Losing weight the natural way

I’m losing 10 to 15 lbs a month since May, without effort or dieting.

You might wonder why I’m writing about healthy weight management on a website which is about being a natural, free, human being. Well, there are a number of relevant lessons in this.

A few years ago I got tired of dieting. I realized that all diets work in the same way. First, they work. I lose weight. Then, they don’t work. And I gain back weight with a vengeance, generally gaining back even more than I had lost.

I went through many yo-yo swings before I got tired of it. I read Charles Eisenstein’s The Yoga of Eating and some stuff from Geneen Roth, and what they said made intuitive sense to me.

So about a year ago, I tried the following:

Eat when I’m hungry
Eat absolutely whatever I feel like eating
Stop eating when I’m satisfied
Eat with full awareness

This meant discarding all the conventional wisdom about eating.

I eat when I’m hungry. If I’m hungry late at night, or in the middle of the night, I eat. If I’m not hungry for breakfast I don’t eat breakfast.

I eat absolutely whatever I want to eat. If I feel like eating potato chips or ice cream or a donut, that’s what I eat.

I tried this for a year, and what happened was, well, nothing. In fact I think I gained more weight.

About the time that I felt the relief, I also began to understand why this was not working.

So I made a small change. I changed “awareness” to pleasure. Instead of eating with awareness, I eat with pleasure.

And it works. Effortlessly. Without any sense of deprivation.

This experience I think is an apt analogy to what happens when we go on a spiritual search for enlightenment.

I gained weight for emotional reasons. I gained weight because I was eating through fear and conditioning and mental rules.

This is what happens generally in life. We have a sense of alienation from the very beginning, and so we learn to experience life through fear and conditioning and confusion and mental rules.

At some point we decide we don’t like being fat. So we go on quest to fix the problem. Which is what dieting is.

At some point in life we don’t like being confused or depressed or feeling uncomfortable in our own skins. So we go on spiritual quest to fix our lives. We seek wisdom and practices and enlightenment.

Dieting is very much like the spiritual quest. They are both just another form of control, another of form of resistance.

It turns out the answer is not to try to fix our lives. If the goal is to live freely and naturally and sanely, the answer is not to try to fix anything or seek anything. That takes us further away from the truth. The answer is to recognize that the only problem there is is that we have always thought, from the beginning of our lives, that there is a problem. Everything else is a logical effect of this original problem.

Similarly, the answer is not to go on a diet to lose weight. The answer is to recognize that because of fear we learn to eat emotionally. When we eat freely and naturally and body knows exactly what to do.

Another lesson here is to understand how powerfully distracting abstraction is. I was trying to eat naturally with “awareness.” Awareness is an abstract word, it took me further away from the real thing. “Pleasure” is something I understand innately, I don’t have to learn pleasure, I don’t have get into any specific mind state to experience pleasure, I completely and immediately understand what pleasure is.

These words which we use, like awareness, oneness, non-duality, acceptance, consciousness, karma, true self, false self, Self, self, and all the paradoxes and clever sayings and wisdom and Sanskrit words which spiritual enthusiasts seem to be so fond of–well, they take us further away from the actual thing.

The actual thing, the sense of you, is utterly ordinary, and right here on the surface. You don’t have to dig down deep for it, you don’t have to look for it, you don’t have to distinguish it from abstractions like false self and true self and awareness and consciousness. It’s just you. Take a look.

46 thoughts on “Losing weight the natural way

  1. El.Mo

    I’m reading your post as I sit in bed (9pm) eating a gyro sandwich from earlier. I relate wholeheartedly to emotional eating or eating to conform to the American standard.I’ve noticed that I have quite the appetite at night, so I eat! High five on the “effortless” weight loss!!!!!

    1. Davidya

      Hi El
      You may find Ayurvedic principles useful to know. In their view, the day is divided into cycles of time where certain “doshas” are dominant. Pitta, the fire dosha is dominant during the 10-2 period, both am and pm. Thus, they recommend you eat the largest meal of the day at lunch, when fire is strongest.

