How Coaching Addresses Weight Loss
There are so many different weight loss strategies out there and we see them everywhere. We see them in blogs, forums, social media feeds, ads, TV shows, magazines… it can seem like wherever you go, someone is trying to share a “new” way to shed pounds and keep them off.
Still, something doesn’t add up. If weight loss strategies are EVERYWHERE, then why are so many people still looking for ways to lose weight?
The problem with weight loss strategies
The REAL problem isn’t the method you choose to ensure weight loss. In situations where preexisting health conditions don’t exist, most traditional weight loss strategies that advocate for a better diet and more exercise are effective.
In other words, the specific tactics aren’t the issue.
The issue is that the habits that lead to weight gain and loss are rooted in the BELIEFS we have about ourselves, rather than in the ACTIONS we take to gain or lose weight. And without looking at our deeper beliefs around weight, it’s impossible to effectively implement the actions that will help us lose weight and keep that weight off.
Let me say that again: weight loss strategies are not the issue. The issue is our underlying thoughts and beliefs about our weight, weight loss and weight loss strategies.
So, how do we start to change our beliefs about weight loss?
Let’s take a look at weight loss coaching and how it comes from a belief-centered conversation about weight management rather than an action-centered goal plan about losing weight.
First, though, we’re going to look at why traditional weight management plans DON’T work how they’re supposed to.
Why weight loss strategies don’t work
Traditional weight loss strategies often prioritize external factors such as calorie counting, meal plans, and exercise routines. While these methods may yield short-term results for some people, they fail to address the thoughts that drive our eating and exercise habits.
Here's why traditional weight loss strategies may fall short and why focusing solely on actions and goals without addressing deeper beliefs may not lead to sustainable change:
- Ignoring the emotional component behind weight: Old-school weight loss approaches often overlook the emotional aspects of eating behavior. Many people turn to food as a coping mechanism for stress, boredom, or emotional distress. Without addressing these underlying emotions, people may continue to struggle with overeating or binge eating, regardless of how strictly they adhere to a diet plan.
- Reinforcing a negative self-image: Constantly focusing on calorie counts, portion sizes, and weight goals can perpetuate a negative self-image. When people equate their worth with their ability to adhere to strict dietary guidelines or achieve a certain body weight, they may experience feelings of guilt, shame, or inadequacy if they fall short of their expectations. This negative self-talk can sabotage their efforts and lead to a cycle of yo-yo dieting and weight fluctuation.
- Overemphasis on willpower or “grit”: Traditional weight loss strategies often emphasize willpower and self-control as the keys to success. However, relying solely on willpower to resist temptation and adhere to restrictive eating plans is unsustainable in the long run. Willpower is a finite resource that can be depleted by stress, fatigue, or emotional upheaval, making it tough to maintain dietary restrictions over time.
- Failing to see individual differences: One-size-fits-all approaches to weight loss fail to account for the unique needs, preferences, and circumstances of people who are trying to lose weight. What works for one person may not work for another, and forcing people to adhere to rigid diet and exercise regimens can lead to feelings of frustration and failure.
- Focusing on external validation: Some traditional weight loss strategies place emphasis on external validation, such as achieving a certain clothing size or receiving compliments on physical appearance. While these external markers of success can offer bits of temporary relief, they don’t address the deeper reasons behind eating habits and negative self-perceptions.
Instead of simply prescribing meal plans or exercise routines, weight loss coaching encourages individuals to explore their relationship with food, understand their emotional triggers, and develop healthy coping mechanisms. By shifting the focus from outside-in to inside-out, weight loss coaching empowers people to achieve lasting results.
How coaching is different from weight loss strategies
Here are some of the ways weight loss coaching is different from regular weight management strategies—and why it’s the OPPOSITE of old-school methods:
1. Coaching isn’t about cookie-cutter plans or goals
When coaching about weight loss, the focus isn't on sharing cookie-cutter strategies or micromanaging someone's food choices. Instead, it's about delving deeper into your mindset and identifying patterns of thought that drive your behavior.
While personal trainers and online influencers are quick to jump to meal fads and weight loss plans as a way to “get your summer body by June,” true empowerment—and effective results—comes from challenging ingrained beliefs and helping you cultivate a happier, healthier self-image.
That’s what coaching does. It starts at the root of the issue—how you see yourself and your struggles with weight—and helps you understand the triggers and emotions that perpetuate your lifestyle habits.
2. Weight loss coaching doesn’t define success by losing weight
Success in weight loss coaching isn't measured by the number on the scale or the contents of your plate. It's about fostering a shift in perspective and empowering you to view yourself through a lens of self-worth and self-compassion.
Rather than berating yourself for perceived shortcomings, weight loss coaching teaches you to nourish your body with high-quality food out of a place of self-love, instead of resorting to high amounts of comfort foods as a form of self-appeasement.
3. Weight loss isn’t about “controlling yourself”
By shedding light on limiting beliefs and thought patterns, weight loss coaching empowers you to rewrite your narrative and reclaim control over your health and well-being. It's not about telling you to simply "control yourself", but rather equipping you with the tools you need to make positive changes and lead to a life of greater ease, peace and joy.
How coaching uncovers patterns
Here are some common patterns that weight loss coaching often uncovers in people who struggle with weight:
- Emotional eating: Many people turn to food as a means of coping with difficult emotions such as stress, boredom, sadness, or loneliness. Weight loss coaching helps people identify the emotional triggers that lead to eating problems and develop healthier ways of managing their emotions.
- Negative self-talk: Individuals who struggle with weight often have a negative self-image and engage in self-critical thoughts such as "I'm lazy," "I have no willpower," or "I'll never be able to lose weight." Weight loss coaching helps individuals challenge these negative beliefs and develop a more compassionate and empowering mindset.
- All-or-nothing thinking: Some people adopt a rigid, all-or-nothing approach to dieting, viewing certain foods as "good" or "bad" and adhering to strict dietary rules. This black-and-white thinking can lead to feelings of guilt or failure when they inevitably deviate from their diet plan. Weight loss coaching helps people adopt a more flexible and balanced approach to eating.
- Lack of self-compassion: Many people who struggle with weight are overly critical of themselves and struggle to show themselves the same kindness and compassion they would offer to others. Weight loss coaching emphasizes the importance of self-compassion and encourages individuals to treat themselves with kindness and understanding, especially during times of difficulty or setback.
- Unconscious eating habits: Some individuals engage in unconscious eating, consuming food out of habit or distraction rather than true hunger. Weight loss coaching helps people become more mindful of their eating habits, helping them make conscious choices about what and when to eat.
- Lack of support: Many people who struggle with weight feel isolated and unsupported in their weight loss journey. Weight loss coaching provides individuals with a supportive and non-judgmental environment where they can explore their challenges, celebrate their successes, and receive guidance and encouragement along the way.
Ways coaching helps you challenge your beliefs
How does weight loss coaching work in practice? Here are ten ways a coach can help you rethink your relationship with yourself and, in doing so, rethink your relationship with food. Weight loss coaching works by:
- Encouraging you to believe in your inherent self-worth, independent of your weight or appearance.
- Guiding you to cultivate self-compassion, offering kindness and understanding throughout your weight loss journey.
- Supporting you in embracing a growth mindset, seeing setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth.
- Advocating for incremental change via thought restructuring, and helping dispense with beliefs that make you feel worse for not always succeeding at specific weight loss strategies.
- Assisting you in becoming aware of emotional triggers and addressing them to overcome unhealthy eating habits.
- Empowering you to take ownership of your beliefs, recognizing your personal agency in altering your thoughts to help you see weight loss differently.
- Helping you understand the deeper reasons regarding your ideas about weight and self-image.
- Equipping you to build resilience, overcoming challenges and setbacks on your weight loss journey.
- Educating you on the mind-body connection, recognizing how mental well-being impacts physical health.
- Assisting you in creating a supportive environment, surrounding yourself with positivity and a community that aids your weight loss efforts.
Why weight loss coaching works
In the realm of weight loss coaching, the focus extends far beyond the plate. By challenging beliefs, fostering self-compassion, and empowering you to rewrite your narrative, weight loss coaching offers a holistic approach to transformation. Ultimately, it's not about managing what you eat—instead, it’s about reclaiming your power to live in alignment with your values and goals.