I have a friend who lost over 50 lbs. through a popular weight-loss program. This is a meal-replacement shake diet, where all the vitamins and minerals are provided by the shake and no food is to be eaten. As expected the weight falls off very quickly.
During the four months she was on this diet she felt fantastic. Each day she felt happy, content, light and slim. She never felt the hunger, and was looking forward to her new slimmer healthier life style. Her blood pressure came down as did her cholesterol.
She is now off the shakes and on normal food, eating ‘healthy’ foods, and still losing weight. All sounds great. BUT some days she feels fat and ugly, and doesn’t always like the person in the mirror. (She says she loved the person she was looking at in the mirror, even before her body showed big signs of weight loss.)
I am wondering if the vitamins and minerals in the shakes were helping her to feel good and, now that she is off them, a deficiency is bringing on the negative view of herself.
I must add she is not my client, so I am not working with her. I know she has some history, as we all do, so I’d be working on the feelings and stuff that’s associated with her thoughts. HOWEVER, when she takes the shakes she feels GOOD. When she is not on them the FAT feeling appears. Is it control?
Just wondered what you think, or if you have noticed this in clients?
Perplexed Over the Pounds
I’m not familiar with the WL program you mentioned so I Googled it. ( That’s the first thing I do when I need information!) I see that this particular program includes product (shakes, soups, bars), exercise, and group therapy.
When it comes to changing behaviors, there is a predictable cycle.
The cycle starts out with “Pre-contemplation.” This is the phase of “getting ready to get ready.”
This is then followed by the “Contemplation Phase” where awareness is present that some action needs to be taken but there is not yet enough pain to act on that awareness.
After this comes the “Preparing Phase” where there’s finally enough pain to motivate the person to make a change. This is when the person starts shopping for a product or program to help them resolve their problem. And that’s when they call US!
The next cycle is the actual “CHANGE Phase” of the cycle. This is where they are finally taking action to overcome the problem. So they’re on the diet. They’re exercising. They’re doing therapy.
Now, I don’t really know because I don’t know your friend. So what I’ll share here is just a few thoughts ….
When your friend was on the shake diet, she was finally DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THE PROBLEM. Her motivation was UP and she was seeing results due to the low-carb, low-caloric intake, which KEPT her motivation up. Many WL programs utilize a “quick-start” approach where there is an initial stage of higher deprivation to take advantage of the elevated motivation (ie the pain is sufficient to motivate action coupled with the anticipated pleasure of achieving the desired results). Also, daily exercise would raise her endorphin levels – the body’s own feel-good drug.
Long-term weight loss requires permanent lifestyle changes. This is why diets don’t work. The person TEMPORARILY changes their diet and exercise just long enough to lose the weight. And then what happens? They return to their “normal” lifestyle and …
Karma. Simple cause and effect. Reduce your caloric intake by 3,000 calories and you’ll lose 1 pound. Eat more than the body needs and every 3,000 extra calories will ADD a pound. This is simplifying things, I realize, but it’s important to recognize that the lifestyle choices that caused the person to become overweight in the first place cannot be returned to without suffering the same consequences.
Meal replacement shakes can work as a temporary weight loss solution. They can also be added to your healthy diet for the rest of your life. (I, myself, like to have a nutritionally rich whey protein shake every morning.)
I had a look at the ingredients on the products you referred to. Frankly, this is not the healthiest program I have seen. First, the shakes are soy-based. Soy is estrogenic so for many women it’s not the smartest choice. Second, the sweetener is aspartame. Research has shown that aspartame actually CAUSES weight gain over the long-term. There are much healthier choices available such as stevia or xylitol. (Google aspartame!)
The main benefit of a meal-replacement program is that there’s no need to THINK about what you should or shouldn’t eat. It’s simple – you just have a shake. And because the daily calorie intake is seriously reduced, the weight comes off. You’re rewarded with feeling smart and virtuous for sticking with the program! Plus, there are a few vitamins and minerals in the shake which can contribute to feeling better.
I suspect her improved feeling was primarily due to exercise and positive mental expectancy generated by seeing the pounds finally melt off.
50 pounds is a significant amount of excess weight to carry around so I find it VERY hard to believe that she truly “loved” the person she saw in the mirror! People are seldom motivated by health concerns. It’s the discomfort, the PAIN, with where there are at, WHO they are, that motivates them to change. So if she were my client, I would be curious to know what motivated her to want to change that person she “loved” being.
You say that she is now off the shakes and onto “normal food,” eating healthy and still losing weight so that indicates into the Maintenance phase. Here is where the person must now begin making CHOICES that support KEEPING the weight off. Going back to eating “normally” will only invite the pounds back.
You will note in the program information that, while they boast that two years following the program, 62.5% successfully maintain HALF of the weight lost, only 5% are actually successful in keeping ALL the weight off. This is typical of almost any weight loss program.
Diets don’t work – lifestyle changes work. In order to keep the weight off, the behavior changes must be acceptable for the rest of her life. The best way to ensure this is with a monthly follow-up session to reinforce the choice for change and keep the client accountable.