      However, if you stay up much past 10pm, you may find the fire rising again, creating a desire to eat late. That further disrupts sleep. They recommend you not eat within 2 hours of sleep, or after 8pm. Not always the easiest in our culture. 😉

      But this may be another reason why the late night food desires…

  2. Nitin Panchal

    Namaste Kaushikbhai,

    What a treasure coming out from it, and it’s from your own observation & practice !
    We are keep believing in others sayings(second hand) and “something wrong with our way” instead of simple observation and thinking of own, which you have demonstration very well for yourself. Thank you for sharing it.
    Basically, I am convincing that what ever life come to you or your way, take it without as less as possible resistance, emotion will play their part, but it keep observing and THE day will come when you will be more or less fearless !! Am I off the track ??
    I wish we could do way you did with diet, do All when ever you feel like and how ever you feel like, that is a freedom. long way to go. Lot to learn from nature, way I see it.
    This is my observation, consciousness or awareness take way the pleasure, soon you know that these is pleasure, it’s disappear immediately. it mean, it’s about forgetting myself to stay in pleasure. may be that is why, mankind had long history of Alcohol, drugs, Sadhana, Prathana, samadhi, etc. Sleep is another example, we all enjoy it. And some one always stay alert who tell us how was my sleep? Who is that wake and tell me that I had good sleep?
    Very interesting? It’s getting better and better.
    Knowing it and not doing it…what a fear’s grip on it.

    Cheers.
    Nitin

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Nitin,

      You’re on the right track–it is about letting go of resistance and fear. It’s the only problem there is. But we find it difficult to let go of resistance because we believe and have always believed in the fear of life. We can cure this. The looking-at-you works very well. Take a look, at the sense of you, just the sense of you, which is right here on the surface. You don’t have to dive down deep to find it.

      I hope you’re doing well!

      Thanks for the kind words.

      k

  3. Yvonne

    Hi Kaushik,
    I didn’t find it strange at at all that you should write about weight loss, because it’s all relevant, and because I guessed you’d tackle it in a way that was illuminating.

    I love what you’ve written here about awareness and pleasure. I’ve never had an issue with weight since I was a teenager, at least not with being overweight – when I was depressed in my twenties I was possibly a bit underweight at times. When I was in my teens I worried constantly about weight, and tried to diet. I wasn’t really fat ever, but by nineteen was possibly slightly overweight. Then I moved to college, and without trying to diet I lost weight. I came to the conclusion that everyone had their own natural weight and I stopped worrying about it. But I still had food issues – worrying about what’s healthy and what to avoid – so I often thought that I should eat with more awareness, eat more consciously – or some other spiritual mumbo jumbo, and all this led to was another layer of stress around food.

    In my quest to be more relaxed about food I read a book by a man who lives on light, and about a yogi who was perfectly healthy living on nothing but several cups of coffee with a tablespoon of sugar in each. His response when questioned on this was that it’s the prana he takes in when eating that gives him energy, not the food itself.
    While it makes sense to me that how you eat is more important than what you eat, I think your idea of eating for pleasure makes a lot more sense than all the hoopla about eating with awareness – it is tangible. If I eat something loaded with sugar it actually doesn’t give me pleasure, it makes me feel sick. But the idea of sugary foods being a treat is so ingrained in western society that perhaps we get confused about what pleasure means. So there is an element of awareness required, just not an artificial ‘trying to be aware’ – hope that makes sense! It’s really freeing for me to think about this, thank you.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Yvonne,

      You’re exactly right and you say it well. In eating with pleasure, I’ve found that I’m naturally inclined to healthful foods. Not because I’ve created mental rules about what I should eat and not eat, but because finds the healthier choices more pleasurable.

      I hope you’re doing well!

      k

      1. Vishesh

        Hii Kaushik,
        Does following this way of life mean that we must give up foods like chocolates and others that are considered fattening? Or can we eat those foods and still lose weight?

        1. Kaushik Post author

          Hi Vishesh,

          The whole idea is to follow pleasure and avoid pain. Because this is very natural to us; we are built this way. What is good for us will feel pleasurable. What is bad for us we will recognize as painful.

          It’s matter of giving up control.

