Trying to lose weight? Don’t go on a diet. The stats about diets are pretty clear that they don’t work. Diets and restrictive eating plans usually do result in weight loss but research indicates that half the weight is most likely regained within 1 year and almost all within 5 years. So if people are carrying extra weight are they destined to be like that forever? After consulting with hundreds and hundreds of people trying to lose weight I have seen some patterns emerge about how people successfully lose weight and keep it off. Whilst some of these may not have scientific research to back them up these are the traits that I see of everyday people who lose weight and keep it off:
They don’t diet. They don’t ban foods, they don’t restrict food groups and most don’t follow any particular food plan. They just choose healthy, nutritious foods MOST of the time. They eat plenty of vegetables, salads, fruit, unprocessed, natural foods. They might still have chocolate or chips or wine or icecream but they know how much they can have and how often they can have it. They don’t deprive themselves of any food but they know which foods they can enjoy every day and they know which foods to have only occasionally.
They plan. They plan their meals and they know what they will eat for the whole day as soon as they wake up. They stock their fridge full of healthy products that will last till their next grocery shop. They may pre chop veggies, cook up a big batch of rice, quinoa or barley that will last the week or they may make their lunch the night before so it’s ready for the following day. They plan ahead so healthy food choices become the easier choice.
Exercise isn’t a choice. They schedule exercise into their week and make it a ‘non negotiable’ appointment. Just as they don’t wake up and decide whether they will go to work or not, they don’t decide whether to exercise or not. If it’s on their schedule it done.
They don’t make excuses. They don’t blame their slow metabolism, their sweet tooth or their busy lifestyle for their weight. They know that if they want to lose weight it is up to them to make some changes to their lifestyle.
They seek help and seek out solutions. They know it’s up to them to make some changes but if they don’t know where to start or hit a stall they seek help. They may see a dietitian for some nutritional advice or see a personal trainer to help them plan out an exercise regime. They also seek solutions. They may work long hours but they figure out ways that they can fit in exercise and make healthy meals. If there are barriers to their weight loss efforts they seek solutions to overcome them.
They don’t skip meals. They eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. They wake up earlier so they have time to prepare and eat breakfast. They stop working, take their lunch break and eat lunch. They come home and know their fridge is full of healthy ingredients for dinner.
They don’t count calories but they are calorie aware. They don’t count the calories in everything they eat but they are aware of the calories in food. If they have a lunch that is higher in calories they will compensate by having a lighter dinner.
They don’t give into peer pressure. They won’t let other people deicide for them if they are hungry or not or whether they should have something to eat or not. Such as when they are pressured to have a slice of cake for their co-workers birthday. If they don’t want to have it they won’t. They don’t give into plea’s of ‘but it’s my birthday you have to have some cake’ or ‘I made it myself’ or ‘1 slice wont ruin your diet’. If they want it they will have it, if they don’t they won’t. They know they can still celebrate someone’s birthday without eating a slice of cake!
They strive for health not thinness. Their goal isn’t to be super skinny, their goal is to be healthy, to increase their energy, to increase fitness or to reduce the risk of lifestyle related disease. They are not motivated by thinness, they are motivated to live a healthy life.
They realize that achieving weight loss is more than just food and exercise it is about creating a healthy lifestyle. They recognise the need to make some lifestyle changes. They may make some changes to their life so they go to bed earlier and get more sleep, they may make a pact to leave the office by 6pm every night, they may start shopping at farmers markets, they may start trying foods they have never tried before, they will make healthy changes and create new healthy behaviours.
They don’t give up. But they don’t have to. There is no end date to what they are doing. They are making healthy behaviours and lifestyle changes that they can continue forever.