It has been a week of many discussions and health checks on my clients, each with their own goal in mind when it comes to better health and a smaller waistline. Their primary concern, “IT [- the journey -] is NOT going fast enough AND why bother, chances are I will have to do this again and again!”
Within any journey to health motivation can be a tall ask when the scale does not move and you have had a tough week, the only question left is do you continue or throw in the towel? Our frustration with our journeys clouds our perceptions and emotions and success seems to be unattainable. My job is to concentrate the focus of my client in on the present, lead them to right-mindednessON their journey so that they NEVER have to take on this process again.
Success by any definition is attaining what you set your mind to, taking on achievement after achievement to reach what you see as an accomplishment to be proud of. I find many cross my threshold with absolute conviction of the success at the ‘end’ of their journey. Little do most realize that the ‘end’ is only the beginning and what stands in the way of NOW and THEN is only their PERCEPTION of what is true to them – RIGHT-MINDEDNESS. With every step forward there is a tendency to look back, assess where they came from and bemoan the journey that lies ahead. With this constant reflection on past and continual anxiety and or excitement about the future they miss the instant in which they find themselves in, being present. Now I know there is much talk about mindfulness but I would like more to focus on individual RIGHT MINDEDNESS than mindfulness. At the end of the day we are NOT our bodies, our minds and souls may reside in them temporarily but our sense of worth and value is not based on our bodies and how they look. As I coach people in looking great, feeling healthier and feeling confident every step of the way, this may seem like a contradiction as I DO help them reach their weight goals which ARE about WHAT they look like in the mirror, how they feel and the clothes they adorn. BUT... there is more and always is. No matter the weight we lose and the goals we reach, if we are not dealing with a change of perception and acknowledging our perfection [yes, you heard me right, no matter the size, we are all perfect beings in the present], chances exist that we will need to walk this journey again and again.
Right mindedness leads to success and keeping that success in place. We are beings of patterns, we get up, do our ablutions, brush our teeth, (some get on the scale, just to check…) get dressed, go to work, have family time and sleep, this is day in and day out, familiar patterns. Now we take on a regulated diet, get a coach involved to assist us and then the pattern changes slightly. We lose our weight, reach our goals and step straight back into the old FAMILIAR patterns once again. If right-mindedness is not incorporated into the journey and LEARNT, stepping back into the old pattern may also mean stepping back into the ‘previous’ body – the familiar.
I promised myself after losing 40kgs that that would be the last time I would see that fat, I was officially rid of it… 7 years later I was 40kgs plus more… What had happened? Besides the usual excuses of ill health, stress, anxiety, emotional eating, bad food choices, what had REALLY HAPPENED? I spent a year assessing the situation, trying different regulated diets and only got FATTER AND FRUSTRATED. In this time I realized that it all started with the mind – something I was aware of but never gave much true thought to, and with the understanding that what we think of manifested in our bodies I understood that I really need to pay attention and or change my thoughts. So, surely IT, success will be easy, change my thoughts… not that easy. We all hear this, change how you think and life gets better, then getting better with being present, our actions get better, results get better and just like that your waist gets skinny. If being healthy and skinny was as easy as sticking to a regulated diet and thinking good thoughts we would ALL be ‘there’.
This, the health journey, the weight loss journey is unpacking of the ‘YOU’ you think you are. This is the critical element; if we start by thinking of ourselves as a failure in the weight and health department we start off with a lack of faith in our bodies, in a sense, punishing and blaming ‘IT‘, externalizing the challenge we face, we feel our bodies have ‘let us down’. Punishing our bodies with a fearful thought of failure is never a good place to start. It reinforces littleness within which is so off the mark. And by the way, THIS is the THOUGHT we are supposed to ‘change‘… Let me help you step back, just one step, which will take away any thought of littleness, of failure or of fear – do try it. It will take awareness, it will take nurturing of YOUR right-mindedness, but it CAN happen in an instant if you accept it in an instant.
START HERE… YOU are a wholly powerful perfect human being, beautiful, valuable, loved, forgiven, made perfect by perfect, guiltless, fearless, magnificent, EVERYTHING and MORE… yes, absolute perfection. Start there. From this point onwards know your GREATNESS, allow this light to flicker and grow into a flame, thoughts WILL CHANGE and NOTHING will stop you on your journey. You WILL get the patience to climb every mountain you face, let go of the trivialities that have zero consequences and grow in faith that you are more than capable. We cannot control our thoughts, but if the foundation is shifted to our advantage, thoughts change. This journey IS about discovering all of this within, changing the familiar pattern only changes in changing the foundation on which it rests, not the food we take in, not the company we keep, the self-help books we read, the guru coaches we listen to. Only in starting with the KNOWLEDGE, the TRUTH of WHAT WE ARE do we manage to breed a new thought process. I have on my journey been told to underpin a thought with a strong emotion to add weight to it, to convince my subconscious of my desire for change, the only challenge is the EGO steps in and says “yeah right!“, for example, I would say “I see myself in absolute fantastic health and LOVE the energy I now have in every day!!!“, my ego steps in and whispers with a touch of sarcasm “Sure, you can’t even get out of bed in the morning… hows this working for you???!“. This ego, ‘SHE’ is not my friend and only by dissociating with IT and embracing the truth of WHO I AM do I manage to place it in the naughty corner and KEEP IT THERE. Believing 100% that I AM allows me to BE I AM. With this in mind, the journey becomes the discovery that allows me as an individual to not only succeed at improving health and weight but also in KEEPING IT OFF.
