Have you ever tried and failed to lose weight on a diet?
Me too. Over and over again.
Even the ‘healthy’ diets focused on moderation or portion sizes or food ‘points’.
It wasn’t until recently, though, that I understood why that was.
I’d long thought I lacked the necessary willpower or stick-to-it-iveness to remain on a diet for longer than three days. I wondered if maybe I was just lazy or stupid. Turns out, the cause for my failure – and possibly yours – was none of those things.
In Dr. Amy Johnson’s book, The Little Book of Big Change, she has a chapter dedicated to how our habits are actually a sign of our mental health. When I first read that I was confounded.
She explains that we are all innately resilient, whole and well. At our essence is peace and well-being, no matter what is going on outside ourselves. But if we don’t feel that well-being, if it is obscured by clouded thinking and a misunderstanding about where our experience of life comes from, then we’ll do whatever we can to feel better.
“If you don’t see a better option – a better way to feel good – you’re going to do what you can.”Dr. Amy Johnson
If it looks like eating a comfort food is going to help us get a small taste (pun intended) of the peace that is our essence, then we’re going to do that. This is the role of every type of addiction – food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, etc. With our habit or addiction, we are actually trying to remind ourselves of who we truly are.
Our nature, as spiritual beings having a human experience, is whole, complete, and peaceful. We’ll do anything to connect with that essence, including overeating or drinking too much.
This is why diets don’t work
When we diet without being aware of this, we’re simply cutting ourselves off from the source that we believe comforts and nurtures us, connecting us to our pure essence. This is why so many people stop one habit only to pick up another. For example, we might stop smoking but then start eating to excess.
If an electronic device, for example your cell phone, is running out of battery power, you naturally plug it in to charge it. That’s what we’re doing when we overeat, except instead of connecting to electricity, we’re connecting to a false source of energy. (Sorry, this metaphor is a little messy.)
Diets try to convince us that we shouldn’t need to connect to that source of energy. But instinctively we know this isn’t true so we cheat on the diet or we stick to it for a while, but then go back to overeating.
The fact that diets don’t work shows us that they’re the wrong tool for the job.
Here’s another way to look at it. Our minds are like an pressure cooker and inside that cooker is all our busy, insecure thinking. All the thinking that leads us to believe (innocently) that we’re disconnected from the innate wisdom and well-being that is our source.
The pressure inside that cooker has to be released or the cooker will explode. Your unwanted overeating habit is like the valve on the pressure cooker. It releases some of the pressure building inside you. We need that valve so that we don’t explode. It is serving a purpose.
The beautiful thing is that as we learn to let our minds quiet down, as we begin to see that we are made of universal intelligence and wisdom, the pressure inside the cooker eases off. As a result, there’s less need for the valve (habit).
If dieting was the answer, it would work, 100% of the time, across the board for everyone. The diet industry would disappear because it wouldn’t be needed any longer. But the fact that so many of us struggle with diets points us to the truth that they’re not the right answer to the question that is being asked.
Overeating, or any habit / addiction, is not a failure on the part of the person doing that habit.
It’s actually a neon sign pointing to the fact that each of us knows that peace and wholeness is who we are.
I long knew that diets weren’t the answer, and I had various explanations for why that was the case, though none of them rang completely true until I came across the 3 Principles. I knew from my own personal experience that I was comforting myself with food, so I tried to find other ways to do that, or ways to not need to be comforted so much.
Noting I tried worked and looking back I can see it was because I didn’t understand the nature of thought and how our experience comes from the inside-out, not the other way around. When we see this, and our minds naturally start to quiet down, we are more often able to connect to the peace that is our true nature. When that happens the need to do our habit gradually and effortlessly drops away.
It is possible, of course, to succeed at dieting and some people are able to make it last. Sadly those people are the exception, not the rule, and the rest of us end up feeling like it must be ourselves that are the problem.
I was reminded of the truth of this talking to Greg Suchy in episode 10 of Unbroken podcast. Greg’s habit was alcohol. He’d gotten sober and was going to AA meetings, but mentioned during our conversation that he was miserable between meetings. It was only when he discovered the 3 Principles and began to see the inside-out nature of thought, that he was able to connect to joy and peace once again.
This is a huge topic and one a simple blog post won’t be able to address completely. But here’s why I wanted to bring it up.
I’ve drawn a line in the sand with myself. I’ve tried every outside-in way to lose weight and failed at all of them. Some more than once. I refuse to do that any longer.
Thankfully I had the experience of a 30-year habit falling away effortlessly and totally unexpectedly, simply because I’ve begun to explore the nature of thought and where the human experience comes from. That experience seems to have shown me that I’m on the right track.
I searched for answers about overeating for 30 years. It was only when I began to explore the inside-out nature of life that my habit began slipping away.
What has your experience been with diets? And, if you’ve begun to explore the inside-out understanding, how has that changed the way you see your habit?