How to Lose Weight Without Dieting
Does losing weight without dieting sound too good to be true? This is no gimmick—it really is possible to lose weight without dieting even if you are over 50.
I did it and my clients are doing it.
Here is an email I just sent a client who had shared her food log and weight with me:
“Way to go! I love seeing all the variety, veggies, carbs, and a few treats and you still lost weight.”
Most of us have been taught that we need to cut calories, be hungry, exercise a lot, and diet to lose weight.
Unfortunately, diets and bad eating advice has led to a lot of women being overweight, overeating, binging, and not sure what to do about it.
Most women at my age (almost 60) have 40 or more years of dieting and dieting messages behind them. It is like it is almost ingrained in us!
We don’t know what else to do!
When I was in my twenties, I could use exercise to lose weight. Through my thirties and forties, I could lose weight with diets but I always gained the weight back plus a few extra pounds.
Finally, in my mid-forties, I decided that I was done with dieting for good. I ate healthy and I maintained my weight for years. The only problem was that I was heavier than I wanted to be.
However, I refused to diet and accepted that I was going to be that size. I learned to feel beautiful and desirable anyway.
It wasn’t until I was about 52 that I began cracking the code for myself. I lost about 25 pounds and gained a cute body. That’s when I wrote my first weight loss after 50 post.
So for the past eight years, I’ve been diving deep into how our bodies work around weight.
Even though you would think it is an exact science, It’s not. And at many times, what is presented as science, are studies that have been manipulated to promote a particular agenda.
Over the years, I’ve written more than 50 more posts on weight loss, nutrition, exercise, and your hormones.
These days I believe that what we do is totally backwards.
Read This Before Your Next Diet
We all know that “diets don’t work.” We hear that all the time. Yet, there isn’t as much information on what to do instead.
For more information, definitely read this post before your next diet.
If you are a woman who overeats compulsively or a woman who doesn’t overeat but still gains weight; you’re probably mystified by the idea that you do not need to start a diet.
To me, it seems crazy that we tell everyone to lose weight via a diet, without really looking at the whole person.
To tell a person, who is either compulsively overeating or who doesn’t overeat that they both need to diet and they need to do the same diet is crazy. And yet we see that all the time.
Every diet out there promises help to everyone that follows it.
That doesn’t make sense right?
When someone who is already eating in a disordered way to now begin a new cycle of deprivation (a.k.a. a diet) is like handing an alcoholic drink to someone who is trying not to drink.
Diets just add to the shame, lack of confidence, and feelings of failure, while also fueling a bigger breakdown in the trust between the dieter and her body.Sara Garska
I believe in the power of nutrition on our bodies. What I’ve also learned is that our mind also has to be involved; we have to be aware of what we are thinking and feeling.
What I’m going to share with you here, is a totally different way to think about your weight, your body, and how you eat.
The Diet Cycle
Here’s a peek at the truth here. Your extra weight is a result of a series of thoughts, feelings, and actions you’ve been using for years, maybe even decades.
These powerful sequences keep you stuck in a cycle of overeating, binging, depriving yourself and then repeating the cycle. Over and over.
Sound familiar? More than that, it is EXHAUSTING!
Depriving yourself is one of the most destructive actions you can take. When you don’t allow yourself to eat enough or to eat foods that you like, you feel deprived. Deprivation often leads to overeating later.
Even when you aren’t currently depriving yourself, you are probably telling yourself you will starting next week. You create that feeling of deprivation with your thoughts. Quite often, that will lead to overeating in an attempt to get ready for the diet.
You know what I mean! It’s that last supper mentality.
There are No Magic Diets and You Aren’t Lazy!
Here’s one of the things I hate about diet talk. It tells us that we are overweight because we’re lazy, not disciplined, and have no willpower.
Also, the whole who is overweight and who isn’t is somewhat subjective. The standard measure is the BMI and that just isn’t a valid measurement for who is overweight and who isn’t.
Most women carry more pounds of shame about their weight than the actual weight.Sara Garska Coaching
So, it’s time to let go of the idea that there is going to be a magic diet that will finally work and that you’ll be able to stick to forever.
You can instead choose to learn to eat in a way that you can do FOREVER!
Seriously, have you ever been on a diet that you thought you could do forever? At some point, the diet ends, and the weight comes back.
Why Diets Don’t Work Long-Term
Diets do work to some extent. You do this or that, you lose weight.
But after the honeymoon period, diets just are hard to maintain.
First, following a diet, something that someone else has created, doesn’t teach you to eat the foods that you like to eat most of the time. Also, the amounts may not be the right quantity for you.
Instead of learning to trust your own body and its signals, you believe in a set of instructions you’ve been given.
And for most of us, those diet rules are just waiting to be broken!
Think of the language we use around our diets.
- If you eat off the plan, you are “cheating.”
- If you eat off plan, you are eating “wrong.”
