By Naomi Teeter: NaomiTeeter.com
I’m told I make outrageous claims. Apparently, just because I’ve maintained a 125-pound weight loss for seven years, it doesn’t mean it’s realistic for others to do the same. Says who?
We all know someone who’s lost a significant amount of weight through diet and exercise. Maybe you’ve even had a bit of success at it, too
But over the course of time, the weight creeps back on and one day, looking in the mirror (or step on the scale), you realize you’re back to where you started. It doesn’t mean that it’s an unrealistic way to live—it means something isn’t “clicking” for you.
This disconnect happens when we only focus on the physical actions needed to improve our health. It’s true — we must prepare healthier meals, drink more water, exercise, and get more sleep. But this intense focus on the physical aspect can lead us to feel ashamed when we can’t find the willpower to follow through with simple behaviors hyped as the keys to improved health and weight loss.
When I started my last weight loss journey in 2009, I had a very typical all-or-nothing, perfectionist mindset. This mindset is common in 95% of the women I work with as a health coach.
I’ll be the first to admit that it is possible to lose weight with this all-or-nothing mindset… as long as you’re perfect, highly driven and focus only on yourself. I did it, and it wasn’t fun.
However, here’s the tricky part— losing weight isn’t the same as keeping it off. After I lost half my body size, I developed a strong addiction to sugar and became a binge eater. I tried all of the typical recommendations for food addiction. After I thought I found the cure by going on the Paleo diet (and continuing to restrict sugar), I developed Orthorexia instead. I jumped from one disorder to another.
For the first 3 ½ years of my sustained weight loss, I struggled every single day with my relationship with food and my body. I always felt like I needed fixed in some external way — there had to be a physical action I could take to heal my obsession with food so that I could be perfect.
But here’s the thing: you can’t heal a mental and emotional issue of feeling “not good enough” with an external action.
Just going to support group meetings isn’t good enough. Different diets usually don’t address the real issue. Changing your workout routine isn’t the answer. Being better organized and prepared doesn’t work. Reading books and collecting information gets you nowhere. Hiring a personal trainer or nutritionist is often a waste of your money (when it comes to sustained weight loss).
This is what worked for me: I changed my attitude and mindset.
If there’s one thing every successful long-term weight loss maintainer knows, it’s that their success is due in large part to their mindset. It’s not how clean they eat. It’s not how fast they run. It’s not how superhuman they appear to be from the outside.
It all starts with our beliefs about who we are. We live in a society that frowns upon feeling good about ourselves, so this is an uncomfortable, rebellious act for many rule-followers. Self-love is the biggest middle finger of all time and the key to a frustration-free sustained weight loss. And once again, it starts with a shift in your attitude and mindset.
I call this shift the “Adventure Attitude” (or mindset). It’s based on popular research done by Psychologist and Author, Carol S. Dweck. In her research, Dweck identifies two primary mindsets: the fixed and the growth.
The fixed mindset is what I consider “all-or-nothing” perfectionism. If we push ourselves to do well at something, we believe ourselves to be a success and worthy of praise and admiration. If we fail, we’re a failure. With this mindset, there’s little room for improvement—it’s believed that natural-born talent is more important and valuable than developing skills through practice.
The growth mindset is the “adventure attitude,” to me. We can still push ourselves to try to achieve a big goal (like weight loss), but when we fail, we acknowledge it’s just an action—it’s not who we are. We pick ourselves back up and figure out how to do it better next time. This mindset knows that frequent practice is essential for success. If we’re failing, we’re improving.
The Adventure Attitude helped me in three primary ways:
1. I could set out with good intentions of achieving something I really wanted, but if I fell short (or something out of my control happened), I learned to reframe the situation. Everything happens for a reason. What’s the reason and how can I make it better for next time? Or at the very least, how can I enjoy this anyways?
2. I stopped labeling myself based on my actions. Folks with the all-or-nothing, fixed mindset label themselves. It’s a widely acceptable thing to do in our culture. But it can be very limiting and damaging. When you call yourself “smart,” that leaves no room for error. When you call yourself a “runner,” you’ll never feel okay with just walking or going for a hike (even if injured). When you call yourself “lazy,” you’ll never believe you’re capable of greater things.
3. For the first time, I started developing self-compassion. I firmly believe self-compassion is the antidote to “not good enough.” The Adventure Attitude helped me realize that it’s okay to do things my way. I didn’t need someone’s approval to go out for a run (even though I don’t have a runner’s body) or eat beef (even though it’s not good for the environment). I gave up striving to be perfect (and acceptable).
This mindset shift helps you love and accept the person you are while working on areas you’d like to improve in (without feeling “less than”). It helps you break free from manipulation and groupthink and do your own thing without needing permission. It ultimately empowers you to be more of your true authentic self.
When you can unapologetically be who you are, the struggle is over.
As a result, I no longer suffer from binge eating, obsessive exercise routines and rigid beliefs about clean eating. And of course, I haven’t gained back any weight… it’s still gone forever—even with lowered standards and expectations for how my life and health should be.
Does this sound outrageous to you?
Nutritionist & Health Coach Naomi Teeter empowers her clients to lose unwanted weight and keep it off through proven methods she’s used to maintain a 125-pound weight loss for (almost) 7 years. She is the author of Transformative Tactics and creator of the popular 8 Great Ways To Lose Weight eight-week solo course to heal your relationship with food, your body, and with yourself.
Naomi’s purpose and passion lies in facilitating health breakthroughs with women who deserve good health, happiness and self-compassion. Connect with Naomi through social media, signing up for her free book: 5 Transformation Success Secrets to Start Your Last Weight Loss Journey, or naomiteeter.com