Maybe It’s Not Your Diet That Needs Changing

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You realise that you need to lose weight – either because of a visit to the doctor, or simply your clothes no longer fit. You test something out, perhaps you experience a little improvement – but it doesn’t last long and you find yourself slowly slipping back into old habits.

Maybe you stick to something for even a few months and turn up at your cousins wedding 3 stone lighter than when they saw you last year. But then unfortunately you relapse, and by the following summer you have your previous weight plus some. Sooner or later a new study or book comes out, or you see that cover on a celebrity magazine with all the bikinis or six packs and you decide it’s time to try again. So you go onto the next thing to test, but the same thing happens and again a few months later you’re back to square one. You get frustrated, angry, and stressed so decide to just go back to your old ways.

You may ask yourself; ‘Why does it have to be so hard’? However, did you ever stop to think that if you continue changing diets and the regimes don’t work long-term maybe it’s not the diet or exercise routine that needs changing?…

The majority of weight loss approaches typically tend to look more at exercise programing, how much exercise or how often for example. There is also plenty of emphasis out there on the intricacies of a diet plan and its effectiveness for your weight loss ambitions. Less, if any attention is given to behavioural aspects of weight loss. One of the major differences between a client wanting to lose weight and someone wanting to stop smoking for instance is that smokers can literally erase that behaviour completely, whereas to lose weight you can’t stop eating- you have to eat several times a day, so in order to make the changes, you have to learn to think and feel differently about food.

So here we look at a few behavioural tips and tricks that our clients over the years have found useful.

1. Identify and know your motivation. We have a client, who is getting healthy so that she’ll be alive and well to see her 1-year-old son grow up. When she gets tempted by ‘bad’ junk food, she asks herself whether she’d rather eat the ‘rubbish’ or see her son grow up. We believe that when you have a powerful motivation like this it’s so much easier to be strong.

2.Take small steps gradually. You don’t have to completely revamp your diet overnight. We highly recommend changing your eating patterns in small steps. For example eat fruit instead of crisps or grill and bake food instead of frying. Once you adjust to a small change, make another a week or two later, and so on until you’re eating much healthier a few months later. This small and gradual process makes it much easier to stick with a healthy lifestyle change long term.

3.Pack a lunch or snack box. Bring healthy food with you, wherever you go. At times this may just mean packing snacks if you’re going on a few errands (fruit, almonds, kale crisp, baked apple chips). Taking your lunch to work is a great idea, along with a bunch of snacks to keep you satisfied all day without eating the biscuits, chocolates and cakes that someone brought in.

4.Avoid feeling very hungry. When you allow yourself to go short of food during the day, you will often binge later as a consequence, because your blood-sugar levels are so low that you crave instant sugar. Thus when you’re very hungry you are more likely to deviate from your eating plan. So eat snacks throughout the day, or small meals, so that you never feel famished.

5.Have tasty alternatives for your weaknesses. Cutting back on fatty, sugary and processed food from your daily diet is important, but finding a great replacement makes not giving into temptation much easier. Spend time discovering suitable substitutes that will satisfy your cravings when they inevitably come up. Perhaps celery is not a good substitute for a donner kebab but a grilled shish kebab maybe.

6.Clear your home of unhealthy snacks and foods. If you have junk food at home, you’re likely to eat it (as obvious as that may sound). But if you clear your home of these foods, you won’t have that temptation. Clear your fridge and cupboards of chocolate, sweets, processed foods and fatty / greasy things like crisps and full fat cheese and so on.

7.Don’t eat until your full; eat until you’re not hungry. Many people keep eating, not because they are still hungry but because the food is there. Restaurants often serve massive portions offering at least double the calories that you should be consuming within one meal. Do yourself a favour and ask for half of the meal to be packed into a ‘doggie’ bag so that you can eat it for lunch the next day. At a party satisfy your satiety filling up with water, fruits, veggies, and lean protein. Most social gatherings will have at least a couple of healthy options — simply sticking to eating a clean, unprocessed diet with plenty of lean protein, fruit and vegetables, will be enough to have a significant impact on your weight loss and management ambitions.

8.If you indulge, burn it off. Sometimes all of the strategies above will fail. That’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up about it — just get back on track. Look at it as a small bump in the road. Better yet, get outside and burn off the calories at FitFunBootCamp or FitFunBoxing, walking briskly, FitFunKettleBells or an extra Personal Training session, whatever it takes. Then start eating healthy again.

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