Ep. 6 - Why diets don't work - and what actually does...
March 16th, 2022
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If you feel you often lose control of your eating and your hunger, if you feel anxious or even afraid to enter your kitchen or go out to eat with friends. If you feel you can’t stop eating once you start, or you no longer want to be controlled by food and the emotions that surround it, lean in my friend and get inspired.
This is your wake up call to a life where food doesn’t control you. Where you’re comfortable with what you eat and where you can easily stop whenever you want to. This isn’t science fiction and it’s not another empty weight loss promise. This is hypnosis. And if you like this show, you’ll love my powerful hypnosis audio.
The binge blocker protocol. This hypnosis helps you stop out of control eating the moment you feel that urge. It’s a 15 minute audio that deals with the emotions behind compulsive eating. Once those emotions are out of the way, the urge to overeat goes [00:01:00] away with it. Once you get your binge blocker protocol, you can download it to your phone to carry with you whenever you might feel that urge. Whether in a restaurant, in your home or even at your workplace when those breakroom donuts are calling your name. Whether you call it a binge, overeating or simply losing control for a moment, this audio will help you resolve it. You can get your binge blocker protocol by going to anywherehypnosis.com.
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This is the weight loss with hypnosis podcast, where we share the why and the how of losing weight, eating right, and overcoming compulsive eating. Even better, we’re doing it with the minimum of lost time and wasted effort. My name is Doug sands and I’m your weight loss and compulsive eating hypnotist. On this show you’re going to learn about more than hypnosis alone. You’re also going to get cutting edge interviews with industry leading health experts from dieticians and nutritionists to fitness experts, psychologists, and more. We’re also diving deep into the emotions that cause us to overeat and retain extra weight, or even explore the unconscious patterns that cause compulsive eating, body image issues and even eating disorders. [00:03:00] Get ready my friend, because this show may change your life forever. Let’s get started.
Welcome back to the weight loss with hypnosis podcast. My name is Doug Sands and I’m the hypnotist and the host of this show. In this episode, we’re detailing why diets do not work. We’re going to share seven reasons why diets are meant to fail as well as three powerful tools you can use to actually change your weight long-term. And if you’re listening to this as this episode launches, it’s right around the time that new year’s resolution start to crumble for most of us. Resolutions are so often focused on our weight and they’re often based around diets. That’s why this is such an important episode to touch on right now. In this episode, we’re breaking down the myths about diets. Why they don’t work and what changes you can make to actually achieve that sustainable weight loss. But first of all, if we haven’t met [00:04:00] yet, my name is Doug Sands and I help compulsive and emotional eaters to end the obsession with food and make peace with it, often in as little as two sessions. I encourage you to subscribe wherever you listen to this podcast, whether it’s on a favorite podcasting app, on the internet or on YouTube.
There are a lot of great episodes coming up with some excellent information that I know you’re not going to want to miss. So with that, let’s dive right into the content with those seven reasons that diets actually are built to fail. Reason number one is that they’re based on restriction.
All diets are based on cutting things out, whether it’s the keto diet or the Atkins diet, or the south beach diet or some crazy fad diet like only eating rice or only eating oatmeal for three months or something like that. It’s all about cutting out, and that puts your mind immediately on high alert. Because in primal times, the biggest worry that most of us faced was that we couldn’t get enough food.
And the only time that [00:05:00] you restricted something was when you didn’t have enough to eat. So the brain responds the same way that it would in primal times with danger signals. The brain responds by obsessing about getting food. In primal times, this obsession helped us find creative solutions to go get that food and make sure that we had enough calories to survive.
Now it just helps us find creative ways to justify eating that food. You know, I ran 10 miles today at the gym so I’m justified having two margaritas or something like that. It’s not about that, it’s not about adding the calories and making sure your calorie intake is perfectly balanced like a ledger sheet. That’s not sustainable and that is so taxing on your willpower and your mental energy. Diets are exhausting, because wherever our attention goes, our energy flows. Have you ever noticed how exhausting these diets can be on your mental energy? Foods start to take up all of your thoughts. And it’s always the foods that [00:06:00] we restrict that tend to take up the most space in our brain.
