Want to lose weight? We’ve got some useful tips to help you get started, but you must also believe in your ability to succeed. Christina Neal explains how to get your mind on board with your health goals.
Adopting a positive mindset is the key to losing weight. If you don’t feel motivated, your willpower will only last for so long before you go back to your old habits. It’s understandable that you may feel dubious or unsure about losing weight if you’ve tried to do it before, but you can make some positive changes this time round with the right mental attitude.
‘Nobody wants to fail, especially if we think this outcome affects our self-worth,’ says life coach Steve Chamberlain). ‘That’s why it sometimes seems safer to not try again rather than risk another letdown. It’s possible to drop the word “failure” from your vocabulary, which actually increases your chances of success. Just think of the past as a valuable database of what works for you, and what doesn’t, and then use this data to try a more effective path next time.
Think about what hasn’t worked for you in the past and what you can do differently this time. Steve adds: ‘If denying yourself all of your favourite treats at one time hasn’t worked in the past, try allowing yourself one or two as a reward; or if following a certain diet has left you feeling low on energy, then read up on why this might be and adapt your food groups going forwards.’
Coping with binge-eating
If you’re under a lot of stress, get to the root of the issue before you embark on another diet. ‘You can’t blame people for feeling miserable after having tried lots of diets,’ says Uxshely Chotai from The Food Therapy Clinic. ‘Most diets don’t work long-term because they are not intended to be long-term solutions. The solution to losing weight lies in your mind. Most people can resolve their issues around food when they get to the root of why they are overeating. Many people overeat due to boredom, stress, loneliness, when they feel low or because of some trauma they experienced earlier in their lives. Diet plans will only ever achieve very short-term change in eating habits. Changing someone’s mindset and resolving the core reason for the overeating can enable them to achieve long-term change without feeling miserable or deprived.’
Having the right positive attitude can make a massive difference to your results. If you believe you can achieve results, you’ll go the extra mile. You’ll do that workout or skip that extra portion of pudding when temptation strikes, because you know the end results will be worth it.
A study of pregnant women that followed them during their pregnancy, showed that women who had difficulty believing they could overcome barriers retained 11 to 13lbs more of pregnancy weight later. The study, conducted at Michigan State University, followed participants for more than six years. It found that women who thought that obstacles like time, motivation and childcare issues would be a barrier, lost less weight than those who were positive.
Making lifestyle changes
There are things you can do to improve your attitude and be more positive. And there are steps you can take to improve your chances of losing weight. Here are some tips…
Make one small change at a time – ‘If you try to achieve too much at once, the changes you make are never going to last,’ says Uxshely Chotai. ‘Therefore, dieters often end up feeling deprived and binge eat lots of the “naughty” foods that they had banned.’
Find a routine that works for you – It’s hard to be positive when you have convinced yourself you’ll have to spend one or two hours a day exercising – maybe even doing exercise you dislike because you’ve heard it’s good for burning calories. You must be able to live with your new routine in order for it to become a habit. ‘It is about finding a formula which you can live with and not feel too deprived,’ says Rosemary Conley.
Keep it simple
Simplify your eating plan – Be realistic –don’t follow a diet or strategy that’s complicated and seems like a lot of hard work and effort, especially if you’re under a lot of pressure in other areas of your life. ‘Some routines are too difficult and too complicated,’ says Rosemary Conley. ‘It can be too much effort. In my view, a low-fat diet becomes a lifestyle – it’s just a way of eating.’
Know where temptation lies – What foods or situations are likely to tempt you and result in you overeating? Knowing what they are so that you can avoid them or limit them will help. ‘Learn what is your danger area,’ says Rosemary Conley. ‘If I had one peanut, I would want to have 50. If I go somewhere where there’s peanuts, I will say to someone, “Right, I will give you £5 if I have one peanut” and that stops me from having any. Otherwise, it’s a trap for me and I need to put up a barrier to stop me from starting.’
Dealing with your ‘inner teenage rebel’
The language we use when talking to ourselves about losing weight is key. ‘I have a theory that there’s a teenage rebel or free spirit in all of us that doesn’t like to be told what to – even if we’re the ones doing the telling,’ says Steve Chamberlain. ‘So telling ourselves we need to lose weight will often lead to a reaction that includes resistance, procrastination and occasionally, downright rebellion.
‘Ultimately our actions in any given moment are a choice. There’s nothing we need to do or must do, and telling ourselves otherwise only increases the chances of slip-ups we’re trying to avoid. Set yourself a compelling goal and make a conscious choice to do your very best to achieve it, whilst still understanding that you’re human and will have moments of temptation. When we approach our goals with compassion and understanding we’re far more likely to achieve them and enjoy the process too.’
What if losing weight seems too restrictive?
We often view losing weight as a difficult task, or something that’s going to be very restrictive. This mindset is always going to make it a challenge. So how can we make it a positive experience ? ‘Tying your goals to your values – what’s most important to you at the deepest level – will serve you here,’ says Steve Chamberlain. ‘Procrastination or resistance is often a sign that we’re not truly motivated by our desired outcome. If you feel like you need to lose weight for health reasons, but deep-down health has never been a driving motivation for you, this goal is unlikely to lead you to your desired outcome of sticking to a healthier diet.
What truly motivates you?
Steve adds: ‘However, if you value family, then tying your goal to being a great role model for your children is far more likely to lead to continued motivation and therefore success. Similarly, if you value growth or variety, then learning to cook new and varied healthy recipes, or taking up different forms of exercise that excite you, is likely to be compelling. When an outcome is tied to our deepest values, all procrastination drops away.’