In my work, I hear new myths about weight loss every single week. The women I work with in my small group coaching program come to me with the different struggles they’re going through at every stage of their journey, and if you’re listening in, I’d venture to guess that you’re experiencing them too.
So today, I’m dispelling the top five weight loss myths that my clients have shared with me. Believe it or not, I’ve spent years living by these sentiments too, so if you’re currently believing these myths to be true, know that you’re not alone and that this is all part of our collective human experience.
Listen in this week as I dispel five weight loss myths that simply aren’t true in my experience of coaching hundreds of people. You’ll discover why these myths halt most people’s weight loss attempts, and what it really takes to get to your goals.
This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 102.
Welcome to Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you’re a successful woman who is ready to stop struggling with your weight, you’re in the right place. You’ll learn everything you need to know to lose weight for the last time in bitesize pieces. Here’s your host, certified life and weight coach Natalie Brown.
Hey, everybody. I live in the most beautiful place 10 and a half months out of the year. I live on the bench of a valley surrounded by incredible mountains. I get to experience seasons, all four glorious seasons. Warm summers filled with sunshine and green grass. Snowy winters where you wake up and the world is completely transformed into a white, sparkling wonderland. Spring abundant with blossoms in every shade of pink. And my favorite all-time ever, fall, where everything explodes into color, like, every tree, bush, and shrub in the entire mountain range behind our house are all on fire.
It’s incredible, and I look forward to it every year. Still, there’s a downside to living in this lovely little valley surrounded by mountains. For one and a half to two months, usually January and February-ish, we get trapped under an inversion. The mountains, in essence, create a bowl of cold air, and a lid of warmer air just hold in and concentrates all the pollution right on top of us.
Today I was looking at my weather app, and the air where I live was the worst air quality in the US by far. It was so bad. I couldn’t see the other side of the valley. Actually, I could barely see the houses on the street below me at one point. It’s pretty gross to see the mucky air you’re breathing. So, often in these two-ish months, I find myself cursing my mountains a little bit and thinking I should move.
Then, it moves on, and I’m back in love with where I live, and I never want to leave. The air’s always clear at the ski resort, so maybe someday I will retire to a mountain town that’s above the muck, or maybe I will move to Hawaii for the winter, and I’ll return when the inversion goes away. Dreams.
However, part of what I love about seasons is the contrast. The amount of gratitude it encourages for one thing and then the next. There is nothing like walking outside and seeing blue sky and taking a deep breath of clean, fresh air after a storm has come through and pushed the inversion out and scrubbed the sky clean. It’s really easy to look down and to barely even notice the blue sky in a summer full of them.
So, I do like the contrast. It reminds me to appreciate and not take things for granted. Still, it’s hard for me to be grateful for the inversion when it’s on top of me trying to suffocate me with the blanket of pollution. You may think I’m being dramatic, but it’s just how I’m feeling after a string of days of a big gross cloud, I guess.
So, I didn’t name this podcast to spelling the top five myths of weight loss because even though I am sharing five with you today, I hear new ones every week from my clients. So, I’m sure we’ll be adding to this list in the future. These are just the things I’ve heard over and over in the past couple of weeks. So, I felt it would be useful to share and talk through with you in case you are also believing them. I will venture to guess that you are because I’ve been talking to lots and lots of women over the past few weeks about their future selves. I meet with every one of my potential clients that are interested in learning more about the program when I start a new group.
So, I’ve talked to a lot of people, and I tend to hear many of the same sentiments and struggles from them. To me, it’s encouraging just to know that my brain and their brains are all just having a human experience. That we’re not alone in our struggle and that we’re so much more alike than we realize. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to do small group coaching so that my clients could recognize themselves in one another and not feel so isolated and so alone.
So, I compiled this list from all of those many conversations. Five of the things I hear people believing about weight loss that just isn’t true in my humble opinion, and my experience coaching hundreds of people. Number one, you have to eat at home to be healthy. This usually sounds like, I’m worried I don’t have time to do what it takes to lose weight, like cook and grocery shop, or I don’t think I have time to eat healthy. Or sometimes it sounds like my partner and I love trying new restaurants. We love food, and I don’t know if I want to give that up.
Here’s what I think; of course, we’ve probably all seen the documentary, Supersize Me, where he ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days straight, and all of his health markers took a nosedive, that’s typically the all in this all or nothing scenario. I either cook all of my meals at home and am healthy, or I will be eating nothing but McDonald’s and am not. That’s the issue with this myth.
It takes a very all-or-nothing approach. It is possible to eat at McDonald’s and be healthy, and it’s possible to eat only at home and be unhealthy. It doesn’t matter where you do it. It only matters what it is and how much of it you consume. What we want to think about is what feels good in our bodies? What supports our weight loss? What we like, and what our lifestyle is?
If you’re a person who never cooks, doesn’t really like to, and loves to be out being social, eating every meal at home isn’t going to be realistic for you. And if that’s the case, it’s completely possible to nourish you and take care of you no matter where you are, whether it’s at home or out at a fun new restaurant that you’ve been wanting to try. Even McDonald’s offers salads and wraps on their menu. Not to bag on or single out McDonald’s. I just already brought it up, so I’m going with it.
Feeding ourselves food that supports our health and that nourishes our bodies doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. Even if you do choose to eat more meals at home. There are lots of convenient premade or partially made options at the store, and you don’t have to shop for meals for two weeks at a time, so that it takes you an hour and a half at the store to gather it all. If you eat out for most or all of your meals and you want to lose weight, you may need to branch out a little to new menu items, little shifts like bunless burgers or salads instead of sandwiches or kids meals instead of supersized ones, or new places that offer more variety of fresh, nourishing food some of the time? I think anything can fit into a weight loss plan, some of the time. This leads me to our next myth.
