Let’s address the elephant in the room AKA coaches who are posting the idea of eating whatever you want and lose weight or lose weight without giving up your favorite foods. As somebody who’s been on diet, that is really enticing. But there’s more to the story. I’m here to tell you that it really is our thoughts about what restriction means or doesn’t mean and talk about the feeling of deprivation is what matters the most.
This idea of food freedom and intuitive eating.
These are not new concepts. Coaches want to support their clients. We want to push aside the idea of restriction and deprivation. Our brains offer to us that the only way to lose weight is through restriction and deprivation as if these two things go hand in hand.
Your brain equates “food freedom” with the thoughts of “I’m going to eat whatever I want. As much as I want. Whenever I want.” That is food freedom and intuitive eating to your brain. Our If you want a hamburger, then obviously that’s your intuition telling you that you should have it.
None of that is wrong.
I am all aboard. I’m over here flying the flag of food freedom. For you. For me. For everyone. Hurray. I am a proponent of food freedom. I’ve learned a lot about food and eating just from watching my kids eat. They have food freedom.
But here’s the problem. When you’re looking at women who are 35-55, and we’ve got decades of diet history, guess what? Our intuition around food is fucked. It’s really just not there yet. It hasn’t been really trained.
“Am I hungry? What does that even mean? What does it mean to be hungry? Or to feel hungry? How does it feel in my body? What is really going on for me? Why am I opening the refrigerator?”
Most women haven’t really even taken two minutes to think about if they are really hungry. We just don’t have the skills yet for intuitive eating. So, we start to feel like we’re broken. We’re seeing all these people who talk about food freedom, intuitive eating, and everything in moderation. You can have anything you want and lose weight.
FACT: if you don’t have the skill set YET, it’s something you can learn.
It doesn’t happen overnight, and it is something that you practice. I’ve talked about moderation before. There are some things in life we cannot be moderate with. And the more that we try to put that square peg in the round hole, the more frustrated we’re going to become and we’re going to feel bad about it.
I am here to tell you there’s nothing wrong with you. You have a human brain. And it does human brain things that it’s been doing for a really long time.
Time to take a timeout on intuitive eating.
Let’s just put a little pin in this food freedom and intuitive eating and all of the coaches who are coming on board with it and promising you that you can have whatever you want. Because there’s more to it. It really is learning about your human brain, retraining your level of desire, and working on delayed gratification. This is a process. It isn’t an overnight thing.
You will always feel like there’s something wrong with you if you approach weight loss in these binary ways. It’s either I go on a diet and I restrict, restrict, restrict, restrict, or I try to throw myself into intuitive eating and I rub my crystals and hope for the best and can’t understand why every day I end up overeating or eating things that aren’t serving my greater goals. That’s why it’s confusing.
Let me shine a little bit of a light on the middle path.
Restriction is like a dirty word these days. But here’s the thing…in life, we are going to be restricted on some things. Restriction is not a bad thing. For example, at a red light, you’re supposed to stop your car. Okay, fair enough. You’re also not supposed to go to the bank and steal the money.
There are a lot of restrictions in life. They just are rules. Some are very obvious, and some are more subtle, right? You’re not supposed to like tackle people in the grocery store if they cut in front of you in line. That’s a restriction you might get arrested for. Restriction seems like this horrible monster that we put in our heads around weight loss. If I want to lose weight or need to lose weight or decide to lose weight, I am going to be restricted.
You can make the word restriction mean anything you want.
When it does come to weight loss, let’s push aside everything. Thoughts, feelings, habits…let’s just push it all aside. At the core of weight loss, we do have to create some level of caloric deficit. That’s how you’re going to lose weight. It doesn’t have to be a huge deficit, but a deficit, nonetheless. Our brains want to make this out to be a bigger deal than it actually is. That is just your brain on a diet.
Your brain makes restriction into like this whole big terrible thing. It’s like you’re being tortured by this idea of restriction. But here’s the deal. That’s where this food freedom or intuitive eating comes down. It is in the thought process of what it is to be restricted. What foods you do want? What foods do you not want? You have to have some level of rules for yourself.
Restriction is just a word.
Ask yourself this right now…how do I feel when I think about restriction? You might actually literally feel physically restricted. It is just this whole idea of restriction as a problem. What if it’s not a problem? What if restriction is anything you make it? If you ask 10 people how they lose weight, they probably come up with 10 different things. You can make that feel restrictive. Or you can make that feel expansive or structured. You can make it anything you want it to be.
I never feel restricted or deprived.
Do you know why? Because I just decided those weren’t problems for me. That’s all it is. Those are words that we give meaning to from our own thoughts. Decades of diets, losing weight and gaining weight, losing weight and gaining weight and all the feelings around that create the big hairy monster around being restricted or deprived.
If you do want food freedom, and you want intuitive eating, you can do that. I can help you. That’s what I do inside Self Made. It’s not just “Hey, follow this plan. Shut up and do it.” Because I have plans like that, too. But what I realized was, for women who were losing weight, not keeping it off it, it isn’t because they have the wrong plan or no macros or don’t know how to work out or can’t go for a walk. None of that really matters.
It really comes down to a mindset.
It comes down to you understanding everything that we think might not be true, and we get to choose. There is a lot of power we can take back when we start to really look at the topics of restriction and deprivation and what they really mean. Because weight loss is going to come to some level of caloric deficit. And that’s why all diets do work.
So, when you can embrace that restriction or deprivation is all in the eye of the beholder, then you’re ready for food freedom. But until then, you’re really going to be square peg round hole.
NOTES IN ANCHOR
Unpopular opinion: We need to pump the brakes on the intuitive eating and food freedom approach to weight loss. Now…before you get your panties in a bunch, read on. None of that is wrong. I am all aboard. I’m over here flying the flag of food freedom. For you. For me. For everyone. Hurray. I am a proponent of food freedom. I’ve learned a lot about food and eating just from watching my kids eat. They have food freedom.
But here’s the problem…
When you’re looking at women who are 35-55, and we’ve got decades of diet history, guess what? Our intuition around food is fucked. We need to take some time to retrain our brains to know that restriction is what we make of it.
ABOUT THE HOST
Bonnie Lefrak has been in the health and fitness industry for 25 years. As a former bikini competitor, Bonnie helps other women achieve their dreams of being on stage as bikini competitors through her bikini program at the gym she owns in Massachusetts called Fitness Asylum. But as a self-proclaimed professional dieter, Bonnie also realized the toll dieting takes on the human brain.
Bonnie helps women over 40 lose weight without killing themselves in the gym, eliminate all the BS food drama, and help to create a life and body they LOVE. She wants 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. Transformation doesn’t happen on the scale. She is an expert at Demystifying weight loss and helps you unfuck your diet brain.
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