Weightloss strategies and tipsAugust 14, 2019 5:41 pm
Wanting to lose weight? It’s tough. You join millions and millions of others in Australia who are joining you at the same time! Let’s be honest, there are many factors you are up against.
- Health problems
- Environmental stresses
- Inability to exercise/unwillingness
- Mental health issues
These plus many more can factor in whether you are successful or not in losing weight.
One thing to point out is that there is losing weight – then there is losing weight permanently. A change to your life for good.
Starting out a weight loss journey for most usually starts in the same place. Feeling bad about yourself, not being able to fit into clothes, shamed by others – then a snap decision is made.
Diet. Cut out food. Exercise. Go full on in an exercise program. So for a period of time, calories are cut, exercise is undertaken and there is success. A change is made to your lifestyle and you begin to drop the weight and the dress/pants sizes. You feel fitter, you feel better (albeit probably cranky from your calorie cut regime). Then something happens. A circumstance occurs in your life to throw a huge spanner in your progress. Slowly, or quickly, the focus drops, you start to slip back to life-long habits. The weight comes back on, but comes back on PLUS some.
Back to square one!
Let’s talk about some strategies you can use in order to have success.
1. What is the why?
Clearly identify WHY you want to lose weight and write them down. We challenge you! These reasons can’t be JUST about looking good.
- Think of your health in its entirety. What would losing weight change? What would you be able to do now that you’d like to that you can’t right now?
- Think of your mental health.. what would losing that weight change? Would you be more content? Would it improve your outlook on life?
- Think of your self-esteem, what would losing that weight change?
- Think of your social life – again, what would losing that weight change? Is is love? Is it being able to go and do things that you don’t feel comfortable doing right now?
- Think about your age and how long you want to live
- Think about your overall quality of life. If you were to rate it out of 10 now, what would the score be?
Write them down! Write them somewhere you can constantly refer to. Share these reasons with someone, so they can remind you of the why you wanted to go on this journey.
If your ‘WHY’ is only skin deep, then your resolve will only be skin deep
Having deep and meaningful reasons means you may have to look deep inside to see what’s missing or could be improved in your life. The weight is a symptom. The fact you can’t lose it or keep it off could be a symptom. Recording these true reasons and reading through them on a DAILY basis to use them as a reminder when you are tempted to stray from your weight loss plans – will help you be more successful.
2. Have realistic expectations
If you are going to keep trying the traditional way (reduce food intake, increase exercise) you should expect that on a strict diet, you are going to lose at maximum 0.5kg-1kg per week. How long can you keep that up for? Will you do it in stages?
What is your goal? If you are 120kg, is 60kg a realistic goal if you are 170cm tall? What are you measuring yourself against?
Setting unattainable goals based on what marketers are telling you or going for that FAD diet where someone has lost 1000kg (sic) in 3 weeks is why most people’s bodies do not respond to diets anymore and why we struggle to maintain the weight if we do lose it. These fad diets destroy people mentally and physically. This constant yo-yo pattern and high expectations and belief in the promises means you are often bitterly disappointed in yourself.
Not in the diet – which is to blame – but in yourself. That is not healthy. If I gave you a car with a quarter of a tank of fuel and told you to drive from Sydney to Melbourne, I would be setting you up for failure. This is what most fad diets do – create unhealthy – unrealistic expectations and market it extremely well so we believe it.
Keeping mentally healthy not just when it comes to diets but with many things involves having realistic expectations.
3. Have a process goal
Most people set an outcome goal, or what is at the end. Have you ever driven on a long trip and only thought about the destination?
“I want to lose 30kg, that is my goal“
Instead, like the car trip, you normally would plan for the stops along the way. In anything you do, you should set goals that involve process. That is, what actions you are going to take to reach that desired outcome. A good example of a process driven goal is exercising 4 times a week for 30 minutes.
The process is the exercise and the time, the outcome will be fitness and weight loss! Very different things but linked.
