Are you in a place where you’ve fallen off the diet wagon…again! ARRGH so frustrating.
Perhaps you were getting so close to your goal, but then you fell off the wagon?
Or maybe you keep saying you’ll get started and you just can’t get momentum? If so read my blog ‘i’ll start on monday’
You were doing so well, and then here you are again. You know exactly how you should be eating, and looking after yourself. You have the knowledge and know-how.
The problem is you’re not sticking to it and you’re feeling frustrated. You’ve been here before.
Frustration comes as a result of doing the same thing over and over yet getting the same disappointing result. Otherwise known as banging your head against a brick wall.
The thing is, it’s not that you CAN’T lose weight (unless you have a very specific medical condition). You absolutely can lose weight. In fact, you’ve probably done it repeatedly and successfully over the course of your life.
The real problem is that you can’t seem to stick with the good habits that got you there. This is an entirely different problem. Weight loss isn’t the issue, but weight loss is what you’re focussed on.
It isn’t an issue if weight loss. It’s an issue around creating results that last. This is a very different kettle of fish.
So how DO you jump off the dieting merrygoround you’ve been on for years, and achieve true and lasting weight loss?
They’re called Bad Habits, because they’re tough to break
Now I will be the first to admit I am not 100% clean, I am not ripped within an inch of my life and I totally get stressed, overwhelmed, anxious and often feel not good enough sometimes. Like you, I’m a mum, and have mum / wife / women / work problems all the time.
However, I have got to a point of sustaining my results, and being happy with how I look (most days) ….
This is a huge mental shift from being unhappy with my body since the age of 10 years old, when I saw my first ‘Seventeen’ magazine, and was frustrated that my body didn’t match the women in the glossies. This obsession continued throughout my adult life. I never felt good enough.
So how did I change?
I am a very curious person, and am a total ‘scanner’. I like to learn new things. LOTS of new things. ALL the time. It’s a virtue and sometimes a curse.
This has led me to train in all kinds of professions, have loads of varied jobs, and I’ve read thousands of books (I usually have at least 5 books on the go!). However they all have something in common…
I’m fascinated by the human brain, psychology, how it shapes our behaviour and what it takes to grow / move forward / improve your life.
Thus far Ive used this in my career as a Personal Stylist, Personal Trainer and as a Leader in our family technology business.
This curiosity about my brain and behaviour and why I kept self sabotaging when it came to food after I had children, led to years of research and soul searching.
I started to REALLY figure out WHY I was eating the way I did when I knew what I should be doing! Turned out I discovered some pretty interesting things about myself that have helped me maintain a steady weight for nearly 2 years now… and I STILL eat chocolate, drink beer and have a takeaway on a Friday night.
Why You Eat.
Often the answer to this is ‘because I’m really hungry’ or because ‘I like food too much.’ We both know this is not why we fall off the wagon though.
I LOVE food. My husband often comments I am usually at my most happy, when I am eating something delicious at a restaurant. It’s just true bliss not to have to cook and I savour every mouthful.
However there can be times this love of food can go to a dark place…
Food as Comfort, or When I’m Craving Connection
Everyone knows the term comfort eating, which refers to eating when we have had a bit of a rubbish day. We all do this, or open a bottle of wine because we ‘can’t be bothered’ or have ‘had enough’. I think this is human – we all sometimes have to relinquish control and just say ‘f**k it.’ It’s our right to be human.
When we eat, in that exact moment, the chemical reactions that take place in our body make us feel comforted, in control and certain and secure. We feel safe. Until afterwards, and then we feel sick with ourselves.
However I’ve noticed that I do this when I want more connection in my life – with people, my family, friends or sometimes with nature. Im missing something that makes me feel grounded, present and alive.
Realising what you are missing at the moment – thinking about what your body is really craving (hint: its never really food!) is they key to breaking from this cycle.
Knowing I need connection to myself, others or with nature now means I can make a different choice.
I run outside, I play with my kids, I chat with a friend or my husband or I meditate.
Sometimes, I still eat the chocolate and drink the wine anyway (lol) but in addition, I seek out the thing my soul is missing!
The All or Nothing Dieter
So you did it. You ate the whole tub of Haagen Daas. Epic fail.
This can then lead to the attitude ‘I’ve blown it’ now – I’ve not perfectly stuck to this diet. I’ve failed (translated to I’m a failure and I’m not perfect) so what do we do?
We eat more. Pass the Ben n Jerrys.
You’ll ‘start again’ tomorrow.
In a way, it’s like punishing ourselves. We eat more so we can hate ourselves a bit for being such a ‘failure’. This giving in, almost ironically makes us feel certain and secure – this is who we are. We ‘can’t’ change so what’s the point? Let’s eat.
No wait, actually, we CAN do it! Just try harder!!!!
Round and round we go, torturing ourselves.
Here’s the game changer – If you think you will ONLY gain the vital, healthy, happy body you deserve is by doing things perfectly, you are going to be ETERNALLY disappointed and you will keep failing time and time again.
You see this in people who describe themselves as ‘all or nothing’ people. People who either go to the gym solidly every day for a month, then don’t go once for the other 11 months of the year.
