Weight loss is a billion-dollar industry. Everyone seems to want to lose weight, or to gain weight, at any given time throughout their lives. While everyone seems to be fighting this battle, only very few succeed in winning it and are able to truly say that they are happy with their weight and how they look.

That having been said, everyone’s got an opinion – either a question or an answer – related to this popular topic. Interestingly, most questions are related to weight loss, rather than to weight gain. So, here’s my question: Why can’t we lose this damn weight? And, my answer is: It’s because we are feeding ourselves the wrong food.

Please allow me to explain:

Our bodies need a certain number of daily calories to maintain proper weight. And, each one of us has a different lifestyle that determines our individual need for a certain number of calories. If you want your body weight to change, it will – just as soon as your lifestyle and caloric intake change.  The scale goes up when we eat more and move our bodies less; and, the scale will go down when we do the opposite. Therefore, since our lifestyles and our caloric intake always fluctuate, our body weight will never stay the same. So, instead of focusing on a number on the scale, start focusing on your average body weight. A median-range number will give you more flexibility and increase your chances of success.

In order for our bodies to lose excess fat, we need either to increase our physical activity, or to consume fewer calories.  Since finding the motivation, time, and enough energy to accomplish the first task is always a challenge, accomplishing the second appears to be an easier goal.  Therefore, most people will attempt to eat differently on their journey to lose weight, rather than try to find the time to exercise.  Part of that reasoning is due to the fact that most people understand that lack of good nutrition is what got them into trouble in the first place. I believe it is easier to change what we’re already doing than to try and add more activities to our already busy schedules.

In order to start losing weight, we need to give our body fewer calories than it actually needs to maintain our individual lifestyle. Easier said than done, right? Then, you may ask, why it is so hard for people to eat less, or differently? It is because we’re just not designed to NOT fulfill our needs.

Every human being has his own needs, commonly referred to as “basic human needs,” which consist of emotional needs and physical needs. Every day when we wake up, we immediately start work on fulfilling these needs.  From the moment we are born, we need to be fed, held, touched, loved, heard, understood, validated and accepted. And, if we’re extremely lucky, most of these needs are met.  As we grow, whether consciously or subconsciously, we will desperately seek to fulfill these needs. It is not just our choice – it is our life mission.

However, since the fulfillment of our basic human needs involves other human beings, most of us fall short, simply because we cannot control the behavior of others.  For example, you cannot force others to love you, hear you, accept you, or validate you. But, there is one basic human need over which you have total control – your body’s need to be fed. We can – and should – control the FOOD that goes into our mouths.

Working in the fitness industry for almost two decades, I’ve witnessed thousands of people on their weight-loss journeys. Every time I have attempted to suggest a different way of eating, or a lesser amount of intake, almost every single client has had an emotional reaction. People are concerned about being asked to eat in a manner outside their comfort zone.  It is a real fear that they experience.

Inevitably, it stands to reason that since we’re failing terribly at meeting most of our other basic human needs, the subconscious answer is to abuse the only need over which we do have control – our need to be fed. And, it goes like this:

  • I can’t make you or force you to listen to me, so I will order another drink.
  • If I can’t make you or force you to love me, I’ll make sure I have an extra serving tonight.
  • I’m running on empty emotionally, so I’ll fill up physically.
  • If I can’t abuse you, I will abuse the food I’m eating.

And, that’s why we panic when someone else suggests that we eat less food or change our eating habits. That is why most people struggle with their “diets.”  Since we are already starving emotionally, we cannot even begin to think about going hungry physically.

Unfortunately, by the time we reach adulthood, we have turned hunger into our enemy. The longer we go without getting our emotional needs met, the less we can tolerate being physically hungry.  However, hunger is our body’s way of communicating its needs. Hunger should be our friend and ally, not something we are afraid of. I believe that everyone should be a little hungry. We need hunger to keep us alert and moving.  However, since we are starving emotionally, being physically hungry is a burden too heavy to carry. Therefore, we will eat more than we need.

Now the question arises, what do we need to do to overcome this emotional starvation and succeed at cutting our meal portions in half?

Focus on your emotional needs. Acknowledging your emotional needs and learning how to communicate them to others will help you to address what it is that you are lacking. Fulfilling your emotional needs will make physical hunger less threatening and easier to accept. Once you turn hunger from an enemy into an ally, it will help you separate your emotional needs from your physical needs. And, that will make it easier for you to give your body what it needs in order that it can give you what you desire. This process will prevent you from using food to satisfy your emotional deficit, and from letting your emotions control your food choices and intake.

Fulfilling our emotional needs should be our number one priority. You should not only be concerned with feeding your body, but also with feeding your soul.

Last, but not least, I will leave you with these three simple steps that will turn your weight loss into a success:

1) Feel more and eat less;

2) Open your soul and close your mouth;

3) Put more in your heart and less on your plate.

Good luck and God bless.

Leo Frincu is a world wrestling champion, author, speaker and performance coach for business leaders and athletes worldwide. To learn more about his training philosophy, check out his latest book, “WELCOME HOME, 3 Simple Steps On How To Reach Your Highest Potential,” available on Amazon and iBooks.