Are you tired of being on diet off diet, ever wondered WHY? Why do you end up back where you started, why the feeling of an eternal struggle? Tired of blaming diets, your boss, your husband or wife and the lack of exercise and time? Losing motivation on your journey, getting frustrated? Start IT differently. It is but one step backward that facilitates a complete shift of foundation which then DOES DRIVE your thoughts, which in turn drives your desire to reach your goal and maintenance thereof. Start with right-mindedness. Flip the switch.
Have you ever felt that you were graciously given more fat cells than your BFF? And if so why? And even when you manage to get rid of the flab, it seems to magically appear again!
We believe that today everyone is getting fatter due to lack of exercise, possibly eating junk including high volumes of sugar-laden treats. But the question remains what is making us fatter and is it possible that some people are just blessed when it comes to being skinny… do they have less fat cells, are they just predisposed to ‘being’ skinny?
The sad fact is that it has been shown that all that happens to fat cells in our bodies is they increase. From birth to adulthood our fat cell number increases stabilizing around adulthood… Now we may work extremely had at ‘burning fat’ through exercise and limited calories but what actually happens to these little critters? Fat cells or as they are fondly scientifically referred to, adipocytes are basically variable. Their size is expanding and contracting based on the volume of donuts finding their way into our pie hole… More donuts, more weight gain, and fewer donuts, possibly weight loss. Now like any cell in your body, fat cells do go through their life span and do die, which got me excited as that may mean I don’t HAVE to replace them, not so, our body loves us and is willingly producing replacement fat cells just to ensure we never run out…
But here comes the scary bit, yes, with fat we can count on there being some part which makes us go “OH dear!“. Whether you have had liposuction, or bariatric surgery or gone on a very low-calorie diet, your fat cells are either removed or shrink in the process, BUT fill out again to get back to the previous ‘balance’ of fat as they were previously, or new fat cells are produced to get all back in equilibrium, hence most people gain the weight back within a year.
Let me not stop the bad news there, there are studies that show that when the do-gooders go on diet on a consistent basis going through a cycle of up and down in weight, there is an INCREASE in the number of FAT CELLS with weight regain making it EVEN TOUGHER to keep weight down and maintain weight loss… my shattered nerves… a double-edged sword of our body working for us and against us at the same time… “But how does that work?” you may cry out in frustration!!? Well, it has been shown that our fat kindly secretes proteins and hormones (yes – fat is like an organ in your body, it HAS A JOB) and these have an impact on energy metabolism. Now go on a diet, or lipo or whatever you decide to do to fight fat and these fat cells do reduce in size, with that there is a train of thought that says that now these fat cells, though slimmer, is in a fair amount of distress as their job may be compromised… red flags go up and they send masses of signals to increase our appetite and leading from that FAT STORAGE!!!! Now, of course, this is not an absolute fact but a hypothesis, but it is enough to make any dieter weak at the knees…. and possibly lead to eating for the 1st team rugby squad again…
What are we to do? We eat ourselves into a bigger frame, clothes become tight and diet becomes our middle name, no matter for how long but with absolute determination we take on a regulated plan in food and exercise or go to the extreme of bariatric surgery. But armed with this knowledge of our fat cells being kind enough to ensure we get back to where we were we HAVE to question weight loss! Basically, we could be working against our natural state of being which gets us back to the beginning over and over again, fighting fat on a cycle of on diet off diet with every journey assisting us in adding more to the stockpile residing on our hips…
In the perfect world, we would say, “Just don’t get fat!!” Yeah right, what happens if we are ALREADY FAT!!!?? There is an old saying that ‘Knowledge is power’, yes, true, but for me applied knowledge is power if we know that yo-yo diets are a massive problem based on our bodies’ drive to an important equilibrium then STOP these. Pick a plan and STICK TO IT. Then make damn sure you do NOT gain the weight back… So the answer lies NOT in the weight loss but rather in MAINTENANCE. Simply put, to prevent reaching Heffalump status we HAVE TO make sure we are aware of every morsel that crosses our lips FOREVER. Get to the weight and measurements you desire and guard it carefully, note not obsessively but carefully. Learn to eat intelligently once the weight is gone and be diligent about reigning in on wrong choices continuously. I have found with many of my clients that they maintain quite well if they have learned to apply 80% to 20% weeks. We all know weekends can be ‘WEAKends’ when it comes to consumption, set a rule that for 2 days of a week you are lenient but for the rest of the week stick too good practice when it comes to food and exercise. So let us say you picked a regulated diet plan that only allows lots of water, black coffee and tea and no cooldrinks for your allowed fluid intake… keep this rule for 5 days out of 7, if you have adapted to it, consider doing so for life. We drink way too many of our calories! If your plan to lose weight included NO refined white starches then keep this rule applicable for your week and let it go over weekends if needs be. You WILL control weight by just applying some basic rules once you are done losing the weight, I am not saying stay strict forever, or not have a life, BUT do not go into the process of being ON DIET and OFF DIET or you will feel you need to catch up for the days of being on diet and soon you will notice the skinny jeans turning into fatty jeans again.
