Here’s how to set yourself up for failure on a diet:
- Focus exclusively on the number on scales. Pin all your hopes on them and allow your day to be completely ruined if the number is not what you want
- Focus on everything you dislike about your current shape – that roll around your stomach, the loose skin under your arms, the shape of your thighs etc
- Tell yourself that you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT HAVE X Y Z (i.e. all the things you REALLY like)
- Label foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and only allow yourself to eat the good foods while your brain obsesses constantly about the bad foods you can’t have
- Always pick the healthiest choices at all times even when out for dinner, putting what’s best for weight loss ahead of what you really want every time
- Avoid social events in case you eat too much
- Reduce the amount you eat by so much that you’re constantly hungry and miserable
- Take on the diet yourself without any moral support
- Pick a diet that totally cuts out certain food groups, gets you drinking your calories from powder in a sachet or involves any kind of blitz or detox that you know you can’t sustain
- Ignore the benefits of exercise and try to do it exclusively via food
- Simply try to eat as little as possible and ignore the benefits of protein and eating enough
- Go from eating junk and doing nothing to eating Paleo and running 5 times a week
- Put losing weight and looking better ahead of your health, happiness and self esteem
Recognise any of these?
I put that list together fairly quickly based on things I’ve seen people do many times.
Based on that, here’s how to SUCCEED at weight loss:
- Recognise that the scales are just one tool you can use but will not tell you everything. They are a valid way to measure progress OVER TIME but weight can fluctuate daily based on many different factors. Weigh once a week and keep track over time, but don’t let it ruin or make your day. How your clothes fit, how healthy you are and how you feel generally are all more important factors. Some people will be better off not using the scales at all and just focusing on developing healthy eating habits.
- Focus on the bits you like about your body and celebrate any little improvements that you feel and see as you make progress.
- Tell yourself that there are no foods off limits, and you are able to have what you REALLY want when you REALLY want it. This will remove the feelings of deprivation and restriction that often tip people over the edge and lead to a slip up or an all out binge.
- Don’t label foods as good or bad – recognise that some foods will help you towards your goals and some won’t, but everything is fine in moderation. ‘The dose makes the poison’ so they say.
- If you’re out for a meal and you really want that burger or that pudding, have it. When you eat well 90% of the time you save a whole wodge of calories for times like this when you fancy indulging. Enjoy it, eat slowly and savour each mouthful, fully appreciating the fact you can eat your favourite foods when you want them.
- Have a plan for how you will eat before and during social events to minimise the impact on your progress, but never avoid social situations because you’re on a diet. If you feel you need to do this because you might over-eat, address the reasons why rather than just avoiding the temptation.
- Don’t let yourself be constantly hungry – your body needs nutrition in order to burn fat and keep hold of muscle tissue.
- Learn which foods are nutritious and high in protein and/or fibre, which will help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
- Enlist the help of family, friends or a coach to help you stay on track. You’ll benefit enormously from the support.
- If you can’t see yourself sticking with the requirements of your diet in six months time, you will not lose weight long term while doing it. You may lose a ton of weight at the start like they promised, but as soon as you go back to ‘eating normally’ you WILL put it all back on again (and probably a bit extra too).
- Aerobic exercises (walking, cycling, running, playing sports etc) will build your fitness, help keep your heart healthy and burn extra calories. Training with weights will build your strength, burn calories, increase your metabolism and ensure your body burns fat rather than a mixture of muscle and fat (making you look toned rather than flabby). Use both to achieve maximum results.
- Learn which foods are good sources of protein, carbohydrates and fat, which foods and meals are high in calories and which ones are low. Do a bit of research on the internet, check out the nutrition chart on the back of the packet or enter any foods you’re unsure of onto an app like myfitnesspal which will give you a breakdown of it’s nutrition. A basic level of understanding will help you make smart choices and avoid costly mistakes.
- Don’t try to do a ton of changes at once! Research has shown we only really have success when we focus on one thing at a time. Focus on ONE thing (i.e. walking 3 x per week / eating a protein-rich breakfast etc), make it a habit, and then move on to the next thing.
- The number one reason for losing weight should be for YOU – for your health, happiness and self esteem. This is different to doing it to fit in, to impress others or to feel more loved. Take control of your eating because you deserve to feel healthy, happy, confident, full of energy and empowered. Build your self esteem as you go – value and appreciate your body and yourself and celebrate every bit of progress you make along the way. If you learn to value your self, your body and your health, you’ll love the feeling of eating well and exercising while still enjoying the things you like, and you’ll never want to go back.