Weight Loss Failure Audit
It is very useful for you to reflect in why traditional weight loss (WL) methods have failed you. Shapeshifting (SHS) is unlike anything you will have done before - and you need to get used to this approach (see the section on dealing with self-sabotage to help you do this). If it is New Year’s Resolution season, Everyone else will be feeling high on the false promises of whatever system they have bought into. Your job right now is to distance yourself from those false promises.
Here are the reasons that trad WL methods fail.
#1 Parent-Child Dynamic
Diets say: you cannot be trusted to choose your own food, determine when you are full etc. They are the adult, and you are the toddler who is not allowed any power over what you eat. This seems attractive because it allows the dieter to feel they can escape themselves and ramps up the guilt and shame which is very activating at the start. Fails for the same reasons.
#2 Guilt As A Motivator
“I am so terrible for bingeing yesterday. Time to diet!”
This kind of thinking breeds the worst kind of short-term self-escape behaviour that can only ever create temporary results, and a whole load of self-sabotage. Your inner food rebel (IFR) will not put up with this self-hatred fest. IFR will then perform a SWAT rescue operation getting away from the diet by any means possible (AKA another binge). You are then super confused because you suffer another wave of post-binge guilt....and so the vicious circle goes on.
In the SHS I am going to help you neutralise that guilt, because it does not belong to you. Then small mistakes will have no power to make you self-sabotage.
#3 Pleasure Deprivation
A knee-jerk response to #2 above. This feels so activating and looks like such a good motivator. Oh good, I can put some distance between myself and the me of my last binge. Where's my hairshirt? The problem is that both of you need to work together to change how you eat. A hugely underrated strategy in shapeshifting is to actually allow food to be pleasurable, because you are wired that way by evolution. 50 years of diet culture vs 50,000 years of evolution - which do you think is going to win? Evolution of course and its agent is your inner food rebel.
The work is to distinguish between real and fake pleasure when you eat - not to deprive yourself.
Catapult yourself forward mentally to a future where you make no mistakes. Another escape route from being with yourself. Completely impractical, because guess who has to implement the strict no sugar/carbs etc etc plan? Why, imperfect old you.
#5 Snapshot Future Fantasy
This is where you turn the goal you want into a 2D image (and probably accounts for the rise of Instagram). It is not a future you can inhabit, one where you make mistakes or learn to manage your negative inner voice etc. This is great news for the diet industry, which makes big profits on the back of people escaping the self and perfectionism.
#6 Body Hatred
This is so embedded into mainstream culture that diet books etc don’t need to make a big deal of it. It’s like in The Middle Ages, when a supposedly sinful thought meant you were damned to hellfire forever: everyone just took this as The Truth.
Body shame and hatred is very powerful, mostly because people do not believe that body acceptance is possible without changing their body.
It is possible as I will show you. In this programme we will work on developing body neutrality so you can get out of your own way and work in a harmonious partnership with your body to be as strong and resilient as possible - mentally and emotionally as well as physically.
For now just be open to that possibility, as well as considering that hating your body into change is like trying to get a teenager to change by punishment and constantly berating and putting them down.
Questions To Think and Journal About
Which of the above points do you resonate most with? Can you think back to any diets that remind you of them? (eg The Slimming World diet club gives foods points they call sins. Talk about perfectionism and guilt as a motivator!)
Observe friends on diets and see if you can pick out any of the above factors at work in their behaviour.
I hope that this page has got your riled up about the brainwashing that culture and the diet industry has been doing on you for years. That anger has so much beautiful power in it!