You have to find ways around your idea of doing this ‘perfectly’. Otherwise illness, injury, stress, work, kids, and all of life’s mess, is really gonna kill your buzz the second things get a tad complicated.
You have to plan for when things don’t go to plan!
Which brings me to ‘I Have No Will Power’
Diets simply don’t work long term where you do not enjoy the process.
Will power is finite and can be used up. YES you only have a certain amount of it, and every day the levels are depleted / topped up, like a glass of water. When you hit empty, you cave.
You probably already instinctively know this, but if I explain why, it might help you.
Will power is all about mental reserves. Our brain can only take so much.
A task that requires self control (e.g. resisting that piece of cake, or NOT having that glass of wine on Friday night) can impair your ability to control yourself later on. Even if those tasks are unrelated. For example, it could come out as an outburst at someone who annoys you OR you actually just have the glass of wine on the Saturday!!
Also when energy for any mental activity is feeling low (hello drained, exhausted mummy, or stressed, overwhelmed working parent!) then your ability to maintain control over your diet becomes a true battle.
The same also applies to if you are feeling bored, low or depressed as these feelings are exhausting mentally so make it virtually impossible to stick to (or sometimes start) a ‘diet’.
If you’re struggling with getting started, read this blog (as this requires a different strategy)
THIS IS WHY DIETS DON’T WORK!!!!! Because life is full of twists and turns, highs and lows, and a wide range of emotions. THIS IS THE REASON, you can not stick to a diet. Your brain can only handle so much at a time and life will make it impossible to achieve keeping your brain in a steady state every day where you feel 100% in control. We’re just not wired that way.
The amount of time you have on your hands in irrelevant. From a stay at home housewife / mum to a woman with 2 kids running a business. Doesn’t matter! You will only get and keep results when you figure out what brings your brain to life, and what leaves it feeling drained and flat.
You need to add in to the equation that life WILL get in the way, and then work out what you will do when it happens.
THIS FOR ME HAS BEEN A REVELATION.
The point is diets do not work long term when you feel like you are eating things you don’t really want to eat, and not eating things you DO want. This takes will power, and will power runs out from time to time.
So what’s the answer?
Stop Thinking Diet. Start Thinking ‘Transform My Life’.
Life is going to have ups and downs and you can’t change that. So accept that now. You can not do the perfect diet, the perfect workouts, 100% of the time. You might be able to do it one week – amazing! The next week, you might be thrown a curveball and you’re finding it difficult to workout at all and because of that, you let the diet go too. After all, what’s the point. You’ve ‘failed’.
So here is how I started to change the way I approached ‘dieting’ to make it work for me mentally.
1. I Changed my Expectations of Myself to be More Realistic.
I’ll say it again, If you think you will ONLY gain the vital, healthy, happy body you deserve is by doing things perfectly, you are going to be ETERNALLY disappointed and you will keep failing time and time again.
The key to permanent weight loss is CONSISTENCY not perfection.
If you are doing food diaries and working out every single day without giving yourself any room to rest, trying to be ‘perfect’ or ‘the best’; then that day when life gets in the way is going to hit you hard and you will give up entirely.
So STOP. Change your expectations to be more realistic. STOP thinking PERFECT. Start working with an attitude that is about improving, growing, getting steadily better, day by day, month by month, year by year.
Compare yourself only with who you were yesterday.
Do your best, forget the rest (in the words of the amazing Tony Horton).
Understand some days / weeks will be better than others. Appreciate that you will have rocky months. That is LIFE.
However if you develop a mindset that is about growth and development rather than perfection, you will keep stacking the wins on top of each other.
If you have a bigger vision for yourself and your life that goes WAY BEYOND your size, shape and weight, you can not fail. You will always be making progress and this feels great.
2. Create Healthy Habits that You Can Stick To.
Rather than I MUST stick to this diet 100%. Say I am going to make sure I eat a healthy breakfast every day to get me off to a good start.
This was something I started with. I eat eggs, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, or fat free greek yoghurt with berries pretty much every morning without fail.
On the odd occasion I might have a slice of wholemeal toast too when I feel like it. I don’t worry about it too much, but I do try and make sure I do a workout that day.
I don’t remember the last time I had sugary cereal.
Even on holiday I eat eggs for breakfast – the treat is someone else has cooked them, and I might add a sausage or bacon (or the odd croissant!) BUT it means this is something that has become a very consistent healthy habit in my life.
This is just an example of one of them.
Others include drinking water, not drinking booze in the week, and doing 3-5 workouts each week.
3. Add More Good Stuff
Rather than thinking ‘take away’ or ‘deprive’ or ‘diet’ – all horrible words!! Start thinking nourish, love, fill up.
Start looking at this differently. Look long term (not how can i fit in a bikini on 4 weeks!)
What do you want to eat to nourish your body, brain and soul? What meals would you eat? What snacks? How would you treat yourself?
Think of a person who exudes confidence, energy, vitality and happiness. What do you think they eat? How do they look after themselves?
THIS is how you need to treat yourself. Add more good stuff that makes you feel alive and nourished (mind, body and soul.)
