I had the good fortune to meet Lisa Beasley of My Body Positive recently. She runs Mindful Eating workshops in Bristol. And she is also a Global Ambassador for The Body Image Movement and organised screenings of the Body Positive movie Embrace which I LOVED. I am a big fan of taking a positive approach to women's wellness rather than a negative one, so I asked Lisa to share a few words about her approach.
"But I want to lose weight"
'This is something I hear a lot. I hear it all the time out and about, when dropping my children off at school, from friends, from family even. Let’s face it, the desire to lose weight is EVERYWHERE in magazines, on TV and on social media.
A friend recently said to me that she feels ‘uncomfortable in her skin’, that she ‘feels chunky’, that her clothes are too tight. She would like to lose weight because thinks she’ll feel better about herself as a result. And I understand that feeling, I really do, because that was me.
What if I said to you that actually it is the desire to lose weight that is keeping you stuck in the unwanted behaviours you are in? It is the fact that you WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT that is sending you towards the biscuit tin, or the food you are trying to avoid. The more you try to restrict what you are eating, or deny yourself the things you really like to eat, the more your body is going to crave them.
I keep hearing an advert for a slimming club on the radio. One promises happiness following weight loss, which makes me cringe every time, and this is because I know following this path does NOT make you happy.
Yes, I acknowledge you may feel happy whilst you are losing weight (the thrill of ‘perceived’ achievement) but are you happy when you are measuring food, counting points/syns and constantly tracking your progress?
One advert promises you “can eat anything!” and then mentions zapping something so you can see how many points it has. Hmpf. Another woman on this advert said, “now I’ve lost 4 stone I can look for Mr Right.”
So are we saying then, that if we are not a certain size we can't find love? We aren’t worth it? We can't do the things other ‘thinner’ people do? Is that not hogwash?!
Are we really going to accept the idea that we can only live our lives when we are a certain size or shape?!
I’m going to let you in on a secret:
Weight loss programmes are ineffective- they do not create lasting change for most people.
Weight loss programmes are counterproductive-when you lose weight intentionally, by restricting what you eat your body works against it. Metabolism goes down, your body tries to maintain fat stores, food cravings go up, preoccupation with food increases as do binge eating behaviours.
A focus on weight loss, as opposed to wellness can be harmful, leading to yo-yo dieting (not good for one’s body) and disordered eating.
Weight loss programmes are essentially money down the drain because they don’t work. If they did work, you would only need to go once, lose the weight and then carry on with your new super-duper life! And please don't think that it’s you that’s failing when you put back on the weight you’ve lost (and more) it’s the diet industry that is selling you the lies that is failing.
Positive change does not come from a place of pain, or self-admonishment (basically, feeling bad about yourself).
So to all you ladies (and men) who are feeling they ‘have to do something’, because you are putting on weight and you feel awful about it, think hard.
Look at this objectively if you can. Has dieting helped you in the past? Have you been battling with this for years (as I used to)?
Please let go of the need to diet because IT WON’T WORK. You know the saying ‘trying to do the same thing again and again and expecting a different result is madness’, well, try something new.
Eating Mindfully has helped me to regain trust in my body and myself. I no longer need to be told what I can and can't eat, or measure portions and add up points. I listen to whether I’m hungry, eat whatever I want, notice when I've had enough, eat with attention and exercise because it feels good. I’m not saying I do this perfectly all the time - I don’t need to and perfection is not my expectation. I sometimes still eat when I’m stressed/bored/angry too but I have a choice and it’s MY choice. It’s honestly as simple as that. '
Lisa runs Group Workshops and One to One Coaching for people who are ready to try an alternative to the traditional ‘weight loss focused’ approach discussed above. This is a Mindful Eating Programme called ‘Am I Hungry?’ which has been transformative for me personally. I am also a Global Ambassador for The Body Image Movement, who created the film ‘Embrace’, as I believe passionately in Body Positivity and women not being held back by the limiting beliefs they have about their bodies when in fact, anything is possible.
Next 8-week programme starts on Thursday 8th June at 7pm in Bristol and you can contact Lisa direct on firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to take part.