It’s the things that we can’t eat, that we’re actually thinking about the most often. This actually makes you less likely to lose weight, because as you focus on those foods, you are tuning your unconscious mind to go find those foods. When you focus on foods, your unconscious is going to start to create ways to get that food or if it’s available to justify having that food. Also, restriction makes your body less efficient at actually burning the weight that you want to lose. Since your body clearly does not want to starve, it’s going to slow your metabolism down. Each and every time that you restrict the amount of calories that you take in, you’re going to have lower energy levels, lower mental focus to actually get through the day and you’re also going to have less actual fat burning. You’re going to have less metabolism burning through that extra fat that is the reason you want to lose weight in the first place. So let’s [00:07:00] look at number two, it’s about restricting nutrients. The body needs a wide range of nutrients to survive and to thrive, to build a healthy body that looks good and actually feels enjoyable.
This means that you need to get a wide variety of foods to get all the nutrients that your body craves. You need fruits, veggies, proteins, fats and yes, even grains. When we cut out foods completely from our diet, we restrict nutrients that our body actually needs to survive and thrive.
This is especially true when we try out fad diets. Maybe you’re only eating rice or fruits or some other narrow food group for a month or more. This can severely impact the body both as its structural level and at the energy level. Your body needs nutrients from all kinds of foods, and that’s why I never recommend cutting out a food group completely.
Not even carbs. Even when I’m working with someone who is set on using the keto [00:08:00] or the south beach or a nutrition plan that really focuses on limiting carbs. I encourage them to aim for about a hundred grams of carbs each day. That’s not a whole lot of carbs, but it’s still enough that you can enjoy those carbs and get the nutrients that you actually need from them.
The third reason that diets are meant to fail, is that they ignore our natural weights. In diet culture, natural weight is kind of a taboo topic. Diet culture wants us all to believe that everyone can be a super thin, super fit lean model, but somebodies are just not built that way. Somebodies are just built to be a little heavier, a little curvier, a little differently shaped than the models that we see bombarding us in social media.
To explain this, let’s imagine a rubber band. You can stretch it to be that thinner self, to be that ideal person, to be whatever you want, you know, fill in the blank. But once the pressure is off, that rubber band is going to snap back to [00:09:00] its normal self. It’s going to revert back to normal resting state.
And if you stretch that rubber band too far for too long, it’s going to snap. It’s going to become deficient in something. In this case, it’s going to become too stressed and it’s going to break down. The body wants to have a little fat on it at all times, because fat meant protection against starvation.
Fat is literally our body’s most efficient way of storing energy. It’s kind of like storing little batteries all around our body, just in case we might need that in the future. Remember, the brain is designed for survival and having a little bit of extra fat on your body is all right. You can actually calm your brain down a little bit by having that little bit of wiggle room. And being able to accept that wiggle room, that little extra fat as natural, as healthy, you know, it’s perfectly fine.
Now, somebodies are meant to be fit and thin and lean and be that ideal model, but some aren’t and that’s perfectly fine. The [00:10:00] most important thing is that you have to realize which it is. Are you actually supposed to be at like a 4% body fat ratio, or is your body more comfortable at like a 12?
Maybe you’re meant to be a little curvier. Maybe you feel better when you have a little curve and you actually have the nutrition that you want in your life. This is really important to note that neither is better than the other. No matter what diet culture leads you to believe, being fit and thin may not be the best for your body. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be healthy, that’s simply to say that you shouldn’t try to starve yourself to achieve someone else’s idea of what health actually looks like. Thankfully, we’re seeing a lot more body positive influencers in social media. And if body image is something that you struggle with, I encourage you to subscribe. Click that red button if you’re watching on YouTube or click the plus button on your podcasting app, because I’ve got a lot of fantastic episodes coming up, both solo and with other health experts that touch on body [00:11:00] image as well as how you can work with it.
Now, I work with body image and body dysmorphic disorder using hypnosis. And we can talk about the details of all of that and more in upcoming episodes, that’s why I encourage you to subscribe. Now, accepting your natural weight is so important, because it’s less about diets and more about self-love actually accepting yourself who you are, and that can be really, really hard to do.
