Why We Get So Lost in
the Weight Loss Tangle

Being at a healthy weight where you feel good and naturally follow your body’s desire to move and to satisfy itself with nourishing food – Doesn’t that sound like it should be simple?

Yet, there’s something specific to “My Weight Problem” that gives it a mysterious power to swallow us up again and again, with no resolution in sight.

This happens because of a core confusion operating here.

Information shedding light on “My Weight Problem” abounds – massive numbers of books to read, shows to watch, systems to follow, tricks and tips to try.

Moreover – much of it is genuinely useful for losing weight!

So what’s the problem?

In their book Immunity to Change, Drs. Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey make a distinction between technical problems and adaptive problems.

Solving a technical problem requires only new information and skillsets. Solving an adaptive problem, on the other hand, requires us to grow into a new way of being in the world.

Here lies the core confusion:

“My Weight Problem” can be either a “technical” problem or an “adaptive” problem. And on the surface there isn’t much to distinguish between the two.

According to Drs. Kegan and Lahey, research shows that for about 5%-8% of the people who embark on a weight loss plan, it actually is a technical problem! That means that “My Weight Problem” is easy to solve with some new information and behaviors. “All I need to do is cut out sugar.” “I just need to exercise 30 minutes a day.”

And it works! The 8% are able to maintain their balance around food and weight for years with no nagging sense of struggle.

Moreover, we are shaped by a culture that enthusiastically promotes the well-worn, well-lit road of seeking life fulfillment and transformation through solving “My Weight Problem.”

And yet...

Yet, a recent study of 1,979 obese adults found “no evidence for beneficial psychological effects of weight loss.” In fact, depression among those who lost weight increased.

I am by no means implying that there is something wrong with a desire to lose weight and feel and look good. But if there’s a sense of struggle, of uneasiness – of something more – it implies that an adaptive change must happen before a technical solution – say, a new type of eating plan, no matter how sensible it may be – can actually work over the long haul.

I wonder – For some of those in the study, could the depression associated with their weight loss have occurred because “My Weight Problem” was just an easy-to-identify stand-in for something that could not be so easily labeled?

In a Focusing group I ran recently, one woman started out with a felt sense of something about the way she was eating. It began to evolve into a larger issue around continually accepting scraps from life. And it is continuing to evolve into a deeply felt connection to the brilliance of her Divine Feminine.

Knowing in hindsight the depths into which her inner thread has been leading her, can you imagine how unfulfilling it would have been for her journey to end only in a lower number on the scale?

Actually, she did see a lower number on the scale – but that was no longer the point.

Yet, this sense of something here around my weight is the exact point where many of us jump away onto the brightly lit path of “My Weight Problem.”

So – once again, you find yourself on the familiar, circular path.

But having come back once more to the starting place – to this uncomfortable feeling about something here around my weight – that’s the key.

Settling into your body, you can allow your awareness to move toward this uncomfortable something here instead of away from it. You can get curious about it – noticing where in your body the feeling comes, taking the time to describe your body’s experience of it as best you can for now. And then waiting… for what more wants to come.

This is the key that can open the door to the dark, confusing, wordless tangle at the heart of your struggle with weight. It's the key that allows you to return home to your body – to the only place where you can find that next step forward that it’s pointing you toward.

Over the last year I've been developing a class to work with food, weight and body image issues in a Focusing way. I'm kicking it off with a free "taster" class on January 7. I invite you to sign up for it below if these types of issues affect you.

~ Jocelyn