24 Sep 2014

My body wants to be fat... but I can change that.


Well hey there! It's been a while. I've been in the midst of an exceptionally busy time and my focus on health and fitness has gone by the proverbial.

This is not an uncommon story for me. Whenever I try something new that is NOT a long term, sustainable thing (ie. shake diets, very restrictive eating plans), I feel great for a while and I lose a bit of weight but I usually last only a few weeks before something shifts and I can't manage it any more.

I have recently re-read a book that I had forgotten about. It outlines an approach to weight loss which is the opposite of most "diets" and advocates adding in more good foods instead of banning, restricting and counting calories. I had forgotten about this book but as soon as I started listening (I downloaded the audiobook) I remembered that this was the key for me when I lost weight prior to becoming pregnant with my little man.


The book is called The Gabriel Method.


It's difficult to outline the key concepts in this book because it is multi-faceted and unique for each person because it addresses emotional issues as well as teaching good nutrition and useful exercise concepts, but I am going to have a go anyway. I have already had a major "a-hah!" moment about one particular emotional reason for my weight gain which I'll tell you about after my attempt to share the key concepts.

The main key to this approach to weight loss is that there are biological and psychological reasons why the body wants to be fat or thin (or somewhere in between) and as long as the body wants to be fat, it won't allow it to lose the stored fat for any length of time. It has a set point for a reason, so although I can go on a diet and lose some weight, it is like holding a basketball under the water; as soon as I let go, it shoots back up to where it wants to be. That's a difficult concept to grasp for many people, it was for me, because it doesn't seem to make sense at the outset. Why would my body want to be fat? It almost seems like my body is separate from the rest of me. When I looked deeper into this concept I realised that it is not that my body is separate, it is just that the part of the brain that governs my subconscious responses to any stress is not one that I am acutely aware of... it's my subconscious after all!

Jon Gabriel, author of The Gabriel Method calls this "the animal brain" and he says that all the stress we experience in our modern day lives are interpreted in only three ways by the part of our brain that is programmed to deal with the following ancient stresses: freezing to death, starving to death and getting eaten by a predator. The responses to these ancient stresses are obvious: store fat to keep warm, store fat to survive a famine and get thin to be able to run away from a predator and stay alive.

The Gabriel Method suggests that any modern stress is interpreted in one of these ways. For example, many people hold on to fat as a protective mechanism after abuse. This is a chronic stress that sits with a person for many years, it is always there in the back of their mind and they cannot run away from it. This stress is akin to freezing or starving to death, long and drawn out, and so it makes sense that the brain would interpret this as a trigger to store fat. Financial stress is the same, as are many other modern, chronic stresses.

The good thing is, we can change our body's set point. We can make our bodies want to be thin.

The "get thin or get eaten" stress can be used to help weight loss along by tricking the brain into thinking it needs to drop fat fast to enable you to get away from imaginary predators. The modern take on this is high intensity interval training (HITT) where you run or cycle as fast as you can for short bursts a few times during your lower intensity exercise session.

The nutritional aspect of the method is almost the exact opposite to most diets out there because, in response to the modern stress of "starvation", that is nutritional starvation due to the large number of denatured, processed foods in our modern diet, the method encourages you add in more good foods and not restrict anything.

The key here is that once your body is receiving the right nutrition it will no longer crave the other crap.

The things to be added to every meal are:
Live foods (fresh salads, veggies, fruits)

These are added to whatever you're already eating. You could even add them to a meal of junk food according to Jon. You just cut up whatever you're eating and make a salad out of it. Seems funny, but it makes sense. The more good food you have, the fewer cravings, because your body is getting what it needs.

Another key is to accept yourself exactly as you are right now and learn to love yourself at any size. Because if you don't think you're worth the effort, you wont succeed.

My "a-hah!" moment:
While listening to an interview with Jon Gabriel, he mentioned that financial stress can be interpreted as famine by the subconscious and lead a person to hold on to fat as a protection. Storing it up for a harsh period of lack. This really hit home for me. We have been in quite serious financial stress for a long time and I really feel this is the key for me. I feel vulnerable all the time and while I can put on a brave face and get on with things, I can't stop the lingering stress that is always there.

We had a period of time where we didn't have this financial stress and it happened to coincide with a time where I lost 42kg and was quite easily maintaining it. Coincidence? I think not.

So there's my brain spew for the day. I will be back soon to share more because I have lots more to explore, but I feel better having got all of those thoughts out. Thanks for tuning in!

Ash
xx
A time when there was less financial stress and when being healthy was easy

*** FYI- I am not in any way associated or being paid by The Gabriel Method, I just this it's a really great approach***