If you are overweight, decide on a plan of action, stick to it, get to goal and then STICK TO THAT to ensure you do not end up fatter than before!
In a heartbeat, we decide to drop the excess weight, we choose our regulated diet and start unencumbered with our eyes on the prize… so our WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY begins.
Personally, I have started and stopped this journey innumerable times… The most fat I ever removed was 40kgs and with every kilogram removed from the scale, my confidence and self-esteem improved. One problem with the journey, in the process of the journey, using my body as a learning device did not apply. With that said, the scale number climbed back up and over making me take on this journey over and over again… We have the tendency to focus so HEAVILY on the prize of that magic number that in the process we do not GROW INTO our very own skins and ‘relearn’ love of self. YES, once we did indeed love ourselves.
Let me continue the story, within these journeys, there are many who either give up or gain the bulge once again. The backlash of this seemingly global phenomenon is the inevitable BLAME of the chosen regulated diet or the miscreated belief that we are MEANT TO BE FAT or our bodies have LET US DOWN. All of these beliefs in my mind are incorrect. Only time (and kilograms) has allowed this knowledge and understanding to come into the light for me.
Let us start with the blame of the chosen regulated diet. I have made mention of this before. In a world where we reach for anything externally to right the wrongs we see internally, we have the tendency to take on a ‘recommended regulated diet’ at a drop of a hat, whether it is a diet that suits us has a shocking lack of relevance. It may be a friend, a family member or a well-branded advertising strategy that attracts us to the MAGIC SOLUTION to the elimination of our muffin tops. When on earth do we put ourselves IN THIS JOURNEY besides the ‘MONDAY‘ we choose to start? It is never starting the whimsical choice in the regulated diet that is the challenge, it is rather HOW we choose the regulated diet and prepare for what is to come.
When you choose a specific regulated diet start with:
YOUR UNDERSTANDING of what you are CAPABLE of – which is ANYTHING you put your mind to.
YOUR SPIRITUAL LOVE OF SELF.
Let us take each of these topics to heart.
Starting with YOU. If we start with the principle that thoughts become things then our point of departure is to THINK well of ourselves, to see ourselves as perfect beings, yes, we are. No matter where we find ourselves, (specifically speaking of our weight and the present possible distaste we have for our bodies) it is as it is, if we dwell on the obvious, and judge ourselves for it, we are likely to get STUCK in that mindset, fearing moving forward. And, as we judge it, we perpetuate that feeling of low self-esteem into our future. Think about it, when something does not go according to plan, we say “What next!!?” expecting more challenges, lone behold, we receive extra challenges along the way. Or my favorite, “Things happen in threes” and then wait with bated breath for the rest of the sh*t to hit the fan. The same can be said for every thought of judgment we hold against ourselves, whether they be positive or negative, where we place our faith, that is what we will encounter. So, regardless of where you find YOU right now in the present, accept yourself, praise your courage to take on a life transformational journey and set the intention of success through ONLY self-love on your path. Watch as every day proceeds in a manner in which YOU have started it. To start your day, say as an example ‘Thank you for this glorious day, in this perfect body, mind, and soul, I am truly the luckiest person alive, deserving and loved’. Now this may sound a little selfish and self-serving, but if you do not see yourself as a perfect gift, loved beyond measure, how then are we able to see others in the same light and GROW in love of ourselves. This is an impactful part of your journey as without LEARNING to TRULY LOVE yourself along the way, chances are you will return to self-loathing and muffin top status again. Focus in on YOUR PRESENT state of affairs, acknowledge and accept it, do reflect that this ‘body’ is not the ‘truth’, it is only a reflection and that on your journey of transformation you will have the ability to establish a more wholesome truth within which will reflect the perfect YOU. It is not your body that makes mistakes or takes on bulges with ease, it is our minds that use the body as a vehicle for learning, sometimes we learn a little heavily.
The second point, YOUR LIFESTYLE; this is paramount for success on your journey. We choose our regulated diet regardless of our current lifestyle. Many have crossed my threshold and stated the obvious [not always the truth] “I just need to take on a ‘different’ lifestyle to keep the weight off”. Start where you are and work towards change. Once again, by acknowledging your current habits, positive or negative the choice of a regulated diet becomes easier. You may have all the time in the world, then meal planning, weighing and prepping will not be a struggle, then choosing a diet accordingly will be the better choice. You may be a salesperson, on the run with a family you only see in the evenings, then having prepared meal replacements may be a better choice. First, assess your CURRENT lifestyle before pledging allegiance to a totally NEW LIFESTYLE. Along your way, in your journey, you can steadily include excellent habitual changes that allow you to step into a healthier way of life. But declaring a 360 degree turn into a new lifestyle is extremely intimidating, after all, we tend to GO BACK to familiar and AWAY from the unfamiliar. Stick to the recipe you have currently and slightly alter it over time to embrace a healthier way of life. When your brain hears you have plans for a complete lifestyle change, the fight or flight kicks into gear!
