This blog article explores how to lose weight the right way by examining Brianna’s 107 pound weight loss journey.
What do I mean the right way to lose weight? As Brianna says … You have to not care about weight loss and put self-care first!
It’s a paradox. You first need to forget about weight loss and especially dieting.
You need to get a grip over emotional eating, binge eating … (and this is tough that’s what I help people with)
This article unique in that Brianna was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and is qualified to talk about weight loss with respect to eating disorders.
Hopefully this article reveals the best way to lose weight so that you can avoid:
- yo yo dieting
- binge eating
- emotional eating
- low self-esteem
Instead, as we learn about Brianna’s journey this article will reveal how how to lose weight the right way through various topics:
- Brianna’s Weight Loss Journey Beginning With Clinical Anorexia and Depression
- Brianna’s Weight Gain And Why She Decided To Lose Weight
- The Best Way To Lose Weight – A Paradox Revealed
- Why best way to lose weight is to stop focusing on weight loss (and make it about something else!)
- How To Lose Weight Naturally (Brianna’s Behaviors)
How To Lose Weight The Right Way Show Notes
Brianna’s website can be found here – https://briannabernardfitness.com/
Below you can see our full conversation on Youtube.
Farther down below I have included Brianna’s dialogue to help answer various questions. I’ve lightly edited Brianna’s remarks for clarity and context.
Brianna’s Weight Loss Journey Beginning With Clinical Anorexia and Depression
Before we get into the strategy of weight loss …
Let’s set the stage by exploring Brianna’s journey.
This section lists:
- How Brianna’s eating disorder began
- How Brianna’s Mom found about her eating disorder
- The one thing that changed Brianna’s mindset
(You can watch this part in the interview at 2:31)
How Brianna Got Diagnosed With Anorexia and Depression
How Brianna’s eating disorder began
So when I was 15 years old my science teacher organized this trip and then picked about 20 different kids to go on this trip. There was a lot of inappropriate discussion about my body from my teacher during this trip, and inappropriate touching from him and that completely changed my perception of my body.
It was probably one of the first times I really thought about the way that I looked and how other people, especially men or boys perceived me. And I came back from that trip a completely different kid than I left.
And it completely changed the trajectory of the next couple of years of my life.
During that trip I was very aware of what I was eating. I basically stopped eating during the rest of the trip. So I ended up losing weight on the trip but I didn’t need to lose weight.
And I was already a normal or a skinny teenage girl. And I ended up losing maybe 10 pounds in a week just because it was so different than my normal routine.
So when I got back I started exercising every day. I went for a two mile run every single day and I just continued to lose weight from there. And over time it went from being like, “Oh, I’m eating healthy,” but eventually I started thinking “I’m just going to start eating less because I’m losing weight.”
It just kind of spiraled from there.
How Brianna’s Mom found about her eating disorder
And my mom went and read my journal where I had wrote all of these terrible horrible things about myself and my body in this journal. She’s like, “I’m really sorry Brianna, but I needed to read your journal because I love you and I want to help you.”
And so I started seeing a therapist, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a dietician at the eating disorder clinic. And I would meet with all three of them every time I went, which was usually once a week.
The one thing that changed Brianna’s mindset
I think the biggest revelation that we had was they decided to do a depression test. And I took it and thankfully I was really honest when I was taking it and it came back positive that I definitely had depression. And so they started treating me for that and that changed everything.
They realized like there’s a chemical imbalance going on here that is part of the problem. And if we could fix the chemical imbalance, let’s see what might happen to the eating disorder piece.
And so they put me on antidepressants and I became a new woman very, very quickly. It works for me.
Brianna’s Weight Gain And Why She Decided To Lose Weight
We’re almost there to the weight loss strategies …
But we have an important part to cover in terms of Brianna’s story …
After Brianna healed from anorexia, she gained weight:
- How Brianna Gained 100 Pounds After Getting Pregnant and Meeting Her Husband
- The moment Brianna decided to begin losing weight
(You can watch this part of the conversation at 10:55)
How Brianna Gained 100 Pounds After Getting Pregnant and Meeting Her Husband
I’ve really lived all ends of the spectrum here. I was normal, then I was anorexic, then I became normal again.
And then I gained 70 pounds during my pregnancy and I had already gained probably 20 or 30 pounds after I met my husband.
I gained 70 pounds during my pregnancy and a year after my little boy was born I was still 70 pounds over where I should have been.
And so yeah, I went from extreme underweight to extreme overweight.
The moment Brianna decided to begin losing weight
I had thought, “Well, Oh, the baby’s going to come and I’m just going to lose the weight.”
