How is 2024 going to be different from all the other years?
It doesn’t matter what time of year it is. It doesn’t have to be New Year’s, you can pick anytime of year to say, I want to lose weight and I’m ready to work on it. Now is a good time. We don’t have to wait for a particular day of the week or calendar or the fresh new year.
I love a fresh new year. I love a fresh month. I love a new Monday. I love the opportunity. Not that I didn’t have the opportunity before but it is sort of refreshing to say, how do I want the future to go? What kinds of changes do I want to make?
I’m assuming if you are here that it’s probably because you’ve lost weight before, only to find it again. When I created Self Made, my coaching program, it was with a promise to the clients I worked with and a really big goal. My goal was to help clients not just lose weight, make the scale go down, or fit into the skinny jeans for a weekend, but to solve weight loss. To lose the weight and keep it off. To figure out what is really going on if someone loses weight, but can’t keep it off.
In all of my experience, it’s not because you have I don’t know a rare carb intolerance, or you’re unable to process a certain amount of protein. There could always be outliers, but by and large, if you’re not losing weight and keeping it off, it’s likely because you weren’t able to sustain the method in which you chose to lose the weight in the first place. For most of us it is usually about cutting calories drastically, just having a lot of really restrictive food rules.
For the short term;
- the really restrictive food rules,
- the food lists,
- the approved foods,
- the unapproved foods,
- the amount of calories or macronutrients,
- this new plan,
- this new program.
Anytime you’ve started a diet for a little while the first couple of weeks you can probably recall that you felt good and like you were in control. And that next new diet is that little dopamine hit that feels truly addictive. It can make you feel powerful, like look at me, I can follow this really hard thing, I can do hard things. I get it. I definitely understand that.
The thing is that when we are unable to keep up with the super low calorie diet or the packaged foods or eating high fat or low carbs or high protein, you know something’s going to happen. You go on vacation or get sick or it’s the summer, or just one day we forgot our lunch on the counter or had a business trip and we just couldn’t keep going. Then every single day after that we found ourselves getting further off track.
The biggest issue with weight loss is generally not that you need more information, a new diet, new macros, a different calorie count, a special supplement, although some of those things can help you of course. Ultimately, when I think about what holds people back from long term weight loss is a lot of stories, feelings, improperly placed responsibility, and just not enough other tools to lose weight.
Dieting is only a tool for weight loss. It’s not the only tool. In fact, it’s something that you cannot keep doing over and over and over to be successful at long term weight loss. You’re probably going to have to take diet breaks. You’re probably going to have to learn how to turn up or turn down the amount of diet that you’re doing. Dieting is not a lifestyle.
When you want to lose weight and you go on a diet, you have to figure out what happens after the six weeks, the 12 weeks, the 20 weeks, the six months. What is that next part? Because we can’t just keep dieting, unless perhaps you’re a professional model and you do get paid hundreds of 1000s of dollars to be constantly dieting. There’s a difference between dieting and lifestyle. And there is room for this so-called dieting. I know we all have different definitions of what that means.
In the intro of my podcast there is a part, it probably got your attention. It goes kind of like this, if you want to truly take the shame and bullshit out of your weight loss, and lose weight for the last time, you are in the right place. So we’re going to talk about some shame and we’re going to talk about some bullshit. But here’s what I want you to consider, instead of thinking about it, or instead of talking about it, for 2024 let’s be about it. Let’s be about it.
Go big or go home.
You’ve heard it a million times, go big or go home. But what does that really mean? I really think that is about playing all out. Going for it. Being all in.
I think that for the most part long term weight loss isn’t just about the food or a diet. There is food involved. There is a certain amount of calories, exercise, health, and nutrition that is going to factor in. But if going on a specific diet was the magic tool, you would have already lost the weight and kept it off. A diet is just one tool in the toolbox. Many other tools are being able to manage your mind and being able to cut through the bullshit, being able to figure out what is causing you the shame that is holding you back.
This is why this is pretty lofty. This is like lose weight forever this year. We’re going to lose weight forever this year, you and I. We can start right now, you don’t have to wait till January 1, or the second or the 15th or January 31. You can get started right away. It’s a process. We’re not just going to flip the switch, start suddenly eating differently, thinking differently and being different. We’re going to have to start practicing some things.