Next, we take on YOUR UNDERSTANDING [clearly not that great if we find ourselves fighting fat on a continuous basis]. When choosing a regulated diet keep your ears turned away from speculation, naysayers, and false evidence appearing real [FEAR]. Instill self-belief. Do your OWN investigation, but refrain from over intellectualization, and follow your GUT in the process, see the truth which stems firstly from how you feel about the choice you make. I find in desperation, we tend to reach for desperate attempts at rectifying the waistline. The more uneasy you feel with the choice, the more likely it is the incorrect choice for YOU. Do not doubt yourself, your decision if you follow your guidance system will be perfect for YOU!
Finally, YOUR SPIRITUAL LOVE OF SELF, one concept which when grasped will ‘move’ you from the feeling of lack to the wisdom of wholeness. As mentioned above, if we start with the understanding that thoughts create things, we will be mindful of every thought we think. What happens if we start that process before the thought itself? What happens if we understand the truth of who we are, perfect beings, created perfect by Perfect, will this alone not influence the ‘level’ of our thoughts. With this in mind, will we not embrace self-love to its highest degree? If we grasp that the opposite of love is fear and that that which is all-encompassing, i.e. love, will be the cause for there to be no fear. If we start there, with full acknowledgment of self-love and with it love of others, there is no fear. Why am I placing fear as an important aspect of a transformational journey you may be asking? Well, generally we take on these journeys based on a ‘lack of’ be it health, a great waistline, the body we ‘used’ to have etc. which in turn is driven by fear, fear of ill health, fear of not fitting into clothes by the time of a certain event, and so I can go on. We may not coin it as fear, but at its basic element, it is such. By identifying with love for ourselves, we could also acknowledge that we lack NOTHING, that there is no vacuum within, nothing broken to be fixed and by golly you will step out each day with a light in your eye and a knowingness in your heart that you are capable of ANYTHING and your WILL to succeed will not be driven on vanity or an event but rather on the self-love and understanding of perfection and purity within. When we grasp this understanding, we cannot possibly think that we are ‘meant to be fat’ or that our bodies ‘failed us’ as this does NOT EXIST. It is not the TRUTH. If we grasp these straws we are buying into a mistruth and inevitably chose to live a lie. Some call it cognitive dissonance, [This refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. … For example, when people smoke or eat badly (behavior) and they know that smoking causes cancer and poor food choices lead to health issues (cognition), but still do so regardless, they are in a state of cognitive dissonance.], I refer to it as wrong mindedness. Purely not seeing the truth.
Reach for self-love as you journey in weight loss progresses. Make it your ultimate aim over and above the magical figure you wish to see on the scale, with that self-love you will get to exactly the position you wish to be in and stay there. Most likely if you embrace the journey as one of love instead of body loathing, your true self will thank you by never having to take on a journey of similar proportions again.
Ever stood in front of your clothes cupboard being at a loss for words, so too at a loss for clothes none of which are flattering? In an instant, you loathe the choices available but realize that not dressing is also NOT an option… Then you loathe yourself and realize you really need to figure out what is weighing you down?
Now CLEARLY, there is an internal [albeit silent] realization that what is weighing you down IS the extra weight sitting around your hips and all we can do is ask HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??? How DID this excess creep up so unnoticed over the years? Or did we notice it but decided to quietly look the other way? Now, of course, we are all grown-ass individuals and cannot possibly be naive enough to not realize the role we play in our choices and hence the outcome we were heading towards, but human nature prompts us to look for the reasoning behind the fat cells bloating EVERYWHERE else except within.
This numbing space in life is also fondly referred to as a ‘COMFORT ZONE’ problem with this is that it is exactly the opposite of the truth… There is no comfort in this haze of self-pity and contemplation, it quietly leads to the break down of self-love and self-esteem, day by day, kilogram by kilogram. We truly turn a blind eye to the facts and then face our clothes cupboard daily until we find the strength and courage to drop the excuses and ‘find ourselves’ again [beware the ‘self-help’ gurus, it does start with us and generally ends there too].
As we leave the question behind “How did this happen?”, we start facing the facts that SOMETHING needs to be done as soon as possible. Let us forget the questions and focus on the answer, right? Some people have the capacity to DO SOMETHING before it gets totally out of control. In my life as a wellness coach, I have crossed many paths with clients who WAIT… AND WAIT... until their deteriorating health starts ticking like a time bomb ready to bring their daily activities to a halt. Some wizened individuals pick up on the tick-tock timeously, preventing the bomb from exploding. This is a fact I have always pondered on, when is enough ENOUGH? Why is it that some people are SO AWARE of their expanding girth whilst others, me included, got to the point of feeling like a wounded buffalo before taking on the much-required change?