          But I think we do have to be aware of the reality that much of what is food out there is really non-food engineered to be highly appealing to us. So fast food and sodas for example might seemingly give us pleasure, but I think it might be good to be aware that they are engineered.

          Chocolate is difficult for me to comment on. I don’t have an addiction to it. I have occasional cravings for it, and when I do, I give into it with full pleasure. If I had an addiction to it, I think I would try to be very conscious of noticing it.

          k

  4. Dinesh Dharme

    I liked this paragraph of yours
    “It turns out the answer is not to try to fix our lives. If the goal is to live freely and naturally and sanely, the answer is not to try to fix anything or seek anything. That takes us further away from the truth. The answer is to recognize that the only problem there is is that we have always thought, from the beginning of our lives, that there is a problem. Everything else is a logical effect of this original problem.”

    Do you know that in physics there is no preferred direction of time. All major equations in physics are time-symmetric or have equivalent time symmetric formulation. So the direction of time (as we conscious beings perceive it ) cannot be derived from the equations describing motions (whether classical or quantum) themselves. The second law of thermodynamics (entropy always increases) gives us the “direction of time”. This means our universe was initially in a state where entropy was at its lowest. So this state becomes “the initial condition” for the universe. And this “initial condition” is responsible for our time perception.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Right, time is a mental concept. There is only entropy. But there is not even a direction of entropy that I can see. If the universe tends towards disorder, that means it was more ordered in the past, and if the universe tends towards order, that means it was more disordered in the past, and neither of these are consistent with what I think I know.

      But all of this assumes an objective universe. And there is no such thing. But of course I can’t tell that to the science people.

  5. Kaushik Post author

    I got an email from someone who berated me for not mentioning something about animal welfare when I said that I eat with pleasure.

    It so happens that I’m all for raising awareness about the institutional cruelty to animals. I don’t eat animals and I avoid animal products,

    But that’s not what the article was about. It wasn’t even about losing weight–that’s just a side benefit. The article was about fear and resistance–the original fear which makes humanity into cruel species, and the original fear which confuses us in our individual lives.

    When Ramana said to the world to ask ourselves “Who am I?” it probably didn’t occur to him that resistant and fearful people, like I was then, would misconstrue this simple and effective technique. In my resistance I wondered what the inquiry meant. Is he asking me to search for my true Self, my real self, my false self, consciousness, ego, mind, awareness, oneness?

    In fact what Ramana is asking us to do is much simpler than all of that. He’s telling us to look at you. It’s the very familiar, very ordinary sense of you. It’s not looking for anything, it’s looking at the very ordinary sense of you. It’s the Occam’s Razor thing, it’s exactly what you think you are.

    When Nisargadutt said to hold on to the sense of I AM, he probably didn’t think that could possibly be misconstrued. It’s not the spiritual you, it’s not the mystical you, it’s the very ordinary, familiar sense of you, and it’s not holding to that, it’s just looking, just looking at you.

    And so when I said I eat with pleasure, I didn’t think that “pleasure” could possibly be misinterpreted as some sort of uncaring debauchery. It’s just pleasure, innate enjoyment.

    1. Janice

      Hey Mr. K.,
      I am so glad for you. It sounds like your overall health is improving in many ways. I am really happy for you. I have found that my journey (?) has taken so much from me. Sometimes I do not sleep that great, eat poorly mostly because I think “eat, I will feel better and get some instant energy”, lack of concentration. You know when you smoke some pot and you get this distorted sense of time, a lot of that (but with no pot). Anyway, it is easy for me to eat poorly when I feel “not myself”. Actually, I have not felt like myself for ages now.
      My question, I have been totally flat forever. I bet you know what I mean when I say flat, however, the best way I can explain it is to say, I feel no creativity, not much energy, have a hard time looking forward. It is not a depression, it is more like a “quiet/halting time”. And I am really bored with it. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I am having these rolling waves of energy throughout my body when I get quiet and relax my mind. that is happening more and more. And I totally appreciate the John Sherman referral, he is an interesting guy with an intriguing technique. I have been trying it on and off for a couple of months.
      Any input on the “flat”ness of my experience? I am so happy for you. Truly, you have been very brave.
      Love always,
      Janice

      1. Kaushik Post author

        Yeah, I understand “flat.” It’s a passive, disengaged, futile, apathetic kind of feeling. Depression.

