Why is it a whopping 80 percent of people who diet and lose weight quickly pack it right back on? Why, according to one British survey, has the average 45-year-old woman been on 61 diets since the age of 16? And why is it that in spite of spending $65 billion each year on weight-loss products and programs, 69.2 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese? Because we’re too focused on what we eat instead of why we eat it!
“In order to not be victimized by impulses, cravings, misperceptions, or mindless patterns, it’s imperative to know your enemies,” declares Joseph J. Luciani, Ph.D., a psychologist renowned for his self-coaching breakthroughs. In his new book, THIN FROM WITHIN: The Powerful Self-Coaching Program for Permanent Weight Loss (AMACOM January 2016), Dr. Luciani exposes the three enemies of healthy eating and lifelong weight mastery. In order not to be victimized by impulses, cravings, misperceptions, or mindless destructive patterns, it’s imperative to know and appreciate your enemies. They are:
- Enemy #1: Adverse Circumstances. Pressures at work, relationship conflicts, financial strain, illness, the demands of rearing children—everyday life challenges are often out of our control and overwhelming. Yet adverse circumstances alone lack the power to drive us to binge; the driver is our interpretation of them. “While you can’t always prevent bad things from happening, you can control how you react to them,” Dr. Luciani assures. With his Self-Coaching techniques, anyone battling a weight problem can develop the self-discipline muscle necessary to resist destructive eating.
- Enemy-awareness check: Before you start a meal or reach for a snack, ask yourself: What are the circumstances affecting my life at this moment?
- Enemy #2: Harmful Emotions. Anxiety, irritability, stress, depression, even boredom can create the emotional chaos that compels us to seek the calming, distracting, anesthetizing qualities found in our go-to comfort foods. Like alcohol, nicotine, and cannabis, food can be used as self-medication. An avalanche of research supports the fact that certain foods—particularly those sweet, salty, and fatty pleasures—can have a potent sedative effect on tense emotions. Fortunately, our minds also possess the power to prevail over the harmful emotions that underlie our compulsions and urges. By using effective cognitive tools – such as his simple, three-step technique called “Self-Talk” – Dr. Luciani asserts you can actually retrain your brain to stop the destructive, self-sabotaging chatter associated with harmful emotions before they overwhelm you.
- Enemy-awareness check: Before you start a meal or reach for a snack, ask yourself: What am I feeling right now?
- Enemy #3: Destructive Habits. Human beings are creatures of habit. Although reflexive habits such as touch-typing, driving, and even buttoning a blouse or shirt are helpful, other habits such worrying, lethargy (a.k.a. being a couch potato), excessive rumination, or the habits associated with destructive eating can hold you and your life hostage. Being able to recognize the habitual nature of what you do, when you do it, and why you do it is pivotal to habit reformation and lifelong weight mastery.“It is absolutely essential that you accept the notion that habits—all habits—are learned. Furthermore,” Dr. Luciani stresses, “habits—all habits—can be broken.” Using doable challenges, exercises and drills designed to increase your awareness and self-discipline muscle, the goal, according to Dr. Luciani, is “habit re-formation,” (i.e., changing destructive patterns into positive habits).
- Enemy-awareness check: Before you start a meal or reach for a snack, ask yourself: What patterns am I aware of at this moment? (For example: “When I’m upset, I tend to binge on anything sweet.” “Whenever I drink wine, I always overeat.”)
JOSEPH J. LUCIANI, PH.D., is a practicing clinical psychologist and author of the internationally bestselling Self-Coaching and The Power of Self-Coaching. An in-demand speaker and expert, Dr. Luciani is featured frequently in major media, including MSNBC, CNBC, Hallmark Channel, Discovery Channel, NPR, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Fitness, Health, Shape, and O, The Oprah Magazine.