Reflecting on my childhood, I thought it would be good to start with blaming my parents, [after all, the blame game is something easily played when you cannot understand or get to grips with your personal journey]. Honestly, they struggled with THEIR weight [and health] throughout life, surely that means I should struggle too. Then, their UNCONDITIONAL LOVE of myself and my brother REGARDLESS of our expanding size made us blissfully unaware of our greater than average size. In my office, many conversations later, as one client after another crossed my threshold on to my scale, I started realizing that those children who were brought up in homes KNOWING their weight, being scale aware (but not obsessive) were the ones that arrived at my door with a maximum of 10kgs to drop. And at 10kgs overweight, they were horrified at their size, horrified that they could let themselves get out of control to such an extent. Then there were the others, again, me included, who got to 40kgs on the hefty side and then realized, “oh my shattered nerves, I need to DO SOMETHING!!“. The ones that waited and waited thinking their genes are to blame or their sedentary office job was the reason and nothing could or would change. These are the people, like me, who cannot tell you what they weighed in their teenage years, also the people that were not counseled about the dangers of weight gain, whose parents did not want them to feel body aware… So here is the better question? Being body aware [yes there is a fine line to being obsessive] and keeping a check on your weight to ensure you live a healthy lifestyle to a ripe old age even if here and there you need to pull back the reigns and partake in a regulated diet to drop a dress size, or, those individuals that are oblivious of their Heffalump status based on their parents [yes, parents, including mine did so ONLY lovingly] assuring them that it is not about what you look like but your heart, the individuals who continue to obliviously pack on the kilos until they are red-faced and huffing in front of the doctor who is writing out a prescription for cholesterol tablets. This is where it gets even more interesting, personally, feeling well-loved and accepted as I was, I NEVER saw my size, even years into my then marriage, I was oblivious of my waistline, only the honesty of my then-husband of: “rather NOT!” when I squeezed myself into a bikini made me stop and realize I had a weight issue. Now, NEVER having to deal with such a personal realization resulted in me not knowing how to deal with it AT ALL! Physically and emotionally I had taken a knock. I did not have the tools to deal with this ‘new space’ I found myself in, and like Eve when she bit into ‘that apple’ my world fell apart slowly but surely. That all-encompassing unconditional love I had felt from my parents now seemed a far cry away from facing the reality of what I was allowing my body to become. Now like Eve, I understood the wrongs and boy did I dig into myself emotionally. When I could not figure it out, it was after all the first time that I was facing such a dilemma, I started looking externally for the possible reasons for my weight gain in the first place, besides blaming the genes. I looked at my lack of physical activity, my poor food choices, my now ex-husband, my plate sizes, the fashion industry and their hand in poor self-esteem [I was far from the model size promoted in magazines and movies after all]. I attacked everything that could remotely have any hand to play in the game of life I was living. After going through diets, gaining weight back again, and starting diets over and over again [on a Monday of course], I shifted to the next stage of “what is weighing me down?-STILL“.
Clearly, if I was continuing to gain weight, drop weight and so on, clearly then I could not keep blaming my parents, blaming society, blaming the diets for I was now informed, enlightened and educated about better health and wellness? What WAS STILL weighing me down???? Why was this a continuous battle? I could not accept that being FAT and FEELING like a wounded buffalo in the process was my life journey, there had to be more to it. It seemed as if I was reliving the nightmare of the bulge over and over again. It was around this point in time that I read something written by Peter F. Drucker, he said,
“Courage, rather than analysis, dictates a truly important rule for identifying priorities. Pick the future against the past. Focus on opportunity rather than on problems, choose your own direction rather than climb on the band wagon and aim high, aim for something that will make a difference, rather than for something that is safe and easy to do.“
Up until this point with regards to my weight, I had gone into analysis paralysis about my health and weight, never had I identified the priorities, never had I picked the future against the past, in fact, I kept replaying the past, dissecting it in the ‘hope’ of a better future, never had I aimed high, being so caught up in the vicious cycle I found myself in. I also realized I had made plenty of assumptions, based on my not so successful battle against the bulge and each assumption I had made was not conducive to righting the present or the future. I was in fact caught up in the past, it was eternally repeating itself like a stuck record. I had placed myself in a difficult situation. This was the honesty record I had to set straight. I had spent so much time trying to find out what made me tick [incorrectly] that I had lost the plot completely.
