Bits and pieces for enhancing your perspective on weight loss
1. Start with the end in mind
Weight loss is not a stop start journey. People fall into the trap of getting to the end of a diet only to stop dead, failing to care for a longer period of time, lacking the long term habit formation or transfer of the lessons learnt into future dieting phases. Weight management and body composition should be seen as a spiral that passes through phases, always planned and leading to improvement in not just physiology, but psychology and well being. The end of one phase is the commencement of the next. The true lesson to be learnt in any diet is to be able to control ones body composition within a given range over a long period of time.
An important question one should ask themselves prior to a dietary stint:
Is this something I can do long term?
Can I sustain this for 10 weeks?
Can I sustain this for a year?
Can I do adhere to this approach for 10 years?
Your answers to the aforementioned will give you a clear indication of whether your approach will not only help you achieve your short term goals, but allow you to maintain it. There is a huge difference between a quick fix aka extreme diets that produce rapid results in the short-mid term and a lifestyle change.
When pursuing a diet, be sure to keep the end in mind and think about sustainability. Unless of course your looking to get on stage!
2. Behaviour Inventory
The second area to address is current behaviours and running an inventory of what it is we are doing – BAR.
What behaviours can be:
– Better (improve current behaviours)
– Added (introduce new behaviours to eliminate deficits)
– Removed (eliminated excess behaviours)
So, if your goals are to improve your physique and you’re considering a new diet, ask yourself – what are the behaviours embedded in my lifestyle and around food that have lead to me to this point?
This plays a large role in determining what changes are necessary to see progress as well as can help you identify the likelihood of rebound once the diet is complete.
For example, how sustainable is removing carbohydrates completely from my diet or adding 2 hours of cardio per day?
Like all things in life, uniformity in behaviour and lifestyle are required to redirect and mobilising your efforts towards your desired goals. Be sure to pick one behaviour at a time to adjust, starting with the easiest to modify and then building momentum and self belief to tackle the not so easy to change behaviours.
3. Learn through failure as early as you can
As a culture, failure is something we don’t celebrate enough. We often view failure as an individuals incompetence or lack of success, rather than viewing it through a lens that identifies the potential for growth and self development as a result of adversity, challenge and risk taking.
Failure is not a mistake, if you learn from it. So, throughout your dieting journey, keep a diary of all of the failures you have had and note the lessons you learnt and how you can prevent them from occurring again in the future. A small amount of time reflecting can be beneficial in foreseeing and navigating challenges in the future. However, too much retrospection isn’t ideal, and neither is staying in the future. So plan for your future but remain present in the moment. Oh, and dont get caught up on things that cant be changed – the past.
4. “Do what is right, not what is easy”
One of my favourite quotes by the famous professor Albus Dumbledore.
Taking the easy way out is the reason most of us need to diet in the first place. Life isn’t overly difficult when comparing to years gone by. Relatively speaking it may feel hard, but a historical assessment of what our lives entail today in 2019 in contrast to 1919 highlights the stark reality that we have it pretty darn good.
Fast cars, fast food and a heap of technology all designed to cater to our need for an easier life. Sure they help increase efficiency, great for convenience, but convenience won’t necessarily help you on your journey to your goal physique.
With that in mind, when embarking on a lifestyle change say ‘yes’ to effort. Perhaps reframing your perspective on what a meaningful and happy life entails is the first step, but nonetheless effort is a good thing and shouldn’t always be avoided or feared.
Less automation, more manual labour can be the catalyst for positive change in your weight loss journey.
For example, putting in ‘more’ effort to cook home meals.
Getting more hands on, purchasing raw ingredients whole, cutting and prepping all the items and then cooking them (using technology of course). Sure the cost of investment is effort and time, but the reward is nutritious food, improving your culinary skills and creating tasty food thats cooked with a bit of TLC.
Oh, and when you’re done, stand at the sink, rinse, wash and dry the dishes. Your spouse will thank you.
In contrast to the above, a polarising option in regards to meal preparation is to purchase pre made meals.
Evidently, the effort and time cost associated with these services is low. And sure they are handy to have stored away when you are caught off guard in emergency situation, however they are often double edge sword – high in convenience, low in skill acquisition.
Over reliance on pre-prepared foods often leaves individuals with not much to show for their investment, at best, perhaps they learnt portion control or how to read food labels. More importantly, linking this to my above point, the individuals who opt for such meal services often don’t start with the end in mind.
What will pre made meals teach you and will it be sustainable long term?
The same goes for activity…
More walking, stairs, bikes etc being inefficient in life can help your weight loss journey in a significant way, so strive to live with less convenience and as often as possible, choose the option that requires more physical effort. If something is easy, you’re most likely getting nothing from it, so be bothered to be bothered.
5. Plan for the worst day
When everything is going right, everything is fine. Plans can be made and executed, life is good.
Then life throws you a curve ball and it’s easy to get thrown of course and revert back to what is easy, comfortable and what got you to the point where you want to change.
Not addressing your stressors or your usual responses to stress is a sure way to fall off the wagon.
Plan ahead and perceive the worst case scenario, a day from hell.
Slept in, spilt your coffee on your shirt while driving, left your lunch at home, boss is being a twat, relationship problems, sick child, got fired, car broke down.
Plan for this day. With the worst day of existence in mind, on a piece of paper, draw three columns and title them
1- I get stressed when….
2- When stressed, I used to do…
3- When stressed I will…
In the first column, think back and think ahead to what has and could happen. Fill in the middle column with all the examples and methods you usually turn too in difficult times. Then, populate the column to the right with more productive behaviours.
On the topic of food and a day from hell, what do you do?
It would be fair to say that sticking to the original attack plan would be difficult to say the least, but what would be the best choice to make in such circumstances, choices that in some ways still align with your goals?
Know where you would go and what you would get from a variety of food providers.
Create a list of items you can purchase from a supermarket to ensure your compliance is still strong, but to also reduce the likelihood of feeling like you’ve given up on your goals. At the end of the day, no moment or decision is worth feeling guilty for, make a choice and move on.
Bonus: Don’t throw the reigns up at the end.
Stated earlier, the end of one dieting phase should initiate the start of the next. The next dieting phase isn’t ‘off the wagon’ either… Instead of viewing nutrition as black or white, think in shades of grey. Move to maintenance, or a slight surplus. This should require an overhaul in your approach or behaviours, but will alleviate a lot of the fatigue and stress associated with energy restriction.
Aim to hold the structures and behaviours you’ve developed through a hands on approach heavily dependant on high effort choices of every day tasks.
Be mindful of couch time, netflix and your social circles – they can be a black hole of goals and ambitions.
Continue to focus on progress, not perfection and apply your understandings of the link between your behaviour and lifestyle, to help you regain control of your weight and enjoy the fruits that life has to offer.