Are you at a loss to explain your failed weight loss?

Disclaimer: Ain't no shame in that

Please know that while I’m talking about the need for people to maintain a healthy weight in this article, this is for health reasons — not cosmetic reasons.

There is strong data to indicate that the more fat mass you carry, the higher risk of developing chronic diseases you’ll also carry.

I’m a Naturopath.
I got into this career to help people get well.
And, it’s my job to educate you on how necessary it is to maintain a weight that is healthy for you. And, it’s also my job to help you ‘get the job done’.

‘Fat shaming’ doesn’t help people to lose weight.
It just makes things worse.

In most cases, if someone is trying to lose weight, the reason they can’t isn’t lack of trying. It isn’t because they are lazy or unmotivated, stupid, greedy, or lack willpower. They are probably trying harder than the average Joe Bloggs to get their weight under control, but haven’t been able to achieve any real or lasting results because their body chemistry is literally working against them. Or, they simply haven’t been shown how to correctly eat for their health. Or, that the problem is actually mentally and emotionally based. (Which we’ll be discussing below.)

From what I’ve seen in practice, not only are these people annoyed about their weight, but they also feel incredibly: frustrated, angry, tired, deprived, confused, and worried – and they certainly don’t need anyone being mean, and ignorant (!), on top of this 😢

So, what I’m trying to say is this: If being healthy isn’t a high priority for you, or you prefer to not be restricted in any way in your diet, or your weight doesn’t ‘bovver you’, then this is simply not the article for you.

But, for anyone else interested in weight-loss —
Be ye a little overweight, or
Be ye a lot overweight, or
Be ye just not wanting to become overweight — let’s get you healthy xo

Note: Being healthy doesn’t just mean that you’re no longer at risk of cardio vascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and sleep apnoea. (Or, that you don’t in fact suffer from these afflictions.) Being healthy also means that you’ll feel more energetic, you’ll feel more in control of your diet, and your diet won’t control you.

It's easy to point the finger

One of the services I provide at OOMPH is fat loss.

Generally speaking, it shouldn’t be difficult to help my client achieve this health goal. It should start with me advising them on what to eat, and on how much of it to eat. And from there, offering support in some or all of the following ways:

  • Rousing pep-talks (!) about it being ‘now-or-never’, and about them needing to ‘be their word’ — and finally do what they say they’re going to do  🧼📦😉
  • Providing additional weight loss insights or ‘tweaking’ their diet.
  • Correcting possible Thyroid, sex-hormone, liver, or stress issues.
  • Pulling out my ‘pom-poms’ to celebrate their victories (🤸🏼‍♀️), or
  • Vigorously waggling my finger at them because they are not pulling theirs out! ☝️

If the overweight client I’m working with purely has physical issues, then weight loss is a cinch! With these people, the only problem is keeping it off. (More on this below!)

However, there’s another set of overweight people — those with significant emotional issues. I have found that these people tend to hold the greatest amount of weight. And with this type of client, I won’t work with their weight goals until I’ve seen them for a couple of sessions to determine whether they are actually, well, truly capable of change.

Note: In some extreme cases, I have been known to refer the person off to a Psychologist after one meeting; to deal with their mental & emotional issues before I can even begin to help them.

With 16+ years experience in Naturopathy under my belt, I know that this type of client is virtually impossible to put on a diet. And, if I ‘allowed’ this to happen, that it’s just going to be a waste of their time, money, and effort — which will only make their emotional state even worse, and make them trust themselves even less to get the job done in the future 🫣

Normally, I like a good desperate client...

My favourite clients to work with at OOMPH are desperate folk! That’s because these people are willing to listen to what you have to say, and do exactly what they are told. And these people tend to get the best Naturopathic results.

However, when it comes to working with clients with emotional issues, I cannot say the same thing. When these clients come to me ‘desperate’, everything (physically, mentally, and emotionally) is too out of control for them to do what I ask.

They are absolutely overwhelmed and daunted by the amount of weight they want to lose.

They are extremely concerned that they will feel “starved” or “deprived”, and that they can’t do what it takes — and they will be this weight forever, and/or that if they go to all the effort of losing the weight, that they will just put it all back on (and then some) — simply because they don’t trust themselves to be disciplined.

