This kind of effort feels easy

One of our members just had a big A-ha moment I have to share with you.

She was reflecting on the fact that making Weighless choices requires some effort.  Awareness takes effort. Planning takes effort. Making decisions takes effort.

(Fortunately, we have an entire curriculum of tools designed to help you build and strengthen these skills and practices.)

But, she realized, the Weighless approach does NOT require a lot of willpower.

“The effort I’m investing in weighing less feels EASY because there’s desire and passion behind it. Using willpower, on the other hand, feels torturous and lasts shorter periods.”

That’s why relying on willpower never gets you very far…or at least not for very long. And why the sort of shifts experienced in the Weighless Program are so long-lasting (and far-reaching).

As another of our members recently shared:

For me, the difference in this program from other “diets“ is that this is the first time I’m truly focused on myself and my habits rather than the food. It’s not about saying goodbye to things I really like but learning how to incorporate them in an overall healthier way that leads to satisfaction…and a Weighless life.

How about you? Can you sense the crucial difference between the willpower required to lose weight and the kind of effort that it takes to become someone who weighs less?

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Freedom to Choose Vs. Rules to Obey

One of the things that makes our approach different is that we don’t tell you what to do. We don’t give you a list of foods you’re not allowed to have. We don’t give you a meal plan or a workout routine We don’t tell you how many points or calories you’re allowed to have, or how many steps you have to register before you’re allowed to go to bed.

Instead, we teach you how to align your choices with your goals. How to observe your experience–and your results–and adjust accordingly.

It’s enormously freeing. But for people who are used to diets and programs based on rules and restrictions, this can be unfamiliar…and uncomfortable.

“Too much freedom makes me feel out of control,” one of our newer members just said.

Can you relate? We THINK we just want someone to tell us what to do. To set rules and limits for us to obey. Which works…until it doesn’t.

We confuse having someone else making all the decisions with being “in control.” Having the freedom to decide what we (really) want feels too scary…at first.

But hear this:  When you have no freedom, you are not in control.  Taking control means taking responsibility. But it also offers true freedom.

Does the idea of having practices instead of rules feel scary or exciting to you?

Respect your hunger (but ask to see ID)

Chronic dieters often tell me that one of the hardest things about losing weight is constantly being hungry.

In the Weighless program, we don’t go hungry.

The correct response to the biological cue of hunger is to seek food. We don’t override or suppress this response.

But we also don’t eat constantly, either.

What we do instead is learn to recognize whether we are truly hungry–or just feel an urge to eat for some other reason.   And if we realize that the impulse to eat is actually out of boredom or stress or habit, we practice responding to those needs more appropriately.

We tackle this skill in month 2 of our 12 month program and many of our alumni look back on this as one of the most transformational parts of the program.

Want to give it a try? Here are some tips to help you decide whether it’s actually time to eat:

  • Consider when and what you last ate. If it’s been several hours since your last meal, or your meal was very small, you may actually be hungry. But if you just had a meal an hour ago or just ate a snack, you probably don’t really need food. Try drinking a glass of water and see if that removes the hungry feeling.
  • Consider your emotional state. If you’re feeling bored, anxious, stressed, lonely, or if you’re procrastinating doing something you don’t want to do, be skeptical of that feeling of “hunger.”
  • Consider what you want to eat. If you want to eat a bag of chips or a cookie, but you don’t want to eat a salad or chicken with broccoli, you’re probably not really hungry.
  • Try distracting yourself. Call a client, do a little work, or take a short walk. If you still feel hungry after 10 minutes, it might be time for a (healthy) meal or snack.

With a little practice, you’ll get a lot better at distinguishing true hunger from the urge to eat–giving you the opportunity to respond more appropriately.  You really can weigh less without ever feeling hungry, deprived or resentful.

Stop exercising to burn calories

I just saw yet another infographic showing how much exercise is required to burn off various fast foods: a Krispie Kreme donut,  McDonalds French fries, five Oreos, a grande Starbucks frappuccino, etc. (I’m not going to link to it here because I don’t want to encourage this sort of thing!)

Fitness trackers and calorie counters make it seem like the only reason to exercise is to burn off those pesky calories.

A couple of years ago, there was even a serious discussion about adding an “activity equivalent” to the calorie count on our nutrition facts labels.

But all of this just reinforces the dieter’s mindset: the idea that we have to offset “bad” eating choices with “good” behaviors like exercise.

Burning calories is NOT the primary benefit of exercise. Nor should it be the primary goal.

So what’s the point of exercise, then?

