You can find more about Shari and the services she provides at ShariBroder.com. This article was originally published there.
When it comes to the question that many of us ask ourselves we have lots of excuses. Why am I overweight?
Have you noticed the answers people often offer in response to this?
“I have a slow metabolism.” “I’ve tried so hard to eat less, but I hate being hungry.” “I just love the taste of food.”
Those are just the tip of the ice cream, er… iceberg.
The real reason anyone is overweight is simple. If you are overweight, you are consuming more food than your body needs. What it doesn’t need is stored as fat.
There are millions of diets that claim to help you lose weight. Maybe they can. That’s fine if you are one of those people who doesn’t mind being in the hamster wheel of the diet industry: lose weight through deprivation, go off the diet and gain it back, go on another diet with more temporary deprivation, lose some weight, go off the diet again, gain the weight back. And so on.
If you really want to permanently rid your body of excess weight, you have to discover WHY you are overeating in the first place, and fix the problem.
I was overweight for decades. Initially, I just ate too much. Lots of healthy foods, topped with some not-so-healthy ones. I would feel pretty full after meals. Feeling full means you’ve consumed more food than your body needs.
Then I started practicing law. It was very stressful, and I compensated by rewarding myself with food. I ultimately developed an association between doing work that was challenging and eating. I gained 40 pounds in four years!
It took me a long time to break that habit. You see, the reason we have habits in the first place is for the sake of efficiency. Our brains use 25% of our daily energy, and they like to be efficient. My brain learned that when I was having trouble doing my work, food was the salve. My drug of choice. Regardless of whether I was hungry, if I was struggling with work, my brain would think, “how about going to the kitchen and getting something to eat?”
The problem was that eating when I wasn’t hungry. This did absolutely nothing to help me get my work done. To the contrary, it kept me from getting it done because I was spending time preparing and eating food instead of working. It was worse if I ate the food at my desk (although I rationalized that I was saving time) because I got no satisfaction from eating the food. I was actually using food to avoid work.
Eventually, I had to rewire my brain so that it would stop telling me those stupid things. Every time I thought, “this sucks, I think I’ll go get something to eat,” I would stop and consider whether I was hungry. Usually, I was not. Then I would ask myself why I wanted to eat. If it was to avoid work, I would replace that “go eat” thought with this important reminder:
If hunger isn’t the problem, food isn’t the solution.
I would also remind myself that eating was not going to help me get the work done.
Sometimes, that felt uncomfortable. After all, struggling with work meant that I was feeling a bunch of emotions like challenged, incapable, nervous, overwhelmed, or bored. I realized, however, that eating wasn’t helping me avoid these emotions. It was just keeping me fat. Maybe the food tasted good in my mouth, assuming I was paying enough attention to notice. But once the food was in my belly, the emotions were still there. And so was the work.
So instead of eating, I decided to just acknowledge that I was doing some hard work, that I was capable of doing it, but that I had to slog through it and get it done. Even if it made me feel pretty crappy while doing so.
I noticed that the uncomfortable emotions went away after a few minutes, and that I was more productive when I didn’t take those snack breaks. What’s more, my weight started going down! I was still cooking delicious meals and eating moderate amounts of baked goods (I kept those around the house for my family, but I was allowed to enjoy them, too!). No diet or deprivation.
By listening to my body, and not using food to avoid feeling uncomfortable emotions, I lost weight.
Are you ready to find out why you are overeating and fix the problem so you can be your naturally healthy weight?