Regeneration – a new take for weight loss?
93.2% of the time I listen to the Australian public broadcaster – the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), which is the Aussie equivalent of the BBC.
I say I “listen” to the radio but really I only hear snatches of programs these days. Usually I get a few minutes of radio time on the way to pick up my kids from somewhere or in those first few moments of preparing dinner before I remember I’m supposed to be at least somewhat interactive with Year 4 homework. Once the kids are in the car or I’m listening to “ie” words being spelt out loud, the radio is snapped off and I’m turning my attention to my kids. (Sometimes it’s even with genuine interest!)
So, thank god for podcasts. Not because I actually search for and download all those half-listened to programs but because the opportunity to do so exists. I find that heartening.
So why am I rabbiting on about my radio listening habits?
Well, recently I listened to a snatch of a program on the wireless; a farmer was being interviewed. This man had just completed a PhD and was making the point that he didn’t really like the term “sustainable farming”. He preferred to use the word “regenerative” in relation to farming approaches with an wholistic approach (i.e. farming practices that work in the short & long-term interests of the farmer, the land, and the community).
Now in my line of work – let’s call it health coaching – I use the word “sustainable” regularly (as in “It sounds like what you really want is sustainable weight loss and to break the cycle of yo-yo dieting”). So my ears pricked up at this farmer’s comment.
“Sustainable,” he said, “implies you are simply maintaining the status quo.” In reality, there is room for variation and improvement. There will be new ideas and new technologies to apply to existing circumstances and changing conditions.
Fair comment, I thought.
Sustainable weight loss
It made me wonder if the goal of “sustainable weight loss” carries a suggestion (for some people at least) that living the slim life – by developing healthy habits – will be boring. Doing the same things over and over again might imply that there isn’t anything new and exciting to look forward to.
The truth is there’s a balance each of us must find for ourselves between creating healthy eating and exercise habits that run automatically and being able to embrace and enjoy new experiences involving food or new types of physical activity.
Whilst we want to sustain some parts of our weight loss result (say, continue to fit into our slim-size clothing), we also want to leave room for improving our health-related behaviours and strategies. The idea of “regeneration” nudges us towards the possibility of the latter and it also reminds us our bodies and state of health are not fixed.
A quick search of the dictionary tells us that “regeneration” means the formation of new animal or plant tissue. You are probably aware that the cells in our bodies are constantly dividing, regenerating, and dying, although each cell’s life cycle is different.
Some cells regenerate within a number of days (the cells that line your stomach, for example), whilst for others it takes years (as it does for your bone cells). There are some cells you have for life but most of your body’s cells are significantly younger than your chronological age.
I won’t give up talking about “sustainable” weight loss any time soon but I do like the reminder that our bodies are ever changing. It’s okay for our behaviours to be changeable too – as long as you are clear on the outcome you want.
Your vision for your long-term health
Get really clear on your vision of optimal health (which includes your optimal weight). This will guide your behaviours every day. It already does!
Some people thrive on maximum flexibility with their health-related behaviours (e.g. intuitive eaters) and others on maximum structure (such as those who LOVE following a program with rules).
Most of us thrive on our own personal style somewhere between these two points.
The key is to “know thyself”. Find out what works best for you and be open to the idea that things may shift in time.
Words have different energy and different associations for each of us.
For weight loss, I’d always thought “sustainable” was preferable to “maintenance”. This was for similar reasons to our farmer’s preference for “restorative” in place of “sustainable”. Maintenance sounded boring to me. I mean, I maintain my hairstyle with 6-weekly trim. But what if somewhere along the line I want a new do? I still want to look good but I want to try doing it in a different way…and to me, “maintenance” might not be the best word to capture that concept.
How do you feel about it?
Ultimately, the point is to be aware of how you feel about what it takes to live a long healthy life at your ideal weight.
Does “maintaining” what you’ve achieved sound like a relief? If so, perhaps you welcome the opportunity to finally place your energy into other areas of your life. If this is the case, then “maintaining” your weight loss and health is a great way to express your desired vision.
But what if you notice you feel reluctance about “maintaining” weight loss? If this is you, perhaps you are anticipating a boring journey. What do you need to do to make the path more inviting? Play with the way you word your vision of your future. Check how “sustaining” your weight loss or embracing a “regenerative” lifestyle lands for you. Find something that really sounds enticing and notice how your resistance falls away.
I’m off to restore the health of my herb garden with my trusty watering can!
Until next time
P.S. If I had sourced the podcast I could give you the name of the farmer. What I can tell you is the segment was part of a program called Bush Telegraph, aired in December 2014.