Having struggled with accepting myself for years, I can completely understand when a client says to me, Doug, I don’t know how to love myself yet. And that’s often because society is always comparing ourselves to impossible standards. No wonder, so many of us grew up hating ourselves or our bodies or the way that we act. There are so many things that we think are wrong with us because we have so many high standards in the media nowadays.
If this sounds like you, you’re in the right place. Again, subscribe because there’s fantastic resources in this [00:12:00] material that I know you’re not going to want to miss. And once you accept that natural body weight that your body actually wants to achieve, it’s going to be so much easier to achieve that goal weight, and actually maintain it for the long-term.
Let’s look at number four, the yo yo diet cycle. Diets are built to keep you on a continual cycle of weight loss and weight gain. Diets are completely unnatural in the natural world. They don’t actually work on the habits that lead to the weight gain. They’re simply creating an artificial environment to lose weight. And once that environment is gone, once the 30 days are done, you are back to the exact habits that cause that weight gain. A recent study showed that about 95% of those who lose weight while dieting will gain it back within one to five years. And that is really unhealthy.
The body is not meant to lose weight and gain weight and lose it and gain it again. It’s meant to [00:13:00] maintain weight for the longterm or to have slow gradual weight change. It’s not meant to be on this up and down roller coaster. This is because the body cannot tell between artificial and actual starvation. To our brain and our body, the restriction that we do with dieting is starvation. It means a danger to our survival and our brain lights up all the alarms like Def con one, our brain is going to do everything it can to make sure that you are going to survive through this artificial starvation that you put on yourself. The brain is going to slow your metabolism and it’s also going to push you, to urge you to gain that weight back. The brain sees the weight that you’ve lost past your normal body weight as a deficit that you need to recover. And it’s going to work to gain back that debt to make sure that it’s got that safety cushion so that it’s not in danger anymore. The gain and loss cycle impacts your body’s functions. It impacts your body’s ability to heal itself, to maintain [00:14:00] homeostasis and to just function day-to-day. Imagine running a car all the way to empty, all the way until it stops on the side of the road with no more gas and then filling it all the way up and doing the cycle again and again and again. The more you do this, the more damage you’re going to have on the engine as it runs on less fuel than it actually needs. And the same can be said for our bodies. The weight loss and gain cycle also makes it harder to lose and maintain that goal weights in the future.
The body tends to start retaining weight because it believes the starvation will come again. This is something that we see time and time again with people who have suffered anorexia or other disordered eating syndromes in the past. Their body has realized that hey, I don’t know if we’re going to starve today, so I’m going to retain every single calorie that I can. And this is why people with those disorders in recovery may see bloating, may see excessive weight gain as the body tries to [00:15:00] hold onto every single thing it gets. Cause it doesn’t know when it’s going to get that thing again. And that’s why this cycle can really impact your ability to maintain your goal weight when you reach it.
Let’s talk about number five, diets can lead to eating disorder. Disordered eating isn’t about food. It’s about our thoughts about food. It’s about the rules that we place about food and our weights and everything else that contributes to our health.
And I want to share an unpopular thoughts. I believe that diets are in a way just mini eating disorders. Hear me out, diets are restrictive. They can damage the body by restricting the nutrients that you need. They reinforce unhealthy eating patterns and they cause us to obsess about our weight and our food.
The only difference is that it’s small scale, meaning that at the end of the month, you’re done. You’d simply stop the diet and you move on to something else. The problem with this is that diets can also lead to full blown, disordered eating, and it’s not like [00:16:00] one day you wake up and you have an eating disorder. It’s a gradual progression that starts with dieting and eventually builds into something that you can be hospitalized for. In fact, excessive dieting is one of the main warning signs of an eating disorder. And if this is something that sounds like you, I encourage you to subscribe to get more information about this.
So let’s look at number six, weight gain isn’t about food. Ocassionally, that might be it. Maybe you just ate too much over the holidays because the food was delicious or maybe you really, really, really liked those baby back ribs that you got in St. Louis or something like that. But the weight that we gain is more often about our emotions.