        Depression comes from self-hating thoughts and beliefs. These beliefs come from a sense of detachment which comes from fear. That’s how I see it. But the theory about it is not important.

        The looking at you works.

  6. Dinesh

    I think “To be veg or non-veg will be eternal question”.
    Personally, I have made my choice to be vegetarian. And only in trying circumstances, will I give up this nature and temporarily accept non-veg food.
    My language teacher (fluent in 5 languages Hindi, English, Marathi, Gujarati and Sanskrit) once told me a story about the Rishi who wrote “Gayatri Mantra”. Once there was a very severe famine. Food was difficult to find. He traveled to many villages expecting to receive proper Brahmin(veg) meal. But the villagers were reluctant to give since they didn’t had enough for themselves. Being weary without a morsel of food in his stomach, he accepted a small piece of meat from a “chandal”.

    http://www.mkgandhi.org/g_ganga/chap44.htm

  7. Davidya

    This is a really interesting post, Kaushik. A friend of mine has recommended a food approach recently. I wouldn’t even say it was a diet – it’s a whole lifestyle. A kind of raw-vegan-alkaline thing. It’s interesting but a little scary how much of a change it requires. (laughs) Do people really hold to this? Not to mention the cost of all the supplements. Now I can understand it if you have a pressing chronic health issue but…

    I’ve also observed that a lot of “sensitive” or psychic people carry extra weight as a kind of shield. A variation in the emotional category. I was reading a little recently on belief-busting and the teachers have found eating to be the hardest habit to break. Our eating-emotional associations are formed early and reinforced often (daily+). They can also have multiple associations like reward, distraction, etc. Dieting can often just create a conflict with those drivers so will eventually always fail. What we resist persists and all that.

    Anyway – I think I’ll try this myself. I have observed that part of the issue for me is simply being distracted while eating and thus not stopping when full. Thanks for sharing.

    And sorry about the left field opening comment. (laughs)

  8. Davidya

    Ooo – this works nicely. Was at an Xmas party this evening and when an impulse to eat came up, I just asked myself if I’d enjoy this or that. I had a bit of chocolate that appealed but found myself favouring the fruit. Didn’t overeat and ate what i actually wanted.

    love how the solutions can be so simple – just the right approach.

    I have long observed that if you don’t feed the body too much sugar or just too much food, it has a great intelligence for what it needs. We just have to listen.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Yes, just listen. I’ve found as you describe that as the “rules” about eating wash away, the body naturally tends towards healthful choices.

      This is a metapor for what happens during awakening. We learn to eat by mental rules. In some of us this shows up as fat and we don’t like it so we seek solutions. But most of the solutions are simply more mental rules. Naturalness lays on the other side.

  9. Nitin

    Happy New Year 2012,

    Mind is wondering what is next on Beyond-Karma ? Why ? don’t know.
    Feeling like something is missing on net….!
    IS mind need of constant food of thoughts ??
    It will be nice to read latest thoughts from your end. (@ certain position is circle ?)

    Cheers.
    Nitin

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Happy New Year to you as well!

      I’m just enjoying life!

      And yes I do want to write, perhaps talk about the many confirmations in my life that I’m shifting towards natural being and letting go. And I want to say that it’s very simple. We can understand that there is only one problem, one single exclusive problem, and that is this small bit of fear, which we pick up in the beginning of our lives, and this colors everything we think, feel, believe and experience. The “looking at you” as suggested by Nisargadutt and Ramana and very cleanly clarified by John Sherman, works. And the release technique I talk about on this site is also very helpful.

      I suppose I should update this site to align to where I am now too.

      I hope you’re well Nitin!

      k

      1. Davidya

        Hi Kaushik
        Happy New Year!
        Agreed on the fear. But the reason its so hard to let go of is actually because its even older than that. While it returns early in life, its origins are much farther back in the cycles of time. It’s very deeply embedded. This is why we tend to peel it away in layers and surrender in stages.