We have so many stories about;
- Our body,
- Weight loss,
- The scale,
It’s totally normal.
Our brain is a story maker. It’s job is to figure out what is going on. To create context and meaning to everything. Sometimes we’re thinking that the story is some kind of like Shakespeare or something with some really intricate dialogue. But sometimes it’s just basic stuff. Stories are just the thoughts that go on and on and on and are thought over and over and over, creating our identity. Things like I just love food too much. Weight loss is has always been hard for me. Everyone in my family is overweight. I’m big boned.
Some of the stories don’t even register as stories, so we begin to think that they are true facts about us, but they are stories. If you want to cut through the bullshit you’re going to have to address the story and you’re going to have to allow it to be there because it is. We’re not trying to shut it down and immediately tell ourselves we’re so stupid for thinking that. That’s not true.
Many of the stories we’ve collected are input that we’ve gotten from other people; our parents, school, Google. We just started to create our own persona. Everything that is right about me, everything that is wrong about me. All of the challenges that I have. You might even have a health challenge. You might be somebody who has hypothyroidism or PCOS or menopause. You might have had a hysterectomy, lost and gained 100 pounds three times. There are a lot of things that are actually true. We take the facts, and often we turn them into these other stories. That is why I can’t do this.
Once we identify stories, some of them are very subtle. I’m a foodie. I love to cook. I love to bake. It’s something I do with my family. Cooking is a big part of who I am. Food is just part of who we are culturally. I’m Italian, I’m Greek, I’m whatever I am, fill in the blank. That’s what we do. And I just want to tell you, I don’t care what nationality you are.
All families have traditions, rituals, and a lot of rich history around food, no matter who you are. We can use that against ourselves in creating stories about how we have to overeat and over consume, and it’s all about the food.
2) Responsibility for why I might not be at the weight I want.
Responsibility for my weight, or my weight loss versus blame. If you want to lose weight forever then this is something we have to take a look at. This isn’t me trying to shake you. Okay, maybe it is, maybe this is the real talk. I have a podcast episode from last year called Real Talk. It’s a good one.
I want to tell you a funny little saying. My husband says it and he got it from his father. I can still hear and picture my father in law saying this, you have no one to blame but yourself. It’s one of those things that if I picked up a bunch of boxes, and I ran down the stairs and I fell, you have no one to blame but yourself. Basically, you’re an idiot. You did a stupid thing and you have no one to blame but yourself. I’ve said it to my kids. You have no one to blame but yourself and I laugh about it because I find it so helpful and not helpful all at the same time.
Here’s the thing, it is easy to blame yourself. It’s easy to blame other people, it’s easy to blame your genetics and your hormones and your boss and the weather. It will be a nonstop blame-a-thon, a blame fest. If we don’t get in front of the blame game, the blame game is fun. It’s super fun. It’s funny to think about. You have no one to blame but yourself, and that’s true.
A lot of times when I ask people what is in their way of weight loss their answer is me, I’m in the way of my weight loss. Like yeah, I know you are but why? What’s the deal? It’s really trying to get underneath the it’s me response. Right? But why? How do we take responsibility for our own weight loss?
I think it’s really just asking the questions and trying to figure out what are the things that I am doing that are keeping me from losing weight? I am evaluating for further testing?
When we are not losing weight 99% of the time it’s because;
- I’m tracking macros, but I didn’t put those bites, licks and tastes that I did all day long.
- I didn’t actually weigh in or measure.
- I didn’t include the drinks I had last night.
We are very selective in what we record, what we remember, or what we ignore.
I do think if you want to lose weight, you have to take radical responsibility for your own results. Sometimes we’re going to have a pity party for ourselves, feel frustrated, and have obstacles as human beings. We’re going to have things that come up that make it harder or more challenging to lose weight. But, at the end of the day, I’m the one eating after dinner, grabbing the popcorn or the pretzels, or you know I love me some peanut m&ms and do not ask me about the family size bag I bought. That’s gonna have to be thrown away.