  • Increased strength, flexibility, and balance
  • Strong bones
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved sleep
  • Enhanced immunity
  • Reduced chronic pain
  • Better mood

And by the way – exercise isn’t just the 20, 30, or 60 minutes you spend at the gym or doing a workout video in your living room.  Your day is full of opportunities to move, stretch, and strengthen your body.  You just need to get into the habit of noticing and taking advantage of them!

The human body was designed for movement, and learning to move more can truly improve the quality of your life–and also help you weigh less in the long run.

How can you add more movement into your day today?

40 pounds in 30 months

One of our charter members just reached a huge milestone: Jeanne has now lost more than 20% of her body weight since beginning the Weighless program in July 2017. And all without a single day of dieting.

How did she do it? I’ll let her tell you in her own words

“My Weighless journey actually started when I did your Nutrition Upgrade program in March 2017. It was an incredible reset after giving birth and not paying attention to my diet for a couple years. I lost ten pounds from that March until July when Weighless started. And you can see my log since then:

“I’ve lost a similar amount of weight previously in my life and then gained it back. For a while I was really worried that it could happen again, but I really believe that this time is different because of the tools and awareness I’ve gained.

“My Weighless habits are 100% ingrained and it’s effortless to continue living this way. I love how strong I feel. I can’t thank you and Brock enough for your guidance the past couple years.

“It’s been LIFE CHANGING and not just on the scale.”

Why not start making progress toward your goals today?  The 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade program that kick-started Jeanne’s astonishing accomplishment (almost 40 pounds in 30 months!) is happening now. All the details are here.

If it’s not sustainable, it’s not success

Diets, cleanses and detoxes sell you on the promise of certain results:

  • Lose XX pounds in X weeks!
  • Flaunt a flatter stomach!
  • Drop a dress size!
  • Fit into your “skinny jeans”!

Sometimes they even deliver on those promises.  Follow a restrictive diet or intensive exercise regimen for a month or two and you probably will lose a bunch of weight.

But unless you’re prepared to keep on doing whatever you’re doing to lose the weight, there’s really no point. Because if that’s not sustainable, then neither is the weight loss.

That’s why we need to focus less on the promise and more on the process. Before you embark on a new program, ask yourself:

  • Will I actually enjoy eating (or exercising) this way?
  • Does it fit it into my schedule and life long term?
  • Would I be able to keep it up even during busy or stressful times?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, whatever success you have is likely to be short-lived.

Permanent success comes from sustainable habits.

What’s your best habit right now? Not a wish or a goal, but an actual habit–a behavior that you’ve succeeded in establishing as a long-term pattern? What sustainable result is it supporting?

How (and why) to hack your habitat

Research done in school cafeterias shows that making the lid of an ice cream cooler opaque reduces ice cream sales, while having a bowl of fruit by the cash register increases fruit sales.

But kids aren’t the only ones who are powerfully influenced by visual cues.

In the Weighless program, we work on tweaking our homes and workplaces in ways that make it easier and more automatic to make healthier food and movement choices. (We refer to this as “hacking our habitat.”)

For example:

  • Put fresh fruit, raw veggies, sparkling water, and other ready-to-grab healthy options in the front of the fridge at eye level.
  • Keep foods that you are likely to overeat out of sight–or better yet, out of the house altogether. It’s much easier to exercise your willpower once at the grocery store than consistently trying to exercise willpower every night while watching TV.
  • If your office break room is always full of donuts or other not-worth-it temptations, figure out fun ways to avoid going in there. Can you buy your afternoon coffee at a cafe instead of getting it from the break room? Can you fill up your water bottle at a water fountain by the restroom?
  • Keep a set of hand weights or resistance bands in a basket near the TV and use them while viewing.
  • Position your walking/running shoes so that you see them every time you open the closet.

If all of that seems too simplistic or obvious, you may be under-estimating the power of behavioral economics.  Even the researchers who study these effects are subject to their influence!

In one study, a group of nutrition professionals attended a lecture in which they reviewed studies and watched video demonstrations showing that people eat more when they use larger bowls.

Immediately after the lecture, they attended a reception (which was actually part of the study). Sure enough, those who were handed larger bowls served themselves more ice cream than those who were given smaller bowls–and adamantly denied that the size of the plate influenced their consumption.

My point is that none of us is too smart to benefit from a little habitat hacking.

As you go through your week this week, look around your familiar environment with fresh eyes. See if you can think of any small changes that would support your healthy goals. Got a good one to share? Need ideas? Head on over to Weighless Facebook Group for inspiration.

How to stop the guilt/deprivation cycle

We’ve been talking lately about the many choices that we get to make about what, whether, and how much to eat, and working on making these choices more intentional.  But I want to caution you against framing these choices in terms of Want vs. Should.

