How HSP’s Can Successfully Lose Weight

You know how every weight loss book and blog tells you that they (and they alone) have the secrets to weight loss. And if you just follow their advice…you too will lose weight effortlessly and magically?

I have good news and I have bad news.

There are known strategies for losing weight. That’s the good news. But they aren’t really secret. That’s the bad news.

Now please keep in mind…I am a holistic nutritionist. I really don’t want what I am about to say to be true. I want it to be WAAAAAAY more complicated. But the it’s kinda not.

  1. You (still) need to eat less. All those who successfully lose weight and keep it off modified their consumption of food in some fashion. The diet was not consistent. They didn’t all go vegan. They didn’t all go paleo. They all developed a food plan that allowed them to eat less…and still feel satisfied.
  2. And you (still) need to move more. Those who lose weight and keep it off exercise an average of 60 – 90 minutes every day.  Does that seem like too much? Well…the good news is that most of it was walking.
  3. You should probably not watch too much television. Folks who were successful with long term weight loss watched less than 10 hours of television per week.
  4. Eat breakfast. It sets you up for success. You’re more likely to make good decisions with your food when you don’t have low blood sugar.
  5. Don’t eat vegetables. Said no one who has been successful with long term weight loss EVER. Vegetables are full of fiber, low in calories, high in micronutrients, and apparently alkaline…if that’s something you’re interested in.

These things aren’t mysteries. We have known them for…ever. The challenge isn’t with the knowing of them. The challenge is with implementation. And while many people (sensitive and not) have struggled with losing and maintaining weight it…there are some specific challenges that HSP’s face.

  • Food is the perfect medicine (it’s not too strong and not too weak)
  • Most things that nourish us require time. We often give our time out to others before giving it to ourselves.
  • We don’t self advocate. If you want to carve out time to shop and chop and prep and move…you have to be willing to advocate for that time. 
  • weight management requires bandwidth – which we often have used up before the end of the day.
  • We are so vigilant in all other areas…we don’t want to have to be vigilant with food. It’s our one place that we can seek pleasure and it doesn’t bother anyone. What’s the big deal?
  • Eat less and move more feels a whole like like deprivation. It should be about simply being mindful and deliberate about what constitutes the right amount of food. But again…that’s not what is encouraged in our culture. 
  • Exercise advice out there often tells us that if it doesn’t hurt, it’s probably not working. That’s not how it should work. It should feel like recess. It should feel like play. Highly sensitive people know this intuitively. But it’s not something that is encouraged by our culture.

So…what can Highly Sensitive People do to improve their circumstances and live big even as they shed weight?

  • First…add before subtracting. Add vegetables. Add water. Think about foods that are good for you and try and bulk up on those.
  • Second: Move in ways that bring you joy.
  • Third: Set really specific target goals that you are excited about. Make them laughably easy. Capitalize on your conscientious nature BUT don’t aggravate ate your perfectionist nature by overcommitting. Remember…underpromise and overdeliver.
  • Fourth: Recognize that by taking care of yourself, you are setting the stage to better care for others. Don’t think of setting goals for yourself as being counter to the needs of others.
  • Fifth: Say NO more often. You have to carve out room for these practices. It’s hard to be successful with your goals if you haven’t made room for it in your calendar. 
  • Sixth: Have some method of tracking your progress. You won’t know how things are going if you don’t have a means to see what you get from what you put in.
  • Seventh: Set up your environment so that you don’t have to worry about decision fatigue. If you have cookies and chocolate right on the counter…but your tennis shoes are in the closet buried underneath an as yet undetermined number of garments…you probably won’t make great food choices and you likely won’t make it to the gym. 
  • Eighth: Enlist the support of others. We are social creatures. We do better when we have support from other people.
  • Ninth: Before you can change your relationship with your food, you have to change what your’e doing without food. What can you nourish yourself with when food isn’t available? What things bring you joy and make you feel satisfied and recharged when you’re making a conscious choice not to use food?
  • Tenth, you need to know what you stand to gain by losing. What are you on this track for? What will having less weight on your body give you that you feel you don’t have now? If you can’t answer that question…there really isn’t a reason to go through all the trouble.

In essence…weight loss might be simple, but that doesn’t make it easy. The bones of successful weight loss have remained the same (eat fewer calories, eat more calorie dense calories, move more often and sit for fewer stretches). But to do so successfully – you have to get to the heart of what you’re actually hungry for. You need to know the strategies that lead to success. You need to know what your “why” is and what you will be getting out of shedding your pounds. Finally…you need to have the skills to continue habits that lead to the results you want.

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