Set SMART goals. A lot of people set ridiculous goals that end up having them burn out quickly or losing focus. Setting a SMART process goal means you are more likely to achieve and stay motivated.
If I was going to set the above goal in a SMART format, I would set it this way.
- This week, I am going to walk for 30 minutes, 4 times – if it is raining/cold/too hot, I will go to the gym instead and use the treadmill.
- The week after I will walk for 35 minutes, 4 times – if it is raining/cold/too hot I will go to the gym and use the treadmill.
4. Don’t set a plan that doesn’t fit your lifestyle
If you work 12 hours a day, a plan that involves your cooking or prepping specific meals may not work. If you do a strenuous job or one that has you on your feet all day – does attending a high impact aerobics or cross fit session set you up for long term success.
A diet by definition is a short-term change to your normal lifestyle – this includes exercise programs
The key, if you aren’t going to have surgery, is finding a weight loss plan that you can bloody well stick to! Just about every FAD diet is impossible to follow in the long term. Does using a product like a liquid diet give you short term success? Probably. But can you drink shakes the rest of your life? What happens when you stop? Can you see yourself having shakes for the rest of your life?
It could be as simple as mindfully reducing your portion sizes by one third for three months, then a further third for the next three months. This fits into everyone’s lifestyle! It could be as simple as changing the order in which you eat food. Separate out drinks from food, or eat protein first so you feel fuller quicker.
You should consider creating your OWN custom plan, do your own research and plan – rather than following a ‘one size fits all’ plan that is aimed at reducing calories, but will set you up for the YO-YO cycle of you putting the weight back on.
5. Keep track
Monitoring in a journal or app is not to display your achievements on Social Media (even though this can be a good motivator), it is for you to keep YOU honest and accountable.
The day that you actually think you did ok, if you were to track it in an app like MyFitnessPal, you may be shocked to realise how you actually did. That cupcake or 3rd latte that you may think was ok – may have just pushed you over your goal.
On the flip side, tracking your exercise means your deficit of calories will be increased and seeing and trying to beat your records can be hugely motivating.
Take photos! Take progress photos and use them as motivators. When you’ve reached your next goal, snap! Compare and see the changes! Get motivated by it.
Keep track of EVERYTHING. Every morsel, every bite, every step. This may give you the insight you need to change.
6. Celebrate your achievements
Losing weight is hard, bloody hard. Celebrating your wins keeps you motivated. But it’s the HOW you celebrate that is important.
A lot of people will celebrate with a ‘cheat day’ involving take-away or alcohol or with a Sunday sleep in till lunch rather than going for the walk they do every other day, breaking their routine. We would encourage you to do SOMETHING celebratory that you enjoy, rather than do something you USED to enjoy.
- Go out on a fun night with friends or family to a place that doesn’t involve food
- Go to a spa
- Get a massage
- Get a manicure or go to a barber for the full treatment
- Buy some new clothes
- Go to the movies or a show
Set progress markers that create a substantial reward goal. eg. When I lose 10cm off my waist, I am buying XYZ shoes. Print a picture of those shoes and DON’T be tempted to buy them before you have reached that goal. The absolute overarching message here is the reward should be something that aligns with your goals, not sets those goals back.
7. Get your own social network for support
We don’t mean Facebook or Instagram here! A lot of people keep their weight loss aspirations a secret. Why? Sometimes it’s a fear of failure and having to explain what’s happened, sometimes it’s wanting to surprise people with the results.
Keeping your aspiration a secret could be thwarting your results.
Telling your close family and friends about your weight loss goals can mean you have a network of support for your journey. Show them your plan. Get their input. Get their buy-in about the WHY you want to get healthy. Tell them the things you are missing out on in life whether its travel, love, money, freedom.
Finding someone else who has the same goals could also mean you have a buddy to workout together, hold each other accountable and of course provide encouragement on those days you are feeling low.
8. Make a commitment and keep it!
There are many studies that show that when someone makes a public commitment, they are more likely to follow through with the goals.
