It seems to me that just about everyone struggles with their weight at some point in their lives.
For some of us it’s a constant battle, for others, just an occasional problem.
I think we go through phases too. For a few months we might feel quite motivated and energetic, but for other months a bit lethargic and that’s when we pack on the weight.
(And don’t you hate it when you’re going through one of these motivated/energetic phases but then you get sick or the weather gets bad for days/weeks and it breaks the healthy habit you were forming? So annoying!)
Losing weight is pretty simple. There is no big secret. There are 2 variables: food and exercise.
You might be thinking “what about metabolism?” but you can control that with food and exercise so don’t worry about it.
You have 3 choices then to get the results you want:
- Change your food (type and/or quantity)
- Change your exercise level
- Change both
My food: I eat 3 pretty healthy meals a day but I eat a lot of chocolate between meals + takeaways a few times a week
My exercise: At the moment my exercise is cycling 9km to work 1 or 2 times a week.
All-in-all I don’t find it too difficult to maintain my fairly slim waistline. But, like everyone else, my weight yo-yo’s.
The key moment is when I realise I’ve got a few kg to lose and then that spurs me into action.
You might look down at your belly right now and be a bit disheartened because you think you’ve got so much work to do, but bear with me because I’ve got a few ideas here that might help.
I have developed a 6 step method that keeps me within 2 or 3 kg’s of my target body shape.
I hope that my method will be useful for you too. Here it is.
Step One: Take A Shower
The first thing I do is take a shower.
Why? Because it’s in the shower that I notice I need to lose a few kilograms from my belly (the most common problem area for men of course).
I think to myself “I need to lose some weight, I can barely see Mr Winkle!” and dwell on this idea for a while. Sometimes it might take a day or two for this idea to sink in.
The goal here isn’t self-loathing. That can paralyse you.
The goal here is to visualise yourself with your target body shape and compare/contrast that image to what you see in front of you right now.
I know when this image has sunk in because I can feel my attitude change. I start to “think thin”, and I start making little decisions every day that help me towards my weight loss goal.
Some examples of that attitude change working are:
- I think about chocolate less during the day (as I said, this is my biggest weakness)
- I don’t suggest that we have dessert after dinner
- I serve myself slightly smaller portions for dinner (5%-10% less)
- I don’t eat anything at all in the evenings after dinner. If I’m hungry just before going to bed, instead of eating a piece of toast or more chocolate, I’ll just have a glass of water which takes away the hunger pains for 30 minutes – just enough to fall asleep.
Step Two: Never Diet
You can choose to commit a short amount of time to this project (in which case it is called a “diet”) or you can make a long term change (in which case it is called a lifestyle change).
Short duration diets will help you lose a few kilograms, but they are never a long term solution.
Because once the diet is finished you will fall back into old habits (your old lifestyle) and put all the weight back on.
This is why everyone’s weight yo-yo’s. Sound familiar?
Long term changes to your lifestyle do work. So if you are serious about your goal, this is the only choice for you.
Actually, there is another choice. The choice to do nothing. But you’ve already tried that, and where has that got you? Nowhere. In fact, you’ve gone backwards, right?
So, right now I’m asking you to agree to making small, painless, permanent changes to your lifestyle.
Are you willing to do that?
Ok, let’s move on.
Step Three: Set A Tiny, Easy Challenge
For me, I can’t get out and exercise until I have a goal.
My goals have included:
- Run and touch a letterbox 2.5km away from my house, and run back home
- Ride 9km to the base of a local mountain, run 3km around the base track, ride back home
- Build up to 100 continuous half-press-ups
- Ride to work whenever it’s not raining
These are not earth-shattering challenges. Notice how they a completion challenges rather than time based challenges?
Just completing the challenge is enough to celebrate. You don’t need to be straining to continually beat your personal best times.
So, write down a list of challenges and choose just one for today.
Step Four: Solo. With a Friend. In a Group of Strangers.
Try exercising solo for a while.
Try exercising with a friend for a while.
Try exercising in groups of strangers for a while.
The point is, don’t just choose one style for life, be open to changing your mind and trying something different.
Like I said before, we go through phases, and one will be better than another until you change phase again.
Step Five: Keep Eating Chocolate
I’m not going to tell you to eat more/less carbs/protein/fats/sugars etc.
When you make big changes like that you are in “diet mode” and as I explained before, diet’s don’t work. Only lifestyle changes work.
One time I decided to stop eating chocolate completely for 2 weeks. I did lose a bit of weight, but I love chocolate so much, it was too painful, so I had a huge binge at the end of the period and went back to normal consumption levels. Sound familiar?
The easiest way to get the results you want is to make these 4 simple changes to your evening meal:
- Eat dinner early: 6pm, 6.30pm. Not 8pm, not 9pm
- This gives you plenty of digestion time before your body slows down for sleep
- When you’re in sleep mode your body has no use for the energy it’s creating from digesting the food so that energy gets stored as fat
- Don’t snack after dinner. Going to bed almost hungry is best
- This prevents a lump of food sitting in your stomach overnight which your body will turn to fat
- Reduce your dinner portion size by 5%-10%
- Putting less food in your body is good for weight loss but the real benefit here is changing your mindset/attitude. This is a portion a thin person would eat, so you are “thinking thin”
- Drink 2 large glasses of very cold water with your evening meal
- It’s tastes delicious if it’s very cold, it fills you up, and it aids digestion
Step Six: Keep Your Weight Loss A Secret
You may have been told that you should tell other people about your goal because it will help keep you accountable and motivated?
This is a lie.
When you fail (and we all fail), or change your mind (and we all should change our minds from time-to-time), it’s not the threat of their disapproval that will hurt (they don’t care actually), it’s disappointment in yourself that will hurt.
And it can hurt so bad that you quit.
You need to understand that making these changes in your life comes from inside you.
Our brains are lazy and are programmed to minimise energy expenditure.
So the more external factors that you set-up in an attempt to keep motivated, can be hijacked by our lazy brain’s and used as excuses or opportunities to stop.
So don’t tell anyone what your planning, just make the changes to your lifestyle that we are talking about here and wait for the moments when they notice “hey, you’re looking great, have you been working out?”. Those feel reeeeeeally good.
Helpful? Unhelpful? Have your say in the comments below.