Extensive research has revealed that the old calories-in-and-calories-out model of weight loss just doesn’t work anymore. It doesn’t take into consideration the nutrient content of the food or how that food is metabolized in the body. It doesn’t take into consideration your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions about certain foods.
Weight Loss is Not About Managing Food Intake
Consider this: Alia Crum, a clinical psychologist gave people a 380-calorie milkshake under the pretense that it was either a 620-calorie “indulgent” shake or a 140-calorie “sensible” shake. She then measured the levels of grehlin. Grehlin is a hunger hormone that increases when we are hungry, which drives us to go hunt and gather food. It also lowers when we find food, and increases metabolism to digest and absorb what we have eaten. It also slows metabolism in the case that we don’t find food.
In the study, participants were asked to rate the milkshake, and grehlin levels were measured. After individuals consumed the “indulgence” shake, they reported feeling very satisfied, it decreased their levels of grehlin dramatically, and their metabolisms kicked in to begin digesting and utilizing the nutrients.
Then, when individuals consumed the “sensible” shake, it produced a relatively flat ghrelin response. They reported not feeling as satisfied and metabolism was not triggered to the same degree.
In short, the satiation level of the participants was consistent with what they believed they were consuming rather than the actual nutritional value of what they consumed, and their metabolism responded accordingly.
This explains why one person can eat bacon cheeseburgers regularly without gaining weight, and another person just has to take one bite and gains ten pounds! Weight loss it turns out, is not about managing your food intake; it is about managing your thoughts, beliefs and emotions.
Renovating Your Beliefs For Weight Loss
We’ve learned how thoughts, beliefs, and emotions play a crucial role in the weight loss process and how renovating your beliefs can help you finally get you where you want to be.
First lets look at thoughts. If you pay attention to your thoughts you will find that 95% of them are not true, are irrelevant, and are repetitive. Seriously, if you really look into your thoughts with curiosity and ask the question, “Is this thought true?” you will find that most thoughts are not true.
Now let’s look at beliefs. A belief is just a thought that has been thought over and over until it becomes a belief. That’s what a belief is. So if thoughts are unreliable, so are beliefs.
Now let’s look at emotions. Emotions are what arise from our thoughts and beliefs. So if thoughts and beliefs are unreliable, so are emotions. We see this clearly when one moment we are feeling guilty and believe we are a bad person because we ate ice cream, and the then feeling joy when we receive a phone from someone who tells us they love and appreciate us.
Many people don’t examine their beliefs about food, this can be eye opening and very insightful. Spend some time writing down your beliefs about food. You can’t see how true or untrue they are until you know what they are.
An example of this would be: I think bacon cheeseburgers are unhealthy and bad for me. I believe I will gain weight if I eat ice cream every night. I believe the only way for me to lose weight is to starve myself. More than one glass of wine is unhealthy.
Now it’s your turn.
- Write down your own beliefs about foods.
- Take a look at the beliefs you have written down and inquire with curiosity into whether or not those beliefs are true. “Do I absolutely know that bacon cheeseburgers are bad for me?” “Do I know for certain that if I eat ice cream every night I will gain weight?” “Is it true that the only way I can lose weight is to starve myself?” Write down whether your beliefs are true or false by putting a little F or T next to the statement.
Remember that food in itself is not good or bad; it is our thoughts about them that make them good or bad, and the amount and frequency at which we eat them that determines if they are health giving or unhealthy.
One person may look at the bacon cheeseburger and see lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and protein. Another person may see white bread, mayonnaise, and grease. According to the study above, each of those individuals body will likely react according to their beliefs, making whatever they eat a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Whether I gain weight from eating ice cream every night depends on my beliefs about that food, the amount I dish up, and the frequency that I dish up. What if I change my beliefs and decide to have ice cream every night, and believe that as long as I honor my body by eating intuitively, I won’t gain weight. If I tune into my body, and it is satisfied after only a couple of bites. Will I still gain weight?
It is not true that I have to starve myself to lose weight; in fact our metabolism actually slows down when we don’t eat. But does it? Can I change my metabolism by changing my belief? This is a can of worms we are just now starting to open.
While studies may claim that more than one glass of wine is unhealthy, with all of our different metabolisms, blood sugar levels, digestions, etc. can what may be true for one person be true for another? How would we really know?
Change Your Beliefs, Change Your Life
When you renovate your house, you look for things you wish to change; renovating your beliefs are no different. What new belief would you like to replace an old one with? Really dig deep into what you would like to change or what you would like to achieve.
Your renovated beliefs may look something like this: I believe that any one food is not “good” or “bad” it is simply cause and effect and I can gage whether a food is healthy for me or not based upon how I feel after eating certain foods by tuning into my body and honoring its signals and feedback. This belief frees you to choose certain foods, not by the judgment you have put onto food, but how those foods make you feel.
- Now, Set a goal that you would like to achieve relative to food and habits. Be very clear about what you would like to achieve. Weight loss? Mental clarity? Increased energy? A kinder more gentle way of treating yourself? Write it down.
- Next, write down what you believe needs to happen for you to reach your goal.
If your goal is to lose weight, what do you truly believe will take you there? Do you eat intuitively and honor your body? What foods will you eliminate? Will that leave you feeling deprived or happy with the lifestyle you are creating? Make your new beliefs enjoyable, and believable to you.
- Now, live your life accordance with your beliefs.
This may sound overly simple, but it really does work! People are very realistic about their goals. This is your life, why not live it in accordance with your beliefs?
Other tips for Success
- Stop judging food. Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions when you are around food to see if you judge it as “good” or “bad” this can be very interesting when you know that a food you deem “bad” may or may not be well received by your body physiologically.
- Stop judging yourself. We often feel guilty if we don’t reach our goal, or ashamed that we may not have the control we think we should. We judge ourselves harshly when they don’t need to. We are all absolutely perfectly imperfect just the way we are. We are all of equal value and will always be of equal value. Letting go of judgments can be a direct funnel into letting go of guilt and shame.
- Be Conscious of your beliefs. Your beliefs really do matter. Every aspect of your life is affected by your beliefs about it. The scientific community is starting to give more and more credit to the role of our beliefs in determining our physiology, our reality.
- Be gentle with you. It will take time and practice. You will fail, and you will get back up. Get it that you are not perfect, and there will be bumps and bruises on the road to success. The secret is to keep on practicing, keep on trying, and hold on tightly to the vision of your best self having already achieved your goal. Know what your new life looks and feels like on a daily basis.
Let your new beliefs bring a fresh perspective; they can change the way you live your life!