You know you how to lose weight – you need to eat fewer calories than your body requires and exercise more then you will see results. If like many people, you have difficulty losing weight and keeping it off, or have a great plan of action by are not seeing the results that you want despite your best intentions, what do you think could be getting in the way??
To change your weight, first you must change your mind. That may sound strange to you, but I can honestly say through my experience working with clients the most important factor that influences weight loss success is your attitude. Whether or not you believe it, what you think affects how you feel, an in turn influences the actions you take. For example, if you feel that you are too busy, work is crazy and life takes over, your mind set will be quite negative, and this will have an adverse effect on your weight loss goals. Low self-esteem and low opinions of yourself are detrimental to any weight loss goal.
The best way I can describe a positive mind set is “getting your head straight’ about food and weight. I am going to share with you three key strategies for taking control.
1. Understand What You Eat
When I ask people what they eat and what prompts them to eat many don’t really know what they are eating in terms of nutrients and macros, and do not eat because they are hunger but mainly eat because of some form of negative feeling such loneliness, boredom, sadness, stressed or anxious, and food will give them an energy lift and make them feel ‘better’ in themselves. The urge for food can be somewhat automatic, but you feel that you lack will power, however this can be learned or a conditioned response.
How To Do It
The first step is to identify when these urges strike. When you find yourself at the fridge when you aren’t hungry, ask yourself ‘why do I want to eat? What am I feeling?’
If you aren’t sure think back to what was happening before you felt the urge. Then ask yourself if there is another way you can feel better without food. Or you could chat to your urge to eat, telling it that you aren’t actually hungry and it’s merely a learned response. Whatever strategy you choose, the more often you break the ‘eating when you’re not hungry’ habit, the weaker its hold becomes.
2. Practise positive self-talk
When you look in the mirror do you talk to yourself more like A or B?
A ‘I’ll never be slim. I’ve only lost a measly half a stone in four weeks. And I broke my diet last night. I may as well just give up.’
B ‘This is going well, that half a stone has really made a difference. I enjoyed a treat last night, now I’m really looking forward to watching the next half a stone disappear.’
Both of these are examples of ‘self-talk’ – automatic thoughts, or statements all of us constantly make to ourselves - which influence how we feel and act. Self-talk may be positive and constructive (like your guardian angel) or negative and irrational (like having a destructive devil on your shoulder).
If you’ve had on-off battles with your weight over the years, it’s highly likely that the ‘devil’ Is there more often.
Self-talk that says ‘you’re hopeless’, can make you feel like a failure which, can then trigger you into the action of overeating and/or totally giving up trying to lose weight.
One of the most powerful things about self-talk is that the last thoughts we have are what stays in our mind. So, if we think ‘I still look fat’ or ‘I will never be slim’, these feelings stay with us.
How To Do It
The trick is to first listen out for self-talk and recognise its happening. Keep a food and feeling diary, even if it’s a ‘bad’ day. I find the first thing clients do when they are having ‘off” days is they don’t log their food – Why? Because they are disappointed with themselves and would rather not look at it and take ownership of it.
When you are having negative thoughts, try turning them into positive versions of the event. When we feel good we stay on track. Reshaping negative self-talk helps you to change your self-definition, from someone who can’t ‘lose weight’ or ‘achieve this or that’, to someone ‘who can’. And when you believe you can... you can.
3. Really Think About What You Want To Eat
This strategy is like your bakes on your car, it will also help you manage “non-hungry’ eating. Doing this and having a plan will help you regulate what you eat and when, and regularly remind yourself why you are making these changes to your eating, this will keep your motivation high. Like anything this requires practise – sometimes this will work other times it won’t – but overall it will help long term.
How To Do It
Basically, ask yourself if you really want to eat that food in front of you. This becomes the prompt for you to make a conscious choice, weighing up the pros and cons of making that choice, and feeling free to have it, reject it or just eat some. Remembering all the while that you can eat this food another time if you want to.
Step by step
These are just a few of the skills that can help you take control. Learning new habits and ways of thinking about things takes time. Think back to when you learned to ride a bike. No-one expected you to do it first time. You no doubt fell off a lot and needed picking up. Step by step, and with the right support, you took control of that bike and learned how to keep it on course. Just like you can with your weight.
·Motivations become clear and powerful.
·Your self-worth and belief in abilities grow.
· You realise that healthy meals, regular exercise will help, but they aren’t the answer in themselves.
· You accept responsibility for what you eat and how active you are and feel empowered to make the changes you choose to make.
· You take control by making real choices - knowing and accepting the consequences – and no longer feeling deprived.
· You move from someone who can’t lose weight long term to someone who can.
If you are looking for more structure with your diet and fitness routine, or you are struggling with motivation or fitting exercise into your hectic lifestyle then please feel free to contact us at Build a Body for a FREE consultation.