Effective weight loss is about so much more than simply deciding to eat less and exercise more. If it really were that simple, we’d all find it easy to achieve our ideal size and shape. Whatever stage you’re at in your weight loss journey, it can be helpful to think through your strategy for when the going gets tough.“It is wise to keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final” - Roger Babson, American Entrepreneur, Economist and Philanthropist.
Which stage are you at?
Just getting started?
Time spent working through this toolkit is every bit as valuable as time spent cooking or exercising.
The most successful weight loss programmes incorporate behaviour change techniques to ensure that your mind is on board and help you overcome challenges along the way.
These tips are especially important if this isn’t your first attempt at weight loss.
After the initial few weeks when the weight seems to fall off – it’s natural for motivation to dip.
Every ounce or gram you lose is a step in the right direction but at this stage it can be hard to maintain your enthusiasm and the temptation to give up can be overwhelming.
Use the tips in this article to help you work out how get back on track.
Want to keep it off?
Healthy habits are just as important after you reach your goal. The U.S. National Weight Control Registry tracks 10 000 people who have maintained their target weight for over a year.
Most eat breakfast weigh themselves weekly watch very little TV and exercise for an hour every day.
Have you thought through which habits you’ll keep up once you reach your target?
Tip 1: Set ‘action’ goals
“Exercise to stimulate not to annihilate. The world wasn't formed in a day and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them” – Lee Haney American athlete
In choosing goals there’s more to successful weight loss than ‘eat less exercise more’. As well as setting yourself a weight loss target write down the lifestyle changes that you intend to stick to. That can of course include following your meal plan but could also include going to bed early avoiding eating in front of the TV or spending less time in front of the computer – all of which have been linked to healthier weight. Make your goals as specific and action-focused as you can so that you can measure your progress. So add the exact workouts that you plan to do in your diary for example.
Tip 2: Ask challenging questions
“The most important questions in life can never be answered by anyone except oneself” – John Fowles, author
Are you really ready to make the lifestyle changes needed to achieve your weight loss goal?
Asking yourself these key questions can help you to work out whether your goals are realistic, and review them if need be. For each question, give yourself a score out of ten.
- How important is it to me to make this change?
- How confident am I that I can make this change?
- How committed am I to sticking to my plan?
Low 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 High
Think through what would need to happen to increase your scores and consider amending your goal if your confidence and commitment is below 5.
Tip 3: Track food and mood
“Diets like clothes should be tailored to you” – Joan Rivers American comedienne
Writing down what you ate and how you felt throughout the day helps increase your own awareness of your eating habits. This increases your chance of success in two ways: when you know you have to write it down you’re more likely to think twice before going ‘off plan’; and it can also help you to identify problem situations that you can tackle with Tip 5. You may not want to record every morsel that you eat especially if you’re closely following your meal plan but the Food & Mood Tracker is especially helpful at the beginning of your weight loss journey and whenever lapses occur.
Tip 4: Manage your triggers
“I can resist everything but temptation” - Oscar Wilde
If after-work drinks are just too tempting or you can’t keep away from the biscuit tin you need to develop habits that overcome these temptations. That might mean booking yourself into an exercise class straight after work a couple of nights a week or making sure the biscuits are firmly stored out of sight and out of mind.
Tip 5: Learn from your mistakes
"Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes"- Mahatma Gandhi
Following a weight loss plan should never be ‘all or nothing’. It’s simply not realistic to think that you’ll never lapse. The important thing is reflect on the situation that led to the lapse and plan how to work around it in the future.
Instead of just thinking it through write it down. Make a note of all the things that made it difficult to stick to your desired habit / behaviour. For each of these write down:
- Possible solutions
- Pros and cons of those solutions
- What you’ll do next time.
If you can’t work out a realistic solution again it’s a good idea to review your goal and come up with one that you’re more likely to stick to. Work family and life in general do get in the way and a small change that you can stick to is much more effective long-term than a big change that you can’t maintain.
Tip 6: Make it social
“I get by with a little help from my friends” – Joe Cocker
Everything is easier with the help of friends. That can mean your real-life friends – but if they’re more likely to sabotage your weight loss efforts with cake than accompany you to the gym, ‘virtual’ support can be as effective.
Introduce yourself on the Community if you haven’t already done so, and remember you can always Ask the Team if you need a boost.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Effective Weight Loss for advice and tips from Amanda.
And are you a weight loss champion? If you are well on the way to meeting your goals check out this announcement from our nutritionist Sarah. We’d love to hear from you. See Sinead’s story for an example of one of our recent inspiring success stories!