If you are overweight despite all you best efforts, it’s not being lazy. But you are probably sabotaging your weight loss, possibly without even realising it. When we fail to lose weight, or keep it off, we become critical of ourselves and focus on the failure. It’s tough to step back and get an honest perspective on what worked and what didn’t so you can dust yourself off and try again. Rather than give you do’s and don’t’s or another diet plan, I want to focus on the common, but destructive mindsets that doom your weight loss efforts to failure. So here’s my top 3 offenders – the following approaches will make you overweight. How many do you recognise?
- Being ‘on’ a diet – The most depressed, disheartened clients I see are the ones who say, ‘I’ve tried every diet and nothing works for me.’ They are right. No diet works. Diet implies a short term intervention after which the problem is solved. Cutting calories, eating special things, avoiding others totally, exercising like a maniac can all produce results in the short term. But they don’t help you to learn about your own individual food hang ups, develop alternative ways of dealing with temptation and they always end with gaining more than you lost when the old habits return. Weight loss is only achieved long term with consistent changes that you can continue with throughout your life. The ‘on the diet’ approach also carries with it the corresponding ‘off the diet’ approach. In this mindset, food is a free for all. Not only will this ensure you pack on any lost weight extra quick, but it reinforces the unhelpful idea that you are either being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ with food, rather than viewing it as the source of energy and nutrition that it is.
- ‘I deserve it’ – Bad day? Big workout? Celebrating a success? You might find that the answer to some, or all, of these is food. And probably not a well balanced meal, but something seen as a treat, a reward or a comfort. It’s impossible to escape these mindsets about food – food does make us feel good. Families and cultures around the world also associate major events with certain foods. So part of it is just simple association. And while this has its place at certain times, we have to be very determined and open minded to not fall victim to habitual associations we all have between food and situations. It might be that typically Friday night equals booze and takeaway. Sunday always means dessert after roast dinner or Christmas is always eating until you feel sick. Regardless of the time or place, sustainable weight loss is about being open to examining and questioning your behaviour – asking questions like,’What would happen if I had one glass of wine instead of a bottle?’ Or ‘how could I handle it if I didn’t have my usual ______ ?’
- Checking your weight too frequently – Body weight fluctuates a great deal during the course of a day, and is not usually an accurate measure for what’s happening on the inside. That doesn’t mean it’s not important, but once we accept that sustainable weight loss is about changing behaviours for the long term, then jumping on the scale to check your progress is highly counter-productive. The number on the scale can’t reflect the important changes in your intentions, motivations and decision making – the true determinants of a successful weight loss. The number on the scale will reflect lots of other things, however, like water weight, where you are in your menstrual cycle, heavier lean tissue you might have built from exercise or normal temporary fluctuations in weight after meals – which dissipate over time and is not the same as weight gain. Focusing on the number on the scale will only distract you from the more beneficial aim of changing your behaviour.
Its always the right time to make a change for the better. Get off the diet, get your mindset right and positive, long term changes will follow.