How feeling like Meryl Streep can help you lose weight

Do you ever wonder how an actress like Meryl Streep can take on a myriad of roles, like that of a witch to Amanda Prisetly, with such believability? 

Well sure, but what the #$%^ does that have to do with losing weight, Heather?

Quite a lot. To become someone else requires an actress to think and feel like someone she is not. The same is required for achieving any big goal. 

When I start working with a client, often she feels stuck because of all the things she’s tried to lose weight that didn’t work. And that’s because she doesn’t know how to move beyond it. Her past feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy that keeps coming true. 

And that’s because instead of understanding the internal work needed, she’s focused on the “thing out there” that will make it happen this time. But when the diet, supplement, fancy app, or infomercial product isn’t working or sustainable, it confirms that she can never stick with her healthy habits.

So, back to Meryl. In order for us to believe that she is a powerful fashion magazine editor, she has to become one. And she has to practice. A lot. And more than just memorizing and reciting lines, she has to feel into the role, to become Amanda Priestly. 

That’s how any of us make changes in who we want to become. It starts by clarifying the fit and healthy lifestyle we want, the equivalent of the script for playing a role.

Photo by Ron Lach :

And then we practice. But just as Meryl Streep does more than rote memorization, we also must feel this new identity to truly prepare ourselves for the role of our future self. Neuroscientist Dr. Sarah McKay says, “You can practice emotions in advance of a situation by teaching your brain the most useful way to respond in a situation. Actors do this all the time. The emotions they feel on stage are real because they rehearsed their creation.”

Try it. Picture yourself as the fit and healthy you that you see in your head. Close your eyes and practice being her. What does she think? How does she feel? How does she respond to typical challenges? Go about your day as her. Believe me, this is essential to becoming her. 

And hey, when you have a coach by your side this kind of work becomes easier and you reach your health and weight loss goals more quickly.

Hey you, stop trying to lose weight

If you’re trying to lose weight, stop it. The longer you try, the longer you’ll be trying. Which means you won’t actually lose the weight.

(I know…what the flip are you talking about, Heather?)

Let’s look at it this way. Imagine you’re standing at the altar, next to your beloved. When asked about good times and bad, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, you say, “I do.” Your partner says…I’ll try.

Why is this a problem?

Because “try” usually means we have little faith that we can follow through. Think about it.

“I’m trying to exercise for 30 minutes every other day.”

“I’ll try to get home by 6pm.”

“I’m trying to not eat sugar.”

What we generally mean when we say we’re trying is that we think we should be doing something, maybe we even want to do something, but we’re not sure we can do it. So, we hedge our bets. And at least we can say we tried. But deep down we don’t feel any better about it.

You often feel worse than if you hadn’t even tried. Why?

Because if you try and fail, over and over, you feel like a failure. But if you remove the word “try,” then you have to commit, which is scary. If you say you’ll do something but don’t, you feel out of integrity with yourself. But if you don’t commit at all, does that mean you’ll never reach your goals? Possibly.

If you catch yourself saying “I’m trying to lose weight” (or trying to do anything) ask what you really mean by that. Is it simply a turn of phrase that has little bearing on the outcome, meaning when you say you’re trying to exercise 30 minutes every other day that you’re actually following through? Or do you say it when there’s a 50/50 chance of doing it? Or a long shot?

If it’s one of the latter two, ask yourself why you’re “trying” whatever it is. Do you feel obligated? Maybe over-scheduled? On a scale from 1-10, how compelling is your reason for trying? Using that same scale, how committed are you to following through? Those two numbers will tell you whether:

  1. It’s really important, but you feel you don’t have space for it.
  2. You have time for it, but don’t really want to do it.
  3. Worst case scenario: it feels like an obligation and your calendar is packed with other more important things.
  4. Best case scenario: it’s really important to you and you have room in your calendar, but you still don’t feel like doing it. (Crazy, right?)

Whichever it is, stop trying. Determine the level of importance and ask yourself what you’re willing to commit to. Start small and follow through. Gradually build up the confidence in yourself, that you do what you say you’ll do. Even if the commitment is only to yourself.

P.S. If you’re seriously frustrated that you’re not following through on the things you know would help you drop the weight, let’s talk.

Weight Loss as a Happy Side Effect

It’s probably not what you want to hear. But once you believe it, and live it, you experience it. I promise.

You see, I lost 12 lbs. last year without trying.

At 51.

In menopause.


How? I decided what taking even better care of myself would look like, gradually implementing new behaviors and altering old patterns. It sounds simple. And it was. Seriously.

I’m not saying to never have a weight loss or “size” goal. But if that’s the only thing you’re going for, it’s hard to stay motivated. If weight loss is the only effect, and not a side effect, it’s too easy to quit the minute your friend brings over cookies as a thank you for loaning her your car last week.

Or, if despite all your efforts, the weight isn’t coming off fast enough, or not at all, thoughts like “I’m not losing weight, so I might as well have another glass of wine” start traipsing through your mind.

And you’re back to square one.

What if instead you focused on non-scale victories. I asked a group of clients recently about the effects they were noticing and they said things like increased confidence. An ability to sit with uncomfortable feelings and not get swallowed up by them. A health problem was no longer a problem.  A quieted mind. Feeling like herself again.

Try it. Go ahead and keep the number goal, but focus on all the things. Imagine, you start exercising consistently. After a few weeks you can keep up with your best friend on your walks together. Two flights of stairs up to your office that used to wind you are now effortless.

Or you keep hydrated with water and remove sugary snacks, noticing you’re no longer jittery and on-edge at work.  Your choices give you steady energy that don’t mess with your blood-sugar.

Make a detailed list of all the benefits. In that way you literally build the case for your desired behaviors, as though you’re an attorney arguing the benefits of healthy habits.

Here’s the thing: the more short-term benefits you identify, the easier it is to keep taking the actions that will produce the results you want. Including the side effect of weight loss.

I lost 12 lbs. without trying. At 51. In menopause. But, my focus wasn't on the scale. Weight loss was a side effect of my actual focus.

Back to the 12 lbs. I didn’t try to lose it, but if you’d asked me back then I’d have said “I wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds.” Had my focus been on the weight, I never would have lost the weight. Partly because I didn’t think I had it to lose (“this is just how my body wants to be”) and because it happened gradually. (I don’t weigh myself regularly, which I’ll talk about in my next post on “Are you using the scale wrong?”)

I focused on all the non-scale victories because they were truly what I wanted. I’d keep up with my habits with or without the weight loss. Because I’m stronger. Because all my blood work shows I’m in incredible health. Because I feel amazing. The 12 lbs. are a happy side effect.

Do you want to lose weight without trying? Let’s talk!

8 Quick & Easy Ways to Kickstart Feeling Better and Getting Fit.

Grab it for FREE now!