Edited 2019: With Hashimoto's, resistant weight loss is a real issue. And getting our thyroid to work properly, with the liver and adrenals and the entire endocrine system, takes time. But...there is still more to consider. For EVERYONE looking to lose weight. These are thoughts to consider. Please read on.
"But, Jenn! I keep dieting and exercising and the scale won't budge! What am I doing wrong?", exclaims Client X, Y and Z and Girlfrends 1, 2, and 3.
Believe me, I used to ask the same thing -- over and over and over -- and did the same thing -- over and over and over -- and got the same dismal results -- over and over and...then I cracked the code! I found my answer in three words.
Diets don't work.
I know! It's a painful truth. Or is it? Wouldn't it be great to know you never have to utter the word diet again?
Here are the stats:
20% of American adults are on a diet. (Honestly? WHo do you know who isn't on a diet??)
Yet, 34.9%, or 78.6 million, are obese;
And 9.3%, or 29 million, have diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes -- while another 8 million are undiagnosed
If diets worked, we wouldn't have this problem.
The original Oxford English definition of diet points loud and clear to the reason diets don’t work. The term "diet” was defined as,
“Prescribed course of food, restricted in kind or limited in quantity, especially for medical or penal reasons; regiment ”.
This was as early as the 14th Century. It’s unfathomable why a term linked to describe restriction and punishment is still used for how we eat today. How is that motivating?
However, this 14th Century definition does help to boil down the two of the three real reasons that diets just don’t work:
1) Restriction. By restricting calories, we are essentially telling our body, our brain, that we are starving. Our brain thinks "danger!!" and responds with cortisol. This continues over time, and we are in a state of too much glucose, insulin resistance, and resistance to leptin -- the hormone that tells us that we are full and to stop eating.
Restriction is also counter-productive because weight loss is truly about eating more.
How can this be? How can we tell people to eat MORE when so many are already overweight?
It’s not about the amount of food, or the number of calories, it’s about eating more nutrients. Eating REAL.
People are obese for a multitude of reasons that I’ll explain later. But, it’s not because they are eating too many nutrients!
Eating low quality food signals the brain that we are in a nutrient deficit, causing us to crave and eat MORE. People think dieting is about willpower, continually battling themselves to “make it work”, when the odds are against them as their undernourished state causes their bodies to keep asking to be fed!
Restriction doesn't work.
2) Punishment. When we starve our bodies of nutrients, we are punishing our systems. When we let a diet make the rules and tell us food is bad, that WE are bad, we feel as though we are being punished. What does a toddler do when placed in a time-out? Kick and scream and cry. This is what diets do to fully functioning adults. Believe me, I have been there. Not pretty! Whether it’s from bland food, fake food, too little food, or impossible guidelines...people quit. Or they revolt! And, thus, the cycle begins!
Punishment doesn't work.
So, what's the third reason diets don't work?
3) Biological and psychological individuality. Even with so many different diets out there, nothing but a custom plan can work for an individual.
Just as we each look different on the outside, we are different on the inside. It’s not just what we eat but what our body can do with what we eat. We all have different metabolisms, and not just in terms of speed, but different nutritional needs or deficiencies that affect how we break down, store, and eliminate food. All bodies have different levels of inflammation -- whether from food allergies and intolerances, toxins, or disease (like Hashimoto's!) -- and inflammation makes losing weight completely impossible.
But even more importantly, every individual has a psychological history with food, with eating, with emotions, with stress.
Some people hold onto weight – could it be they can’t let go of certain emotions or past experiences? The guilt, the blame, anger or inability to forgive is not only weighing them down emotionally, but it's sabotaging any weight loss.
Some people overeat – could it be they are lonely and stuff their loneliness away by shoving in food that becomes their friend...only to have the loneliness return? And the cycle repeats.
While others will lose weight, only to gorge themselves after having a tiny slip-up – could it be they were made to feel bad for mistakes they made as a child? Punishment, believe it or not, has become a safe thing for them, it's something they are USED to, so punishment, in terms of "I screwed up, so I'll eat more to make myself feel worse" actually becomes a relief.
Some people get so far...only to regress. They suddenly throw in the towel and quit -- could it be because losing weight might mean losing their Sunday morning donut run friends? Or they could be afraid of success. Who are THEY to be thin when their family is obese? What...then?
While others have a "never going to happen" attitude -- could it be that they simply don’t trust others who have always let them down so they won’t trust themselves?
Losing weight isn't just about what we are eating, but why we are eating. Why our bodies are holding tight. Even those who have gotten themselves to lose weight, to eat the foods with the proper nutritional components, even they can have an unhealthy relationship with food. So they are thin but they are not healthy. Why? Because they haven’t asked themselves the questions: "What got me here in the first place? How do I feel about food, about my life? Who can I turn to? What is causing this lack of confidence? When am I ever really present? How can I decrease the distress in my life?"
If they don't ask the right questions, the weight is going to come back.
Ignoring biological and psychological individuality doesn't work.
This is why I would love, in my lifetime, for the word “diet” to become one of those obsolete words removed from the Oxford English Dictionary. (this includes words followed by the word diet - paleo, vegan, fruititarian, vegetarian, gluten free, keto...GAHHHH just find what works for YOU!)
Instead of dieting, people will start LIVING. People will learn to care for themselves, appreciate their history for what it can teach them, learn to slow down and be present, learn to love themselves enough to stop feeding their bodies with junk and start feeding themselves with real food, real fun, and real life.
liv·ing /liviNG/: (1) lifelong commitment to nourishing the mind, body, heart, and soul. (2) defined any other way is NOT liv·ing
Now, put down that calorie counter app and go start living! Peace out!
 ADP Eating Trends Report 2014
 Journal of American Medical Association 2011-2012
 National Diabetes Statistic Report 2014