I recently ran into an old friend who wanted to tell me all about her latest diet. She was very sure that she would be able to take off sixty pounds in three months by just eating a lot less and exercising a lot more. I have known this woman for many years and if I remember correctly, she has said something similar to me every January. This encounter made me think about my own struggle to maintain weight loss.
My friend, like many of us, wants to believe that there is a quick fix to losing weight permanently. I get it. For years, I fantasized about the one fad diet, the tea, or the pill that would be the answer for me.
There are plenty of ways to lose weight. Eating less and exercising do work- at least temporarily. But what about the process of keeping the weight off? Too often people bounce around from one diet to another as their weight keeps creeping up in their quest for that perfect solution.
Losing weight and then gaining weight again can become a ritualistic, compulsive cycle. Charlie Whitfield, an addictions specialist, coined this phenomenon the “repetition cycle.” Anxiety and depression mount, followed by the urge to eat, leading to self-indulgence, and ending with symptoms of guilt. Then the ugly cycle of self-abuse repeats. And so it is, that those who follow this addictive quest to lose weight may actually end up sabotaging their own goals and gaining weight.
Without exploring the issues that are contributing to our weight problems, most people are doomed to repeat this pattern of self-defeating behavior- going on one diet after another.
The truth is, real change only occurs when we can learn to respect and value who we are with our imperfections and our past programming.
Unhealthy eaters are typically overwhelmed by self-blame. They will label themselves as “fat” (whether they are or not) and will chastise themselves for being out of control. This negative self-talk is certainly not an effective way of motivating yourself to change. In fact, this kind of browbeating only intensifies the cycle of unhealthy eating patterns.
Because of its great value in dealing with an individual’s rational and irrational thinking, distortions, and beliefs, guided meditation is one of the most effective therapeutic treatments for those wanting to break this cycle. This process assists people in responding with positive, empowering self-affirmations to their distorted thinking about eating and body perception. Whatever our past programming happens to be, it can be changed and healthy eating patterns, fitness and even permanent weight loss ultimately can be the result.