They are often terrified that without their ‘chosen medication’ they won’t feel happy or comforted ever again! This is because these people literally rely on their food and beverages to make them feel better 😱

So, as you can imagine, it’s quite the undertaking for them in more ways than one, and in their current mental state, it’s essentially an impossible task.

The things only years of experience can teach you.

Over the years I’ve noticed a couple of interesting things that some of my weight loss clients do at their initial appointments with me:

They pull their heads away from their body when they are talking.

They won’t make eye contact when talking.
(They will move their heads from side-to-side to avoid looking at you.)

They try to convince you that there ‘ain’t nothing to see here’
(Even though they’ve come to you for help?!)

I’m no Psychologist, but my interpretation of this (the ‘feels’ they ALWAYS give me), is that they are somewhat ‘removed’ from their body. 😬

I believe they don’t want to maintain eye contact, and they try to distract you with their jibber-jabber, because they are shit-scared you’ll actually ‘see them’ and as a result… see their ‘hurt’ 💛

With 'non-emotional' overweight clients

With people who have simply been distracted from their normal diet and weight (with work/family/relationship stress, or from having too good of a time on holiday) it’s super easy to regain their attention and help them to get the weight off.  The problem is getting them to keep it off.

Here, I have to teach them tenets such as:

  1. Be consistent

    In order for them to lose weight, I essentially teach them how to think and act differently — like a healthy person!

    So, in order to manage their weight, they need only manage their mind-set, and commit to the new person they have become in the process.

    Note: A potential problem, is that if they only had a few kgs to shift, and they did it quickly, the process of losing this weight wasn’t long enough for them to fully embrace this new version of themselves and this new lifestyle that they created. This may explain why these folk tend to ‘yo-yo’ with their weight.

  2. Keep focused

    Unless weight management remains top-of-mind it will slide down your list of priorities, and the fat will pile back on.

    You can’t let ‘healthy’ drop from your top three priorities. You just can’t. To me, your physicality reflects where your head is at. (And vice versa.)

  3. Don't forget

    The stick method 🐴🏑
    Remember why you wanted to lose weight in the first place!
    Remember what it was like turning up to the event (holiday, wedding, seeing the ‘ex’, doing the ‘physical’) and feeling like you were misrepresenting yourself.  It made you feel stink.


    The carrot method🥕🐴
    Remember what it felt like when you lost the weight!
    Remember what it was like turning up to the event (holiday, wedding, seeing the ‘ex’, doing the ‘physical’) and feeling proud of, and satisfied with yourself.

Lisa Fitzgibbon, Naturopath, discusses how to lower body weight set point in her blog: LISA SAID SO

Lisa says:

Wax on. Wax off.

With 'emotional' overweight clients

You have to ‘Mr Miyagi’ these clients.

You can’t put them on a full-on diet. The diet has to be incidental to the real work. They essentially need to become a whole new person in the process of becoming healthy. Because in order to get the weight off, and to keep it off, they can NEVER go back to being the person they were. And this takes time, commitment, and grit 👊

You have to start off gently with non weight-related tasks for them to accomplish so they start feeling more confident about getting-shit-done. You can’t do anything with them until you get them feeling better, and trusting themselves.

As you would with fitness, you have to start small and build up physically. It’s the same with weight loss, except you’re building up mentally, and emotionally.

You have to feel better to do better.

If you are dependent on food and drink to feel better…
You have to find out why you’re like this/doing this — why you’re not capable of generating your own feel good vibes.

And, you need to learn how to change what food and drink means to you.

Here I advise my client enlists the services of a Psychologist as well. Between you, me, and your doctor of mental health, our job is to help turn this all around — to get you feeling so good about yourself that you don’t want to eat or drink anything ‘bad’ as it would take you away from feeling this way.

Eating good SHOULD make you feel good.
So there is a problem if you think eating poorly makes you FEEL better 😬

Make an appointment with Lisa

Lisa Fitzgibbon is a degree qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. She runs her own private practice – OOMPH in Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand.

Lisa has been involved in the Natural Health industry for 16 years. She draws on her professional training and experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice.

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