How Weight Loss is Different for Women
By Zaheen Nanji
Whenever I talk about behaviour weight loss, I have women who come up to me after and tell me: “Ask me about nutrition, I know it all. I know what I have to eat and I have been on so many different diets that I get it. What I struggle with is my relationship with food, my behaviours around my coping mechanisms and my mind set.”
Does this sound familiar to you too?
Women’s weight loss is very different from that of men because for generations women have been receiving different messages about their image and values. From one extreme where the over-sexualizing of young adults and women occur on television to another extreme where women are being used and abused, sends different meaning to not only adult women but even to female children as young as 5 years old. These meanings amount to the following beliefs that most women carry around:
- I have to look sexy to be attractive to the opposite sex.
- No one will love me because I’m fat. I’m not worth it.
- I have to take care of others needs first before mine.
- If I am too attractive, my spouse will be jealous.
- I have to fit in.
- As a woman I can do it all – I have to be perfect.
There are more, but these are the most common ones I have come across and no diet can fix that unless you deal with your WHY behind your weight struggle or your relationship with food.
There is a difference between diets and lifestyle eating. Diets are like a toolbox – they give you the physical tools to get to your ideal weight. Lifestyle eating is the journey where we improve our relationship with food forever, where we have learned the WHY behind our weight struggle and find different ways to deal with our emotions rather than turning to food, and lastly you ‘master the self ‘in the process. As I interviewed people for my book that had attracted and maintained their ideal weight, I kept hearing over and over again how each one them decided to take responsibility and flex her attitude when it came to her weight and her relationship with food. Here are four ways you can start attracting your ideal weight:
- Park your emotions
If you eat when you stressed, overwhelmed, bored or anxious, acknowledge your feelings instead of numbing them with food, and park them in an imaginary parking lot just like you would park your car and get out of it. Now ask yourself, “If I’m feeling this way, why am I feeling this way and what can I do to lessen this emotion other than turning to food?”
- Reprogram to move forward
This is a two-step process. The first step in this process is to think about the outcome or the end result if you did turn to food, and really be there and notice what you experience. Most of my clients say that they feel horrible or guilty after indulging and they just feel worse if they were to turn to food. Imagining the outcome and noticing your feelings, stops you from doing that very act. The second step is to choose a mentor or someone that you aspire to be – preferably someone in your own circle, and ask yourself, “What would (name) do if she was feeling this way?” Then try to model something similar that your mentor would do.
- Master the self
You are aware of your strengths and your weaknesses. Build on your strengths and learn to improve on your weaknesses so that you can move beyond them. You are building resilience as you do that. A woman that I interviewed for my book ran a marathon for the first time in her life and couldn’t complete it because of her health and weight. However, she did not give up. In fact, she decided to release weight and start running so she was prepared for the next marathon.
- Listen to your body not your mind
Anytime you eat, notice the symptoms your body sends you. Are you bloated, gassy, sluggish or suffering from abdominal cramps two hours after a meal? Take a note of what you ate and stop eating that particular food for a week. Now notice, if you suffered from any of those symptoms. One of my clients loved oatmeal for breakfast, but she would complain of abdominal cramps by lunch time. I asked her to stop eating oatmeal for breakfast and instead have a smoothie or eggs. A week later she was amazed that she had not suffered from any abdominal cramps.
The four steps outlined take practice and you will notice your relationship with food changing which will impact your weight and the beliefs you hold about yourself.
Zaheen Nanji is a resilience champion and teaches people how to embrace change and bounce back. She is also the author of an award-winning book, Attract Your Ideal Weight – 8 Secrets of People Who Lose Weight and Keep it Off. The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iBooks. She can be reached at https://www.attractyouridealweight.com and Shanti Wellness Centre.
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