Think about it. Why did you gain that weight in the first place? Maybe it’s because you ate too much, but think about this. Why did you eat too much? Why did you eat past the point of it being comfortable? Why did you eat past the point of actually wanting that food? Your head might’ve wanted it, your head might’ve convinced your body [00:17:00] wanted it, but your body wasn’t really comfortable taking that food in.
That’s a really great sign that you’ve reached your satiety limit, your full limit, and you no longer need to keep eating. Maybe you kept eating because you trying to avoid a feeling. Maybe this was conscious or unconscious, maybe you recently had a breakup and you’re like, I want to eat a pint of chocolate ice cream because I am feeling miserable.
Maybe it’s something unconscious like I just got home from work and I am bored and I don’t know what to do. So I might as well have some ice cream. Maybe it’s a response to a trauma. This is something I see all the time in my end the obsession, emotional eating program. People have used food to cope with traumas in their past because we’re never really taught ways to cope with things like moving out of your child at home. Or dealing with the death of a loved one, or dealing with abuse or a million other traumas that can happen to us over the course of a lifetime.
Maybe your body was even trying to build up body armor around you. Weight is a way to put physical distance [00:18:00] between ourselves and others. And often this weight gain is completely unconscious. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. Maybe we’re eating chips or ice cream in front of the TV, maybe we’re eating too much without actually realizing that we’ve had enough.
If you’re working with a diet and you’re restricting certain foods, maybe as your mind waters, you suddenly realize that you’re halfway through eating a forbidden food before you realize what you’re doing. And then at that point, you probably rationalize it saying, Hey, I’ve eaten half of this bag of chips, or half of this box of Oreos and I might as well finish it, right?
That’s why tools like hypnosis are so effective because they actually work with the unconscious mind. They work with a part of us that is running these mental programs that are keeping us gaining this weight. They work with those parts of us that may have been traumatized, or that may be running from a certain emotion to say, hey, It’s okay.
You can release that problem. And the cool thing with hypnosis is that you don’t have to completely unbox that emotion. Unlike [00:19:00] therapy, you don’t have to sit on a couch for six months to talk through it. Now I’m not saying that therapy is bad. I personally recommend some people to go to therapy. it worked for some of my issues and it worked for some of the issues of my clients. And they actually maintain a strong working relationship with many therapists. Therapy and hypnosis are simply two powerful tools that you can use to work with the underlying emotions.
So let’s look at number seven, the final reasons that diets don’t work, and that’s because they are designed to fail. Diets aren’t fun. We all know this, diets simply take the pleasure out of eating. And when we take the pleasure out of something, we’re not going to do it forever. We’re simply forcing ourselves to stick with this diet with willpower.
As I often tell my clients, willpower is a limited resource. Imagine that every single day, you are given a tank of willpower, and this tank of willpower is full of fuel that we call willpower. Each decision that you make throughout the day, drains that tank [00:20:00] a little bit, some more than others. This is the reason that people like bill gates and Barack Obama always wore similar clothing because they didn’t want to waste valuable willpower on decisions that really weren’t that important. Because at the end of the day, Willpower runs out. When that tank of willpower runs out, the only way to refill it is to take time off. To rest, to recuperate, to sleep and to refill that tank as your mind has time to process everything that you’ve gone through in that day. I want to give you another metaphor and that’s the metaphor of the elephant and the rider. The unconscious is kind of like an elephant and the conscious mind is kind of like the writer’s sitting on top of it, trying to make sure it goes where it wants it to.
We all know that the elephant is definitely the stronger of this pair. And elephant tends to want what it wants. If it’s hungry, it walks over and eat something. If it has to use the bathroom, it just uses the bathroom. And the writer is the one trying to make sure it does what’s good or what’s right. The writer is your logical mind [00:21:00] saying, hey, I want to eat well, I want to change our nutrition. And the unconscious that elephant is the part that says, I want Oreos. I want to maintain my weight because I think that I need it for survival, or for protection. And when willpower runs out, the unconscious mind is going to go where it wants to go. It’s like the writer has lost, complete control over that unconscious elephant. And it’s just going to trample anything in its path, on its way to get what it wants. This is especially true when we reward the unconscious with things that it actually likes. The brain repeats what we celebrate, even if it’s a negative celebration. Meaning obsession. If we constantly think about those Oreos, constantly think about that ice cream, whatever it may be, we are reinforcing that pattern, making it harder and harder to actually break out of it. That’s why diets can actually reinforce the unhealthy eating habits that may have caused that weight gain in the past.
