Albert Einstein said - “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
This is why dieting, rules and restriction will never work to help us heal our relationship with our weight.
You see, the "problem" of our body has been created through fear based thinking. For example, someone told us we should be smaller to be healthier and prettier and more acceptable.
So we live in fear of being unhealthy, unattractive and unacceptable.
Now we have a problem. We feel bad about our bodies.
To solve the problem, if we stay in fear based thinking, we will never emerge from that.
If we tell ourselves we are unworthy and need to change to be loved then we are operating from a basis of fear.
If we then create a solution that says I am going to only eat X times a day, or I am only going to eat Y amount of food and I am going to not eat certain foods at all and I am going to move my body Z times a week for W minutes, then we are creating a solution that is restrictive and punitive and inspired by fear. The solution is at the same level of thinking that created the problem.
It will never work.
And this is why intentional weight loss fails.
So what can we do instead?
First, we have to examine and redefine the problem. Who said my body was a problem at this size? Why is it a problem? Is that really true? For many, asking these questions alone will shed a light on the fact that there really is no problem with your body at all. The only problem comes from your thoughts about your body.
Now some people may still declare that they have a problem with weight that they want to solve. That is ok - it is perfectly understandable if you still feel you want to change your body. We are all conditioned to want this and yes, it’s unfortunately true that some people may have a more pleasant experience as a human if they are in a smaller body because our society treats smaller bodies better.
(This is something that also has to change on the societal level, which is why it is so important for us all to feel the strength and power in our own bodies since then we have more capacity to enact change where change is needed.)
Now to solve the "problem", we need to approach the solution from an energy greater than and more powerful than fear. What is greater than and more powerful than fear?
This means that we need to approach our solutions from a place of love. The beauty in this is that whether our solutions "work" or not, we are already in a better place because we are in a place of love.
So I'm not saying that love will make you skinny. I'm saying that love will set you free and can give you all the things that you thought you would get from being skinny.
Let me give you an example.
Take a woman who has been dieting for 30 years. For 30 years she has judged her body as unacceptable because it didn't fit in with the norm of the society she lived in.
So for 30 years she has been trying to manipulate the size of her body and has been fueling the process with fear, hatred, anger, grief, criticism, despair, annoyance, irritation, and disgust.
She is so disgusted with herself that she goes on diet after diet and tries to lose some weight to feel better. Maybe for a brief time it works and she does lose some weight and she feels better. She feels like she has done the "right" thing and she is going in the "right" direction.
So what happens when even a fraction of that weight starts to come back? Or when she eats even one thing that she wasn't supposed to eat? Or she doesn't move one day the way she planned to? The fear returns with a vengeance and with it more feelings of shame and disgust.
No matter what happens with her body, she doesn't feel good. She might stay smaller and be operating from a place of panic on a daily basis or she might gain the weight back and continue to disparage herself for not maintaining her goals.
She tried to solve the problem using a fear based practice that left her worse off in the end and full of even more fear.
Now let's assume she tries to solve the problem from a higher frequency of energy or a more powerful perspective.
Here is a chart of the frequencies of emotions - these charts are often talked about with regard to emotional intelligence, the power of positive thinking and consciousness studies.
Notice how all of the emotions below the level of courage can be associated with the typical struggle with weight and our bodies. Most people feel all of these emotions when they are struggling with weight - anger, desire for a "better" body, fear, grief over not having the body that they want, apathy, guilt and oh so much shame. How would anyone ever expect to feel good if they are stuck in these emotions when they are approaching how to live well and have a peaceful relationship with their body?
What it takes is the next emotion of COURAGE to step out of the fear spiral and take back your life and your power. It takes COURAGE to say screw you to everyone who ever made you feel bad about your body in the first place.
It takes COURAGE to start to heal the places inside that have been dead or buried - all for very good reason, because they were too painful to explore or express.
It takes COURAGE to reject the dominant paradigm in our culture that bodies must look a certain way and we must all eat a certain way or move a certain way to be considered healthy and thus worthy.
