An outdated model of weight loss

Written by Dannielle Illingworth | 9 November, 2021

Female hands cutting vegetables in a modern kitchen

As a young naturopath, I started out specialising in weight loss – mostly because it was the very thing I had struggled with myself.

I saw heaps of clients in those early years, mostly women, who wanted to lose weight and had tried for years on their own before reaching out for professional support from me. I absolutely loved working with them and helping them achieve their goals — we did have some really great success with the weight loss protocol I was prescribing.

But we always reached a point where the meal plan and supplements stopped working. Weight loss would either plateau or sometimes they actually started regaining some of the weight they had lost. It was frustrating for my clients and for me until I realised that my weight loss protocol was doing a great job at addressing their physical wellbeing but was skipping over the mental and emotional aspects of their wellbeing.

Being a holistic practitioner of naturopathy, I knew I needed to dig deeper into the mental and emotional factors playing a role in my clients’ weight. It wasn’t enough to do motivation scores and teach them how to meditate — it went way further than that, and I spent the next couple of years really delving into it all so that I could help my clients avoid weight being regained or weight loss plateaus.

What I discovered was huge: there is a part of our brain, called the subconscious, that is responsible for 95% of our actions, decisions, and behaviours. The subconscious is filled with beliefs, fears, stories and memories from our childhood and earlier life — most of which we are completely unaware is still impacting us as adults.

This was the missing piece of the puzzle. This explained why my clients would sabotage their own weight loss efforts — they knew what they needed to do, but would often find themselves doing the opposite and wondering what was wrong with them.

Over my years working with women through weight loss and more, here are some examples I’ve seen of what can be stored in the subconscious mind and impact your adult decisions and behaviours around food and weight:

  1. A deep core belief of unworthiness, of not being “good enough”
  2. Fear of vulnerability, physically and emotionally
  3. A belief that it is safer to be invisible than to be noticed
  4. Fear of judgment from others
  5. Sexual abuse and trauma
  6. Shame and guilt around food and eating

All of these things, and more, when stored in your subconscious become the driving force for self-sabotage around weight loss. And when I started addressing the deeper subconscious drivers with my clients, weight loss kicked off again and self-sabotage habits dwindled.

The outdated model of weight loss is to look at a client’s food intake and exercise output. We go one step deeper as naturopaths by addressing the health of the client, ensuring that their body is functioning optimally to burn fat and achieve a healthy weight for that person.

As someone who has been in the trenches, both personally and with weight loss clients, I implore you to dig deeper again. Look at the subconscious mind, and what is stored in there. Look at the factors behind their actions, their motivation (or lack thereof).

A truly holistic approach is required for weight loss, and that involves taking into account the person not only in their present form, but their past and how that might be affecting them today.


Dannielle Illingworth

Dannielle Illingworth is a kinesiologist, naturopath + author. Whether it’s in business, relationships, weight loss, career, health, or just general happiness – Danni helps her clients identify and let go of any fears, limiting beliefs + memories that are holding them back from what they truly desire. You can find out more at her website or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Read more by Dannielle Illingworth

Related Articles