So those are seven powerful reasons that [00:22:00] diets don’t work. So with that, let’s look at what actually does work and what can help you to lose weight and maintain that weight loss long-term. Number one, we’ve got guidelines, not rules. Diets tend to be too restrictive. And I want to give you a hot take saying if you need a cheat day to stick to your diet, it’s too restrictive. If you need a day of the week where you can eat whatever you want and not feel guilty about it, that’s too restrictive. You need to be able to eat things in moderation because otherwise you’re going to obsess about that food all week. That’s going to be taking up a lot of mental energy that could be put elsewhere, it’s going to be burning a lot of willpower that you may need to do other things in your life. And it’s actually going to be reinforcing your dependence on those foods. I get it, this is good in theory. You’re letting yourself enjoy that food at a certain day, but you should be able to enjoy those foods whenever you want to.
True food freedom is when [00:23:00] you don’t have a diet. It’s when you are able to eat that ice cream one night and say, that was great. And then the next night, I don’t really need this ice cream, I’m going to skip it. It’s having that easy unbroken relationship where you’re not chopping up the weeks into days I can eat brownies and days I cannot.
And the more that you chop your week up, the more your brain has jumped through mental hoops, exhausting itself, and exhausting you along with it. The key is you want to enjoy this in moderation all week long. It helps you to avoid that restriction and obsession cycle.
When you are able to enjoy it anytime you want, you know, in moderation, not eating the entire pint of ice cream every two days, but enjoying it a moderation, it’s suddenly not such a rare and valuable resource, and you can actually use it to maintain that weight loss and that weight journey.
Resource number two is all about changing habits. Habits tend to run our lives. And this is something that we, as the conscious mind, the conscious rider, we don’t really like [00:24:00] to admit this. Habits run everything. They’re kind of like the big fences that keep the unconscious elephant in where we want it to go.
So much of our day is spent on autopilot and that’s not such a bad thing. Going on autopilot helps us to conserve our mental energy and conserving that energy helps us to focus on new challenges, whether it’s a new challenge we face at work or challenges we may face while doing a sport. Maybe it’s making sure that we’re not hitting the face with a ball or that we don’t tumble down a mountain while skiing. Having that extra energy Allows us to actually accomplish new things. Habits actually decide our health because those are the things we revert back to when willpower fails. Those are the things that are ingrained. They’re essentially the easy track. And when our habits are unhealthy, it’s easy to do those unhealthy things and harder to start doing new healthier things. The cool thing about habits though, is that when you have healthy habits, the healthy thing becomes the [00:25:00] easier route and the unhealthy thing becomes a little harder. You have to justify why you want to eat three cups of ice cream in a night. You have to justify those things against what’s your goals actually are. So how do you actually change those habits for the better? You can do this with the standard 30 days of willpower. This is kind of like the brute force method. It’s kind of like the elephant rider, trying to club it’s elephant into submission. Now this works, but it does rely on that unreliable willpower.
It relies on you having the willpower at the end of the day to say no, I’m not going to have that entire box of cookies. I’m going to resist because I’m actually working towards something that I want. And trying to beat your brain into submission might also build up some resentment with your unconscious mind.
It might build up some anger at yourself. You might beat yourself up emotionally saying, why can’t I do this? Or why am I so fill in the blank. Whatever it may be, whatever the issues you may be facing actually are. Now, there is an [00:26:00] easier way to change those habits and that’s with hypnosis.
In fact, this is exactly why I became a hypnotist in the first place. I saw how effective it was for changing habits that I had in my own life. Changing our habits changes the way we act when the chips are down. When we no longer have that willpower in that tank, when we are exhausted after that long day, or when life throws us a curve ball. Habits decide what we do when we’re stressed or anxious or bored or any other emotion that throws us off our standard keel.