I felt really stuck, not only in my weight but just in my life in general. At that time, I not only was a hundred pounds overweight, but the week after my child was born, I knew that my marriage wasn’t going to last.
I just felt super stuck and I thought, “Well, what can I control here?”
I can control how I move my body and I can control what I eat every day. And so I was at the grocery store one day and picked up a copy of People Magazines annual, how they lost a hundred pounds issue and looked in that magazine.
And there was a woman who had also lost over a hundred pounds and she lived in Minneapolis and worked out at a gym that was like 40 minutes from my house.
So I looked up her story and decided to hire her personal trainer, started going to that gym and I thought “If this guy can help her lose weight, then maybe he can help me too.”
The Best Way To Lose Weight – A Paradox Revealed
Ok. We are here.
The best way to lose weight. The right way to lose weight.
(Side note – this website Eating Enlightenment used to be called Weight Loss Enlightenment. I got too much flak from the eating disorder community for including weight loss in my website name, so I changed the URL of the domain. However, the lessons that Brianna reveals below are why I had originally put Weight Loss Enlightenment.)
(Side note 2 – enlightenment is a paradox. In Buddhist teachings they say Nirvana is right here, right now. Even in the midst of suffering there is nirvana. But how can there be nirvana in the middle of suffering? It’s a paradox. It sounds weird but this is the paradoxical way of thinking also points to right way to lose weight.)
Let’s see what Brianna has to say (you can watch this part of our conversation at 18:08)
So I decided that it wasn’t going to be about weight loss …
Because I had tried to lose weight back when I was anorexic and even at times afterwards. I was always unsuccessful and knew there had to be a different way.
I would start something and I would do it for a week or so if I was lucky and then I would fall off the wagon and go back to my old habits.
So I knew that I’m going to need to think about this differently.
I can’t keep trying the same thing …
So instead I made my health journey about self care and I decided that 2014 was going to be the year of self care and I was going to practice self-care instead of weight loss.
And the moment I stopped trying to lose weight, I lost 107 pounds.
Reflection on the paradox of losing weight the right way
When I first named my website Weight Loss Enlightenment, it was to express this paradox:
You have to give up weight loss in order to succeed at weight loss.
It sounds weird as I type those words. Stop trying to lose weight in order to lose weight?
I know. It’s weird. I’m a weird dude. I lived as a monk for 13 months just meditating in nature. Kinda crazy. I really dig this enlightenment paradoxical stuff.
But the reality of every diet …
- weight watchers diet
- jenny craig diet
- mayo clinic diet
- any weight loss fast diet
These all backfire and harm you. Please take a look at these three images:
- your typical weight loss journey of losing and gaining
- the long-term science of dieting
- the sneaky way weight watchers uses ‘science’ to back up their weight loss claims
Are you convinced that dieting and fast weight loss, no matter what …
No matter whether it’s jenny craig or even the mayo clinic diet …
All dieting leads to health problems (high blood pressure, heart disease, lower metabolism, etc)
But how do I lose weight if stop focusing on losing weight. Is there another way?
Yes, there is another way.
That way which Brianna mentioned above (and we’ll explore more down below) is where you put self-care first.
This is a revolutionary message and you need to tell your friends about it.
Your friends are trying to lose weight. Your family is trying various diets.
Adults across the world spend $1 TRILLION in diet related services, offers, program, and beauty products.
(In the U.S. this number is close to $300 Billion)
Yet these diets across the U.S. and world wide are killing people.
And people are confused! They think obesity is a choice!
When in fact it’s the diet mentality and trying to do the impossible – lose weight on a diet and keep it off – that’s causing people to develop overeating habits and diabetes.
(Here’s an interesting statistic. 140 million people each year in the U.S. try to lose weight. How many of these people are seeking out how to lose weight fast? Many of them. But this diet restrict calorie intake approach simply doesn’t work.)
Basically trying to lose weight is horrible for your health, self-esteem and soul.
Forget trying to lose weight fast via bariatric surgery, medications (in most cases) or weight loss pills …
Forget calorie plans, diet equations, and any weight loss plan.
Why best way to lose weight is to stop focusing on weight loss (and make it about something else!)
You can listen to this part of the interview at 20:57 …
This is where Brianna expands upon the Eating Enlightenment mindset.
- Focusing on more positive things than body weight
- Getting excited about other ways to measure ‘success’ besides body weight
Focus on more positive things than body weight
It’s a huge mindset shift and I had to essentially break up with that part of myself that cared so much about weight loss.
I had to stop the judgment, stops the limiting beliefs, stop all the negative thoughts that were coming into my brain.
