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“I have got to lose weight.”

How many times have you said this to yourself? I have at least a thousand times. And hiding in that statement are the reasons you haven’t lost the weight.

First of all, you’re focusing on the wrong thing: weight. This means that you’re already in a negative frame of mind: you’re focused intensely on something you don’t want or hate to see. Hating what you see makes you feel desperate to get rid of it and filled with self-loathing that it’s there.

Second, you’re using the wrong approach: dieting. Diets don’t work because you’re trying to eliminate not only the weight but also foods that aren’t allowed or prevent you from losing the weight. Dieting is an all-or-nothing approach that puts tremendous pressure on you to get major results very, very quickly.

Third, you’re getting the wrong result: resistance. Trying to lose weight by dieting — in other words, focusing on the weight and losing it as quickly as you can — creates massive resistance in your body and your mind. This resistance makes you feel physically constricted and causes mental and emotional stress. Feeling like this is miserable, so you naturally look for ways to feel better. If you have conditioned yourself to relieve stress by eating, that is what you will do. And when you do something you’re trying to avoid, you feel like you have failed yet again, which creates more resistance. And the cycle continues.

Weight is only a symptom of the real problem, and that is your relationship with food. If you are using food to fill an emotional void, the weight will always be there. When you continually address a symptom of a problem rather than the problem itself, you never solve the problem. Not only that, you blame yourself — instead of your flawed approach — for the failure.

If your true problem is that you’re eating to fill a void, there is a reason — specific for each person — that you’re doing this. Once you figure out the reason, you can understand yourself better, and then you can be kind to yourself and be open to making slow, steady progress and a feeling that you’re getting somewhere. You transition from being desperate to change yourself from the outside in to feeling hopeful and confident inside, which allows you to make changes that alter not only your body but also your life.

Working on solving the problem instead of the symptom eliminates the resistance that is preventing you from ever making progress. It’s like freeing yourself from prison. When you start to make progress, you feel happy, positive, and self-confident — emotions that are necessary for your ultimate success. Improving yourself (as opposed to hating yourself) is energizing, confidence boosting, and fun. And focusing on your health is way more inspiring than constantly trying to lose weight.

I am excited for you to start this process of understanding yourself better, shifting your focus, improving your health, feeling awesome about yourself, and changing your body almost effortlessly. You don’t have to kill yourself to create a whole new body — the one you dream of is already inside of you. All you have to do is let it emerge.