- If you eat off plan, you’ve “ruined” your day.
- Only some foods are good; others are “bad.”
That kind of talk, tells you, that you are only good when you are sticking to your diet! When you are off your diet, you are bad and cheating.
That is so messed up!
Diets don’t teach you to simply be in tune with your own hunger. Usually, we eat every single bite that we are “allowed” to, whether we feel hungry or not.
And when we are hungry, we sometimes find we aren’t allowed to have more.
Can you see how crazy it is to go against your own hunger and food preferences? When you diet, you are always in a battle with your own hunger and preferences.
Deprivation Doesn’t Work
The key to every diet is that it deprives you in some way. Some diets give you very strict rules for what to eat. Some diets tell you how much you can eat.
For the record, I was hungry on every diet I tried. To lose weight, meant being hungry some of the time.
Our brains and our bodies don’t like to be deprived! At some point, there is a rebellion, and the diet can’t be sustained. Instead of going back to normal, often we begin overeating.
While our minds tell us it’s okay to overeat because on Monday, or the first of the month, we’ll go back to depriving ourselves.
Last night, I was having dinner with someone close to me and she said, “I’m going to hardcore diet after the first of the year.”
I recently saw her and she hasn’t made any changes, hardcore or otherwise.
Telling yourself that you are going to “hardcore diet” is setting yourself up for failure.
Your spirit and your body do not want a hardcore diet. I swear. You do not have to punish yourself anymore.
If you do nothing else, quit telling yourself that you are going to punish yourself. Punishment is not going to EVER work. Deprivation does not work.
Deprivation ultimately leads to overeating and binging. The way to be able to not overeat or binge is to never deprive yourself again.
Everyone is Unique
Every one of you reading this has a unique body, size, weight, height, metabolism, and hormonal system.
There is NO one diet that is right for everyone. I don’t care where you read it—even if it was here a few years back.
I have clients that eat processed foods and lose weight.
I have clients that eat planned desserts every week and lose weight.
I have clients that drink wine some evenings and lose weight.
The women I work with build eating plans that work for their bodies, their schedules, and only have food that they actually like on them.
Yes, here’s a plan:
- Only eat food that you like.
- Wait until you feel hunger before you eat.
- Eat enough so you are satisfied and stop eating
- Learn to feel uncomfortable when you want to eat but aren’t hungry.
There is no diet that can provide you with your own true plan that you can customize day by day.
Eat Foods You Like to Lose Weight
It may sound strange, but you are actually allowed to eat. You are allowed to eat food. You are allowed to eat food you like. You are allowed to eat enough food you fill comfortable.
I don’t even know why I have to write this. You are allowed to eat. You are allowed to eat food you like. You are allowed to eat enough you don’t feel hungry.
That is 100% true. And anyone that says differently just wants to sell you on something.
That being said, as we learn to eat when we’re hungry, we find we can eat a variety of things.
Some women lose weight by simply paying attention to their hunger. When they are hungry, they eat. When they feel they’ve had enough, they stop eating.
It really can be that simple.
At age 59, I don’t need a lot of food, so I try and stick to food that has a lot of nutrition. I eat mostly meats, eggs, vegetables, healthy fats and oils. I feel best the simpler I keep it.
That being said, I will sometimes have chips or French fries. I’ll have a cookie or some candy. But I don’t eat those things all the time.
I’ve noticed over time, that while my weight doesn’t change much, processed foods affect my skin (my face gets pasty) and I get heavier around my middle.
That’s the beauty of this. You learn what you can eat and how much.
Another radical idea is that you will be more satisfied when you eat what you really are hungry for.
To figure this out, check in with yourself before eating and ask yourself: “What am I hungry for?”
Sure, sometimes you just gotta eat something. But often, you can come up with something by asking that question that sounds really good.
Why Do You Want to Lose Weight?
I love this question. I ask it of every client. Why?
At first, they’ll say things like to fit in my clothes, to like who I see in the mirror, or to have more energy. As I question these and go deeper, one answer comes out the most.
The most common answer is to feel confident.
Here is a secret. Confidence will never come from your weight. Confidence comes from taking care of yourself and honoring your commitments as you figure out this eating thing.
- Confidence comes from eating what you love and not overeating it.
- Confidence comes from overeating and not quitting on yourself.
- Confidence comes from the process, not from the result.
One of the benefits of eating like you want to eat forever, is that you also begin to feel in control of your eating.
At the beginning most women can’t even imagine feeling in control of their eating because food has controlled them for so long.
That self-confidence you develop will blow your mind.
What are You Really Hungry For?
Here is the part where this can get a little tough. When you remove food as a way to numb out, then you begin to feel some stuff.
Most of you know that you overeat, at least some of the time, to avoid feeling something. There is some kind of uncomfortable feeling and it is relieved by eating.