        1. Kaushik Post author

          Hi Davidya,

          Yes, surrender happens in layers.

          Jed Mckenna says we only have to know our very next step, and mine is to continue to look at the sense of me, and to release. And of course to live life, which feels very sweet to me now.

          I try to talk about only that which is in my direct experience and it hasn’t been my direct experience the fear is older than I am, but if that’s case I’ll know it when I know.

          Happy New year to you as well!

          k

  10. wellness coach

    This makes a lot of sense, as everything in this world is a product of the subtle realm, and if we are to control things here we must really do it by letting go of the guilt, forgiving ourselves and others, and enjoying God’s grace all around us, especially in our food!

  11. Jen

    Hello again!

    This particular writing fascinates me! I am in the midst of engaging in Geneen Roth’s books and theories on binge eating. I have been a compulsive eater my entire life and it has been very destructive in every possible way. I am not sure if you are familiar with her work, but she does emphasize awareness in eating. I have found that when I work with her guidelines (which include all of yours as well) I am not enjoying my food or eating as much as I would like to. It is almost a chore now to have meals and snacks because I am so caught up and obsessed about being acutely aware while I am eating. I am too conscious of it, I think. Perhaps she encourages the awareness so that one will be sure to stop when he/she has had enough food. But I get obsessive. Have I had enough? Do I want one more bite? Is my stomach begging for more or has it had too little? Am I savoring each bite? Am I putting my fork or spoon down enough? Am I eating too fast? Too slowly? The questions never end and I find myself fixated on them.

    Do you relate to any of this?

    I also have one more question! Do you force yourself to sit down at the table or some calm environment (refusing to sit in the car) for each meal or snack? Or do you allow yourself more freedom while eating?

    Thank you so very much for reading this. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts.
    Best,
    Jen

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Jen,

      Good to see you here.

      Yeah, I got the idea of “intuitive eating” from Geneen Roth. Also, Charles Eisenstein and Paul Mckenna say similar things.

      What you are discovering about “awareness” is a key understanding. My experience with eating with awareness was very much like yours. I would start eating with awareness and then it becomes about awareness and not about eating and so it isn’t about eating with awareness. Awareness is abstract, it’s a conceptual idea that we try to practice. It isn’t the real thing.

      So I replaced “eating with awareness” with “eating with pleasure.” Pleasure is something I understand innately. I understand pleasure, I understand hunger, I understand satisfaction. But awareness is too abstract, and especially for those of us who are into spirituality, it is particularly misleading.

      It’s very much as John Sherman says. When I tried to do what Nisargadatta and Ramana said (look at sense of I AM), I did not understand what they were talking about, because I abstracted what they said and mixed in spiritual concepts which I had learned. John Sherman cleanly clarified the technique for me–he says just to look at me. Not awareness, not presence, not consciousness, not oneness, not mind, not ego, not any of those beautiful concepts, but just the basic sense of me. That’s when I realized I was making the same mistake of abstraction when I was trying to eat with awareness.

      Eating with pleasure is so much more natural. I never forget to eat with pleasure, I don’t eat it if I’m not really enjoying it. When I eat with pleasure, it’s just natural to eat slowly, to be grateful, to enjoy, to pay attention to eating.

      I don’t have any rules about forcing myself to sit down to eat, or not eating in the car, or eating only in calm environments. The rules I have are very simple: eat when hungry, eat with pleasure, stop eating when satisfied. (I avoid animal products but that’s for a different reason and not really relevant to this.).

      And what I’ve found is the false ideas I had about food and weight are falling away in layers. There have been periods where I’ve lost a lot of weight quickly and periods where I remain the same and periods where I’ve actually gained some weight. But overall, I’m moving in the direction I want to. The fear and sadness and recrimination and inner-criticism around food and eating are falling away.

      It does take some patience. Doubts can come up. It can go forward and backwards.

      I hope this makes sense.

      k

  12. Jen

    Makes a lot of sense. As much as I love Geneen Roth’s work and her perspective on compulsive eating, I believe that my mind is much too hyperactive, obsessive, and perfectionistic to benefit from trying to follow her 7 guidelines. The four that you constructed for yourself seem to be more natural for me.