Similar to tip 7, when you tell others about your weight loss goals, it will hold you accountable. Those cool mornings where it’s nicer to lay tucked up in bed – having that public declaration in the back of your mind will mean you are more likely to drag yourself out of bed to keep your promise.
If you are going to buy a gym membership, pay a year in advance. If you pay week to week or casual, you are more likely to make a casual commitment to gym and your results. If you are signing up to a food delivery service, pay 3-6 months ahead! It might be a sacrifice you may have to make in other areas of your life to make this happen, but gosh. It’s a sacrifice worth making!
If you have a friendly social group, broadcast your goals either by messages to individuals or on your wall – having that boost of positive reinforcement will serve as motivation.
9. Be positive, think positive, talk positive
If you go into your weight loss journey with a ‘hopefully this works’, then you are probably setting yourself up for failure. There are so many people who talk about being positive, sometimes this invokes a little bit of an eye roll because understanding HOW to be more positive is just as important as the positivity.
‘Change talk‘ is a method that uses types of language that creates a platform for behavioural change.
Change talk is a pathway to actual change – starting with the mind
- “I wish I could….”
- “I hope I can…..”
- “I’ll give this a shot….”
Change talk would be:
- “I am going to….”
- “I can do this…..”
- “I want to weigh less and be healthy….”
If you just fantasize about changing your life, it will remain a fantasy. If you speak the change, the mind locks onto those positive messages and the body will follow. This is not pseudoscience.
Our imaginations are powerful, so rather than fantasize about you losing weight, spend a few minutes mentally creating an image of you in your new life.
What would you be doing right now if you were at your goal weight? This mental contrasting (or comparing) is super motivating and leads to action.
10. Plan for setbacks and challenges
One of the most common setbacks in weight loss journeys in injury. The second most common is breaking the diet due to circumstances in life such as a work trip, Christmas or other social event.
In your life there will always be Christmas, birthdays, parties or social events to attend, there will be stressors in your life, you will also probably have injuries whether major or minor. If you PLAN for these events, you will be more likely to recover from the setback than if you didn’t plan.
Poor planning leads to poor performance!
Sit down and write down all the things that have come up in the past that have set you back. What could you have done to offset or do things differently?
What is your personal SWOT? (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
- A strength could be that you are good at riding a bike.
- A weakness could be that you have a knee injury
- The opportunity could be that you use a recumbent cycle rather than a road bike to build-up strength
- The threat could be if you have an injury, it could set back your weight loss goals.
Once you understand the SWOT, you can put in place actions to leverage your strengths, balance the weaknesses, utislise the opportunity and manage the threats.
We each have hundreds of combinations in this type of SWOT analysis. If we are honest with ourselves and plan, it will lead to a more positive mindset when these challenges occur, rather than ‘here we go again’ and abandoning your goals.
11. Don’t aim for perfect, be ok with good enough!
A lot of people go into weight loss with an ‘ALL OR NOTHING’ approach.
That is; “If I don’t lose 10kg in the first month, I’m failing“
Going back to number two tip about setting realistic goals and also understanding the power of smart goals.
You don’t have to be perfect to lose weight or change your life
If you set realistic goals with the understanding you are an imperfect human means you will be more likely to achieve your goals – because you’ve set them realistically.
Avoid beating yourself up if you make a mistake! If you had pizza for lunch, aim to have a healthy dinner. It’s that simple.
If you have self-defeating thoughts, your motivation will diminish and you will end up ‘falling off the wagon’.
Bottom line, if you are aiming for perfection, you are setting yourself up for disappointment, because no one is perfect. Allowing mistakes and learning from them is what makes humans so incredible.
12. Learn to love and appreciate your body
If you have a poor self-image, it will affect your outlook on just about everything. Studies have shown that people who hate/dislike their bodies are less likely to lose weight.
