DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?
It’s Monday morning and you wake up feeling gross after having been on your famous ‘pre-diet’ weekend binge.
You’ve got mixed emotions… On one hand, you’re dreading the thought of the hideous cravings to come, but on the other, you are pretty hopeful that this time is different. In fact, you actually feel quite excited about the prospect of finally getting the body you want!
Beep beep beep…. Tuesday mornings alarm rudely awakens you, but you jump out of bed proud of yourself for going to the gym not once, but twice yesterday, AND you managed to stick to your diet 100%! Even better, you already feel lighter and less bloated. Today is going to be a good day!
Wednesday arrives and oh man, your body feels as though you have been trampled on by a herd of cows. Okay pull yourself together, no pain, no gain and all that! At least you know it’s working, right?...
Much like the last two days, you battle your way through to Friday evening. Tonight, is your friend’s birthday meal. DA, da, DAAAAAA ‘the big test’ has arrived! By the time you get there, you’re ravenous and everyone is splurging out on ‘all da foods’. But, you’re not accepting defeat this time! After all you’ve told the whole world on social media that you’re #winning on your diet…
Whooohoooo you’ve made it to the weekend! You can hardly contain yourself as you jump onto the scales. And then you are hit in the face with the evil numbers! Not one kg lost! What the heck!!!! You have eaten next to nothing, exercised REALLY hard and it’s all been for nothing! What’s the point? You’re obviously not built like those other ‘fitness people’… your metabolism is too slow, your bones too big and you put on a stone just by looking at a chocolate bar!
That’s it, you will not keep putting yourself through this anymore. And with that you excitedly plan your weekend of ‘treats’ to cheer yourself up. No more miserable diets ever again… until Monday of course!
DIETS FAIL PEOPLE OVER AND OVER AGAIN…
According to NHS statistics, 2 out of 3 adults are overweight or obese... And yet looking at figures from the world’s leading market intelligence agency ‘Mintel’, it appears that again 2 out of 3 brits are ‘on a diet’ for most of the time…
What does that tell us? That in real life, ‘diets’ are ineffective at helping people to lose weight!
It’s not that diets can’t work, as pretty much all diets can result in significant weight loss… if followed (1, 2). However, it seems that the big problem is that the kind of diets people go on are almost impossible to stick to in the long-term and real-life setting. Even when it comes to people participating in a scientific study, up to half of them don’t adhere to their prescribed diet (3, 4, 5)! And, if you are ever going to stick at something, it is much more likely to be when you are being closely monitored.
Studies show that even after successfully losing weight on a diet, over 2/3rds of successful dieters regain the weight over the next 3 years (6,7). So, say you and two of your friends work your butts off to successfully diet down to your target weight, well actually only one of you will maintain that going forwards… bang out of order!
SO, WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
* Quit dieting
* Quit perfection
* Make small consistent changes that support your goals AND live by them
* OR… work with a professional to help you implement those lifestyle changes
Take everything off of the banned list
When you tell yourself to avoid something, you effectively put it on the mental ‘high alert’ list. This is because you have a very clever little structure within your brain called the recticular activating system (RAS) that controls your level of consciousness and what you pay attention to (8, 9, 10).
To get an idea of what I mean (and for giggles and gasps), check out this famous 1 minute YouTube clip here (11).
As a human being you are consistently bombarded with an intolerable amount of information through your 5 senses (or 6, if you believe in that) every second of every day. It would be impossible to function if you consciously ‘noticed’ everything. Therefore, your RAS filters through the crap to pick out a more manageable selection of data based on what it deems to be the most relevant to you. Relevancy is based on your own personal beliefs and topics of interest, as well as anything that is perceived as dangerous.
This is why you would suddenly begin to notice blue BMW’s everywhere after deciding to buy a blue BMW. Your RAS is filtering out all of the irrelevant information on other cars and highlighting the ones of interest to you.
So, to help you on your quest for your dream bod, legalise ALL foods so that your RAS gives you a break and your food obsession disappears!
Make ‘balance and consistency’ your new moto!
Highly restrictive diets are unsustainable because they do not go with the flow of normal life. One minute you are ‘on a diet’ and the next you are on holiday stuffing your face with everything that you have been restricting in the run up to your holiday. Consequently, you have ‘thin’ clothes and ‘fat’ clothes and more often than not, this pattern of behaviour means that they all get bigger every year.
Therefore, don’t keep setting yourself up for failure by embarking on a diet that does not allow you to actually live your life. Instead, choose to adopt small daily habits that you can gradually tweak over time. Bit by bit, you will find that you happily start to drop fat without restrictive behaviour and all whilst building your confidence and motivation to do a little more. If you are not sure how to do this, get a professional on board, whom can guide and support you through the transition so that you can discover what works for you and happily take control of your achieving your goals.
Shift your focus to what to eat more of.
A huge study following over 120,000 for over 20 years (12), found that being lighter was associated with people that ate more fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains and dairy. By incorporating more goal supportive foods into your day, you will benefit from their healthful properties whilst also filling yourself up so that you have less room or desire for the less supportive foods.
Cooking ‘fakeways’ can be a great way to satisfy certain tastes, whilst helping you to stay on course with your body goals journey. This super simple tortilla wrap pizza was soooooo tasty and simple it’s ridiculous (yes I made it and the entire family love it.. even my food-loving, hungry brother-in-law)!
Improve your mood and manage your emotions because you will naturally eat less as well as feel good!
Since it has been shown that a variety of diets work (1, 2, 13, 14), whether it be high carb or high fat, points systems or macro balanced, it is evident that the age-old understanding that the most important factor determining whether or not people drop weight, is how much they are eating in comparison to expending. Therefore, the quantity of food you consume should be addressed and one of the easiest ways to do this is to change how you ‘feel’.
An enormous scientific review (15) beautifully highlights the significant link between mood, overeating and obesity. Low mood, depression, stress and anxiety are now widely accepted as big risk factors for binge-eating and being overweight. Thus, working on improving your mental well-being is key to naturally cutting back on the amount of food eaten. This topic is so big, that it will be covered in a later blog post, but the aim is to increase the feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.
Briefly, you can do this by a number of ways including;
a) Getting lots more natural light (16) either being outside more (even when it is cloudy) or by investing in a SAD light-therapy box,
b) Getting much more active in general. We sit way more than we were ever designed to exercise is key to optimising brain chemicals that make you feel happy, satisfied, energised and focused (17),
c) Practice mindfulness and meditation as it encourages a more positive mood (18), significantly reduces over-eating behaviour (19) and has shown to significantly enhance weight loss (20).
You can get amazing results by saying goodbye to the yoyo diet club! It’s time to quit punishing yourself with evil diets and start rewarding yourself with a better body that comes from more ‘consistent’ balanced living and a much more positive mindset.