If you are struggling with your weight, you are not alone. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows that almost 67 percent of women in the United States classify as overweight — with 40 percent of those classified as obese. These numbers demonstrate a health crisis that cannot be solved with restrictive dieting. Not only does dieting not work, it’s damaging. And it doesn’t address the underlying causes of extra weight.
The good news is that there are habits you can incorporate into your life that will help you lose weight and keep it off for life.
1. Stop Dieting
Perhaps the most common response to the desire to lose weight is to go on a diet. Restrictive diets interfere with the body’s metabolism, putting the body into starvation mode. For most people this equates to fat storage and long-term weight gain. Addressing the root cause of weight gain provides the antidote. Healing requires that you look at your life holistically and have the courage to explore the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual reasons for your weight challenges.
2. Start Healing
We live in a world of instant gratification. We want infinite possibilities — and we want them now! (Thank you Netflix, Spotify, Uber, Tinder, GrubHub, and friends.) This quick-fix mentality is one of the biggest obstacles people encounter on the path to enduring weight loss. Permanent weight loss is an act of cultivating deeper levels of self-awareness and self-love. Practicing mindfulness and creating a connection to your body through movement are great places to start. When you bring your body, mind, and emotions into balance, you can lose weight naturally.
3. Find Professional Help
Once you have made the choice to start your weight loss healing journey, it’s important to work with professionals you trust. Why? Trying to go it alone after a lifetime of not knowing how is the equivalent of visiting a foreign country where you don’t understand the culture or speak the language. Not only is it tricky, but the experience will go more smoothly with a knowledgeable guide. When you make the transition from dieting to healing, enlist the help of a holistic nutritionist. You might even want a therapist to help you go deep into emotional issues.
4. Get a Jump-Start
A weight loss retreat is an opportunity to make a clean break from old habits and start fresh. It can be complicated to make changes at home, especially if you have a partner or kids. The beauty of a retreat is that it provides an immersive experience, making it easier to break old habits and learn empowering new ones. The typical retreat will include healthy foods, walking, yoga, meditation, massage, and more, allowing you to eat well and connect with your body. A retreat also allows you to connect with a supportive group of people who are on the same journey. Special things happen when other people encourage you to go after your dreams.
A version of this article first appeared on Food Matters. It has been reprinted with permission.