Whether that is food, time with friends, movement, dance, music, books, audiobooks, courses, travel, experiences.
When you fill your life with more and more good stuff (daily) you stop looking to food to fill you up. You’re already feeling so full of life.
4. Focus on Feelings, Not Appearances
Stop thinking ‘lose weight’, ‘thinner’ and ‘hard work’ and ‘I need to lose weight’. This feels horrible. It feels like a chore, a task, a job. Urgh. No.
Switch your thinking to ‘healthy, strong and vital.’ If THIS is your goal, it will be impossible to not see results in your body.
Nobody wants to look and feel thin, frail, weak and lacking in energy. That’s what you get when you don’t eat right or look after yourself. Diets only feel good sometimes because you feel in control…for a time…. until you lose control ….again.
If you focus on getting fitter, healthier, increasing your energy; you will feel so much more invested in this goal because it feels WONDERFUL. You will stick with it as a way of life, not a ‘project’.
None of us are really after ‘looking thin’. The real goal we’re all chasing is feeling amazing.
I only feel amazing when I feel strong, capable, healthy, energised and vital. It just so happens, weight loss and muscle tone has come as a result of this, and I love that.
So choose your word. A word that inspires and motivates you. A word you want to embody.
Mine is ‘strong’. When I’m struggling, I ask, what do i need to do to feel strong again?
Then I get on the phone to my Personal Trainer and book in a session!
5. Get to Know Your Weak Moments
I’ve narrowed it down and analysed my weak moments carefully and asked:-
- What am I doing when I overeat or eat stuff I don’t really want?
- Where am I?
- What time of day?
- How am I feeling?
We all have those moments where we are tempted to overeat or eat badly. Mine are:-
- watching TV
- Friday nights
- When I’ve not planned ahead
- Working from home
- Bored and feeling lonely or disconnected from the world
There are even certain programmes that make me want to overeat, and other programs where I do not.
Then I asked myself, when are the times I want to eat healthy?
- When I workout – I don’t want to undo the hard work and my body craves nutrition.
- When I prepare my meals and plan ahead I remove any decisions so I don’t waver in the moment
- When I plan tasty meals for the week ahead and shop for the ingredients ahead of time. If I can prep meals in advance this is a mega bonus (rare though)
- When I shop for fruit and veg at a farm or greengrocers
- When I take my lunch in to the office, I rarely am tempted by anything else because I’ve decided ahead what I will eat.
Then I simply transformed these in to a way of life.
At first it takes a bit of practise but then it just becomes habit.
Saturday I meal plan and do my food shopping for the week,
Sunday I plan my week ahead and decide when I will workout. I plan them in. Sometimes life gets in the way, but if that happens, I still make an effort to do some exercise or eat well.
6. Plan a Week of Rest
Sometimes we all need a break from ‘doing’ and challenging ourselves. Losing weight and maintaining weight loss is NOT easy. Even when it becomes a lifestyle. Soemtimes you just want to indulge and go a bit wild.
ALLOW yourself these moments of total rest or indulgence. I sometimes do this for a whole week. Rather than 8pm workouts, I watch TV in my pjs. I still include nutritious foods, because its easier to add these in, but I’ll have treats as well and won’t be as focussed. Sometimes my brain and body just needs the rest.
It feels good to get this out of your system and relinquish the control for a while
The week after, I’m ready to go back to normal and looking forward to it.
Not only that but I’m finding with rest weeks I’m getting increased results AND I don’t put on any weight beause my metabolism is much better because working out and eating well is a way of life for me. My body is way more efficient these days. Its reassuring to know I can have an ‘off’ week and I’m not back at square one like I used to be!
7. Forget How You Want to Look. Who do You Want to Be?
I care about the way I look (most of the time). However it’s way more important to me how I make others feel.
I have a very clear idea who I want to be when I grow up. How I want to be remembered.
What does this have to do with weight loss? Well, becaue I know WHO I want to be, I know how that woman wants to feel on a daily basis. Vital and alive. I just follow that, and it makes controlling what I eat so much easier – I want to eat healthy and I want to workout because thats the person I want to be.
It’s rare I go off plan.
8. Identify Patterns in Energy Slumps
The next step for me is checking hormones, as these really impact my energy levels and mental stability. Some days I feel like someone has pulled the plug on me, and it just comes out of nowhere on day 14 – 21 of my menstrual cycle every month.
I can’t function. It’s awful.
So I’m currently in the stages of hormonal profiling to identify imbalances as my nutritionist thinks I may have progesterone imbalance. Watch this space, I will report back on my experience and results.
The point is, we all have stuff we have to deal with. Life, health, mental anxietieis, stresses, time issues, and our own limiting beliefs about ourselves.
There are often patterns in our energy levels and things / places / people who drain us.
Find out what they are and make some decisions on how to transform this.
YOU know yourself well. Better than anyone else. So USE that to better yourself. Don’t keep going from diet to diet, or worst still, keep trying (and failing on) the same diet.
It’s time to try something different. It’s time to start putting your focus in to adding more joy to your life, rather than focussing on how you look.
You’ll be surprised at how much THIS will impact how you FEEL about your body.