The psychology of weight loss


weightlosswomanWeight loss is not about food – its about self-love and rituals. Globally, weight loss is a $US580 billion a year industry. Ninety five percent of dieters will regain lost pounds within two years.

With so much pressure from the food industry to eat and from the media to be thin, it’s little wonder why 1:3 women are on a diet at any given time. However there is a danger to dieting and if you don’t master the basics, serial dieting can have long-term adverse effects on health.

On its own, the two obvious basics; food and exercise will never result in long-term success. What’s required is embracing a much higher perspective: that weight loss is more about our mind than calories in /calories out. Thinking yourself slim actually works.

Our daily lives are made up of habit. Whether we are aware of them or not, there is a natural rhythm to our days, weeks and months. Habits are mostly formed in our youth; early life experiences hard-wire our brain’s neural pathways to programme our behaviors and shape our personalities.

Rather than having to rationally deliberate every choice and decision across the day, our brains evolved mental shortcuts, tricks and biases to save us a lot of time and energy. Habits not only affect the physical rhythm of each day; they also affect our emotional, mental and spiritual rhythms.

Every one of our habits shapes and forms the reality we make manifest in the world by giving us our unique perception, our decisions and our responses to our environment.

“Habits are mostly formed in our youth; early life experiences hard-wire our brain’s neural pathways to program our behaviors and shape our personalities.”

The operative word above is ‘hard-wired’. Habits are so ingrained it’s little wonder that changing them is so difficult in the long-term. It is possible, but there are a few barriers we need to drop if we want to create long-term success. Not only do we have to completely change our philosophy on food, nourishment and move (exercise) our body, we have to exercise our mind by challenging our old habits, beliefs and default behaviors.

You know; the ones you run back to every time you are stressed or emotional, the things (or people) that trigger you to fall off the wagon. If we don’t change this we will always fail to maintain our weight loss no matter how fantastic the diet programme is.

Given habits are hard-wired in our brain is it actually possible to change them? If so where do we begin?

The great news is that our brain is a dynamic and changeable system. I am talking neuroplasticity here; the concept that we are pliable and are able to change our default behavior and thoughts no matter how ingrained they are. And in the case of weight loss we start by creating rituals.

Ritual is a sacred term meaning a formal ceremony or series of acts that is always performed in the same way. Ritual is also a spiritual term for a ceremonial act or action.
Habits take just 21 days of repeated action to begin to hard-wire in the brain. By creating rituals towards a healthier lifestyle, you are able to reprogramme your brain towards new behaviors which over time become second nature.

“By creating rituals towards a healthier lifestyle, you are able to reprogramme your brain towards new behaviors which over time become second nature.”

Creating rituals offers the space and time you need for your transformational journey. Here’s an example:

By lighting a candle before you eat and even setting the table with your finest dinnerware you create a sacred sense of occasion to enjoy the pleasures of healthy food. This in turn shifts your relationship with food. Most people don’t ‘taste’ their food let alone chew each mouthful 30 times as they should to optimise digestion.

There are a number of rituals which healthy people do each day that when practised, create healthier and happier lives. It is a mindset, so if your mind isn’t conducive to thinking yourself slim, begin with making choices as though you are a fit healthy slim person. With every decision across the day, what would your slim-self choose to eat, drink and think?

Over the years I have developed a weight loss programme which is now available online or with a private coach. It includes all the key steps to creating lasting change leading to a healthier and more fulfilling life. In order for us to be at our best we need to address all key areas of life and take a holistic approach. For example if we don’t address triggers for overeating how can we expect weight to stay off long-term?

Anyone can lose weight. I can show anyone how to lose weight quickly, safely and permanently, if they change their mindset that created the weight gain in the first place.

You just need to be brave and understand that sometimes overcoming the smallest inner challenges create the biggest outer changes. We are on the outside a physical manifestation of what’s going on inside. How we approach food is how we approach life: If we are lazy, quick and cheap and love quantity over quality, that’s what we become.

Deborah Murtagh founded Whole Food Secrets, a nutrition and cookery school in rural Cambridge which also offers online programmes in nutrition and weight loss, and a nutrition consultancy dedicated to dietary protocols for athletes, weight loss, cancer and chronic diseases.

saladSuperfood Salad

3 cups of mixed lettuce leaves
1 small red onion, half mooned and finely sliced
8-12 strawberries, quartered
2 fresh apricots, pitted and diced
1/2 cup fresh organic blueberries
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 pomegranate, use the seeds and juice
2 tb goji berries, soaked in hot water to soften
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (sprouted is even better)

Place the lettuce and onions into your serving bowl and toss.

Layer the strawberries, apricots, blueberries and tomatoes on top and sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds, goji berries and sunflower seeds.
40mls pomegranate molasses
40mls flaxseed or hempseed oil
40 mls organic apple cider vinegar


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