The Most Worthless Good Advice Ever!
Some people believe that all the diet books in the world could be swapped for a five-word phrase: “Eat less (and better) and exercise more.”
If only it were so simple.
There may be a few people who don’t struggle with weight issues, either because of their genetics, hormone balance, extreme discipline or whatever. For those very select few, this simple advice is not only accurate, but useful.
Unfortunately, only twenty percent of dieters (at best) are successful in keeping weight off over the long run according to this American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article. That leaves the other 80% of the human race out of the equation.
So for the rest of us, though these five words are technically accurate, they’re utterly worthless as a plan for weight loss.
You’ve probably proven their worthlessness more than once yourself. How many diet plans have you tried, perhaps with some initial positive results, that ultimately left you disappointed by the lack of long-term success?
How to Make Weight Loss Work for You
If you’re not one of the lucky 20%, how can you stack the weight-loss odds in your favor?
I am a nutritionist, health educator, former pharma executive, ex yo-yo dieter and founder of the Cognidiet® Programs for weight loss and I have given this issue a lot of thought.
I have learned that to improve your odds of losing weight, you have to engage your brain effectively. Counting calories is not enough. Watching portions is not enough. Because after a while, you will just go back to your old habits and preferences. Your brain has not changed.
However if you start to think differently, your new attitude has the power to transform your life. We teach this as one of the cornerstones of our weight loss program. And interestingly, when our clients lose the weight, they shed a lot of other unnecessary habits. I have witnessed total transformations.
We still teach our clients to control their calorie intake and increase their levels of exercise (“eat less – and better – and exercise more”), but save this advice until it can do the most good – after clients have learned to change the way they think and react to stress, social situations, and their body’s own internal ingrained signals.
What We’re Learning About Learning
As research continues to emerge in the growing field of “Neuroplasticity”, scientists are discovering the intricate details of exactly what happens in the brain when we learn to “think differently”. It turns out that the brain is surprisingly adaptable. As learning takes place, the brain is reshaping, remodeling, and rewiring itself.
One learning strategy the brain uses is to reinforce useful, reliable connections – strengthening select synapses between one nerve cell and the next – while pruning away outdated nerve connections.
Newly learned behavior patterns become more and more automated as the wiring diagram of your brain gets updated. And by the way, this is not only true for weight loss. This applies to many other aspects of your life as well: your relationship with money, relationships in general, leadership, career and work related challenges and more.
How to Encourage Your Inner Brain Pruner
If you engage in a weight loss program the right way, this brain rewiring process will work to your advantage. With each passing day, maintaining a healthy weight will get easier and easier. And never get discouraged, each step, each attempt reinforces these new synapse connections.
But if instead you expect that factual knowledge and will power alone will balance your calorie intake and expenditure, you’re much less likely to succeed. That’s because your knowledge and thoughts are constantly battling to override your brain circuitry. You’re not changing your wiring diagram.
You’ll start your diet plan with good intentions, and you can shift your calorie balance in the right direction for a meal or two. Or a day or two. One week. Or perhaps longer.
But this diet approach requires enlisting the same will power machinery over and over again. Constantly. Each day it will become harder and harder to overcome your old habits. Each time you pass the refrigerator, it will require more and more effort to avoid opening the door and grabbing something. That’s because you haven’t changed the underlying patterns in your brain.
So what comes to your mind when you open this refrigerator? Most people do not even know why. First thing is to become aware of what is going through your mind. Once this is done (and we are here to help), what other choices and behaviors can you adopt to get rid of this automatic habit?
Is it adopting a new circuit when you come home, allowing you to avoid the kitchen – not kidding, some of Cognidiet® programs clients have adopted this method. Is is writing a sticky note with an inspirational quote on the fridge? Or is it totally revamping what is in your fridge and finding new healthy alternatives to ice cream at 8 PM for instance?
If you follow the principles we teach in the Cognidiet® Programs, your weight loss process will take a different path. You’ll begin by identifying the underlying thinking patterns that influence your eating preferences and behaviors.
That way, your “inner brain gardener” can get to work pruning away the brain synapses that no longer meet your needs. At the same time, you’ll be building new brain pathways as you build new habits and behaviors. Your brain will become hard-wired to effortlessly (and seemingly automatically) make better decisions and food choices.
Each day, your weight loss process will become easier instead of harder and harder. It’s like learning to play chess or tennis, you will practice and practice more and become excellent at this new acquired skill. After a while it will become effortless.
The approach used in the Cognidiet® Programs doesn’t work by magic. It requires a significant commitment to changing the way you think about food. Fortunately, the proven effectiveness of the Cognidiet® Programs is evidence that you can put the scientific principles of neuroplasticity to work for you and shift the weight-loss odds in your favor. So become your own brain gardener and prune away all these negative behaviors.