I had to realize that it wasn’t about being perfect. And at some point in my journey it stopped being about being skinny, stopped being about being thin …
Getting excited about other ways to measure ‘success’ besides body weight
Instead of weight loss it became about being strong and instead of focusing on the number on the scale, I was focusing on how much weight can I bench press, how much can I dead-lift?
And I was more excited about those numbers.
Which water can I drink today, next week? 128 ounces of water.
And so I started focusing on different things. If I had woken up every day and weighed myself and thought “97 pounds to go …” I would have given up.
That would have been depleting and I would have given up, my eating habits would have never changed.
But instead, the focus wasn’t on this scale as much as it was on being strong and focusing on different numbers to measure my success.
And if you’re trying to be strong, you can’t be a little toothpick, thin, skinny anorexic girl and be strong.
I wanted to be ready and I wanted to have muscles and I wanted to be able to double my body weight in a dead lift.
So it became about different things for me. And that was how I kept it from going back down the path of an eating disorder.
How To Lose Weight Naturally
So now we know The Secret.
The answer to the question “How to lose weight the right way?” …
(Hint: it’s not a diet)
Is you focus on stuff that gives you joy, self-care and behaviors that are intrinsically motivating.
So now you have the overall mindset, the secret to Eating Enlightenment.
Let’s dive into the nitty gritty details:
- Why you need to first focus on ending binge and emotional eating before nutrition and fitness
- The precise behaviors Brianna did to lose weight (from a place of self-care)
Why you need to first focus on ending binge and emotional eating before nutrition and fitness
The overall premise is that you need to unlearn first.
If you are binge and emotional eating … you need to unlearn all the limiting dieting beliefs that mainstream diet culture has programmed into you.
(Yes, there is a secret diet culture that you need to know about before you can end binge eating.)
You need to stop binge eating first.
See, people if they haven’t gotten rid of binge eating …
They get obsessive about exercise. Or finding the perfect activity to burn calories.
There’s also a common obsession about finding the perfect nutrients.
But you have to unlearn all this crap dieting first.
You have to focus on self-care first, not the amount of veggies on your plate.
For an in-depth discussion on this point, please see my conversation with Beth Rosen “How Can A Person Improve Body Positivity and Maintain A Healthy Body Image In A Crazy Diet Culture with Beth Rosen“
For most people that I help to stop binge and emotional eating …
They just naturally lose weight without even trying (or following a diet) because they are no longer binge eating.
(Basically we focus on self-care. Sound familiar?)
So with that caveat that you need to be in a place where you have gone through binge eating disorder treatment …
How To Lose Weight Naturally (Brianna’s Non-diet Behaviors)
It’s pretty simple. In fact, I am pretty sure you have heard all of this stuff before.
(Diet information actually is pretty standard on how to lose weight. There’s nothing new. They repackage it and sell you on the old stuff. But ever hear a diet talk about emotions, psychology, or listening to your food to discover your personal food preferences?)
Remember, you have to really want the things you are going after.
Brianna wanted to deadlift and get stronger, for example. But weight lifting is what turned her on, got her passionate.
But you can’t fake passion. You can’t fake what you authentically want.
(Likewise you can’t force yourself to like vegetables, brussels sprouts or other foods. You can’t get caught up in health benefits, how much fiber, protein, fats, grains, etc that the foods have.
Instead you have to listen to your hunger and take a stand for self-care and to eat foods that literally make you feel good and satisfied.)
You have to discover this stuff about food for yourself. And there’s no one plan that fits every body.
Basically you need to love (or respect) the journey. YOUR journey. YOUR body.
And in full transparency, this interview does not dive deep enough into food preferences, the diet dangers, or how to discover the joy of health for you personally.
So just please note that these behaviors below are Brianna’s behaviors and that losing weight is relatively simple.
You do simple things everyday.
But the key is to avoid the diet mentality, love the simple things by discovering your true joy and listening to your body for food preferences and food satisfaction.
By connecting with your body and taking care of your body, you can discover what you truly love.
For Brianna here are her primary wellness tips:
- Go to the gym
- Eat healthy
- Log food
- Drinking water (100 ounces of water per day)
- Meal prep
(You can listen at 18:39 in the video above for this part of the conversation)
And it’s about the habits that instead of trying to fight all this old diet stuff that keeps creeping in.
You must think that I’m going to build this new human being and these are the new standards that I’m going to create in my life.
I go to the gym, I eat healthy, I log my food, I drink a hundred ounces of water every day and I meal prep and like this is my new thing.
This is the new normal.
And over time those things got much easier and they felt more natural and it didn’t feel like such a pull from who I was. It just became me.