This may not be the right time of the year to talk about weight loss. But when is the right time??
Over the next month or so it is very easy to let go of all your hard work and efforts that you put in over the year to lose weight and get fit.
You might think “I’ll enjoy myself now and I’ll get back on it in January”. But that might not be as easy as you might think. After all, by February, most New Year’s resolutions have been given up.
So, why is it so hard to lose weight and get fit? After all, you know what you have to do. You know exactly what you need to eat more off and less off, but you keep looking for the “magic bullet”. Maybe this diet or that diet will get me the weight loss I so much want.
So first of all, stop looking for the magic bullet. It doesn’t exist. I know many of you find it impossible to stick to any plan for long enough to see real and permanent results. You might be beating yourself up and think you will never reach your weight loss/fitness goals, it’s just too hard. It is time to start focusing on your mind and get the mindset that will let you stick to your chosen diet plan and not fall off at the first hurdle.
Many people think “I start my diet today”, but what this implies is that there will be a day that you will stop again. Because whatever “starts” will “stop” at some point. Making changes to your eating habits is a continous process, which is best done in small steps. You can start making changes any time, you don’t have to wait till January or after your birthday or after your holidays. Once you make small changes, they will become habits and those habits will lead to a healthy weight. Small steps will be easy to do and easy to stick to.
Many people who have tried many times to lose weight find this difficult to accept, because “diet programmes’ and “slimming clubs” all prescribe a certain “diet” or “points” or “syns” to follow. Most people are very enthusiastic on the first day and the first couple of weeks, but then it just becomes too hard, because you are feeling deprived.
Making small changes at a time is a totally different approach, but this approach is based on evicence. But why is it so hard to stick to a “plan” or “diet”?
There are a number of reasons why it is so hard to stick to a weight loss plan. First of all, humans are biologically programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. That makes sense and has helped the species to survive for thousands of years.
However, seeking pleasure and avoiding pain is exactly what you have to overcome if you want to lose weight and keep it off. Seeking pleasure is eating that cake or chocolate which releases dopamine and gives you pleasure. Or you have a few drinks and a takeaway over the weekend because you believe you deserve it after a long week at work.
There is nothing wrong with having a Takeaway or a few drinks, but if you do it every weekend, you may not get the results you want. So it is important to find the balance between not depriving yourself and eating healthy.
Avoiding pain may stop you from exercising. You don’t want to go out for a walk because it is cold outside, or you don’t want to go to the gym because you don’t want to be sore the next day.
So seeking pleasure and avoiding pain is one reason why it is so hard to stick to a weight loss plan. Another reason is that our brain is wired to believe any change in behaviours, and weight loss represents danger to the species and therefore needs to be avoided at all cost.
When your body detects danger, your brain starts to send signals. This is often demonstrated after you have been on a diet for a few weeks and you have lost some weight. That’s when the brain sends sabotaging thoughts like “I am stressed I need chocolate”, “I had a hard day in work, I’ll order a take away” or “I have lost weight and it’s ok to have ….”. You give in to those thoughts lead to actions, and before you know it you are off your plan and start to gain all or most of the weight back.
The answer is to turn the “Avoiding pain and seeking pleasure” on its head. Don’t be afraid of pain, you know it is only short term and the benefits will outweigh the pain. Seek pleasure in other activities you enjoy, not in food and drink.
Understand that your thoughts are sabotaging your efforts to help the human species survive. Consciously change those thoughts, and train yourself to answer back to those sabotaging thoughts.
I know it is not that easy, I have to deal with all of the above on a daily basis, but as you practice it does get easier and becomes automatic. you might find it easier if you have a “diet buddy”, a friend, a weight loss coach or a trainer who you are accountable to, as doing it all by yourself can be very hard.
1) Embrace pain and avoid pleasure regarding food and exercise. It is short-lived and will give you long term results.
2) Answer back to your thoughts. Retrain your brain to recognize those sabotaging thoughts.
3) Get a “diet buddy” or a weight loss coach who you can be answerable to.
4) Set yourself small action goals that are easily achieved.
Those are just some simple steps you can take that will help you stick with your chosen diet plan and ensure you don’t give up your best intentions after a few weeks.
Contact: Susi Lodola