Do you find it a struggle to lose weight and keep it off? Do you find it hard when starting a diet and making lots of changes at once?
Lorna told me the other day when she came in for her session that her diet had slipped a bit and could I give her some recipes as she was about to go to the supermarket and buy a lot of healthy food.
I decided against it, not because I didn’t want to help her (I do) but because I didn’t believe it would solve the bigger problem. Making big, sweeping moves like buying lots of healthy food in one go instead of what we’d normally buy seldom works well as after a few days, it’s easy to get bored and crave things you’ve cut out.
Instead, I recommend create a series of habits that will lead to getting better, longer-lasting results without denying yourself anything but will naturally lead to cutting out the things that aren’t serving you well.
Here are my top 5 habits for weight loss:
1. Drink 2 litres of water every day – it’s likely you’re not drinking enough and reach for a biscuit or a snack not because you’re hungry but because you’re dehydrated. The natural reaction is to reach for something to give you energy whereas all you actually need is a glass of water. We wake up dehydrated so have a drink as soon as you get up.
What you can do: Drink a glass or a mug of warm water with a slice of lemon when you wake up then drink another 7 glasses the rest of the day, including one with each meal. Take regular sips rather than gulping and refill when empty and do this every day. Result: Good news! You can say goodbye to mid-morning/afternoon energy slumps and feel your skin quality improving.
2. Move More – you probably know about the magical 10,000 steps but while that in itself doesn’t guarantee weight loss, it’s a useful figure to aim for if you don’t tend to move much during the day. 10,000 is quite a lot to get through especially as you’re a busy person but the more you can move in short bursts throughout the day, the more energy you will have.
What you can do: Get up earlier and go for a 20 minute walk or 3000 steps at a brisk pace then repeat at lunchtime and in the evening. If you don’t have a fitbit, it’s ok, if you’ve got an iPhone, you will be able to see it in Apple’s Health app or you can download a free pedometer app. Result: Getting out in the fresh air will give you a chance to clear your head, solve problems and focus on important tasks so you can get them done quicker
3. Plan your meals – How many times have you waited until a mealtime before deciding what to have? This is a bad idea and will often lead us to eat something simple that will satisfy us quickly and is often unhealthy.
What you can do: Plan your meals in advance and get the ingredients in at the weekend. You can even batch-make something like soup that you can put in tubs, stick in the freezer and take it out each day. You can also try using a slow cooker and prepare something like a chilli the night before, switch on in the morning and is ready for you at night-time. Try basing your meals around some good protein and vegetables. Start by changing one meal, do it consistently for a week then change another meal and so on Result: You have healthy, nutritious meals that are easily accessible to eat when you need them, will fill you up and help your waistline
4. Eat slowly and stop when you feel 80% full – Do you tend to eat lunch at your desk and eat quickly so you can get back to work? This is very common however it can lead to indigestion and overeating. If you eat too quickly, you’ll have finished and still feel hungry so then eat a snack of some kind and add on more calories.
What you can do – Sit away from your desk, use this period as a break and chew each mouthful at least 10 times before swallowing then take a mouthful of water and stop eating when you begin to feel full. Result: You will feel fuller quicker, naturally reduce your portion size and not feel the need to eat that snack afterwards. You will feel like you’ve got more energy and not have a slump a short while after.
5. Get at least 7 hours sleep every night – does a good night’s sleep feel like a luxury to you? Do you sleep soundly and wake up feeling energised and not needing to hit the snooze button? It’s ok, many of us don’t sleep well at all. The problem here is if you’re not sleeping well, you’re more likely to reach for more snacks to keep you going throughout the day and also your body will begin to store fat in order to keep it functioning.
What you can do: Think about what time you need to get up in the morning for your walk and give you plenty of time to get ready without rushing. Count back 7 hours (ideally it should be 8 but let’s start with 7) so you know what time you want to be going to sleep. Say, for example, you want to go to sleep at 10pm, switch off social media and emails at least 30 minutes before that and read a book, do some meditation or listen to some relaxing music to help you drift off. Result: You will begin to get a better, deeper sleep without waking up in the night and you wake up in the morning wide awake, full of energy and ready to get up and start the day. Coffee will be a bonus rather than a necessity!
I recommend choosing one of these habits and practice it every day for at least a week until you feel like you’re doing it without thinking then choose another one and repeat the same process. It’s ok if you don’t manage to master each task straight off. It’s about practicing, learning and making each day better than the one before.
Start with the one you feel will be the easiest for you and keep everything else the same as normal.
Each of these habits are things that are likely missing from your life right now and practicing one at a time will make them easier to adopt and not have you feel overwhelmed with too many changes at one time.
As you master each one, you’ll start to feel a difference in your overall wellbeing as well as the fit of your clothes and you’ll also start to notice you no longer having the desire for things like chocolate or crisps even though you haven’t denied yourself them.