New research has shown that two out of three Westerners are now either overweight or obese and the continuing rise in obesity will lead to an additional 500,000 deaths by 2030. Research has also shown that diets don’t work. My own research has shown that lifestyle is the solution. But it has to be a special kind of lifestyle that builds health and a powerful sense of inner satisfaction 24/7.
The standard approach to weight loss revolves around food. This is based on the belief that most people with a weight problem have ‘lost control’ of their eating habits. This control is theoretically regained by behavioural modification strategies including food diaries, calorie counting, weight-loss goal setting, external monitoring and positive or motivational thinking.
If you want to lose weight, don’t diet!
So, most people with overeating issues who want to lose weight start with ‘I need to go on a diet’. This is their first mistake. Going on a diet is a conscious decision, so you are now relying on your mind. It is also a decision based on deprivation. You have to eat less of what you really want and more of what you don’t want. So even while you say ‘I’m going on a diet’, internally you are screaming ‘no’! Every time you are faced with a food you want, you will be trying to talk yourself out of it. Deprivation automatically creates an imbalance. We all naturally seek balance and this is just one little factor that leads to giving in.
Another common weight-loss approach is ‘I need to eat more healthy food’. This makes sense theoretically and it is part of the solution, but you can’t ever replace the feeling you get from a double cheeseburger dripping with sauce from a bowl of steamed vegetables. Telling yourself that you enjoy kale just as much as a burger will never work. That is as ineffectual as a drug addict telling themselves that they enjoy aspirin just as much as cocaine.
Then there is the ‘I need to exercise more’ approach. But if overeating underpins your weight gain, exercise won’t replace what you get from food. The contestants on weight loss shows are over-eaters, and even though they exercise excessively to achieve weight loss goals, and get some dramatic results, they will usually regain the weight they lost. Food diaries just create food anxiety and food obsession, everything revolves around food. Weight issues are not about food, they are either connected to your lifestyle, or about the way food makes you feel.
Ever wondered why you can’t resist that cake, pizza, burger, beer or cheesy snack, even though you know it’s not good for you, and you know you will gain weight? It’s because something more powerful than your rational mind is calling the shots. If you want to lose weight you need to harness this force.
Don’t focus on the food, focus on the feeling
Weight loss programs always focus on food, but this is exactly what not to do. If you want to lose weight permanently don’t focus on food, focus on recapturing the experience; that eyes shut ‘omigod, this is sooooo good’ sensation of a mouthful of cheesy hamburger or double chocolate cake. In that moment of sensory overload, all your obligations, stress, expectations and beliefs are temporarily gone, it’s just ‘me and the cake’. In TCM terms, those foods create what I call a ‘mother nurture’. This is a powerful experience of ‘it’s me, I’m real, I’m home’. We are all programmed, somewhere deep in our subconscious, to seek this state as often as possible.
Combine this primal drive with the fact that teams of clever scientists and genius food engineers are working around the clock specifically to make everything from so-called ‘healthy’ breakfast cereals to fast foods, create this very effect, and encourage food addiction, and you are up against the big guns. You need to fight on the same front and you need back-up. The weapon is not rationality, it is feelings.
If you want to lose weight, find a replacement source for the deep satisfaction of that ‘mother nurture’ state. This is where your ‘zang fu’ organs and ‘chi’ come into play. These are your secret weight loss weapons. In Chinese medicine that mother nurture state is an experience of chi-flow temporarily boosting all organ function. The chi-cycle lifestyle is designed to recapture that feeling. It improves organ performance and boosts chi flow, recapturing that state in as many ways as possible. Food will naturally take its place as one of many sources of life satisfaction, rather than a prime one.
Weight gain is not just down to overeating and sensory immersion, of course. There are many contributing factors from eating in the wrong way, to eating at the wrong times; but also nutrient deficiency, lack of sleep, lack of time, emotional imbalances, and even lack of purpose. The chi-cycle lifestyle corrects all the things you do in a normal day that, unbeknownst to you, will contribute to weight gain. How do I know this you might ask? Well because when I started using the chi-cycle lifestyle as a therapy tool for clients, they not only became healthier and happier, they had permanent natural weight loss as a side effect.
And the chi-cycle is a lifestyle that delivers feelings of reward. We have taste buds for a reason and the primary one is connected to ‘reward’. Take the focus off the food, get a reward-based lifestyle in place and you are on your way to being sustainably slim. I’ve been working with reward-based lifestyles for decades. I developed the ‘chi-cycle’ lifestyle in 2008 when I was specialising in addiction. At the core of drug addiction is the desire to feel good. Addiction is not about the drugs, it is about how the drugs make people feel. This applies to excessive sex, porn addiction, food addiction and every other addictive behaviour I have treated. Addressing weight issues from this angle works.
DNA and dieting success are not connected
Findings from a recent American study, looking at why some people gain weight, reveal it is not genetic, it is personal. But they don’t really know what that means, so they concluded that food is personal and that everyone should experiment and basically make up individual food rules (they even said skip breakfast if you feel like it – no, don’t do this! It is the path to lifestyle disease). Weirdly, they then mentioned the body clock, but as if it is not connected to anything, as if all life is random.
This is yet another scientific study that totally misses the point. Weight gain is personal, but it is not about the food, it is never about food, it is about the state of each person’s organ health. And, as I outlined in Clock On To Health, weight gain is connected to how we organise our day because this impacts on our organ function. For example, if we are asleep during gallbladder time (11pm – 1am) our metabolic rate naturally increases etc. Sometimes I feel like making all these scientists sit down and read up on Chinese medicine, all the answers are there, to weight loss, life, the universe and everything! They can then put the research funds to lifestyle programs in schools, and workplaces and retirement homes instead and make the whole world healthier and happier.