Chances are, if you are one of the 67% of women in the U.S. who are overweight, you have heard that losing weight is just a matter of willpower. That all you have to do is eat less and exercise more. Get rid of carbs, detox from sugar, put down the damn fork and go run / do Zumba / pick up Crossfit / drink some shakes.
And if that fails? Have weight loss surgery, like I did.
Except that . . . that’s not how any of this works. When I was considering surgery, I learned that 90% of people who need to lose 100 pounds are unable to do so without surgery. Unfortunately, surgery is no magic bullet either. I have several friends of friends who have gained all their weight back after surgery or never lost all that they wanted to in the first place. All the surgery does is provide a chance to reboot.
People ask how I’ve been so successful and look healthy (I guess as opposed to the emaciated people they know or those who never lost weight to begin with). I credit having a good knowledge of good eating (quality was never the issue, it was quantity), finding exercise I enjoy, doing this with my husband, and–most of all–seeing a health coach for a few years to get myself in the right head space to make the most of this journey.
I’ve been seeing Laura for about three years. I’ve mentioned her a few times in this blog but never quite know what to call her. Food therapist?
I became a holistic nutrition and eating psychology counselor because I see the powerful connection between body and soul, nutrients and nourishment. I also see the gap that has remained unfulfilled in the nutritional field. There simply aren’t conversations that embody the complexity and, at the same time, simplicity of eating from both a nutritional and psychological level. I’m here to create space for that conversation. ~ Laura Burkett
At first I was confused at why I wasn’t losing any weight, and why we didn’t even really talk about why I should lose weight. We talked more about self acceptance, and why it was that I thought the way I did about food. And as I’ve talked about before, I had a lot of black and white thinking around food. I came to realize that I had to turn off the “should” in the back of my head. To let go of rules and focus on what makes me feel good. Eating well makes me feel good. Eating sugar gives me a stomach ache. That doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally eat sugar, just that most of the time I choose to eat healthy food. I also gave myself permission to not exercise. What I realized though is once I got rid of the “should,” I actually wanted to exercise! I do it because I want to.
Yes, yes, you might be thinking. Duh. I’ve read all that stuff before. Problem is, there’s a huge gap between knowing and doing. There are years of grooves in the record of our brains. We all know kale is healthy for us, yet it sits in the refrigerator unless we make a concrete plan to eat it. We know what we should be doing. It’s somehow managing to rewrite those grooves that makes a long term difference. I really hope that I’ve managed to change the grooves now. But even if I find myself thinking the same old tune, I know that Laura is there to talk things through, to help me think outside of myself. To make good choices because I want to and not because I should.
For that reason, I highly recommend a health coach. Now, I know that it’s not easy to find a Laura. And if you do find one, it can be expensive.
One alternative is the Vida Health app. They offered me a free trial and I thought to myself, uh, OK, how is this any different from MyFitnessPal or any other number of free apps? The app itself sucks. Sorry. It doesn’t do much and I was supposed to be able to message my assigned health coach with it. I was assigned a coach, but we weren’t able to get the technology to work so she ended up calling me on my regular cell phone (the part of my phone I rarely use LOL). Pam was actually really nice, and we covered a lot of similar ground that I’d already covered with Laura. I appreciated her holistic approach, just like Laura. Despite the daily messages and good conversations, though, it wasn’t quite the same as having a real life health coach. So at the end of my trial I decided to discontinue it and go back to Laura. However if you don’t have a Laura or need a cheaper alternative, the Vida Health app isn’t a bad option.
In the weight loss surgery world we have a saying: That they operate on your stomach, not your head. So if you find yourself wondering why you aren’t doing what you know you *should,* you might consider a health coach or eating therapist to help start to rewrite those grooves.