Weight loss. It’s a billion dollar industry, the vain of many women’s existence and a very emotional, vulnerable place to be. Over 80 million Americans are looking to lose weight on any given day. 99% of them won’t keep the weight off they lose, and the 1% that do, are able to do so because they not only made changes to their eating habits, but they changed their lifestyle and thinking as well. In other words they chose (consciously or not) to go through a personal transformation inside and out.

I believe that each one of us is unique. In fact I believe the proof is in our fingerprints. No two are exactly the same. Each one of us is created with differences in our cell structure, body composition, anatomy and metabolism. This means that we also have our own specific nutrition requirements that influences our overall health physically, mentally & emotionally.

Our personal tastes, preferences, natural shapes and sizes, blood types, metabolic rates and genetic backgrounds influences what foods will and won't nourish us. What may be one person's food may be another person's poison, which is one of the reasons why I believe most diets don't work in the long run. This is also one of the reasons I don’t believe any diet plan in it’s entirety will work for everyone- simply because we each have different needs. In fact those needs can change moment by moment, daily, weekly or monthly depending on what we eat, drink, or experience in the world around us. This includes what we experience in our internal interpretation of the world of our personal thoughts.

What we think and believe impacts our experiences in the world around us. If we believe everyone is out to get us, then that is exactly how we will interpret the actions of those around us. There may be a person you know, simply offering a suggestion to help you with a particular challenge you’re facing at work, and you perceive it as their way of mocking or judging you, trying to get your job because you are inadequate. If your belief is that you are not good enough, thin enough or smart enough you will unconsciously take actions that will confirm that for you. Such as drowning your sorrows or "rewarding "yourself with diet coke. On the flip side, if you have the belief that you are perfect with all your imperfections and that you deserve the same love and compassion that you show to others, that is exactly what you will receive. The action of your co-worker helping you would be seen as kindness not as a vengeful action, and you would accept it because you believe you are worth their compassion. Donuts that a co-worker brought in that morning isn’t seen as their way to sabotage your latest diet, it’s understood as a gesture of good will. Whether you choose to have a donut is up to you, but no one is out to get you.

There is much more that goes into sustainable weight loss than simply counting calories and exercising more. I believe, and have witnessed, that if a person comes to appreciate themselves, showing love and compassion, rather than disgust, judgement, and guilt, they are better able to figure out and discover the specific foods that help them to lose weight, but also improve their health, their energy and their self esteem. The women I work with come to me to lose weight or improve their overall health. They leave with acceptance of a deeper appreciation of who they are, feeling more confident when they look in the mirror and able to experience greater pleasure from their life and their food with out denial, restrictions or guilt.

One of the first things the women I work with learn is how to listen to their enteric nervous system- or what I call their “Inner Nutrition Guru”. This 'second brain' is basically made up of a knot of brain nerves in your digestive tract. In fact, you have as many brain cells in your gut as you do in your skull, and scientists believe that it also involves around 100 billion nerve cells - which is more than is held in your spinal cord.

Why do I share this with them first?

Because all of our body systems, from digestion to elimination, rely completely on our spinal cord or our central nervous system for optimal functioning.

So if your “inner nutrition guru” or "second brain" has as many brain cells as you have in your skull AND more than is held in your spinal cord... it’s worth listening to- isn’t it?

We learn how to decipher from a “want” type of craving and a “need” type of hunger. They learn which foods would satisfy them as well as nourish them so they can nip cravings in the bud before they bloom later in the day. They discover the relationship they presently have with food and how their beliefs around food impact their food choices both on and off their plates. Because at the end of the day, if you really think about it, whatever is going on in your life dictates what you put on your plate and put in your mouth. How many times have you been overwhelmed with something and someone has said “I don’t want to put more on your plate, I can see you are over whelmed, but...”? Maybe you’ve been at a business lunch and it was a bit stressful so as you are eating you are digesting the stress and anxiety along with your food leaving you with heartburn or indigestion.

This is why observing what nourishes you most off your plate and in your life is so important. The amazing women I work with delve deep into questions with me such as “what do you want from life and from your relationship with food?” If they don’t have what they want, we discuss why. Then we talk about the areas of their life that they are satisfied with and what could use a bit of improvement. What physical activities they actually enjoy and would have fun doing on a regular basis, not simply because they have to in order to lose weight. By taking a much deeper and more personally involved approach to weight loss and health you truly lose weight and keep it off for life. You bring the original reasons back to why you are truly losing weight in the first place which is improve mobility, better health and more energy to enjoy your life. We stop focusing on calories, specific nutrients & guilt, and start focusing on health and happiness. A Twizzler has no calories-but it also has no nutritional value. So inevitably it will lead you to go binge on something later in your quest for more satisfying your nutritional lack mentally, physically & emotionally.

Before you start on another new eating lifestyle, I suggest you ask yourself this question...”Who am I losing this weight for?” and "Why is this so important to me?". Then ask yourself “ Am I ready to eat like this for life?”. If the answer to your questions tells you that you are not doing this for yourself and that you can’t maintain this diet for life, I suggest starting a different course of action. Because doing the same thing over and over is obviously not getting you the results you are really looking for. Pick out a few tips that really resonate with you and do them consistently. Then figure out what’s stopping you from taking action and looking at the cause of your weight challenge? Start by talking to you “Inner Nutrition Guru”. Really listen and follow what is tells you. It may be quiet at first,since you most likely have been ignoring it for most of your adult life, but as with any new habit you have to practice and do it consistently to create a new behavior- so why not try one that will actually benefit you this time for life? What if this is the one key step that has prevented your success in the past?

Author's Bio: 

Dina Hansen, is Your Food Empowerment Coach. As a food psychology coach, certified health counselor, stress management specialist and a board certified doctor of natural health, her mission is to help women put an end to their food struggles by transforming their relationship with food, and by teaching them how to easily put healthy habits into action everyday without restrictions denial or guilt. You can read more about her at NaturallyNourishedWoman.com.