It happens that we, for whatever reason, are using food for reasons other than physical hunger. As much as we can eat clean, eat protein, eat salads, go for a walk, drink the water, take the supplements and get the sleep, If I’m eating beyond my physical hunger then that is on me, that’s on you. It is on us to get in front of it. I can blame all my hormones, being in menopause, or that I’ve been up three nights in a row because my kid had strep throat. There are a million ways that I can spin it. But at the end of the day, if I have weight to lose, it’s on me.
3) Dopamine addiction.
Human beings love dopamine. It’s the reward. We’re like the mouse in the maze, looking for the cheese. We have dopamine hits all day long.
- Scrolling Facebook or Instagram on your phone,
- Doing online shopping,
- Buying things,
- Eating things,
- Drinking things,
- Acting on urges,
Getting all of this short term reward. Dieting can also provide that.
The flip side of the dopamine addiction is that when I’m not dieting, then I’m just eating. There is no middle ground. I think it’s important to recognize that it’s normal.
Our brains are very creative and very driven towards getting the reward, the candy, the cookies, the drinks. Lots of people will say, I’m addicted to sugar or sweet things or sugary things or fattening foods or whatever. I just can’t, I just love them. It’s like, of course you do.
I’ve said this before, it probably offends people at this point, but I don’t care. If you’re offended, I’m sorry. You can send me an email and tell me so but when people tell me, I just love sugar. I just love cookies. I just love candy. I’m like, yeah, and crack addicts love crack. Why is this a surprise? Why is this a problem? You can love sugar, you can love candy, and you can decide to eat it or not. You can decide to bring it into your house, you can decide ahead of time what you want to do with it.
It’s okay, if right now, there are some foods that you feel you don’t have great control with. Don’t bring them into your house. It takes time to understand how our brains work, how urges work, how our own triggers will work. It just takes time. Why bring all the stuff into your house? If you find it hard to say no.
I do think that over time, when you understand how the desire to eat, urges and triggers. When you just kind of sort of see your own way. For example, a lot of women I work with, they feel like they have so many urges, because they under eat all day. They don’t actually have enough food on board. They are physically hungry. Sometimes we’re just unaware of stress and triggers. You know, coming home to a dirty house. When you left it was clean then when you came home the family had trashed it. You feel this trigger and this urge to over consume.
When I over consume, I eat the cookies, I eat the candy or I pour myself a glass of wine, I get that instant Ah. I get a burst of happiness. I can overlook my disappointment or my anger or my frustration for a moment. Dopamine addiction. This is the same if you’re trying to improve your finances, if you’re trying to improve your relationship or if you want to be successful. You have to actually harness the dopamine and you have to decondition it a little bit.
That could be why people do Dry January. They’re like, I am not going to do well with moderation. I’m just going to say for the month of January that I’m not going to drink. You could do a Dry January on sugar, candy, online shopping, or whatever you want, just to decondition it. Not because you’re an addict, not because you have to go to a 12 step program, unless you have to. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think that’s also false undertaking responsibility.
4) Be willing to fail.
You will have to be willing to fail, and you will have to fail a lot. And the way to fail and fail a lot is just to take action, messy, incomplete action. To be the B minus student, maybe the C student. I just saw an article someone had shared on Facebook, to an article on medium.com. About C students, it’s a very interesting article. I’ll put it on my Facebook today. I already put it in my Facebook group. I put it in my Self Made coaching group. If you’re not already part of my free Facebook group, Food, Fitness, Fat Loss for Women Over 40, you’re gonna want to be there anyway. It’s a great article to read.
It talks about being that perfectionist, perfectionism, waiting for the right time, gathering more information, I have to be 100%, I have to know exactly what I’m doing. I have to do all the research, I have to know more, I have to know more about Bonnie Lefrak before I can work with her Self Made. I don’t blame you for that.
What I’m saying is that we can;
- Talk about it,
- Think about it,
- Research it,
- Want it,
- Have weight loss on our list of resolutions,
But at the end of the day we have to get into action.