And that’s one of the goals of this podcast. To really share what hypnosis is and how it can help us to make those changes powerfully. So let’s look at finally number three, that is changing our identity. And this changes everything. This is perhaps one of the most important ways that we can maintain our weight loss.
Now, changing our identity is actually something that’s kind of hard to do. And this comes from the work of Robert Dilts. [00:27:00] Maybe you’ve heard of Dilts logical levels, and we can talk about the specifics of this in future episodes. The basics is that I want you to imagine a ladder of things that we can change in our life.
Things like behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and abilities. The basics of this is that changing something at the bottom of the ladder is pretty easy, but it doesn’t actually last that long. Changing something at the top of the ladder is pretty difficult. It’s actually quite hard to change something at the very top, but once you do everything below, it changes as well.
It changes to align with that new thing that you’ve placed on the top. Near the very top of Dilt’s logical levels is identity. Now changing our identity can’t be very hard. If you want to change from someone who is unhealthy to someone who is completely fit and ripped, that can be pretty tough to do at an identity level.
Oftentimes it takes a dramatic life event to make that change. Or we get fed up with how our life is going and we simply reach [00:28:00] a tipping point, the straw that broke the camel’s back, you know, and we actually want that change. We reached the point of threshold where we can say three things to ourselves. One, something needs to change. Two, it has to be me that makes that change.
And three, that change has to happen right now. There’s no more waiting. And when you hit that point, the change is actually very easy to initiate. And having that event can change your identity overnight. That was kind of my own story. I had a dramatic life event that shaped who I was as a person. For me personally, that event was nearly freezing to death.
I was on a hike in New Hampshire and I got lost in a blizzard. I had to come face to face with my own mortality. The thought that I might not make it out of here. I might actually freeze to death. And after I got out, I started questioning everything around me, everything I believed in, everything that I was running from.
And I started to do the self work that eventually led me to where I am in this career that I’m in. Now, your change does [00:29:00] not have to be that dramatic. You can actually do this fairly easily with hypnosis. Now you can also change your identity with thoughts and affirmations, but that does take longer and it also relies on willpower, which makes it a little more likely to fail. When you change your identity however, everything lines up with it. It’s kind of like a bullseye that everything lines up with to hit that center target. Changing your identity from an unhealthy person to someone who chooses to be healthy is so, so powerful.
And the key point with this is that if you’re using affirmations or another tool besides hypnosis, remember that you choose to be this person. We all want agency in our lives. We all want to be the masters of our own destiny at some level. And at some level we all naturally resist being told what to do.
It’s why people tend not to like their nine to five jobs. It’s why people actually like when they have the agency and the freedom to do what they want to do. [00:30:00] Changing your identity empowers you because you choose to be this person. And it also gives you standards that you can live up to.
We all know that each and every one of us has the potential to be great in this life. And if you identify as that great person or that healthy person, your brain has to ask, would a healthy person do this? Would they eat 30 Oreos in a single night? Would they skip going to the gym for a week because they didn’t really feel like it? Here’s why this is so powerful. Because the brain dislikes cognitive dissonance, meaning that when you believe one thing and reality says another, that’s when your brain has to question which is actually true. When you believe that you’re a healthy person, but your actions are more in line with that unhealthy person you used to be, your brain has to do one of two things that either has to change your actions to fit your beliefs, or it has to change your beliefs that fit your actions. And this is why it’s so powerful. Your identity gives [00:31:00] you internal standards that your unconscious lives up to.
It makes it easier to say no to those things that don’t actually help you and easier to say yes to things that might be difficult, that might actually progress you towards your goals. So I really hope that this episode gave you a nugget of wisdom. And if you walked away with some new insight or some clear vision of what you want for your journey, I encourage you to subscribe. Click the bell and the red button below. If you’re watching on YouTube or click the plus sign if you’re listening on a podcasting app, because there are so many more resources that I’m really excited to share with you. On an upcoming episode, we’re talking with even more nutritionists and even more health experts on ways that you can change your life without using diets. Again, my name is Doug Sands and I help compulsive and emotional eaters to end the obsession with food and make peace with it, once and for all. Thank you so much for watching or listening to this episode and I look forward to seeing you in the next one.
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