Posted by Lee Johnson, Monday 4th February, 2019
It remains debatable what the ‘right’ diet is. Most diets are short-lived and it’s very common for people’s weight to yo-yo up and down, causing the body to eventually revert back to an undesirable weight.
In addition, a gym or a fitness class is a very daunting place for many people, and those that do find the courage to attend, tend not to stay for very long. According to some research, up to 90% of people who join a gym, will not be attending in two year’s time. Sounds all very ‘doom and gloom’, doesn’t it?
It will get more motivating, I promise!
The level of exercise we perform and the food we eat is often an unconscious act, also known as being on ‘autopilot’. We don’t have to think, we just automatically do!
To explain the unconscious further, think about when you first learnt to drive a car, everything was a conscious act, for example, you would be constantly talking to yourself: “Ok I’m in 1st gear, now changing to 2nd, the junction is coming up, I better indicator now” … and so on. With time and practice, this action became so natural that you no longer had to think, you were just able drive…. forming a new unconscious act! Unconscious acts happen after you have trained your brain enough times to create new neural pathways. (Neural Pathway? Think of a dirt track – the more you ride over it, the more permanent and established it becomes!)
Did you know that there are two sections of the brain that play a vital role in the amount of food we eat and how we link our emotions to our food?
These sections are known as:
The ‘Brainstem’, aka our Reptile brain. This part of the brain plays a vital role in regulating how much food we consume and controls our basic bodily functions, making sure we continue to survive on this planet.
The ‘Limbic System’, which is responsible for our emotions, motivation, learning, and memory.
The Brainstem and Limbic System work very closely together. Unfortunately, not always in the most logical or positive of ways, which is why we sometimes act in a way that we know is not healthy for us, but the behaviour actually meets some basic unconscious, emotional need, for example: belonging, safety, sleep and even love!
The key to weight loss in my opinion, is understanding that food and drink meet an unconscious emotional need. Food and emotions are strongly linked.
It is no coincidence that as children we were given sweets as a treat for being good, or to cheer us up if we were sad. Birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween and anniversaries all have a food component to them, which is conditioned to the feel-good factor. That’s why it’s very common to reach for the wine, chocolate and/or crisps after a challenging day.
The secret ingredient to permanent weight loss is for you to discover the underlying needs or cravings, driving your unhealthy behaviours. With this emotional awareness you will then have the power and leverage to make the weight loss changes that you desire.
The questions that follow will help you to dig deeper, allowing you to discover why you have the habits that you do, in regards to food, drink and exercise.
I recommend having a notebook and pen ready, as you are going to explore some of the things which are blocking you from losing weight.
What year did you notice that your weight was above your normal parameter? What was going on in your life around this time? To give you some ideas:
Were you unhappy at work?
Did you suffer from a bereavement?
Divorce or separation? A house move or life change?
Did you experience a traumatic event?
Were there any family issues going on?
Were you experiencing some level of stress?
Did you have an injury or accident?
Feel free to note down your thoughts…
Top Tip: Often with this question you can start to build up a picture of the life events that could have contributed to an unconscious emotional need being met, through food and drink e.g. for comfort and safety.
Often the answer lies deep below our consciousness, so may require some time to be discovered. Of course, you do not want to be overweight, but everything has a purpose, or a payoff, including overeating.
Comfort … do you feel lonely?
Insecurity… will your relationship be at risk if you lose weight?
Safety… to avoid doing certain activities? Did you really want to commit to them in the first place? Protection… are you defending yourself from being hurt or letting someone in too close?
Feel free to note down your thoughts…
Top Tip: Give yourself time to explore this question, meditation can help and the skill of a good therapist or coach to help discover the unconscious, unhelpful beliefs which may have been formed.
As mentioned earlier, the all in one gym routine is not for everyone; in fact, it is for a very few number of people long term. However, exercise is important; your body was designed to move and thrives when you allow it to.
If it helps, remove the word exercise from your vocabulary and replace it with ‘activity’ or maybe ‘movement’. What do you enjoy doing? What did you enjoy doing as a child? For example:
Walking – Cycling – Running – Swimming – Trampolining – Football – Dancing – Yoga – Martial Arts – Badminton – Gymnastics – Gardening
Top Tip: Research has shown that different personality types are drawn towards different activities. Extraverts tend to be drawn towards group activities and Introverts towards solo activities.
Knowing what personality type you are may help you to choose an activity that you would enjoy most. So take a free class in anything and see if you enjoy it! Often walking through the door is the hardest part!
The questions you have just answered have hopefully enabled you to explore the reasons why you have the habits that you do in relation to food and exercise. Perhaps you have also been inspired to participate in some new activities.
The next step is to try journalling or free writing, both proven and effective techniques where you write down how you truly feel about the key events and reflections that you have identified in the previous section.
I recommend journalling in a place where you will not be disturbed, with just a pen and paper. Remember to be as honest as you can about your answers, with no worries about grammar or spelling – just freely express your thoughts and feelings. Once complete, tear the paper up and throw it away! This will act as a release for your unconscious blockages, creating room for new healthier patterns to be formed.
In summary, just increasing the amount of exercise that you do and reducing the calories that you consume will often be very short lived. Real progress starts when you explore the emotional realm and remove all of the blockages that have been buried deep inside you … holding you back from achieving your goals.
The great thing is, once you have delved into the shadows of your Self and started the journey of self healing, a new energy vibration will be created, attracting you to a new healthier lifestyle.
Healthy Emotions = Healthy Habits
© 2019 Lee Johnson