    I guess that it ultimately comes down to: Whatever works for you, works for you. There is no right or wrong. Something I get VERY obsessive about. Feeling that if I don’t follow the “rules” perfectly, that I might as well give up…

    “John Sherman cleanly clarified the technique for me–he says just to look at me. Not awareness, not presence, not consciousness, not oneness, not mind, not ego, not any of those beautiful concepts, but just the basic sense of me. That’s when I realized I was making the same mistake of abstraction when I was trying to eat with awareness.

    This really intrigued me:

    “Eating with pleasure is so much more natural. I never forget to eat with pleasure, I don’t eat it if I’m not really enjoying it. When I eat with pleasure, it’s just natural to eat slowly, to be grateful, to enjoy, to pay attention to eating.”

    I am so grateful I discovered your website. Thank you for being so available to offer your insights as well. Your writings emanate a great sense of peace and humanity. Thank you.
    Jen

  13. kate

    I’ve been on the same weight roller coaster my whole life and I’m sick of it. I tried what you suggested and even read a couple of the books but I couldn’t give up control. I just couldn’t trust the process.

    Recently, though, I tried again. The risk of giving up control, it seems to me is getting fatter. Harder still is giving up my ideal of how I should look (which is very slim).. The feelings stirred up are not pleasand but I stayed with them. The emotion associated with the idea of not being slim is shame. I was critized at an early age about my body. The fact that, for most of my life, I’ve had men find me and my body very attractive, hasn’t changed the underflying feeling of disgust and shame.

    So, what I’ve been doing is looking at my self in a full length mirror, letting the feelings come, treating them with compassion and then releasing them. I realize this is going to take time but I have already noticed a change in my tendency to emotional eat. I have to let go of the fantasy of the perfect body and face, love and accept what is real and in doing that, I may come to look exactly how I’m supposed to look.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Kate,

      Yes, it’s hard to give up control. We can say that recovery from the insanity of control can be just as harsh as the feeling of shame you describe so well.

      The fear comes up that lack of control is how I got fat in the first place. That’s of course re-enforced by society and family and friends–really, everyone and everything around us.

      Something that’s helped me is a small shift of realization that the objective is not to lose weight. The objective is to be natural. Which is what you’re doing with your releasing; simply accepting and letting go of emotions around this.

      I don’t think I have any specific wisdom on how to go about this. It all seems to inter-related. The looking at the sense of I AM, the releasing, the non-judgmental observation, the letting go of spirualizing and theories and concepts, the acceptance that the way all this works is sometimes beyond my intellectual understanding–all of that seems to work in tandem.

      Thanks for your openness.

      k

  14. Yolanda

    I am currently in a weight loss program and their basic principle is Control Over Food. We are supposed to write down each calorie we eat and report it every night. Thousands have lost weight this way. I’m not sure how to reconcile the spiritual belief of “let go, let God” and the proven method they have of control, control, control.
    Any suggestions?
    Thanks!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Yolanda,

      Yeah, it’s baffling, isn’t it?

      I try to sort it out by looking at the basics. You say the “Control Over Food” has helped thousands and it’s a proven method. But is that really true? I don’t know about this particular method, but my experience with all the diets and methods I’ve tried has always been the same. One, it isn’t fun and it doesn’t feel natural. Two, it requires some sort of control and self-discipline and effort, which I am able to exert for a while, but not forever. Three, it does work; I do lose weight. And four, it inevitably stops working, and I gain back all the weight.

      And I’ve found that this myth of control applies to all areas in life, not just the delusions we have about eating.

      But still, it’s baffling, because believing this does seem to solve the problem either.

      My intuition tells me that if I can let go all control and just allow my body to take care of itself, it will do that. It will do that effortlessly and naturally. I realize this goes against much of what we have been trained to believe. I realize that my relationship with food is indicative of the broader relationship with life.

      I have come to understand that the only problem there is in life is the basic fear, the basic sense that there is a problem. I find that “looking at the sense of me” is effective in dispelling this separation. I continue to let go. And I continue to eat consciously while letting go of control and beliefs around food. I feel that’s the right direction.