I just want to tell you, you’re going to fail. You’re going to fail all the way. Just like if you have kids, they’re going to fail too. They’re going to strike out at baseball. They’re going to not get picked for the cheerleading team. They’re going to get a bad grade on a test. And they’re going to keep going. They’re going to keep failing, winning, learning, getting better, being able to be resilient and grow.
If you want to lose weight forever, do yourself a favor and make peace with failing because you know what? Nobody cares. As much as we think, everybody’s gonna see me fail, fall on my face. Think I’m a loser. Tell me, I told you so, you could never do it. You know what, you fail often enough, eventually you’re going to win.
I promise you I have failed my way through everything. One of my little mantras has always been, I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m going to do it anyway. I did that when I got on stage to compete in bodybuilding. I did that when I started my business, the Fitness Asylum. I think I probably did that when I was like, I’m gonna have kids. I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m going to do it anyway.
For those of you who have had kids, where you’ve gotten married, or you bought a house, or you got a pet, or you went for a promotion, it’s like, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t have a crystal ball. There isn’t a play by play script for everything in life. But I’m just going to do it anyway.
5) Get more curious and a hell of a lot less judgmental.
One of the things I realized is I’m really judgy. I’m very hard on myself. I’m probably very hard on my family. I’m just very judgmental, and I get in front of it. I shut it down. I do it in weird ways. When I think I’m making my list of grievances, but for all the things that are wrong. I reflect on something, like let me picture two swans on a pond. Let me make a list of grievances about the swans. Now this sounds quite crazy, but it’s like, well,they have white feathers, and then they swim on some icky water and eat things. There’s nothing to be judged. They do swamp things.
My point is that humans do human things. People do people things. You’re going to do you things. I’m going to do me things. We could just be more curious and a hell of a lot less judgmental.
If we’re less judgmental. We’re more likely going to move forward. We’re going to figure out what is in our way of our weight loss. What needs our attention most. It’s kind of like the be kind or be compassionate, but instead it’s just be more curious. Like if someone you care about came to you and they’re like, I’m a mess. This is never going to work. I suck. I’ll never get to where I want to go. Would you just be like, I agree, you should probably hang it up? Or would you be curious and ask them questions like, why do you think that? What happened? Can you tell me more? You try to dig in and be like is this really true? Or is this your brain trying to protect you?
Ultimately, when we lose weight, it is scary. It can be unsafe for our brains. It could be a new place. Sometimes we gain weight back because it doesn’t feel safe. And gaining the weight back is just that self sabotage. It’s us being afraid. Feeling fear and shame. It’s something that can be worked on by just being more curious and noticing when you are being judgmental, even if it’s towards yourself, or someone close to you.
It’s normal. Our brains are always looking for problems, always looking for danger, always looking for what is wrong. That doesn’t mean we have to go down that road and find more instances of what is wrong, because you can make a whole list of everything that’s wrong. I challenge you to make a list of everything that is right.
6) Being uncomfortable.
Being uncomfortable and not making it mean anything about you and not eating to make the feelings of uncomfortableness go away.
It is uncomfortable to;
- Do new things,
- Know yourself,
- Take action,
- Risk failing,
- Risk not having the same friend circle.
There could be a lot of different reasons why you haven’t lost weight, or you haven’t kept the weight off. The journey of self discovery is not found in a diet. It is found in figuring out your stories, and taking responsibility for your actions.
I heard this somewhere, I want to say this is Brooke Castillo from The Life Coach School. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure this is her. You don’t have an overeating problem, you have an under feeling problem. Having feelings, feeling feelings is uncomfortable. Our brains will do anything and everything like eat or drink or eat and drink to get away from the feelings. Totally normal.
The five P’s.
I also want to leave you with something actionable. I’m gonna call this the five P’s. If I want to lose weight, and keep it off,
- What will I need to do?
- What can I do to get into action?
- What is this action you speak of?
- How can I be about the weight loss?
Plan. First and foremost, I think the thing that will work for you as it works for me and my clients, is to be willing to plan. That is the first P is to plan ahead. Just like you planned for the holidays, you planned for travel, you planned for Christmas dinner, you plan for anything and everything. It doesn’t mean down to how many carrots are in my salad. We don’t have to get into the minutiae. I don’t have to know the calorie count, or the macro count. I just have to know where am I going to get the kinds of meals that I want to eat?
