I am a serial dieter. I always lose about 40 pounds and then put it right back on with interest. That’s probably one of the reasons I weighed 322 pounds.
I want this time to be my forever weight loss. Not a diet, not a fad, not a passing phase. I want to lose weight, get in shape, and finally feel comfortable with my body. As Albert Einstein said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So what exactly do I need to do differently to make my new and current way of life different than diets I’ve had in the past?
I’ve read that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise, but I think that is off. Our mental state deserves some credit here. Our (usually transient) emotions, new behavior patterns, new habits, the choices we make, and mindfulness all have huge impacts on our weight loss efforts.
These such thoughts got me into researching the psychology of weight loss and here are some things that I’ve found:
Craig Harper suggests that the following will help get your mind in line with where you want your body to go.
1. Go into the process with the best possible attitude.
There is an undeniable relationship between attitude and outcome. Many people don’t want to hear that transforming their body is more about attitude, commitment and self control than it is about finding the right program, health club, diet, trainer or miracle-pill. Good attitude typically equals a good outcome. I have watched thousands of people sabotage themselves with a crappy attitude; they whinge, complain, blame, rationalise, justify, and procrastinate and then end up back where they started anyway (or worse). Conversely, I have watched thousands of people with limited genetic potential, time, money and resources create (and maintain) amazing results because they got their head where it needed to be.
If you tell yourself getting in shape will be a painful, un-enjoyable process… it probably will be.
Amazing results are about attitude and effort; not genetics.
2. Get in shape for life; not an event.
Too many people spend their life getting in shape for summer, birthdays, weddings, school reunions and other significant social occasions. Like athletes, they peak for an event… and then get fat again.
Creating (and maintaining) your best body is about the next few decades, not the next few weeks.
3. Make some tough decisions about you.
Your lifestyle, your habits, your diet and your exercise habits. You know these decisions; the one’s you keep avoiding, the one’s that make you uncomfortable. The decisions you should have made a long time ago; the scary, but necessary ones.
4. Don’t start something that you can’t or won’t finish.
Every day around the world thousands of people start programs or routines which they will never maintain. They make decisions that they don’t follow through on. They join health clubs but rarely go. They start running programs that last a week. They go on diets and then go off them. Some people spend their life getting on and off the weight-loss-merry-go-round.
Don’t be one of them.
Start realistically and progress sensibly.
Don’t try and undo twenty years of bad behaviour by next Tuesday.
Stop waiting for the right time to get in shape; it never comes.
“I’ll start next Monday, next week, next month, when the kids are at school, when it’s not so dark in the morning, when all the planets align, when Tasmania (remember I’m an Aussie) reconnects with the mainland.
Sure you will.
The only person you’re deluding is yourself.
6. Don’t make excuses or tell fibs!
If you want to find a reason not to change, you’ll find one.
Many people lie to themselves and others constantly; “it’s not my diet, it’s my genetics, it’s a time thing, a money thing, my sore ankle”.
They don’t want to acknowledge that it’s a them thing because if they did, then they would have to do something about it. I regularly talk to morbidly obese people who apparently ‘eat hardly anything’.
Liar, liar pants on fire.
7.Don’t lay blame.
I’ll be brief. People make people fat – not junk food, soft drinks in schools, drive-thru restaurants, remote controls, lack of time, business lunches or clever marketing. Yes, there are many variables, hurdles and factors to be negotiated along the way, but unless someone’s making all your decisions for you, or holding you down and force feeding you, the only person making you fat is you.
Don’t get precious on me now.
8. Stop looking for the magic pill.
For most of us, the simple reality of getting-in-shape is a bit of sweat, a bit of discomfort, a bit of tiredness, a bit of inconvenience and the odd sore knee. The sooner we get that and accept it, the sooner we’ll get where we want to go.
Look for the most effective option not the easiest one.
By the way, easy or hard is largely about perception and attitude.
9. Nothing tastes as good as being in shape feels.
Focus on what you’re gaining, not what you’re missing out on.
Many people who change their eating habits sabotage themselves by constantly focusing on ‘how deprived’ they are and all the ‘good stuff’ they’re missing out on. That piece of chocolate or slice of cake might give you a few minutes of pleasure but it doesn’t change the fact that you live in a fatter-than-desirable body 24/7.
10. Motivation is temporary.
For most people motivation is an emotional state; a feeling that comes and goes. We can’t rely on it to get us to our destination because it ain’t always there! If you experience motivational peaks and troughs, you’re not a loser; you’re normal. Motivation is great when it’s there but when you don’t feel pumped to do that workout, do it anyway. Changing your body is more about self control and consistency than it is about being in the zone. It’s possible (necessary sometimes) to exercise even when you’re not motivated. I tell people “if you don’t feel like training, do it anyway. You might not love the process but you’ll love the results”. If we only exercise when we ‘feel’ like it, we’ll never be consistent and we’ll never create life-long change.