3 Reasons Why Executives Struggle to Lose Weight

You are a leader. 

You are intelligent, determined, hard working and successful.

So, why is so hard to lose the weight and keep it off?

We already know that the reason we are overweight is because we ate more than our body required. And, so it did what is supposed to and stored the extra energy as fat. (This is not the simple calories in has to be less than calories out theory. There is a lot more to metabolism than that. For now, it is sufficient to say that more was taken in than your body needed for energy.)

I have great news: it is not all your fault that losing weight can feel like a constant struggle. Your brain is literally programmed to desire more food than your body needs. That makes overeating and overindulging very easy to do. And, it can make us feel like failures over and over again.

So, here are three reasons why you might be desiring more food than is necessary for your body's energy needs:

1)  Dopamine made you eat it.  Dopamine is  a neurotransmitter found in the brain known for mediating the feeling of desire. When we consume foods (aka sugar!) that cause unnaturally high releases of dopamine, our bodies become used to that level. We end up desiring more food, or dopamine, than we really need.

2) You are conditioned to overeat. My mom used to tell me that I needed to be a member of the "clean plate club" and that other children across the world were starving. I was conditioned to eat every single thing  on my plate, even if I wasn't hungry. I learned how to ignore my bodies natural hunger and satiety signals. Even if your mom didn't force feed you (sorry, Mom!) we live in a culture that glamorizes food. We celebrate with food. We mourn with food. We teach our children to soothe themselves with food. Has a colleague ever asked you why you were having a piece of cake or why you were drinking alcohol? When did it become socially acceptable to ask people why they weren't "indulging"?

3)  Eating is a substitute for feeling an emotion. What I mean by this is that many of us eat in order to feel comfort (remember that dopamine?) or to avoid an emotion. Some of the most common reasons I hear for overeating are to avoid boredom or restlessness!  That is always interesting to me because often we are so tired of being busy and running around all of the time, but when it comes to the evening time and when things slow down, well, we are "bored" instead of relaxed! 

In order to lose weight, we have to understand what is fueling our desire to overeat and then target that specific issue. Many people start this process and then stop because they feel "deprived." Here is more good  news-you can only feel deprived if there is a desire. If we learn how to target the desire and eliminate it, then, there is no deprivation. 

Eliminating the desire is the key.  Can you imagine attending client dinners and actually wanting to choose something healthy to eat? How would it feel to enjoy watching others choose from the dessert plate and not salivating or clenching your teeth to resist? 

The most effective action you can take is to learn how to manage your desires and STOP giving in to them. I have struggled with this exact issue myself, so I know that it is not easy. As a matter of fact, it's pretty darn uncomfortable.  And, that is ok.  You are a leader, you know what discomfort feels like you can absolutely handle it. And, I have a quick 3 step process that will help you do just that.

In the mean time, just become curious about what is happening for you. See which one of these reasons might be strongest in you. Notice what desire actually feels like inside of your body. There is immense power in becoming aware of why you are overeating. And, the better you get at not answering your desires to overeat, the sooner they will be become less frequent and a part of your past!






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