have some form of narrowing of the jugular vein in my neck because most people with Meniere's Disease have that.

Gluten ataxia is nerve damage and can manifest as balance problems, so I have issues with severe pain in my feet, legs, fingers, and hands (what the doctor calls non-diabetic neuropathy or ideopathic, which means she doesn't know), as well as the challenges associated with celiac disease.
  • When I’m having a bad day, I eat more but not because I’m physically hungry. I eat because I’m looking for a way to feel better – a way to make the discomfort go away.
  • I find myself eating more when the foods I eat don’t satisfy my sense of taste. Eating things I don’t particularly like goes back to my childhood and previous marriage where I was expected to eat whatever I was served, or I ate whatever was cheap, so I could afford to feed my kids.
  • I eat more when I eat while working at my computer. My focus is on the research I'm doing or the article I'm writing, rather than eating, so the mind doesn’t realize I’ve had anything to eat. I haven’t been able to experience the pleasurable sense of taste, which circles back around to the fact I realized above. The same goes for drinking flavored beverages.
  • I eat more when my husband is home during the day. He enjoys grazing and wants me to join him. This is also a visual clue, and seeing him eat can easily spark overeating because I don’t want to be different. I resent being obese. I don’t want to restrict what I eat. I want to be like everyone else.
  • I am literally afraid of fruit. Although, it doesn’t upset my blood sugar, my past experience with low-carb diets has made me afraid to eat fruit. I’m guessing that I’m still carrying around a lot of low-carb baggage that needs to be dumped. Overcoming the fear of carbs isn't easy.
In addition to what I've shared above, I’m having a strong, internal struggle with dieting itself.
  • I don't want to diet. 
  • I don't want to restrict the foods I can eat or how much. 
  • I don’t want to count anything. 
When I ask myself what’s going on, I feel FEAR.

The realization that my metabolism has seriously taken a dive has also contributed to that fear because I would have to move to a very low-calorie diet in order to lose weight.

Fear is a sign that I'm trying to blame something for my current situation, but I don't know who or what to blame.

Now, I realize that the drop in metabolic rate is due to the malnutrition associated with both celiac disease and Grave's Disease, but the fact remains that my current number of maintenance calories that I can eat per day is only 10 times my current body weight.

That’s very, very low.

I don’t want to endure being hungry anymore. My mind remembers how hungry I was, how uncomfortable I was, how unsatisfied I was during my previous dieting attempts – and that includes the many low-carb diets I’ve tried.

My mind has now projected those uncomfortable dieting experiences onto my present dieting attempts. I’m rebelling.

As a result, I haven’t been able to stick to a diet plan, not even the Old Weight Watcher's Exchange Program, so my weight is starting to go in the wrong direction -- again.

This is observation.

I’ve watched myself, and those are the things that I think, feel, and do that are associated with eating and dieting.

There are probably additional observations I still need to make, but these examples will give you the idea.

I haven’t tried to change anything. I’ve only become more aware of what’s going on with me. My aim so far has been to come to know myself. Once I'm comfortable with what I've learned, I can begin to start questioning the value of thinking and doing those things.

At that point, I may or may not decide to dump them. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong to this exercise. Its purpose is to help you come to understand why you're in the condition you're in. What you decide to do about it is up to you.

And ONLY you.

Awareness is Only the Beginning

Becoming aware is only the beginning.

Being mindful of how you eat and what you eat is just step one in laying a strong foundation for a peaceful, healthier lifestyle.

By observing myself over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize that the structure I’ve been attempting to build since January of 2007 is lopsided and crooked. 

It has no foundation, so it’s finally beginning to sink into the mud.

Everything I’ve done over the past five years is finally catching up with me. As a result, I’m losing ground.

But I’ve also come to realize that dieting will always fail. It doesn’t matter what type of diet you go on. The body will always perceive a diet to be a famine experience. It will always interpret partially filled or emptied fat cells to be starvation.

As a result, it will consistently try to return to what was.

If you try to pull a weed out of a garden, but don’t get all of the roots, it will grow back.

Therefore, the process of weeding out what is no longer valuable in life can’t be rushed. You have to approach it carefully. You have to make sure you dig out all of the roots. And you do that by SEEING the thought, belief, value, or action for what it truly is: an illusion.

As a result, I’m just beginning to understand that it’s the foundation of our mindset that actually has to change before our body can do likewise.


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