      Maybe one day I can say something about it which is clearer and more helpful. You might want to check out Geneen Roth, Charles Eisenstein (The Yoga of Eating), and Paul Mckenna, who talk about this.

      k

  15. Yolanda

    Thank you for your kind response. I am glad you found what works for you! I wish I could find what works for me, but my dysfunctional relationship with food must be a reflection of my dysfunctional relationship with the world. I wish it were JUST about food, but it’s not.
    I have read Geneen Roth many times, but maybe I will pick up The Yoga of Eating, too. I just think it is something that has to CLICK with me, and it hasn’t happened yet. It will.

    Yolanda

    1. Kaushik Post author

      “…my dysfunctional relationship with food must be a reflection of my dysfunctional relationship with the world…”

      I think that’s it for all of us. Certainly there other factors, such as the in-your-face availability of bad but appealing foods, mental conflicts brought on by societal pressures, our body and genetics and metabolism, and so on. But I think the overwhelming factor is that our relationship with food is a reflection of our relationship with life.

      If this is true, and it is true that diets and exercise for the purpose maintaining weight do not work in the long term, then it seems to me there is only thing to do. Don’t worry so much about the weight. Eat what your body wants to eat, eat with conscious pleasure, eat when hungry, stop when satisfied.

      Beyond that, it’s more important to work on the basic fear of life in us, which is the source of all problems.

      It is this very thing, this fear of life and its effects, this separation from life, this dissatisfaction, which gives us the delusion that life is inherently dangerous.

      That’s about where I am. I don’t have definitive answers. Just this approach: to solve the source of problem, to eliminate the basic fear of life and heal from its effects, by using the technique of looking at the sense of you. To accept, allow, give up resistance and the delusion of control. And not worry about much else.

      k

  16. Davidya

    Hi Kaushik
    Just wanted to post a follow-up. Your approach is useful but I found myself loosing weight a little slowly. I wanted to kick it up a notch. Then I ran into the Reboot program out of Aussieland. Basically a juice fast with a variety of recipes and an online community to support you. Its been more effective than a few other things I’ve tried. 😉

      1. David

        Sure
        http://www.rebootwithjoe.com/

        Joe made a film about his fast called Fat, Sick, And Nearly Dead. That evolved into the site. He documents his own journey of weight loss, then another fellow he meets on a road trip during. It’s linked from the site.

        It’s a healthier approach than some of the common ones I’ve seen.

  17. oolala53

    I didn’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if my thoughts have been expressed and addressed already.

    I’m glad you found this worked for you for a period of time at least. I don’t know if it has passed the 5-year test. In any case, my eating mentor says there is no such thing as before and after, only before and during.

    I found the emphasis on awareness or mindfulness lacking as well. I stumbled on the importance of pleasure and savoring. It has been integral over the course of 4+ years in a loss and maintenance of about 20% of my weight, and staying on the edge of a “normal” BMI. I did not use your particular steps this last time, having tried that back (1979) even before Geneen Roth first talked about it. (She wasn’t the first by any means, but I think she certainly popularized it.) I tried to implement it for decades! Just couldn’t wait long enough for hunger and also didn’t like eating so often when no one else was and not eating with others when they were. I have found a workable compromise so far with the No S diet: routine meals of anything I want with no sweets on weekdays, free form (might be meals or not, sweets or not) on weekends and two extra self-chosen days a month. Kudos to Reinhard Engels for this.

    As I said, finally gave up IE, even with pleasure, because I determined that it wasn’t that much different from dieting in the sense that was equally unrealistic, at least as a way for most people to eat to get thin, Why? Because so few people in the world actually live and get thin this way. Naturally slim people do this, but no whole cultures do it. All over the world, when whole cultures get access to food, unless they have imposed rules that limit eating (usually to meal times and with an emphasis on pleasure and moderate portions), the population gets fat. It is not average or natural at all to eat only when hungry and stop when full. It is the exception, not quite as unnatural as imposing low calorie intake, but not completely natural.

