Because you try to change too much at once
Trying to lose weight and keep it off for good can feel like a battle you just can’t win. And you can’t escape the dieting advice. There are more weight loss experts than you could shake a stick at. In health and lifestyle sections of magazines and newspapers few things take up more column inches than weight loss. You’ve tried diet after diet, but nothing sticks (except the pounds.)
Why, oh why can’t you lose that excess weight?
Frankly, it’s because most of the experts doing most of the writing know about nutrition. But they know next to nothing about psychology. And if you already know what food is good for you, what’s preventing you losing weight is likely to be difficulty with how you eat, not what you eat.
To lose weight you need to change your eating habits
To lose weight permanently you need to change your eating habits permanently
THIS is why it is so ridiculously hard to lose weight following a conventional diet. Changing established habits takes effort and energy and is best done one step at a time.
Conventional diets require you to overhaul your eating habits overnight, which is near-impossible to keep to.
But if you follow some simple steps to identify exactly what you need to change about your eating habits, and what you don’t, you can achieve permanent weight loss without the Herculean effort of an athlete training for a marathon.
By setting yourself one manageable change at a time, you’ll achieve success and boost your confidence.
By choosing your favourite foods and learning how to eat in tune with your body, eating will be actually pleasurable whilst you lose the pounds.
And because you’ll have established new eating habits, keeping the weight off will be easy.
How to change your eating habits for good
So let’s look at what you need to know in order to start changing your eating habits for good.
A habit forms when we repeat the same action repeatedly. It’s how our brains free up space to deal with new stuff. Once we’ve done something often enough, the sequence becomes automated. From then on, it’s controlled by the subconscious part of our brain. Whenever the first step of the sequence is triggered, the rest follows automatically.
For instance, to make a cup of tea, we go to the kettle. Then filling it, finding the cup and the tea bag and assembling the drink all follow without us needing to think about it. Unless there’s a surprise, like finding no milk in the fridge, in which case we switch our conscious brain on again and work out where to find some.
To change a habit, you need to:
- bring the old habit back into conscious control again by focusing on it every day
- work out what you want the new habit to be. This new sequence will need your full attention whenever you’re about to do the old habit.
- repeat the new sequence deliberately, day in day out until your brain recognises it as a repeating pattern and relegates it to subconscious control, which means this is now the habit. Research suggests that it takes about 60 repetitions of an action to make it a habit. Something you do once a day will take about 2 months to become a habit. Something you do 3 times a day will take more like 3 weeks
Reducing plate size helped me lose a stone
Here’s an example of this in practice, from my own personal experience:
When I set out to lose a stone in weight, my first step was to reduce the size of my evening meals. I was in the habit of putting on my plate the amount I was used to, and I hadn’t given this much thought for years. I hardly ever left anything on my plate and if there was more available, I might have seconds.
I decided that I needed to get into a new habit of eating smaller evening meals.
Every evening for a month or so I had to
- CHANGE the plate I used to a smaller plate
- THINK consciously about how much food I put on my plate
- STOP eating once the plate was empty
- MOVE away from the table as soon as I’d finished so I wouldn’t reach for seconds
I won’t lie to you – It was hard to begin with!
I was worried that I’d feel deprived. To begin with I was shocked how little food I actually needed for my evening meal. Some nights I got it wrong and ate too little and was hungry in the night. But I soon learned what meals left me more hungry and those nights I introduced a late evening snack
But then I made my first staggering discovery about what happened when I learned to eat just as much as my body needs, and this was utterly joyful….
Your taste buds can help you lose weight permanently
When you allow yourself to get definitely hungry before a meal, the food tastes absolutely fabulous. This is because of how our taste buds work. And this was what made stopping eating at “just full” worthwhile – the knowledge that “If I stop now, my next meal will taste fabulous.”
Once I realized that, I deliberately brought that thought to mind as I finished each evening meal, which in turn made it easier to stop.
Just from this one particular change, my weight dropped by half a stone over a few weeks. And because this is how I eat now, that weight has stayed off.
Not sure what your first step should be?
If you’re unsure where to start, use the Unhelpful Eating Habits Checklist today to identify what specific changes you can make to lose weight permanently. Choose just one specific eating habit from your answers to the Checklist.
- Work out what you want your new habit to be
- Be as specific as you can
- Bring this to the front of your mind for the next few weeks, every day
- Write notes to yourself/ put a reminder on the fridge or biscuit tin
- Each time you face the situation which triggered the old habit, deliberately focus on carrying out the new sequence
And don’t worry about changing anything else until this particular habit has become fairly easy to do.
If you need help with this, buy my book “How to Retrain Your Appetite” which takes you step by step through how to change your unhelpful eating habits for good. And if you want additional help, see how you can Work With Me to achieve your weight loss goals.
Part 2 of “Why is it so ridiculously hard to lose a stone in weight?” is here
And Part 3 is here