Maybe even with the fact that my parents never made me scale, weight and health aware, they did place emphasis on love, love of self and those around you. Slowly the light in my dim outlook came on. The foundation of love started to trump the shadows I kept chasing. I realized that if I had that as my foundation, I could and would get out of any difficulty [thank you Mom and Dad]. J. Sidlow Baxter wrote in Awake My Heart;
“What is the difference between an obstacle and adversity? Our attitude towards it. Every opportunity has a difficulty and every difficulty has an opportunity.“
I realized that I had seen everything as a difficulty, as an obstacle and with it came PLENTY of adversity. Needless to say, my attitude with regards to it was not the greatest. In fact, I really BELIEVED that I was dealt a shocking hand of cards and such was my fate. I made the decision to see no further difficulties, only opportunities, I realized what was weighing me down when it came to my weight was MYSELF, my thoughts, my belief system… Working with so many individuals on their individual journeys I also realized I was NOT THE ONLY ONE. We all seem to reach for the answers outside of ourselves. We look for what is weighing us down in our external environments, we dwell on it, we embrace it, never to put it down, never to draw that really important ‘line in the sand’ to start afresh and focus on your current day and thereby rebuild a better tomorrow. I am sure you have all heard about burning the dietary wagon, AKA giving up on getting rid of unwanted fat? After we realize we have gained an excessive amount of weight, we decide to do something about the weight and around that time, [of course!] our bestest friend decides to have a birthday slap bang in the middle of our journey to wellness. We promise ourselves we will be good until we are offered that first glass of red wine and then we completely forget that we are on diet. By the next morning, we have literally thrown the diet manual out the window and decided to GIVE UP. So doing, we perpetuate the downward spiral and find ourselves clawing our way out of it a couple of months later. This is atypical of NEVER drawing the line in the sand. Once you take control back and NOT allow life to bully you into submission, no friends birthday will be the cause of your weight gain, in fact NOTHING will drive you to that every again because for once you KNOW, that you KNOW that regardless of where you are with regards to your girth size, you are taking each day as it comes, having a better day seeing only opportunities, allowing today to flow into tomorrow, ANOTHER GOOD DAY until you have rewired the outcomes of your tomorrows in such a way that nothing of today could possibly negatively impact the outcome of tomorrow. This may seem a simple narrative, it may seem of no great consequence, trust me, IT IS.
Have you ever sat down for a cup of coffee with a friend only to find out that all and everything seems to be going wrong in their lives, that one ‘thing’ led to another and another? The entire conversation dwells in the space of doom and gloom, there seems no way out, ever heard the saying ‘history repeats itself’? As a doting friend we tend to empathetically give advise, solace to this dear friend and their struggles, sadly we add to the negative energy and sooner than later the stew of emotions weighs heavily to the negative side of the scale. Soon after the fateful cup of tea, a follow-up call opens new bad news and so it goes on. No line has been drawn. We have helped perpetuate the past into the future and our friend sharing has done the same.
So how do we change what is weighing us down? It is this simple. Make the decision to draw that line in the sand. The change may not happen immediately, or the next day, or the next month, but that line is a conscious awareness that becomes the anchor on every day. Sooner than later, the tide starts to turn, IF WE ALLOW IT if our focus is on the opportunities of change that DO EXIST. No matter the situation you find yourself in, delving into the past and massive amounts of self-reflection and introspection are NOT ENOUGH, pause there for a short while ONLY. It is all about that one decision daily as you wake up; that today, is a good day, that you are the grateful victor of this day and definitely the luckiest person alive. Get rid of the blame game and be knowledgeable of the fact that you set the pace, your acceptance of a positive day before it starts sets the pace for the day and the day to follow. The seemingly offensive chokehold life has over you slowly dissipates, doors open and the universe conspires to make EVERYTHING BETTER, LIGHTER, including the weight that is weighing you down.
Picture this, I sit down for a strictly regulated diet meal, fighting the plump – and possibly my genes once again, across the table sits Jane, the one who never ponders her weight or what she eats, skinny as hell, loves exercise and radiates overall wellness. Jane has elected the 4 cheese pizza, not giving a hoot about her gene pool or the impact of mozzarella on her thighs. All that goes through my mind is: “Was I born FAT to die FAT – what genes did I inherit!!?”
Society seems to understand my questioning, we all know that some people can eat like hippos and never look like one and then there is the REST OF US…. we tend to look at a glass of red wine and the double chin sets in just in case we take a sip. This unbalanced scale [I am Libra, I LOVE BALANCE!] tipped in favor of those who eat without abandon without the consequences made me search for reason, I mean surely if I can intellectualize this imbalance I can beat it??? Either that or I need to be reborn…
We are told that our size is determined by the amount of food we manage to consume, those little buggers we call calories have a massive impact [no pun intended] on our waist size… But, could it be that our environment and our genes could influence this? What about our thoughts, if one of the laws of the mind is WHAT YOU FOCUS ON GROWSdo we really want to be thinking 24/7 about our expanding waist size.
THOSE CALORIE CRITTERS
How do these buggers end up being stored, burned or bypassing our digestive tract to the poop hole without negatively affecting us? At the end of the day, research shows that all of these are affected by your genes, your excitement on a treadmill and of course how much energy used while sitting on the couch binge-watching Game of Thrones… If your binge-watching is greater than your excitement for time on the treadmill chances are you will make good friends with the stored calories on the WAISTLINE.
Right here, the balanced scale ends up OUT OF BALANCE for me, the closest enjoyment and excitement I have for exercise is watching Charlie Hunnam [drop dead gorgeous lead actor of King Arthur for the uninformed] swinging his sword around. I don’t mind taking on a yoga position watching this man move but naturally, that is not enough to get the scale of critters in critters out, weighing in my favor. So what is left? Possibly decreasing the volume of calories that go in during my day and so too whilst watching dearest Charlie taking on his hero’s journey may be the trick to balancing that scale? If only weight loss was THAT SIMPLE…
THE GENE FOUNDATION
Scientifically speaking, a gene is a unit [similar to the calorie critter I mentioned above if it is NOT in YOUR FAVOUR!] which is kindly and lovingly transferred from your parents to you as a baby to ensure that the neighbors know who the mother and father are of said offspring…
Made up of approximately 20 000 to 25 000 genes with a copy of both Mom and Dad within us, surely the ‘FAT’ gene should be irrelevant? I have sat in my office seeing client after client who puts the blame of ‘kankles’ squarely on the family genes. Could this be the case, could I truly lay blame to poor ‘fat’ genetics for my personal struggle with weight gain? There are over 400 different genes that could be blamed for plumpness! Within that, there is only a handful that are the Kingpins of FATNESS… So what do these genes DO?
