I have seen two types of dieters over the years, those who go on a calorie-controlled starvation diet and who change nothing else in their lives and those who go on a starvation diet together with an exercise regime that would impress an army sergeant. Normally, the food is based on a healthy eating plan but leaves the dieter feeling hungry, depressed, and focusing solely on the end date when they will reach their ideal weight.
Add a bit of willpower to the mix and the weight will come off, for a time. If we wait, then the weight will go back on, sometimes back to the original weight and sometimes a bit more is added on.
After a non-diet period of enjoying the foods that they believe makes them happy, they start again, using the same method as before, and why not? It worked, didn’t it? Yes, it did, until it didn’t?
And so, begins the journey of a lifetime of dieting, losing weight and then putting it back on.
So, what can you do instead?
1. The most import thing is to decide that you want to change the way you live your life, not just for the period of time it takes to lose the weight. By changing the way you live your life you are not depriving yourself of anything, and when you stop depriving yourself you stop focusing on what you cannot have and focus instead on getting on with the new life you are creating for yourselves.
2. Be very clear on why you are going on this journey without an end. Set your targets for where you want to be in one month, 6 months, 1 year, and 5 years. This is a plan to take you to a new you, it is not a plan for short term weight loss, it is a plan to change the way you live your life. So, your plan should include all the things you want to achieve, and where you want to be.
3. Understand that there will be discomfort in the beginning. This is normal when you are changing any habitual habit in your life. Your mind will try to steer you back to the old way, but by being 100% committed then you can make sure that you stay on the new path you have chosen and let the old one wither and die.
4. Ditch the word diet and don’t use it again. If you want to lose weight you have to change your life, not just the food you eat. You cannot live life the same way you did when you added the weight. If you don’t change then once you have reached your target weight the chances are you will put the weight back on as you will go back to your old lifestyle.
5. Change the way you think about food. The food you eat will either nourish you and help you to maintain your health or it will slowly kill you. Look at your favourite dessert in your minds eye, do you see a tempting treat that you cannot wait to eat, or do you see something that will bloat you, make you feel sleepy and has no goodness to nourish the body and to give you energy.
“Eating healthy food fills your body with energy and nutrients. Imagine your cells smiling back at you and saying: “Thank you!”
6. Exercise every day, not a boot camp regime, unless that is what you enjoy and know that you can make it a permanent part of your life. Find an exercise you enjoy, can begin right now, and make it part of your daily routine.
7. Stay focused on the person you want to be, not on who you were. Keep looking forward there is no need to look back, what’s done is done and cannot be changed no matter how much you may want to. Life flows forward, stop fighting against the tide and just go with the flow.
8. Practice breathing exercises and use this to help you stay away from temptation. When you feel tempted, breath in and out for a count of 10. Do this slowly and allow your body to feel that natural relaxation that comes when we focus on our breathing. If you still feel tempted after the first round of 10, then start again from 1. The temptation may or may not go away, you can either give in or after your breathing exercise go and do something else. Don’t sit and stay focused on the object you desire.
9. Make meditation part of your morning routine. If you can only spare 5 minutes then use this time to do a nice meditation practice. Don’t make it too long if you don’t have this time every day. A meditation in the morning will allow the thinking mind to calm and then you can focus your mind on what you really want, and on the life that you want to live.
Changing our thinking around how we view the food we eat is a big part of the change that you need to make to take you where you want to be. If you keep seeing your favourite foods as something to be desired then you will eventually be dragged back to your old eating patterns. Willpower is limited and unreliable, and eventually, over time it will fail. It will fail when you are tired, stressed or overwhelmed as you are using all your willpower just to get through these difficult periods in your life, there is nothing left to use to re-enforce your new habit.
Be willing to accept that life changes anyway. Each day when we wake we start a new part of our journey through life, and every day we change and grow. When we change a big habit then we move out of our comfort zone, but if you acknowledge this and accept that to get where you want to be you will have to stay focused on your goal. Each day on your new journey the changes you have made become your new life, your new way of living an this becomes your new normal. You know you have reset your mind when you know that no matter what happens in your life you wouldn’t go back to your old eating patterns.