It takes COURAGE to accept the body that you have and vow to treat it with more respect no matter what anyone else is saying around you.
And once we find this COURAGE and begin to use it - we are then able to craft behaviors and solutions that help us feel the way we want to feel from a place of power and strength.
By tapping into our courage, we move into neutrality which says that no matter what the outcome is, we know we are safe and worthy. It takes COURAGE to step into neutrality, because we don't know what our bodies are going to look like and this used to cause us so much fear.
Once we step into neutrality and let go of the outcome, we can then tap into willingness - the willingness to choose new behaviors, the willingness to explore our body story, the willingness to reject ideas that have only served to make us feel bad. The willingness to experiment and learn and evolve. The willingness to be uncomfortable with the unknown.
Then, we move into acceptance. We accept that there are things we have not been able to control, we accept that we have always done the best that we could in each and every moment, we accept whatever our experience has been up to this point.
This leads us to reason where we are able to rewrite the limiting beliefs that have held us back for so long and we are able to see the dieting industry for what it is - playing off our fears in an attempt to make money. Things start to make sense now that we can see more of the big picture.
We learn about weight science and start to understand the misinformation we have been given about how our bodies work. We can see fat phobia and weight stigma for what they are and how they keep us rooted in fear.
From there we are also able to craft new “goals” and ideas for how we want to treat our bodies. Our “plans” become fluid and flexible and filled with a quest for pleasure, comfort and enjoyment.
I imagine the process like being in a hot air balloon, and untying the last few sandbags holding it down.
We move into peace, love and joy and are able to return here again and again because now we know it's possible and we can always make the choices that will bring us back here. We no longer have to live in fear.
What does this mean for our chronic dieter? It means she let's go of the beliefs that her body has to look a certain size and shape. Once she let's go of that she is able to access how she actually feels in her own body and she starts to hear her own inner wisdom when it comes to what to eat and how to move.
She starts to focus on joy and pleasure and no matter what, eating experiences become fun and an opportunity for celebration rather than full of dread and fear. Whether she eats chocolate cake or broccoli, she is grateful for the experience, thankful for the food, and happy to be alive.
As she continues down her path, she is able to choose what foods nourish and satisfy her own special and unique body the most and she recognizes that only she knows the answer to that based on her own lived experience and history. She owns her own story and goes forward making powerful decisions for her own well being.
She opts for participation over perfection.
She may decide to explore how she feels when she eats varying amounts of different foods, she may experiment with new recipes, she may check out various supplements or herbs or foods she has never tried before. She may find new ways to move her body and she may explore a variety of healing modalities to find what makes her feel good in each moment.
She also starts to investigate new ways of being when it comes to relationships, job opportunities and life goals. She widens the lens beyond just food and movement and considers the impact of sleep, stress, life purpose, service and community and how that also affects how she feels. She acknowledges all that is beyond her control and stops holding herself responsible for society’s failures.
She also learns not to take it all so seriously, life is meant to be fun and she learns there is no one right way to do anything. She sees the world of unlimited possibilities and appreciates the rich complexity of it all.
As she ages and her body changes, she then adjusts accordingly when she feels called to, always from a place of love and gratitude and pleasure. She is grounded, she knows her worth, she is loved and supported and guided. She makes choices and observes how they impact her life but she doesn't judge or criticize when she doesn't feel the way she wants.
She pivots and redirects and continues to flow, like a branch going downstream that gets caught on a rock before it is again set free without effort.
She is not guided by the outcome or the appearance or the external - she is guided by her knowing and her trust in her body and by how she feels.
She knows now that the real problem was not her body, it was how she was living in fear and how she was viewing her body and the world.
She emerges, much like the Phoenix from the ashes, and soars to new heights she never would have dared thought were possible and don't at all depend on her body size or appearance.
She is more alive and free than she has ever felt before.
When we live in fear we will always see the body as the problem, but love allows us to access an infinite number of possible solutions to the real issue, which is the underlying feeling that things are not how they are supposed to be.
Einstein was indeed a genius. Problem solved.