Genes affect appetite, satiety, food cravings, metabolism, our addiction tendency when it comes to using food for ‘coping’ with stress and so too where we pack on the weight ON our bodies. But, there are more variables to this… oh dear, no simple answer exists, in fact, when it comes to the understanding of our bodies and how it works, I have heard we have the heavy-handedness of a butcher attacking it with a chainsaw… extreme? Maybe. But have you seen how conclusive findings with regards to medical science change more often than the weather patterns?
Your gene influence on your personal plumpness varies from 25% to 70 or 80%. Finding clarity may involve taking on some introspection, take a careful look at YOUR HISTORY and if these play a role, chances are you are on the higher end of gene influence. I would, however, like to add; we CAN AND DO feed our GENES, we influence our tipping of the gene scales with what goes in! If like me you feel FAT is a constant battle, when you are tired of blaming your hormones, lack of exercise, metabolism and the myriad of options available, have a look at your genetical background, I always joke when it comes to it, always saying that my family and I came from the wrong side of the railway line when it came to health genes. Sometimes there is truth in it, we just need to be willing to investigate. Let us have a look at a couple of factors that can indicate that the genetic scales are not in your favor.
*note… this is not to promote complacency or blame, as I stated above, we can feed the gene monster or starve it.
Let us start with our parents, and their parents, it is not enough to only look at your parents. If your parents, and their parents, not necessarily all of them were overweight or struggled with health challenges attached to obesity then your chances of having the same struggle and possibly reaching obese status goes up to 80%.
You find yourself exercising like a machine and eat rabbit food in an attempt to rid your body of fat and NOTHING happens… FRUSTRATING for sure! I went through a period where I exercised for 4 months 6 times a week eating lettuce leaves and managed to move only 2kgs. At this point, I decided I was fat for life and there was no point. [I was wrong – there is ALWAYS a way to beat the genes!!].
The next question to ask and answer truthfully is, have you been overweight most of your life, and I am not referring to the cuddly baby fat, or the weight as a result of living on JUNK FOOD 24/7. No, the overweight I am speaking about involves living on an average daily intake but ALWAYS ending up in the plump zone?
Then, you have a friend who swears by XYZ diet, you do the research and there are millions having success at it. This is not the first time that said friend has politely recommended a plan of action for you due to the battle you find yourself in. In quiet desperation, you ONCE AGAIN take on another clearly healthy regulated diet and NOTHING HAPPENS. You end up losing water weight and ‘think’ all is good this time, only to come to a standstill somewhere along in your journey. Again, frustration is the name of the game and you once again GIVE UP.
If these 4 pointers sound familiar it may be your genetic pool is NOT in your favor. This is an honest conversation, so let us continue it, maybe it is not your genes that are the problem and sometimes we find ourselves completely UNAWARE of our own actions. I have worked with people who start a regulated diet and come back to me a week later shocked at how their awareness had escalated in the week, they had gone from openly admitting they don’t understand their weight gain to realize their walk to the fridge or pantry consumed most of their waking hours and only after being on a regulated consumption did they notice it. It may not be the genes when we realize that we have food available in our environments consistently, it is easy to go-grabba-whatever-is-available in a totally unconscious manner. It may not be genes when you gain weight after a birthday week [yes, the older you get the longer birth-days become], your birthday leftovers extend for at least a week and you happily oblige consumption instead of wastage. It may not be genes when weight gain is evident every December and January sees more of you based on the fabulous holiday meals with family. Finally, it may not be genes when you start a regulated diet and end up cheating by day 3, attacking the pantry like a homesick child and devouring the biscuits you bought for your child’s school bag. It then becomes easy to blame the chosen diet AND the GENE abnormality…
It is safe to say that if you don’t resonate with any of the discussion above you may be like my friend Jane, eating without abandon or a seconds thought to the calorie critters associated with her intake, you may, in fact, be laughing at this article convinced that me, your friend just needs to stop watching Charlie and get my butt into a gym. I may just agree with you, I have never been satisfied with accepting the standard, I have always believed we were born perfect made by perfect. If we have a couple of plump issues, embracing a healthier take on life may resolve the issues and yes we can celebrate what our bodies can do by living said life in a more vibrant and exercise-driven way. Simultaneously, for some of us, it may just NOT BE THAT SIMPLE, and that is OK. If we understand it, we can live a vibrant life all the same with a few tweaks here and there to put the gene scale back in balance.
BUT, WHAT ABOUT EPIGENETICS?
Now we talking! As I stated, I am not pro accepting that which is, and for many years I battled with the fact that my genes are as they are. I became truly excited at the study of our genes and the associated possibility of these little bugger ‘expressing’ in a new way. Epigenetics. There is hope for the FATSOME in me…
Why did I get excited? Well, if you understand that ‘YOU are WHAT you eat‘ and that our environment AND our thoughts have a direct influence on WHO WE BECOME, AND that we are energy beings continuously evolving then genes are just the ride into untold possibility. Taken from the article above, the section below explains it in a sciency way but makes sense to basic understanding:
“Here are a few important points about epigenetics:
Epigenetics Controls Genes. This is achieved through (a) nature: epigenetics is what determines a cell’s specialization (e.g., skin cell, blood cell, hair cell, liver cells, etc.) as a fetus develops into a baby through gene expression (active) or silencing (dormant); and (b) nurture: environmental stimuli can also cause genes to be turned off or turned on.
Epigenetics Is Everywhere. What you eat, where you live, who you interact with, when you sleep, how you exercise, even aging – all of these can eventually cause chemical modifications around the genes that will turn those genes on or off over time. Additionally, in certain diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s, various genes will be switched into the opposite state, away from the normal/healthy state.
Epigenetics Makes Us Unique. Even though we are all human, why do some of us have blonde hair or darker skin? Why do some of us hate the taste of mushrooms or eggplants? Why are some of us more sociable than others? The different combinations of genes that are turned on or off is what makes each one of us unique. Furthermore, there have been indications that some epigenetic changes can be inherited.
Epigenetics Is Reversible. With 20,000+ genes, what will be the result of the different combinations of genes being turned on or off? The possible arrangements are enormous! But if we could map every single cause and effect of the different combinations, and if we could reverse the gene’s state to keep the good while eliminating the bad… then we could hypothetically* cure cancer, slow aging, stop obesity, and so much more.”
With that said, maybe being born with a gene foundation that embarrasses a toad is of no concern. Maybe just maybe we have a say. This is where controlling the controllable is paramount. No matter who we are, we have the tendency to look externally to blame our expanding waistline, science, however, informed us we could look internally to blame, [even worse in my opinion as we end up blaming ourselves and our family for that muffin top]. Instead of an attitude of blame, maybe the manner in which to take on this personal jail of the gene pool is to CHANGE IT. First, in the thoughts we have about it, then in the actions that WE CONTROL. Trying to fight the environmental impact can be done to a lesser degree, here the focus SHOULD BE control the controllable. After all, as an in-utero baby, we have no control over what our mothers eat, smoke, drink or do. The health challenges she works with and those that came through your Dad’s genes you have ZERO control over… it cannot be changed. Then your environment as a baby you too have little control over, whether Mom decides to have a cesarean or natural birth, to breastfeed or bottle-feed is of ZERO concern to you, you are truly capable of only taking control of the NOW. YourNOW WILL have an impact on your offspring and the quality of life you live as you age. That and that alone will be up to you to decide, within reason.
WE have the ability to decide if you overeat on the calorie critters, binge watch Game of Thrones, chose a chicken salad over a pizza or light up that next cigarette. WE decide to focus on a healthy, vibrant life versus focussing on the obesity epidemic worldwide and how we are ‘destined’ [NOOOO] to fatness based on our genes. WE decide how much sleep we get, how we alleviate our stress levels if we stop at a junk-food joint for supper [it is junk for a reason] and the amount of water we drink daily. WE decide on an exercise regime, or NOT. WE can decide to jail ourselves in the blame game, the available arsenal to justify the current circumstance we find ourselves in, is endless, media, health advocates, nutritionists, dieticians et al give us daily ammunition to lock that jail door There is SO MUCH we CAN control but it is MUCH EASIER not to. To do that which is difficult is as easy as not to do it, it takes the same amount of energy whether in the instant of choice or, for that matter, later on in life.
THE GET-OUT-OF-JAIL-FREE CARD
It has been said that our attitude affects our altitude… I got so involved in looking for the reasons for my CONSTANT BATTLE AGAINST OBESITY that even I fell into the trap of the blame game jail. How did it serve me? Well, I only got fatter. With that, the continual woe-be-me struggle elevated my victim status to my gene pool being guilty until proven otherwise. Even I got tired of my hacking the food industry, the endless useless diets, the defunct gene pool dilemma, and the ridiculous suggested exercise regimes. Sadly it took over 40 years of my life to come to terms with controlling the controllables. My attitude regarding health and living to age 100 in a vibrant way was my doing and ONLY MY DOING. This clarity IS a get-out-of-jail-free card. For some it may seem like DUH… in fact, it was for me too, but, if what I am saying is simple and can have duh status, why do we STILL sit with the obesity epidemic, ladies having tea blaming diets that don’t work, writers writing about the A-Z of sugar evils? Informational purposes for sure but in some aspects, our addiction to the doom and gloom of how we find ourselves in a useless quagmire of ill health and obesity keeps us RIGHT THERE.
My saving grace was dropping the cognitive dissonance I had embraced [this for those needing clarity, describes feelings of discomfort that result when your beliefs run counter to your behaviors and/or new information that is presented to you – basically you start living the lie you believe to suit your circumstance. – ouch], realizing that me, and only me, will result in a different outcome.
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