We’re exposed to weight loss quick fixes every day. The fitness industry feeds us a constant diet of plans and programs that promise fabulous results and fail to deliver. If any of them really worked, would Australia be in the grip of an obesity epidemic, and would 96% of people who lose weight regain it all – and more – within two years?
If you’re a busy mum looking to lose weight and improve your health, chances are you might already have tried all kinds of boring diets and mind-numbing exercise routines that have wasted your time, money, and energy. So what really works? The good news is that it doesn’t involve dieting! Lasting weight loss is about finding what works for you on a practical, physical, and psychological level, and discovering what really motivates you to lose weight. Remember: the only expert in your life is YOU! To get you started, here are just a few simple ways to weight loss that actually work (my full 50 top tips are available as an online email coaching course here):
1. Don’t over-regulate
Avoid the “what the hell” effect – we’ve all been there, when suddenly our days and weeks of diet deprivation get the better of us, and we eat a whole packet of Tim Tams in one go.
Human beings like the freedom to make their own decisions, so as soon as this is taken away from us (when we start a diet and are told to eat this and avoid that), we only put up for it for so long before we think, “That’s it – I’m done. I’m sick of that controlling mechanism trying to control me – I’ll show you I can’t be controlled”. And there go the Tim Tams…
Psychologists call this counter-regulation. The best way to avoid it is to not over-regulate in the first place.
2. Don’t reward yourself
The reward is the weight loss! To suggest that you need some other kind of reward devalues the weight loss in itself – and that’s the best reward of all.
Many studies now show that extrinsic rewards actually demotivate us. They decrease our level of performance and foster short-term thinking and quick-fix results – none of which are good for long term weight loss.
3. Recognising that will power is a muscle too
Recent studies show that willpower is like a muscle – it can be exercised and strengthened over time.
Push your willpower too hard and too fast (as you might do if you start an “all or nothing” weight loss plan or program) and you’ll soon confront the equivalent of a pulled muscle – one that you won’t be able to use until it heals.
4. Planning and preparation
These are vital for when your willpower wanes – and they don’t just involve having healthy meals and snacks handy. Your planning and preparation needs to be psychological, too.
This involves developing your emotional eating kit. If you’ve been an emotional eater for years, you’re not suddenly going to be able to suddenly stop yourself by going for a walk instead of reaching for that giant block of chocolate. It takes time to change your habits.
I was an emotional eater for the first 30 years of my life, and I’ve been an emotional eater for the last ten as well. But the way I’ve emotionally eaten in the last ten years, when I’ve been a healthy weight, has been very different from the way that I did it for the first 30, when I was overweight. Now, I know that I can emotionally eat in a controlled way – if I’m feeling down and want some chocolate, I’ll have a few squares, not the whole block.
We all know the usual benefits of being fit and healthy – you can reduce your risk of chronic disease, have more energy, sleep better, and not die young – that last one’s kind of important! But unless your doctor says you’re going to be dead in a month, those reasons aren’t really enough to motivate most people to put down their chips and get up off the couch.
80% of our decisions are emotional, not rational, so we need to tap into those emotional drivers behind our behaviour – and the more ways we can find to do this, the better. My latest online weight loss coaching course, 50 Ways to Weight Loss That Actually Work, has just that – 50 ways to help you become one of “those people” who never have to worry about their weight again!
By Sally Symonds, weight loss coach and author of 50 Steps to Lose 50kg…And Keep It Off, 50+ Recipes to Lose 50+kg…And Keep It Off, and 50 Ways to Weight-Loss Motivation. Visit www.sallysymonds.com.au for further information about Sally’s range of products and services, or follow Sally on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sally.symonds.