Do You Need a “Fattitude” Adjustment?
By DR. BROOKE KALANICK
Ladies, this one is for you.
Attitude is everything. Especially when it comes to fat loss.
How many times have you thought, What is wrong with me? Why can't I lose weight?
We often think the problem is that we've yet to uncover the missing piece to our unique metabolic mystery. So we read up on the latest craze and try putting butter in our coffee, hoping that's the answer.
I specialize in tough fat loss, so I appreciate that there's often a variable or two to tinker with -- like thyroid, cortisol or estrogen. But what about when you have the info and you've got a smart plan? What if we assume that you already know at least most of what you need to do? If that's true, then what makes the gap between knowing and doing so big?
Attitude. I used to think talk like this was "soft," and I clung to biochemistry and endocrinology alone to help my patients. But time and time again, they would have a great plan from me and fail to execute it. I was as guilty as the next expert as I made weight loss only about what you eat and how much time you spend at the gym -- and never about what you think.
Why does that matter? Because there will be tough days. There will be days when you feel sad, angry, disappointed and trapped in a body you hate. There will be days when all you can do is wonder, Why don't I look like her? Why did I just eat that? What's wrong with me? Or maybe you throw up you hands and think, Forget it. Why bother anyway? It's just too hard.
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And what about that overwhelming feeling of unfairness when you watch your girlfriend down three glasses of wine with a plate of pasta and you practically gain five pounds just watching her?
It's these thoughts that create the gap between "knowing" and "doing." It's these thoughts that make doing the right things so painful that you give up.
Or you do the opposite and just dig in deeper. You take more drastic measures and cut calories to a ridiculous low and/or spend many punishing hours at the gym. You don't give up, but you're still miserable -- and you ruin your metabolism further in the process.
Who could blame you? It's really hard to make good decisions when you feel bad. Let's face it: Dieting feels bad. It's rife with suffering, deprivation and misery, so it's not shocking that diets have such a miserable failure rate.
And while there are certainly more than five ways to feel bad on a diet, the most common mindsets that I've seen derail women time and time again are what I call the "Five Fattitudes": comparison (and envy), deserve, unfairness, guilt and it's too hard (which looks like "I should" and "I have to").
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Calories, hormones and macros all matter for weight-loss success, but so does your attitude. Before you start another diet, use the tools below to have a better attitude about it:
1. Why Don't I Look Like Her? Comparison and its sidekick envy are killers. They kill your motivation and squash your self-worth. No other woman has your genes or your particular set of hormonal or life circumstances. So it's not comparing apples and oranges, its comparing apples and airplanes.
Instead of spinning off into frustration, sadness and disgust when comparison shows up, forgive yourself for using the wrong measuring stick. The only comparison you should make is to how you would've done before. Are you doing better than you would've done yesterday?
One step further: When comparison shows up with a load of envy, try this: Walk right up to that girl you're feeling jealous of and tell her how fabulous you think her abs/arms/booty looks. If it's online, comment, post or tweet at her. Compliments are the antidote to envy.
2. Don't I Deserve This Treat? Because you worked so hard, did so well the rest of the day or are having a tough time.
When you tell yourself you deserve it, you're actually feeling conflicted between wanting to avoid temptation and wanting to "be good to yourself." And very quickly, something that's not in your best interest becomes a twisted act of faux self-love.
Deserve has on its heels justifications that start with "but" or "because." Stuff like: The sugar in this 32-ounce drink doesn't count because at least it's not a cookie. Or this glass of wine is null and void because it's someone's birthday. When you hear "but" and "because," you know you're trying to sell yourself on an act that's not 100 percent aligned with your goals.
The antidote for deserve is ownership of your choices. Don't justify a choice because you deserve it, but rather make a choice because you choose it. When you own both the choice and how you feel about it -- and after it -- there is no need for justifications. No ifs, ands or buts allowed. It's simply your choice.
3. It's Not Fair. It's not fair that fat loss is harder for some of us. I am in this camp, and it's not fair that my girlfriends can have more treats, more wine with fewer workouts and be thinner and leaner than me with less effort.
It's not fair. It's true, but it's useless. Dwelling on the unfairness does nothing but mount your frustration as you search in vain for justice. I don't know why it's easier for her, and it doesn't matter. When you feel unfairness mounting, remember TBU -- true but useless.
Don't dwell on it. It will not make you thinner, her fatter or cake have fewer calories. It's harder for you, and that's OK.
The antidote to unfairness is to stop fighting it. Fighting it is like quicksand: It just takes you down faster. Let it be unfair. When you rail against it, it doesn't change -- it stays frustrating. Then let it go and get back to work.
4. I Hate Myself for Doing That. Guilt starts the shame spiral. You have the "treat" or skip the workout, and instead of owning your choice (and heaven forbid, enjoying it!) you halfheartedly engage because you're being naughty, or you enjoy it for a moment and then are wracked with shame and self-loathing for being so weak.
The key to long-term success with not only getting a better body, but also keeping it, is continually righting your ship. You are always just one choice away from being back on track, but guilt and shame prolong getting back in the game and lead to more and more bad decisions.
The antidote to guilt is to do something that makes you feel good again. I always say, "It is too hard when you feel so bad." So you must get to feeling good -- right away.
Remember, you are never more than one choice away from being back on track. Do 10 pushups, go for a walk, drink a big glass of lemon water, use your affirmations, hug a loved one or simply declare out loud, "Game on!" Just like that, you're back on track.
5. This Is Too Hard. Suffering comes from thinking It should be happening quicker or It shouldn't be this much work or I should be able to have more wine or dessert.
"Should" and "have to" imply conflict. I "should" order a salad, or I "have to" go to the gym. When you feel this internal conflict, it means part of you wants to do something else. Another internal fight.
Remember, when you're suffering, you're choosing that. It's optional and it's unnecessary. And again, don't fight with yourself. There is no salad sheriff or Pilates police -- this goal is 110 percent your choice. You don't have to lose another pound, eat another salad or do another workout.
The antidote is to change your wording from "I have to" and "I should" to "I get to. I can. I choose to."
So much more power, so much less internal conflict. More ease, less suffering.
If even one of these Fattitudes has been tripping you up and you'd like to dig in deeper, I've created a 21-day email-based program that walks you through identifying these prevailing yet miserable attitudes about weight loss. Throughout the program, you'll have time to really understand how, where and when these mindsets take hold, and you'll be given the two tools to transform them.
Click here for more info and put these Fattitudes to rest once and for all. It's not easy work, but it's completely worth the effort -- and I'll be there in your inbox every day helping you be better.
-- Dr. Brooke
Readers -- Do you suffer from any of the "fattitudes" mentioned above? How do you change the conversation in your head about food and exercise? What is the hardest part about trying to lose weight for you? Leave a comment below and let us know!
A licensed naturopathic doctor (N.D.), Dr. Brooke Kalanick Larson attended Seattle's Bastyr University, where she earned a doctorate in naturopathic medicine and a master's in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
Dr. Brooke takes a balanced approach to health, using both conventional and alternative therapies. Metabolic nutrition, fat-loss resistance and fitness remain her areas of focus. In her Manhattan clinic, she primarily treats women with Hashimoto's hypothyroidism and PCOS as well as other female hormonal imbalances. With these women, she works to reset their hormones, their heads and their habits so they can finally feel at home in their bodies.