How to enjoy weight loss more.
Recently, my Instagram feed flashed up a question that halted me mid-scroll.
It was this:
What needs to change so that I look forward to doing what needs to be done?
The question was from Elizabeth Benton – a brilliant person to follow for inspiration on improving your mindset, and author of the fantastic book Chasing Cupcakes (find it on my store page here).
It’s so important to feel good about the process of losing weight.
If you feel good about what you’re doing, you’ll want to keep doing it.
And if you don’t, you wont.
If you don’t feel good about the actions required to lose weight, you’ll either avoid doing them altogether, or you’ll do them in a negative mindset and then find yourself eating to feel better.
So often our thoughts around weight loss bring us down and don’t help.
- It’s so hard
- Other people can eat that, I should be able to too
- Why can’t I get this?
- It takes so long!
- I have to miss out on what I want
- I always mess up
- I’ll never lose weight
When you have those kind of thoughts, you’re likely to feel frustrated, restricted, defeated.
Your brain might tell you that it’s not fair. It’s likely you’ll lack hope and belief.
And when you feel that way, your brain associates losing weight with pain.
Not physical pain, but the emotional pain of feeling down about your weight, not enjoying the process of trying to lose it, and then beating yourself up whenever you fall off track.
To the brain, all pain is the same. It wants to avoid it at all costs.
There’s no fun in the process, you don’t look forward to doing it, and you never seem to succeed anyway, so why keep trying?
That’s what your brain will tell you.
Then it will encourage you to eat those biscuits, order that pizza, have another glass of wine (and then another).
Our actions follow our thoughts.
Change the way you think about the process, and your entire experience of the process can change.
If you do this, you are infinitely more likely to keep going long enough to achieve the results you dream of.
Weight loss is simple, but its not easy
To lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit – taking in less calories than your body burns on a regular basis.
Many people see quick results on a diet for this reason.
The diet imposes rules that stop you eating carbohydrates, sugar, processed foods, high fat foods, or eating outside of an 8 hour window. It might get you counting points, syns, or drinking a packaged product rather than eating an actual meal. Any of these rules can lead to you reducing your calorie intake, sometimes dramatically.
The problem is that this way of losing weight is usually completely unsustainable.
You can follow it for a short time, but it’s not a lot of fun. And at some point, you want to live a normal life again.
You ‘break the rules’, to enjoy a meal with your family, or to unwind after a tough day. And before you know it, you’re back at square one.
In general, diets give you a plan that cuts your calories, while offering no tools, information or guidance on how to maintain the weight loss you achieve.
And that suits diet companies very well. Once you stop the diet and regain the weight, you’ll blame yourself and become their repeat customer.
When weight loss is achieved in the way that lasts – through building habits and sustainable lifestyle changes – it takes time.
The pounds we want to lose have usually been gained over a number of years, sometimes decades.
They tend to be a result of the habits we’ve developed, and currently have.
Old habits take time to change, and new helpful habits take time to build.
That’s just how it works.
Given this, we may as well accept that it’s the case, be patient with ourselves, and find ways to enjoy the process.
How to enjoy weight loss more
So how do you do that? Focus on:
Encouraging yourself, rather than criticising or berating yourself. How can you be kind to yourself today?
Finding little wins. Things you did well and can be proud of, no matter how small they seem. When you do this, your brain gets a little hit of dopamine and will start looking for more wins you can create.
When you slip up, looking for what you can learn. Mistakes are part of the process – they’re there to teach you something. We enjoy the process so much more when we learn and grow, rather than feel guilty and beat ourselves up.
How could your perspective be different?
Often there are incredible benefits to be gained from changing the way we look at things.
Let’s take exercise as an example.
These are some common ways we might think about it:
- it’s hard work
- exercise is a chore – it’s not fun
- it’s something I need to fit in to an already busy day
- I have to do it to lose weight
But here’s a different perspective:
Exercise is something we GET to do.
We are so lucky to have bodies that can move in so many ways, learn new skills, and adapt to become fitter and stronger.
The benefits of exercise are incredible – to our heart health, brain health, mental health, general health, and likelihood of living a long active live with people we love.
It can be fun.
I firmly believe everyone can find some form of moving their body that they enjoy.
And it can be incredibly rewarding to see your body gain fitness, strength and new skills over time.
How to enjoy healthy foods more
Recently I was on a coaching call with a client whose been going through a stressful time at work.
She’d been working long hours, and turning to takeaways a few times a week. Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t helping with her goals around health and weight loss.
During our chat, it became clear that my client’s perception of takeaways was currently: they’re easy, comforting, taste great, save time cooking, and mean I don’t have to wash up.
Meanwhile, her perception of cooking a quick healthy meal was: it causes me stress because it takes time to cook, it’s not as satisfying, and it means I have to wash up.
We could agree that both of these perspectives are very valid.
But there is a whole other side to the conversation that’s not being heard (or thought by my client).
Two more equally valid perspectives could be:
Takeaways cost me more money. They taste good to start with, but I never feel great after. They often make me feel bloated and sluggish the next day. In this way, they cost me time and add to my stress. They’re low in nutrition, high in calories, and, if I have them more than every now and again, take me further away from my goals.
Healthy meals can actually be quick and easy to do, and taste great. There are some really easy options that I enjoy eating. It feels so good to sit down to a healthy meal, knowing I’m taking care of myself. They don’t have to create lots of washing up – so many meals can be done in one pan, on a tray in the oven, or in the slow cooker. A plate of food with colour from different vegetables, protein and whole foods – that gives my body all the nutrients it needs for health, energy, and to thrive. These meals move me towards my goals.
These are some batch-cooked one-pot meals from my client Sharon.
There is nothing wrong with a takeaway now and again. In moderation, you can absolutely achieve your goals while still eating them.
But if you’re struggling to make consistent healthy choices, notice where your focus is.
What’s a different perspective that could serve you better?
How to stop feeling restricted
We know when it comes to weight loss that we need to make healthy choices the majority of the time. For the process to be enjoyable and sustainable, we also need to factor in the less healthy foods that we love.
But even then, to be successful, there are going to have to be times when you say ‘no’ when you’d really like to say ‘yes’.
Saying no to a food or drink that you want can feel like restriction. But it could also feel great, depending on the perspective you choose.
By saying no, you get to feel proud – knowing you can have that food or drink when you want, and you’re choosing not to this time.
You’re keeping a promise to yourself. You’re looking after your body, and taking action towards your goals.
That’s a pretty rewarding feeling when you focus on it.
You’re not restricted, you’re choosing this because it will make your future self feel so great.
And you can feel great about that now.
It all comes down to your perspective.
To sum up: How to enjoy weight loss more
We all want to be healthy and the best version of ourselves.
Enjoy the things that get you there.
Choose mostly healthy foods that nourish your body and make you feel at your best.
Factor in the best of the less healthy foods you love, and savour every delicious bite. 100% guilt-free.
And, if at any point you find you’re not enjoying the process, ask yourself this:
What needs to change so that I look forward to doing what needs to be done?
P.S. I have a podcast where I talk a lot about mindset, weight loss, and enjoying the process.
You can find it on all podcast platforms by searching ‘Think Healthy With Hayley’, and it’s on Spotify here.
And if you’re interested in getting the help and support you need to help you lose weight, keep it off, and enjoy the process (so that you can keep the results), find out more about coaching here: