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 on.
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.
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.
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 the few drinks and a take away over the weekend because you believe you deserve it after a long week at work.
Avoiding pain is also not helpful, as that will 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 might 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. 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 sabotaging thoughts start to kick in. 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 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, 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. It is 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.
I had an incident today, which prompted me to write this article. I work with a trainer, Kevin Nolan, God help him, he has to put up with me. He helps me with my exercise programme, as I find without a trainer, I can make a million excuses why I shouldn’t exercise, and I would never work out at the same level as I do with him.
Exercising is not necessary at the beginning of your weight loss journey, but it becomes very important after losing a good bit of weight as it helps you to keep it off. On the days I don’t train in the gym, Kevin recommends to get 30 minutes walking in. As I was thinking about going for my walk, sabotaging thoughts started to come into my head: “It’s too cold out…I don’t like the wind….it won’t matter that I didn’t walk today…no one will know…”
It would have been so easy to just not go, but I am now able to answer back to those thoughts with “I know doing the walk will make me feel better…..help me with weight loss….I’ll be so glad afterward…and I can tell my trainer I did the walk” – and that got me out walking in the end. It takes time and practice to get the right mindset. Don’t wait until January, start now with just one talk back a day to your sabotaging thoughts.
To sum it up – You know what to eat and what not to eat. There is no magic bullet and there is no best time to make changes to your eating habits. Rather work on your mind one small bit at a time, and the rest will follow.
1) Embrace pain and avoid pleasure regarding food and exercise.
2) Answer back to your thoughts. Retrain your brain to recognize those sabotaging thoughts.
3) Get a “diet buddy”, weight loss coach or trainer who you can be answerable to.
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.