The word “diet” conjours up many negative thoughts and feelings so in my last article I suggested that we redefine the word diet so that we no longer attach feelings of negativity to this small four letter word.
And yet millions of people around the world will today be starting a diet to lose weight. Why, when the thought of dieting fills us with dread and we know we are likely to fail (95% of people who go on a diet will gain back all the weight they lose within 5 years), do we manage to convince ourselves that this time it will work; we will have more willpower, exercise more and won’t give in to cravings etc?
I think there are two main reasons.
- As humans we crave certainty. We want to know that if we do A B C we will get X Y Z. So when we hear that Pam next door has lost 2 stone we want to know how she did it. When we see a celebrity promoting their latest DVD we buy it hoping to replicate their results and when we read attention grabbing headlines in the glossy magazines we feel motivated and excited that this latest weight loss hack is going to change our lives.
- The dieting industry is worth billions. It’s in the best interests of these companies to keep us on the dieting treadmill, buying their books, products and branded foods. And when we fail they’re there to help us get back on track and start again.
If you take just one thing away from this article I would like it to be this.
“Weight loss is not linear and it is impossible to predict how quickly you will lose weight”.
I could write the most amazing workout and nutrition program and give it to 100 women. One third of those women would find the program easy to follow, feel great and get fantastic results. Another third might stick with the program but not really enjoy it and then feel aggrieved when they only lose a pound or two and the final third may find they actually put a bit of weight on. Why? Because we are all unique so we have to find a weightloss lifestyle that works for us.
So what is the answer? How do you lose weight without ever going on another diet?
It starts in your mind. You have to give up the idea that there is a one-size-fits-all solution and accept that
- there is no magic weight loss pill
- it won’t happen overnight
- you will trip up and make mistakes
Take time to learn how your metabolism and fat loss really works because it’s NOT just about cutting calories.
Yes, you need a calorie deficit to lose body fat, but just as importantly you need to keep your hormones balanced because calories don’t control your hunger, energy or cravings, hormones do. A low calorie diet does not lead to a balanced metabolism, in fact it causes the reverse. By eating in a way that balances your hormones you will naturally eat less, keep hunger at bay, reduce cravings and stabilise energy levels.
The following guidelines are a framework to build your own weight loss lifestyle. As you start to implement these changes you will begin to learn more about your body and what works for you. You will need to become a diet detective, experimenting and adjusting, trying things out – you will make mistakes but that is all part of the learning process.
- Eat fresh, unprocessed foods more often. Base your meals around lean protein and vegetables. Foods that are rich in water & fibre (vegetables) and are digested slowly (protein) fill you up quickly and keep you feeling full for longer. Then add some starch (carbohydrates) and some good quality fat for a balanced meal.
- Exercise smarter. Walk (at a leisurely pace) as much as you can and make your workouts short and intense (10 – 30 minutes) 3-5 times a week. Leisure walking is great for lowering your stress hormones, while short, high intensity workouts are great for fat burning and don’t cause a spike in hunger afterwards.
- Get 8 hours sleep. Your body’s hormones have a rhythm which gets out of sync if you regularly only get 5-6 hours a night. A good nights sleep will mean less hunger, reduced cravings and balanced energy levels the next day.
- Make time in your life to relax and focus on you. Enjoy some meditation, gentle yoga, reading, massage, hot bath – whatever it is that recharges your batteries. This will lower your cortisol levels and elevate the feel-good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine.