Martha Beck explains how you can find joy in dieting and healthy living.
Contrary to what you may have experienced in the past, becoming healthy, eating right, being lean, exercising well – all of that can be an incredibly joyful and easy process.
The absolute key is that you have to relax your way into this instead of tensing your way into it.
I ended up writing a book called “The Joy Diet,” which has no food instructions at all, because my clients were beginning to lose weight even though they weren’t dieting.
So I started a several-year period of research where I looked at the ways that the body responds to stress and to relaxation, and what I found was that when we are stressed for any reason, it could be our taxes, it could be our children or it could be our worries about our weight, the body goes into a fight or flight reaction.
And in nature, part of what that means is there may be a food shortage so let’s turn on the chemicals that cause us to seek food, to eat as much as we can and then to store as much as we can in fat. So it is there for emergencies.
Now if you can turn off the fear responses in your brain and turn on the rest and relax responses you will find that your compulsions to eat go down dramatically and perhaps even that what you do eat isn’t stored as fat as readily as when you are in a state of fear.
There’s been some really, really good research done on this just recently. It was found in one study that a group of people who were trained for one day in calming themselves by giving themselves positive feedback instead of fearful, negative, critical thoughts.
Those people were far more able to lose weight and keep it off than people who were on an ordinary diet and the people who did the mental work actually weren’t even dieting.
So it’s been shown now, experimentally and we are seeing more and more evidence, that a big part of a diet war is psychological.
And if you can calm yourself you are going to have a happier life from the get go and your body will respond by saying, hey, I think I am going to be lean.
About Martha Beck:
Martha Beck, Ph.D., is a writer and life coach who specializes in helping people design satisfying and meaningful life experiences. She holds a bachelor's degree in East Asian Studies and master's and Ph.D. degrees in sociology, all from Harvard University. She has published academic books and articles on a variety of social science and business topics.
Her non-academic books include the New York Times bestsellers “Expecting Adam” and “Leaving the Saints,” as well as “Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live” and her newest book, “Steering by Starlight.” Dr. Beck has also been a contributing editor for many popular magazines, including Real Simple and Redbook, and is currently a columnist for O, the Oprah Magazine.