    But I am very aware that getting thin is not the final measure of success! By that standard, nearly everything fails.

    In addition, honestly, the success rate of intuitive eating to get people to consistently eat only when truly hungry year after year isn’t very high. Most of them continue to be flummoxed by what being truly hungry is, reading every passing desire as hunger.

    I wonder how often you go without being hungry for whole days at a time. I don’t find this a pleasant experience, yet on some days on which I aspire to eating only when hungry, this can happen. I once even waited for 36 hours for hunger to come. Even then, I wasn’t as hungry as I have sometimes been after only five hours, but I chose to eat. Unfortunately, food thoughts did not go away. I still wanted to have pleasurable eating experiences! I might have not been so bothered if I had been happily busy. So I admit that part of the problem is that I cannot consistently fill my life with compelling enough activities for more than 6 hours at a time to keep me from wanting to eat even when I am not hungry. And I am tired of trying, so I will stick to my plan of delicious, savored food, 2- 4 times a day whether hungry of not. And all the lattes/mochas I want.

    But it’s possible the days might come when I would consistently be perfectly content not ever to eat just because I wasn’t hungry. But it’s not necessary any more.

    Mazel tov!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi,

      Well, ultimately, it didn’t work.

      I have much more clarity about life now than I did when I first started this spiritual journey about ten years ago. But still there are some aspects of life which I am not clear about, and reaching/maintaining a healthful weight is one of those areas.

      I still do what I say this article: I eat when I’m hungry, I eat with pleasure. I usually eat consciously and slowly. I don’t remember that I have eaten beyond satisfying hunger for a long time. And all this has become very natural. I don’t think about it much and I never feel deprived. And I think I generally eat better than I did before. I hardly ever eat junk food.

      But I have gained back the weight.

      At this time I don’t really have any wisdom on weight.

      I do think how we feel about life is reflected in health and weight. It’s possible that some of us just have naturally high weight set point. I know that there are people from various parts of the world where food had been scarce (south west N. America for example) who tend to store fat much more readily than other human beings. And I’ve seen studies of twins who grew up apart and it was striking to me that the twins even though they grew up differently had the same weight. That may be an indication that there’s a natural set point for each us, and short of deprivation or hard exercise, it may not be easy to change this set point.

      k

      1. David

        Same results here. A useful approach but no long term loss. You really don’t want a bad relationship with food, even if there’s extra weight.

        Recently read Julie Daniluks book Slimming Meals that Heal. She points to recent research demonstrating a connection between hormone changes, inflammation, weight gain and food sensitivities. She suggests replacement foods to help determine which foods we’ve developed sensitivities to. Often they’re foods we crave.

        This has become more common in modern culture due to the number of processed and altered foods in the diet.

        I’d agree though that some have a natural body form that may not match current expectations. And our metabolism does naturally slow as we age.

        I’ve used Reboot juice fasts to bring the weight down several times. But yoyoing the weight is even less healthy that carrying extra.

        1. Kaushik Post author

          Hi David,

          Interesting about Julie Daniluks–I haven’t read her. I am in a very accepting place about weight; however, I also see that food affects mood and the feeling of well-being and an understanding on the effect on horomones might be useful. I also wonder what would happen if I lived outside of the US, for an extended time. I know that food the world over is more and more adulterated–by hormones, fertilizers, pesticides, and so on–but perhaps much more so right now in the US than other places, and I wonder what would happen in another place.

          k

          1. David

            Hi Kaushik
            Yes, I also find more energy and physical well-being below a certain weight.

            I recently used food as an example for the layers of healing. There are certainly the physical dynamics mentioned. There can be emotional drivers and there can also be subtle energetic dynamics at play.
            http://davidya.ca/2014/07/20/the-layers-of-healing/

            And of course just the simple dynamics of family, genetics, and age.

            When I was in grad school, they had an organic vegetarian cafeteria. While there, I gradually lost weight. That was in the US. I’ve also seen how any change of place breaks peoples eating habits. They sometimes break their rules on holidays, for example, and over-indulge. But if the change is longer term, it sometimes breaks the old habits we don’t recognize.

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