Number two, you have to eliminate your favorite foods to lose weight. I actually think this is the nail in the coffin of most people’s weight loss attempts. This is what determines if you stick with it or if you quit two weeks or two months in. The idea and even the experience of never being able to eat your favorite foods again. That’s what does it.
Now, I say most people here because there are some people who decide they’re ready to live a life without that thing in it, and they feel good about that decision. There are plenty of foods where I used to feel were super important and delicious. I incorporated it into my life regularly, which I rarely, if ever, eat it anymore.
Because what guides my eating now, the large majority of the time is how I feel and what feels good in my body. But that was a decision that came from lots of love for me, not as a punishment for my bad behavior. The important part to notice here was that it was a decision, my decision. It wasn’t forced upon me by a plan that said, never eat that food again because it’s bad.
I think there can be room for any food you want in your life to be in your life, even when you are trying to lose weight or working towards some other health goal. The key is how much and how often. Volume and frequency. Warm chocolate chip cookies by the dozen may not support your health goals. A couple of chocolate chip cookies here and there may be just fine. A piece of cake at a birthday party likely won’t matter to your weight loss efforts, but a half of cake in one sitting once a week might.
I think it’s important to really think about what you love, why you love it, or why it feels important to keep in your life. And then decide how much of it you want to allow in and be willing to experiment with finding an amount and frequency that supports your health goals and that desire to still have some.
Number three is coping with discomfort. Using food means you are broken. Most of those favorite foods that we don’t want to let go of or live without feel important because we have used them to mask our discomfort. They have served as a form of comfort, of distraction from feeling. So, living without them feels scary.
I also hear so many women judge themselves so hard for doing this, for going to food when they feel stressed or bored, or for trying to use food to distract them from even physical pain, like, a headache or sore joints. They think this is a flaw in their system, a weakness, a sign that their brain isn’t working right. I want you to think about your brain’s primary purpose: to avoid pain, seek pleasure, and conserve energy.
Your brain doesn’t judge the solution. It doesn’t really think much about it beyond the moment. It sends its pain; typically, we’re talking about emotional pain here. It wants to find a way to get out of it and feel pleasure and do it in the most efficient way possible. Food, especially the sugary, floury, crunchy, salty, cheesy foods that we turn to in these situations, is an efficient way out of pain and pleasure. That’s it, and it works temporarily, but nonetheless, it does give us a little lift.
So, our brain feels it has done its job. It found a solution that works, and it catalogs that solution to be used again and again. Because reinventing the wheel when we have a solution that works is not very energy efficient. So, if you really think about it, your brain directing you to use food to cope with discomfort, is your brain working exactly as it should?
It has found a solution that works to get you out of pain and into pleasure. Your brain isn’t broken; it’s brilliant. We may want to revisit this solution and find a new one that serves our ultimate goals more than our in-the-moment ones. Without the judgment that our brain is broken and working against us, change is so much more pleasant and doable. This brings us to the next myth.
Number four, you will wake up tomorrow and be good at weight loss. Now, finding a new solution changing our brain’s default setting to one that serves our goals, is not easy. It’s not a switch that we flip. But most of us, for whatever reason, think that it should be an overnight change. That we should be able to make a decision to lose weight, wake up the next morning, and immediately be able to start planning and saying no to our favorite foods and dealing with stress differently and see the scale go down, down, down.
We are seeing weight loss as a thing we should be able to just do, rather than a set of skills that we need to learn and to practice in order to build proficiency. Imagine how differently the process would feel if you looked at it like learning an instrument. That you needed to start with the basics, start small, one thing at a time. That in an understanding of the fundamentals is critical to success.
Putting in the time to practice your new skills even though you’re not great at it is how you get better and make progress. That forgetting to practice one day doesn’t mean you’ll never get it or need to start over. That it takes time and patience, but that if you just keep going day in and day out someday, not only will it feel easier, but you’ll be able to see and feel the evidence of your success.
Now, your brain will tell you that once you get there, you will feel super proud of yourself and confident in your abilities, but as we will learn from the next myth, this isn’t quite true.
Number five, a smaller body or different number on the scale will allow you to feel confident. This is the dream, right? That we will lose the weight, see the number we want to see on the scale, and we will finally feel, blank, fill in the blank with whatever feeling you are craving; that you don’t feel right now. But, this is the biggest myth of all.
There are millions of examples of people right now walking around in the body that is the size/weight that you want, that you think will create that feeling, that are not feeling that feeling and people walking around with your current number who do feel that feeling, and all the numbers in between who don’t and do. Because that number is not a magic number.
If when you get there, you feel confident, it is because you are allowing yourself to feel that. It isn’t the number on the scale allowing you to. We have to take on the responsibility of choosing how we regard ourselves, no matter the number we see on the scale. We have been sold the idea that they’re magic numbers, usually small ones, and only if you see the right number are you allowed to value yourself, and feel confident, and be seen and heard.
But this doesn’t have to be true. And in my experience and the experience of so many of my clients, it just isn’t possible to have something outside of us create feelings inside of us. We get to do that for ourselves. And even more interesting and exciting, learning to generate confidence or pride or whatever it is you want to feel now at the beginning of our journey and along the way can be just the fuel we need to get to our goals. We don’t even have to wait until we get there.
Okay, lovely friends, I hope you have a beautiful week and that you stop to take some deep breaths of clean air for me, please? Thank you. See you soon.
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you want to learn more about how to lose weight for the last time, come on over to itbeginswithathought.com. We’ll see you here next week.