Losing weight is hard, but it gets harder the closer we get to our final goal, and it's not always for the reasons we might think.
At the beginning of the journey, we are focused, open-minded and even excited at the prospect of a new person/body emerging. This, in turn, means that our focus on the little things is much more prevalent in those early weeks, which is why we often have a functional weight loss. Yes, some of those initial pounds will be excess fluid, but it’s also because we are focused, motivated and generally feeling right about the whole thing.
As time goes by the euphoria of losing weight dwindles, and we quickly settle into a pattern of believing that we are good, or at least better than we were in our old life. We convince ourselves that the reason the weight isn't coming off as it did at the beginning is that the eating plan we are following just doesn't work anymore. We even create reasons rather than simply acknowledge that we are just not following the rules as we once did. We have lost the edge on those little things – lots of little things make up a big thing, and that hinders our success.
All is not lost, and most importantly, you are NOT a failure, and you should not be so hard on yourself, but you should take action.
We need to understand a few things and take decisive action that is sustainable. Remember that our efforts must be right for us, so everyone will do it slightly differently and that is perfectly fine.
Every day, we consume food that gets transformed into energy.
This food must either:
If we are overweight, we are consuming too much ‘energy’ every day. Our body doesn’t need all of it, so too much is being stored as fat consistently.
So if weight loss is our goal, we must consume fewer calories than we burn consistently. However, we need to ensure we are eating the right type of foods. Merely cutting back and exercising more is not going to give you the desired result. If we get the right kinds of foods for our body and the correct form of exercise then by doing so, our body has no choice but to dip into that "rainy day bank account" of fat stores to still get all of its physical tasks done each day.
Remember, while we need to eat less, it also has to be sustainable and enjoyable; otherwise, we'll never stick with it. Temporary changes produce temporary results. We want permanent results!
It’s easy to say just “eat less”, but that doesn’t factor in the biological, physiological, and/or emotional challenges we face every day:
If we understand and accept that we overeat without realising it, then the only path forward is to attack the problem. To do this we must look at it differently by looking at it from a different perspective – simply put our end goal may need tweaking and we need to look at it as a way of life and not just a diet.
Having the right end goal/reason for doing this is vital. It's great that we might have a pair of jeans to get into or a wedding to go to, but after that, what then? Making it all about you and the more significant wellbeing benefits means it will be easier to adopt a healthier way of life rather than ‘just on a diet’.
We should aim for sustainable weight loss and weight maintenance. And our final goal should be a healthy weight that you can maintain without feeling miserable. Looking in the mirror and being happy with what you see, and knowing that the weight stays off is what it’s all about. Most importantly, it must become our “normal” behaviour that allows us to enjoy life but also achieves our goals. Not temporary changes, but small permanent adjustments that adjust over time as we start to see results and build momentum into adopting a healthier way of life.
Just as those pounds slowly crept on, losing weight the right way takes time. Losing a pound or two a week is perfectly fine and actually helps to prepare us for the tough job of maintaining our weight when we to get to your goal. You may have a week of staying the same, but losing three pounds the following week, then a few weeks of a pound and so on. There is no exact science to what you should lose each week, we are all different, so don’t be disheartened if your friend lost 3lbs and you have stayed the same – it’s OK! Patience is key!
When we struggle, we get caught in the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ trap, and this simply does not help emotionally/mentally/physically long term. Any diet plan will serve its purpose, but only if you stick to it. Simply swapping does not solve the long-term problem.
Accepting that there is no miracle cream, weird tea bag or superfood that will zap that excess weight away while you sleep is a big step forward. Only you can decide if you make it work or not.
We need to move our food choices to foods that give us more "bang for our buck" – healthy, filling, nutritious meals that fill us up and makes us less likely to overeat some of the unhealthy calorie-dense foods.
These foods allow us to feel full, but still, keep us on track for balance throughout the day:
These are foods that take up a lot of space in our stomach and make us feel full.
If you want to really see how this works in practice – place a 200-calorie piece of cheese or chocolate on a plate and then weigh out 200 calories of broccoli or cauliflower and place it next to it – you will be astounded!
There is absolutely no reason to feel hungry when eating healthier if we make better choices. So if you can start to make even small changes, substituting nutrient-dense, calorically-light foods like protein, fruit, and veggies, for junk food – even occasionally, it’s going to shift the energy balance back in the right direction. If we do that consistently, we will start to pull from those fat stores.
We need to exercise for all sorts of reasons, for both mental and physical health. No matter what your physical abilities are, there is an exercise out there that you can do, you just have to do a little bit of positive research.
Make sure you choose activities, that you love and include strength exercises as these will help build and tone your muscles, make your body stronger and also help you to burn energy when you are asleep!
To be healthy and lose weight, we must exercise and have a balanced food intake – one element alone won't provide excellent long-term results.
Stop looking for greener grass/quick fixes – once we come to terms with this, the pressure is significantly reduced – we just waste mental energy on the wrong thing, so stop doing it.
Be deliberate in your decisions. Every mouthful counts. Every decision counts. So make ONE different decision as a result of you being more aware of what you put in your body.
You know what foods should be daily staples, and what foods should be occasional treats. It all counts. So make one decision differently to prove to yourself that you can change.
Remind yourself of the serving size of one food that you eat regularly. For example, pasta, - do you measure, or weigh every time you cook it?
You might be surprised to find out:
Outside of actual medical complications, in 99% of cases, people underestimate how much they are eating by 30-50% daily. So even when they are "eating too little," they are often eating significantly more than they realise, and this leads to stalled weight loss and confusion/anger.
Spend one week, really tracking and recording your food intake and portion sizes. Weigh stuff and get those portion sizes under control.
Get inspired – look for new foods, adapt recipes and aim to eat one new meal each week.
The key to success is to find a way to be healthy without feeling deprived, have a goal that is right for you and be happy.
And remember, at Healthier for life we are nore than just about losing weight, our coaches will help you along every step of your journey.