‘Eat less, exercise more’. Perhaps it is time to try a different approach?

There are so many people in the world who are desperately trying to lose weight. In fact, it is estimated that 108 million Americans are currently on a diet. However, what is so remarkable about this is that so few people manage to successfully lose weight and keep it off.

We all know people who have lost weight, sometimes spectacular amounts of weight, and perhaps we even know what it feels like ourselves to have achieved success on a diet. However, how many people actually manage to keep the weight off. Sadly, most people who go on a diet will possibly lose weight in the short-term but not manage to keep it off in the long-term.

Most of us rely on the traditional advice of ‘eat less and exercise more’, when it comes to losing weight.  It makes logical sense that if you burn more calories than you consume, then the deficit will mean that you hopefully start eating yourself. And we know that this can work, but for how long?

Typically, for as long as we are on the diet, and then for anyone who has been on a diet, the relief of being able to eat ‘normally’ again sends all the hard work into a painful tailspin and you end up back where you started, or worse!

Clearly there is something missing from this advice, so what is it?

Well, it could be lots of things and the answers are different for each of us, but without a doubt if you have not looked at your emotional relationship with food, then you could be setting yourself up for a fail each time you embark on a new diet.

If your eating habits are not getting you the results you are looking for with your weight and your body, going on a diet is like putting yourself in a self-imposed prison and hoping that you will just get used to it. You go to war with yourself and your desires around food. However, where you really need to start looking, is at the role that food is playing in your life.

If food has become something that is central to your happiness and pleasure in life, then trying to lose weight is always going to feel like a fight. Not having your special foods and eating them in the quantities you are used to, will always feel like deprivation. We are only capable of feeling deprived for so long, before we inevitably get overpowered by our desire.

So, before you embark on a diet or some form of ‘eat less, exercise more’ strategy, ask yourself, how would I like my relationship with food to look for the long-term? Can I consider a future where I am not looking forward to my treat after work, my wine with dinner, or my chocolate brownie iced vanilla double-shot frappuccino with whipped cream to get me going in the morning? What can I bring into my life so that food no longer has to be the ‘pick me up’ friend, or the comforter after a hard day? These are better questions to ask yourself rather than which diet you should try next. When you become aware of the role of food in your life and how you would like that relationship to look, you can take steps to achieve it. As the relationship between you and food improves, the ‘eat less’ part comes quite naturally.

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