I’m going to make a bold statement with the understanding that you may have a strong visceral reaction to the words you are about to read, but here goes: You could be coming at this body transformation and weight loss thing the wrong way.

Ask any health and wellness coach if they’ve worked with loads of individuals who have expressed the following belief, and I’m sure you’ll get a resounding “yes”. “I’ve read so many books, blogs, and research studies giving me knowledge on how my body works, but I must have something wrong with me! The advice, guidance, or recommendations aren’t working.” 

Individuals that feel this way are the same individuals who have spent years putting so much time and energy into finding the right expert or resource, all the while ignoring the signals that their body is giving them. As coaches, we see clients who are married to a particular philosophy and will fight hard to make their philosophical beliefs fit one way or another when obstacles or challenges arise. 

From a psychological perspective, they have such a fixed mindset that they walk around with blinders on and almost get defensive when asked to try to shift their way of thinking. 

I hope these words don’t seem too harsh, but if they do, maybe it is because you’ve lived your life as this individual. Perhaps these words hit a little too close to home. 

It is ok to have a particular belief system or philosophical approach – no doubt about it! But aren’t beliefs and philosophies meant to change over time as you learn more about the world and how you fit into it? As coaches, it is our job to ask our clients why they’ve never thought to ponder “does this approach work for me?”. 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to anything really. Think about the fallacy of one-size-fits-all in the realm of fitness and nutrition. Why can two people follow the exact same meal plan to a T and get very different results? If you need more science and research to back this truth, review this study on how twins respond differently to the same diet.

Think about the one-size-fits-all fallacy with mindset and psychology. Why do stressful situations make some people avoid food, while others hit the gym for a heavy lift? Or why do you crave chocolate as part of your daily routine while your mom craves anything salty and crunchy as part of each meal? 

We even see the fallacy of one-size-fits-all when it comes to medical treatment. Why does prescription “A” work for you while your best friend requires prescription “B” to treat the same condition? 

And what about the fallacy of one-size-fits-all when it comes to your professional training and education? Why does completing your MBA lead to a promotion at the company you’ve been with for 10 plus years after 3 years of interviewing for a higher pay grade while your classmate is hired into a new, fresh position after 1 interview? 

The belief that there must be one way of “doing things right” stems from the belief that there is a “right way” for all people to live, be, and do. Does that make sense to you? There is no perfect diet, and there is no ideal exercise system. What works wonderfully for some will fail miserably for others. Over time, you’ll learn what “doing things right” looks like for you through a process of trial and error. Learn to write your own rules.

Why is writing your own rules so important? Because you have a unique metabolic expression. You have your own psychological sensitivities and personal preferences. Not every approach or recommendation is going to work for you. If you keep this at the forefront of your mind while following a program, I bet this will lower the stress you feel as you try to implement the principles of the programming.

I invite you to stop and take an inventory of your current needs and current resources specifically with respect to improving your own health and wellness. Consider the many different diets or exercise programs you have tried, and evaluate the parts and pieces of each approach that worked well for you versus the parts and pieces that simply didn’t fit.

The next time you read a book, blog, or research article, try something entirely different with your personal inventory in mind. Take the material presented to you and think more carefully about how well the principles presented matches your practical circumstances and personal preferences. Figure out if this works for your psychology or if physiologically this may be a good fit based on your previous attempts and experiences.

On the surface, this concept seems overwhelming and exhausting, but in the long run you’ll find it to be freeing. Embrace your individuality and learn to tune into your own body’s signals. Be open to trial and error and let go of rigid beliefs that simply aren’t working for you. I guarantee you’ll uncover something new about how your body works if you act as the observer of your body rather than looking at it from a place of judgment because something just isn’t working. 

Photo by julien Tromeur on Unsplash