When your friend takes the shakes she feels “good.” I would ask her what “good” feels like? It’s possible the added vitamin-mineral supplementation is responsible, but I suspect she has enjoyed feeling virtuous and in control during the shake phase of the program. So taking away the shake now takes away the good feelings. Now that she’s on maintenance, she is, once again, responsible for what goes in her mouth. If she makes “bad” decisions, there are consequences. And “good” choices aren’t always that rewarding. I’m sure you can appreciate the conflict, here!
Here’s the thing – the shake was a quick fix. It didn’t address the internal drive to overeat. The problem isn’t eating. Eating is not the cause of overweight. OVER-eating is the cause of overweight. Eating is for nourishment, strength, and health. And as Martha Stewart would say, that’s a good thing!
Here are just a few of the causes of over-eating to consider when designing a weight loss program for clients.
- Inadequate nutrition.
- Toxic load.
- Unconscious eating.
- Unresolved emotions.
Inadequate Nutrition isn’t just pigging out on junk food. More and more the commercially-grown food we eat is depleted in nutrients because the soil is depleted. So you can think you’re eating healthy when you’re not! When the body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs to function properly, the brain notices and sends a signal out to EAT MORE! We call it hunger. Improve the QUALITY of your diet and you’ll soon discover that eating nutrient-rich food satisfies!
The body’s way of coping with toxins is to store what it cannot excrete. Where does it store it? In the fat cells! Obviously, the more you can reduce your toxic load, the better. Pesticides on fruits and vegetables, antibiotics in meat and poultry, fluoride in the water supply are examples of common toxins. Pharmaceutical drugs are especially toxic to the body and are showing up in our water supply! As are defoliants used in the forestry industry.
Dehydration is commonly mistaken for hunger. In fact, the #1 trigger of fatigue is dehydration. The symptoms of dehydration include fuzzy thinking, short-term memory loss, and difficulty focusing. When you eat to satisfy the body’s need for water you’re only going to pack on unwanted pounds! So if you think you’re hungry, have a glass of water. If you’re still hungry 10 minutes later, eat! (preferably something organic!)
Unconscious eating is a by-product of living a hectic, stressed-out lifestyle. Most overweight people are fast eaters. They inhale their food so quickly they don’t even taste it! The problem is the brain and gut need time to communicate and send a signal of fullness. So their girth gets super-sized.
The solution is simple – s-l-o-w down! Take time to enjoy your food and you’ll feel full sooner! Chewing your food twice as long as you normally would will improve digestion, help you control portion sizes and reduce calorie consumption.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that subjects given identical servings of ice cream on different occasions released more hunger-regulating hormones when they ate it in 30 minutes instead of five. So although the serving size remained the same, they felt fuller after savoring the ice cream compared to when they wolfed it down.
Many overweight people are emotional eaters. Sugar cravings can indicate unresolved anxiety. S ugar has a calming effect so it’s an effective strategy for medicating away the unconscious fear! As babies we put things in our mouths to self-soothe. So, it’s natural to turn to food when unwanted emotions arise. Unfortunately some people interpret uncomfortable sensations in gut as hunger when in fact they are feelings.
I find overeating often has to do with relationship issues. The extra layer of fat can provide a comfort zone for a person who has been sexually or emotionally abused. The subconscious mind’s prime direction is protection and it satisfies this making the person less sexually attractive and, therefore, less vulnerable.
Sadly, most people who focus only the eating behavior gain back all the weight.
When eating is the subconscious mind’s solution to an unwanted feeling, if you don’t resolve the feeling, it’s only a matter of time before entering into the next phase of the cycle. RELAPSE often takes the form of binging. It’s as if the rubber band snaps back against all that virtuous self-deprivation and all control is suddenly and horribly lost.
The deprivation of dieting has also sent “scarcity” signals to the body which automatically responds by slowing metabolic function to survive the famine. As a result, the person gains back more than they lost and will find it increasingly difficult to lose weight with each subsequent attempt.
Back to your friend. My guess is that the “FAT” feeling never went anywhere. She just whitewashed over it with a Shake!
The program she chose focused merely on changing her behavior to achieve her weight goal. But to resolve a weight problem permanently, behavior is only part of the problem.
You must heal the feelings.
When excess weight is rooted in unresolved feelings from the past, focusing on food won’t fix it. There can be many factors contributing to the weight problem. There’s the learned behavior (conditioning), there’s self-pacifying behavior (stuffing emotions), and there’s also identity programming (beliefs about self.) Beliefs like “Everyone in my family is fat” (which is the result of a learned lifestyle), or “I was always chubby as a kid” (possibly lifestyle, possibly stuffing emotions early in life) must be challenged, released, and replaced.
I believe weight loss is one place that tapping is a powerful resource for our clients! Teach your clients tapping as a self-empowerment tool they can use anywhere, anytime, to put themselves back in control. And use it in regression work to release the unresolved feelings from the past and restore self-acceptance and self-love.
Hope this was helpful!