When I think about planning, I also think about making some type of automated way to eat. I don’t want to make a decision every single day about what to eat. When I can get good at planning, it becomes very easy. It’s plug and play.
Planning ahead. Just one day at a time. I don’t have to plan for the whole week. I don’t have to plan for the whole month. I also probably want to have a plan A, a plan B and a Plan C, because sh*t sometimes goes sideways.
Pause. I want to be able to pause when something comes up. When I notice a thought or a feeling or a trigger, I want to be able to catch my breath and take a break. Whether it’s five seconds or five minutes to figure out what is really going on. Sometimes we’re overeating because it’s habitual, it’s mindless. It may not be necessarily emotional. We want to just get ahead of picking things up and putting them in our mouths. So sometimes we have to just be able to pause.
You have to practice that. You have to be able to tell yourself, I need just a minute here. Coming home from work into the house, or picking the kids up from school, or transitioning from dinner to bedtime. Sometimes those are the areas where we need to be able to pause.
Process. This could be a couple of things. Being able to process your own emotions is part of this overall equation, and that takes time. Sometimes it’s just naming the emotion before you even process it. I also want to point out that knowing that this is a process, thinking about it systematically, and not just assuming that we know how to be more flexible or that we know how to feel our feelings.
Allow the process to be whatever it’s going to be, you’re going to be the one to create the process and to create your protocol. You get to write the rules, but part of that is being able to sit with those feelings. So process the feelings.
Pivot. This is really about that level of resiliency. The ability to fail, pick yourself back up, and assess what went well or what didn’t go so well.
- What can I do next?
- What is my next best choice?
- What is my plan B?
- When the shIt hits the fan, what can I do?
- How can I not be so all or nothing?
- So black or white?
- So all in all out?
- What is my pivot?
Pivoting is a skill, I bet you have been able to pivot in many areas of your life. Use that for your weight loss.
Patience. Chances are if you have 10 pounds, 20 pounds, 50 pounds, whatever the amount of weight that you’re looking to lose, you didn’t gain it all in a day or a week or a month. You might have been gaining and losing the same 20 plus pounds for the last 10 years. If we want to lose weight forever this year, we’re going to have to do it a little bit differently. It doesn’t have to be radically different. It’s not painfully different. I’m not saying it’s going to be super slow.
You’ve probably heard me say this before, slow weight loss is still weight loss. If I’m going to hover over the scale and create all of my emotions around the scale, I am not going to lose weight forever. I’m not. I am going to ride the continual roller coaster. I’m going to think about weight loss, dieting, food, my body and my weight for the rest of my life.
When I think about dieting versus lifestyle, lifestyle to me means I want to have a life. I want to think about other things. I want to use my brain for creating new things, for being present with my family, for enjoying holidays, for just enjoying myself. Not having to think about how many carbs are in that protein bar. This takes time. I, as a lifetime dieter, fully understand that.
You might be like me that it does seem like without a strict diet, there is no way to lose weight. The road to permanent weight loss is not long and slow and tedious but it does take a commitment. It means doing things just a little bit differently. On the other side of that strict diet is going to be a level of flexibility that you can enjoy.
Strict and flexible, mean different things to different people. That’s a beautiful thing. What is strict to me might be not strict to you, and vice versa. It is about baby steps. Just like your kid trying out for soccer, hitting the home run, getting an A+ in school, that kid graduating from college, this is all just a process. We don’t go from kindergarten to getting a PhD in three months.
If we want the PhD, if we want that next level job, we want to open a business, we want to save $100,000, we want to move to Florida, marry the man of our dreams, have another kid, open a Dog Rescue Ranch, lose 20 pounds and keep it off, wherever, whatever it is that you want. You just have to start. You can research. You can Google. You can do all the things but at the end of the day, we just have to take action.
Think about planning for the day. Think about being able to take a pause, process your feelings, and be able to pivot. Above all else, i you can’t have patience, don’t act from impatience.
ABOUT THE HOST
Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.
Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on.
Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience. Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.
By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.
Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you u****k your diet brain. She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.
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