Honestly, at the beginning, it’s not a clearly defined kind of feeling. It can be as simple as an antsy feeling that can only be relieved by eating.
The goal is NOT to make those uncomfortable feelings go away. The goal is to be able to tolerate those feelings and not eat if you aren’t hungry.
If you’ve been using food for a long time to avoid feeling discomfort; it will feel weird to allow yourself to feel it. I call those feelings urges or desires. Your brain can feel like it is screaming for food.
It can FEEL intense.
If you tune in, you might literally feel it in a powerful way in your body. Emotions can feel very physical.
The good news, is that this emotion that is screaming for food, only lasts about 90 seconds.
When you have a plan, you eat according to your plan and your hunger. Then at some point, there is this call to overeat and to do it NOW.
First, allow yourself to just hear this whether it comes as words or a strong feeling. Set a timer for 90 seconds and just sit through it.
We often think that these overwhelming urges are hours long. And by resisting them, it may feel that way. But when you tune in and allow that feeling, it can be fairly short.
Sometimes, what women discover when they have been eating to numb, is that there are areas of their life, that they don’t feel good about.
When you aren’t using food to feel better, you discover things that overeating and binging have been covering up.
This is why working with a life coach can be so valuable. Feelings and emotions are powerful. It’s not super fun to feel depressed, anxious, scared, terrified, bored, sad, angry, or lonely.
Food only keeps these emotions deadened—it doesn’t make them go away.
One misconception is that losing weight will make them go away. We mistakenly believe that losing weight will solve for how we feel.
In my experience, the only way to deal with emotions is to feel and process them. We will always and forever have uncomfortable emotions. It is a part of being human.
If the feelings are too intense, don’t go it alone. A life coach can help you process feelings. However, depending on what comes up, you may need to seek a counselor or therapist.
This post can help you decide what kind of professional to seek out.
Count Your Wins—Small Wins Add Up
Most of the time when you are on a diet, there is only one metric you care about: what the number on the scale is.
If that number goes down—you feel good—but also nervous it might go back up.
If that number goes up—you feel like a failure—and you may go ahead and give up.
Here’s something to keep in mind. The scale is only there to provide one little piece of data. That’s all.
- It doesn’t measure your worth.
- The scale doesn’t see all the kind things you’ve done for yourself or others.
- The scale doesn’t care about how you feel.
- That scale doesn’t see that you exercised every day this week.
- Your scale doesn’t see that you ate your vegetables every day.
- The scale doesn’t appreciate that you drank lots of water and gave up your diet soda.
- The scale doesn’t care about you.
The scale just provides one piece of data–it does not determine your worth.
Even if your weight is coming off in mere ounces, who cares? All the things you are doing to lose weight without dieting are GOOD for you!
Often, we focus so much on our weight that we totally miss all the amazing things we are doing. This leads to giving up. Focusing on the progress you are making, will give you more energy and motivation.
Here is a list of some of the things you can count as wins. No matter how big or small, keep track of these wins.
These are all wins that my clients share with me every week. These wins are about living and loving your life right here and right now.
There is no such thing as too many wins! Think of counting wins as adding fuel to your efforts.
Comparing yourself to a goal only shows you how far you have to go. It is way more effective to measure how far you have come.
Keeping record of your wins, allows you to see and feel how much you have achieved. It’s so easy to forget what we’ve done if we don’t write it down.
Find a notebook or create a document on your computer and list all your wins every day!
Can You Really Lose Weight Without Dieting?
Most of you can. Sometimes you may have other issues going on that will slow it down.
If you are currently over-eating and/or binging. That needs to be addressed first. Not by depriving though; but by allowing yourself to eat enough read food at meals to be satisfied.
Some of you have auto-immune issues that may inhibit weight loss. While you may not lose as fast as you want; you will feel better by removing inflammatory foods.
Even if you aren’t losing weight at all or at a speed you want; you are doing great things for your body, your spirit, and your heart.
The decision to spend as much time as needed to love and care for your body is truly going to give you better results than trying to force one more diet on yourself.
Remember the reasons you want to lose weight in the first place—to gain confidence or to feel better.
Go at your own speed. You don’t have to change everything at once. You can really work on one thing at a time. This isn’t a race, there is no time limit, and the only rules are the ones you make for yourself.
I am here to help! Reading is great but you can also get personalized one-on-one help to get you through your next six months with someone who will always have your back! I offer a free consultation to any woman who wants to explore working with a life coach. Sign up HERE.
Keep showing up my friends,
Ready to find out more?
Schedule a free consultation today.
Coach with Sara
Hi, I'm Sara Garska and I'm so happy you're here! My Think Big Life began shortly after I turned 50. Big changes can happen with a small start, an adjustment of thought, or a simple process. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having. As a certified life and weight loss coach, I can help you create a life you love. Click here to schedule a free 50-minute coaching session.