Sounds counter-intuitive right? It’s not. The way our emotions play havoc with the chemicals that make up our bodies functions are complicated.
Your body is incredible, it just may not look and feel the way you want it to right now. If you take serious steps to improve your body image, it will help you lose more weight and maintain that weight loss. What is body image exactly?
Body image is a person’s perception of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings, positive, negative or both, which result from that perception
This is all about perception. What you see, probably others cannot. If you work to improve your body image now means you are likely to be more successful in the long term. People who have a better self-image are more likely to pick a diet they can actually sustain, try new activities and take more positive steps to reach their goals.
What are some practical things you can do to improve your body image?
- Appreciate what your body CAN do, not what it CAN’T
- Focus on what you have the power to change
- Treat yourself as you do others (unless that is super negative)
- Do something for your body, give it a massage, or a manicure or a new hairstyle
- Surround yourself with POSITIVE people
- Stop comparing yourself to unrealistic ‘others’ such as models or actors/actresses
- Wear clothes you LOVE that fit you well now
- Look in the mirror and say things you like about yourself OUT LOUD – do this daily!
13. Find an exercise you can do and enjoy
A lot of people launch into unrealistic exercises that aren’t sustainable given the level of fitness or simply the size or shape of your body. Also, a lot of exercises just aren’t fun and feel like torture!
Physical activity has many benefits, mentally and physically. The BEST exercise you can do is one you enjoy and want to keep doing.
To start with, figure out where you would prefer to exercise. Indoor? Outdoor? At home? At the beach? Would you rather exercise at a gym or in the comfort and privacy of your own home?
Next, figure out if you prefer to work alone, or in a group or with a buddy. Group classes are very popular and they tend to keep people motivated. But if you don’t enjoy groups or feel insecure, working out on your own is just as good. You just need to find that source of motivation that will keep you doing it!
Finally, listen to music when you work out. Stick your speakers on full volume, plug in some earphones and GO FOR IT! Music is an ultimate motivator.
I love rock ballads – some people love rap, country or jazz. Whatever your favourite music is, create a playlist that will inspire and motivate you! If you do this, you will find you will work out for longer and feel mentally and emotionally amazing! (even if you are physically exhausted!)
14. Find a role model
We’re not talking about hanging a picture of a supermodel on your fridge. This will NOT motivate you over time. You need to pick the right kind of role model to keep yourself motivated.
Maybe it’s a friend or family member who has lost weight. Maybe you can find a blog or story of someone who was JUST LIKE YOU who lost weight without things you can’t afford or foods you can’t eat.
Role models will serve to motivate and inspire us – just think – if you are successful, your story could be the thing that inspires hundreds of other people just like you.
15. Get a dog!
Not always practical, but a dog can be the PERFECT weight loss companion. Studies show that owning a dog can help you lose weight.
Dogs can increase your physical activity. A recent study showed that dog owners walked an average of 300 minutes per week, while people who did not own dogs walked an average of 168 minutes per week.
Secondly, dogs are just awesome. Pooches are not called ‘mans best friend’ for nothing. They can be that social support you need as they ALWAYS want to go for a walk and are happy to be around you, no matter what you think of yourself!
Dog ownership has also been proven to improve overall health and well-being. Choosing the right dog for your life and life-style will be important as dog ownership is a LIFE LONG commitment.
16. Get professional help
If you had a broken arm, you would go to the hospital, if you are ill, you see your doctor. If you are overweight, talking to your GP or a dietitian or an exercise physiologist or even a psychologist could be the right step for you.
Obesity is an epidemic that has serious long term related health effects.
If you are still struggling to get motivated, find a psychologist or dietitian who is trained in motivational interviewing – this has been proven to help people achieve their goals!
Remember that gastric surgery has helped tens of thousands of Australians lose weight and change their lives.
Our job is to make this affordable, accessible and as easy as possible.
If you would like to know more about joining the New Life losers bench, please request a quote today.
This article contains the opinion of the writer and does not constitute advice.