“I really WANT to have a bowl of ice cream. But I SHOULD say no.”

This is a lose-lose scenario!   If you give in and have what you want, you feel bad for not doing what you should.  And if you stick to your guns and do what you should, you don’t get to have what you want.

If this is how you are setting up your choices, your whole day becomes a depressing and exhausting series of decisions that either lead to guilt or deprivation.  Who wants to live like that?

As you’re considering what to choose, avoid loaded words like want, need, should, and shouldn’t. Focus instead on the fact that you have options, and that each option has pros and cons.

“I could have a bowl of ice cream. Or I could have a piece of fruit instead.”

“I can have ice cream tonight or I can look forward to that as a treat at the end of the week.”

“I can have two scoops or I can have one scoop.”

“I could eat ice cream until I feel better or I could take a walk and see if I can find a way through this feeling that doesn’t move me away from my goals.”

Consider what you get from each.  How much and what kind of satisfaction or pleasure would you get? How long will that last? (5 minutes? 10?) How will you feel after that? (Stronger? Calmer? Regretful?) How long will THAT feeling last? (A day? A Lifetime?)

Even the difference between saying “I get to make so many choices every day!” instead of “I have to make so many choices every day” can be so empowering.

This week, I invite you listen to your self-talk a little more carefully.  Instead of setting yourself up for a lose/lose situation, see if you can frame your choices in terms of which presents the more meaningful win.

Choose to Say Yes More Often

Last week, I talked about the many choices that we get to make each day about whether, what, and how much we want to eat. Becoming more aware of these choices is one of the first thing we work on in the year long Weighless program.  But our members are often confused about this at first.

They think this means self-policing every move.

They think doing it “right” means always doing what they “should.”

But it’s more subtle than that. It’s about noticing how often we actually have an opportunity to make a choice. (Remember: A habit is just a choice we don’t realize we’re making.)

Because when we can tune into the fact that we’re actually making a choice, making a different choice suddenly becomes an option!

So, before I reflexively order/serve/grab/eat something, I take a moment to consider: Am I actually hungry or just responding to a cue? Do I really want this or would something else be more satisfying?

The other big misunderstanding is that your only two choices are Yes and No.   (And that the right choice is always No.)

But these are not your only choices!  Other great choices include:

“Yes, but just half that much, thanks.”

“Yes, but not right now. I think I’ll save that for later.”

“No, I’d actually much prefer ____________ instead.”

And, of course, every once in a while the right choice is: “HELL YES!!”

So, as you continue to tune in to the many choices you get to make every day, try to enjoy the freedom this offers you. See if you can find ways to say Yes more often, but in ways that are more aligned with your goal of weighing less.

The difference between losing weight and weighing less

If you’re not happy with your current weight, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about how to lose weight.

“I will eat 1200 calories a day.”

“I’ll ban all carbs.”

“I’ll drink protein shakes for breakfast and lunch.”

“I’ll do Whole 30. (Again).”

But these are not strategies that lead to weighing less. These are strategies that (sometimes) lead to losing weight, and then (usually) regaining it.

I want you to stop focusing on how you’re going to lose weight.  Instead, I want you to imagine that you weigh less right now. Really picture what that looks and feels like. And now, I want you to walk yourself through a typical day. What sort of habits and lifestyle does that version of you have?

For example, as a person who weighs less, you’d probably:

  • Limit your intake of sweets, refined carbohydrates, and fried foods. (Note: I didn’t say “never eat sweets, refined carbohydrates, or fried foods.”)
  • Avoid eating in front of the television or computer.
  • Eat more vegetables and fewer starches. (In other words, gravitate toward foods that fill you up for fewer calories.)
  • Take slightly smaller portions.
  • Stop at a single cocktail or glass of wine.
  • Have fruit for dessert—or no dessert, most of the time.
  • Drink water or tea instead of soda.
  • Make time most days for a 20-30 minute walk at lunch or before dinner, or both.
  • Take time on weekends to shop and do a little cooking so that you’re not as dependent on take-out and prepared foods to get you through the busy week.

The Secret is to Start at the Finish Line

Can you picture that trim, healthy person? Can you imagine what a typical day looks like? Can you see what’s on the dinner plate, shopping cart, and kitchen cupboards? Good.

Because that’s what I want you to start choosing right now.  Start practicing the mindset, habits, and lifestyle of someone who weighs less and you will become someone who weighs less. (Instead of someone who is constantly trying to lose weight.)

This is not some sort of law of attraction baloney. It’s pure (and proven) cause and effect.

So, who are you going to be today?