The average woman in the UK spends 31 years of her life on a diet and six months of each year counting calories; whilst men spend 28 years of their life slimming. Over a tenth of the UK population is currently dieting and the average diet duration is 5 1/2 weeks with 50% of slimmers throwing in the towel due to lack of willpower and 25% giving up because their diet regime leaves them feeling moody and depressed. Out of 1,446 men and women surveyed in the UK over two-thirds admitted to being unhappy with their bodies and that being slimmer would make them happier. (Ipsos Mori Report commissioned by Laughing Cow Extra Light Diet Jan 24th 2007).
My colleague Andrew Sercombe (Founder and Director of Powerchange) and I have spent some time mulling over the issue of why it is that weight reduction plans usually fail? The process started when someone I was coaching on the Powerchange GOLD Training Course when asked what she wanted said simply, ‘I want to lose weight.’ I asked her what that would give her and the answer came back, ‘it would make me feel successful’. When asked again (an NLP technique designed to go deeper) what that would give her? she replied that it would give her ‘a sense of purpose’. Without a higher sense of purpose that in turn, informs who we are, forms our beliefs, which directs our behaviour, then impacts on our environment and ultimately controls our everyday actions, we will struggle to function as human beings.
Diet plans and weight loss programmes fail because they acts as siren calls that winsomely seduce your attention towards the very things that are imprisoning you instead of redirecting the neurological functions of your mind towards the targets and goals which are healthy for you. In other words … towards something better.
Neuroscientists have discovered that the things that you dwell upon psychologically become the overwhelming ‘elephants in the room’ so that you focus more on the things that are damaging to you rather than less.
Micro-analysing miniscule shifts in weight, checking the calorific content of everything that passes your lips, awarding yourself intake points each day to scrupulously follow will lead to obsessional behaviour and complete dependancy. It is no wonder that Weight Watchers is owned by Heinz. Many dieters are caught up in a seasonal, cyclical eating culture that sees them reduce intake at certain times of the year, inspired by Summer Holidays and bikini wearing, reducing after Christmas blow-outs, justifying expensive gym and health club membership, aided and abetted by slimming buddies who cheer them on and share in the humiliation of failure. A failure shared is a failure halved.
Isn’t it better to take control of the psychology that is driving this behaviour than succumb to the societally driven guilt trips that are profiting from it?
We have developed a pilot programme called Powerchange’s SHAPE psychology that we are very excited about. It will move your attention, priorities and thought processes away from food, weight loss, slimming,dress size, and eating … to something better. SHAPE will demonstrate how to shift your attention to higher level motivators and to more worthwhile, more satisfying thoughts and activities. And as you move up, your life – and body – will literally change shape.
When we exert energy and stamina towards achieving a particular goal, our bodies develop around the muscles being used. When we cease that activity our bodies atrophy and weaken. Walking consistently through corn fields using the same paths keeps them clear and useable. When those paths stop being used they clog with weeds and ultimately disappear.
The neurological pathways in your brain are exactly the same. The more you think about food the more you will want it. The more you want food the bigger and better the programmes, incentives and punishments will have to be to control that desire. Battling against something much bigger than you (literally, the ‘supersized’ you) will become an ever diminishing endgame that you can never ultimately win. Rather than take part in this unequal struggle and face the loss in self esteem and ultimately despair that it implies, we believe that it is better to harness the innate desire within you to create a new shape for your future, moving towards your ultimate goals as a human being rather than away from the spectre of being overweight. Which is after all, just another definition of you – one that you via former experience or cultural pressure do not (or more truthfully, cannot) accept.
In the process you will discover new priorities and understand where the desire to eat originated. In that understanding lies freedom.
Beneath is a leaflet outlining the Pilot Scheme. If you are serious about change please make contact via firstname.lastname@example.org
The question ‘What shape are you in?’ is not a superficial one.