I want to lose weight.
The 5 most common words we hear when we ask a prospective client – “What are you looking to achieve?”
Many of them—arguably most of them— that provide that response, have tried every short-term solution in the book:
- 30-day juice cleanse
- Two-week detox
- “Insert brand name” shake/ superfood supplement
- 30 Day Transformation Challenge
- 6 Week Challenge
- 8 Week Challenge
- 12 Week Challenge
…. And the list goes on.
As a result of these “Short Term” promise diets/ programs, many of these same people have completely unrealistic goals about their ‘weight loss’ timeframe.
We once had a client walk in for a consultation and announce that she wanted to lose 15kg before her daughter’s wedding.
When was the wedding? We asked.
“In 4 weeks”. She replied.
Though it’s natural for us to be short-sighted in our goals (because who doesn’t want massive change right now?) it’s clearly not the way to long-term, lifelong change.
All this mentality has done to society is create the yo-yo dieter syndrome. It’s not a very happy place to be, nor does it set anyone up for long-term success.
In my 10+ years of coaching—I have learned those who are most successful in the long-term aren’t those that seek out a ‘Insert Week’ diet challenge every January.
The successful ones are the ones who accept and embrace their weight loss journey won’t be quick. They are the ones who embrace small changes, little-by-little, over the course of one to two years.
If you seek short term solutions, expect short term results.
I know, it sounds daunting to think about mustering up the willpower to commit to something for one to two years. But, it’s actually incredibly less daunting because this habit-based way to change doesn’t actually require any willpower!
The definition of willpower is: Control exerted to do something or restrain impulses.
“I should workout. I am so not in the mood to workout. I need to find the courage to restrain my impulse to drive home instead of to the gym.”
That’s how we normally think of willpower.
Now think about something you do that doesn’t require willpower, like brushing your teeth.
While brushing your teeth isn’t an exhilarating two minutes of your day, it’s something that was ingrained in you since childhood, and probably doesn’t require much willpower to follow through and do it every day.
Now imagine if avoiding the cakes at work felt like that? Or if you actually just went to the gym without thinking about it? Without mustering the willpower to get yourself to go?
That’s where you can be after 12 to 24 months of small, yet consistent, habit based changes.
THE HABIT BASED PLAN
Choose one (or two) new action-based habits to pursue every month for 12 months.
By action-based, I mean an actual action you have control over, such as meal prepping your lunches for the week every Sunday.
Before you choose your habits, make a list of the things you currently think need improvement—things that you would like to change, such as:
- I want to eat more vegetables.
- I want to eliminate sugar.
- I want to eliminate processed foods.
- I want to get outside more.
- I want to workout more.
- I want to drink less alcohol.
- I want to eat out less.
- I want to meal prep and cook more.
- I want to pack lunches more frequently for work.
- I want to overeat less.
- I want to spend less time sitting during the day.
- I want to spend less time watching Netflix.
- I want to play with my kids more
Imagine if you tried to change all 13 of those things overnight? Now that is overwhelming, and would require some serious willpower, and would be very difficult to sustain, right?
But, what if you tackled just one of those things this upcoming month?
MONTH 1: PICK A HABIT
I commit to removing sugar from my morning coffee.
That’s it. That’s all you need to do. You’re now going to drink your coffee black from now on, or with your choice of milk.
MONTH 2: PICK A SECOND HABIT
I commit to eating vegetables at every dinner.
Again, that’s it. Ensure you eat vegetables every evening. At this point, you’re used to not having sugar in your coffee, so that no longer requires much brain power, and now you can devote your energy to making sure you have vegetables to eat each night.
Tip: Don’t beat yourself up if you have a dinner where you go out and eat fish and chips and don’t get any veggies in you. You don’t beat yourself up if you accidentally go to bed without brushing your teeth once in a blue moon. You just get back on it the next day. Employ the same mindset for your vegetable commitment—don’t expect perfection, just better than before.
MONTH 3: PICK A THIRD HABIT
I commit to taking the stairs to the sixth floor at work and to park the furthest away I possibly can in any parking lot to get myself walking more.
MONTH 4: PICK A FOURTH HABIT
I commit too drinking a glass of water every morning when I wake up because hydration is important, but it also aids in the prevention of overeating.
MONTH 5: PICK A FIFTH HABIT
I commit to slowing down my eating and being more present and mindful as I’m eating.
Tip: If you’re not sure what this even means, consider asking yourself questions as you’re eating, such as: How am I feeling right now? Anxious? Bored? Stressed out? Why do I want this food? Am I really hungry?
The more in tune with your emotions and why they might lead you to overeat you become, the easier it will be for you to start recognising your true physical hunger signals.
SMALL INCREMENTAL CHANGES
Keep going like this for 12 months. Or even 24 months if there are still things you want to change.
One more tip—write all your habits down and keep a log of how you’re doing each day or week. This helps you truly appreciate the changes you’re making, so even if your weight loss isn’t happening as fast as you’d like, you will still recognise that you’re making a ton of positive changes and are, in fact, a success story. This will help you stay on the path you’re on.
While all of the above small habits might sound insignificant in and of themselves, as the cliché goes, lots of baby steps will all amount to significant change over time.
And by the end of the 12 months, there you are:
- Rarely overeating
- Eating vegetables with every meal
- Working out a few days a week
- Spending more time walking and less time sitting during the day
- Only drinking alcohol on weekends
- Rarely consuming sugar of processed foods
- Have more energy to play with the kids
And down 15 kilograms.
A fairly massive shift, right?
And the best part is, you will have made these changes without feeling like you’re fighting yourself to find more willpower!
Give it a try. Start small—choose a habit.