Now, although this point is theoretically true, it disregards the smaller details which can either lead you to success or failure when it comes to reaching your goals.
Now, firstly what I want to say is I do not believe in 8 or 12 week “diets” to achieve a sustainable level of fat loss, I believe that it should be a steady, maintainable approach if you want to lose the fat and keep it off. You’ll also notice that I am saying “fat loss” rather than “weight loss” and this is just because you may find through lifting weights and fuelling your body properly you lose little to no weight however totally change the composition of your body. This is not to say you shouldn’t do an 8 week blast, but use it to kickstart you, and make sure that the plan you set in place will be sustainable and you’re not thinking “oh my god, I cannot wait until this is over so I can go back to having a takeaway every night”. Instead, limit your takeaway to a Friday night, so you still get one and you’re not depriving yourself and you’re still being healthy 80% of the time.
So, back to the main topic of conversation.
Now, obviously this is a complex question as this is specific to the individual, but I will try and run through the most common reasons that I see, and hopefully one of them will apply to you.
Many people “want to lose weight” but they have not understood the deeper reason for this.
There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from you – it is that little voice inside you that when you’re asked if you want the chocolate muffin says “No! Remember the wedding dress we need to fit into”.
Extrinsic motivation is fuelled from the people around you, whether it is me shouting at you in the gym to do 2 more split squats without stopping or I’ll make you do burpees, or whether it’s your family saying “you should maybe stop eating those – you look like you’ve had enough”.
This is what will drive us in the moment. It will stop us from doing that thing we want to do internally that maybe doesn’t align with our goals, but it is not us making the decision ourselves. We are being influenced to make the right decision.
Intrinsic motivation comes from you, it is you deciding to not stop pushing to get the final 3 calories on the assault bike, it is when you choose to eat one donut and stop, rather than demolishing the packet. This is the type of motivation which will see you through achieving your goals, as when it gets tough (and it will – there’s always ups and downs), you will always have your reasons in the back of your head pushing you through.
I want to add – no one can lose weight 100% of the time, and I DO NOT believe this should be the sole focus when going to the gym, but I do know that is one of the hardest goals to hit in the gym, as there are so many factors that affect it, which is why I am using it as an example.
At the start of your journey, you must establish your ‘whys’, whether that be strength gain, getting fitter or weight loss. Think deep, why do you really want to reach this goal?
Do you feel self conscious on the beach? Do you want to start dating but don’t have the confidence? Do you have a big event coming up? Is your health at stake with your current lifestyle?
You need to understand your why’s and why they are important to you. The broad goal may be to lose weight, but your ins and outs are different to every other thousand person who also wants to lose weight. Once you understand your ‘whys’, you are much more likely to achieve your goals, whatever they may be.
It simply might not be your priority right now – and there’s no shame in that. Right now you may value dinners and nights out with friends more than you value sticking to your new found healthy diet.
It takes time to ease yourself into a new lifestyle, and for the first couple of weeks to months, it requires more effort than it eventually will.
If you are in the first couple of weeks of your lifestyle change and temptation kicks in to have a big night out, you may revert back to your old ways. This means a lot of alcohol consumed, a McDonalds on the way home and a hungover day filled with junk food.
If you had got yourself into the flow of your new lifestyle, you might have gone on the night out – had the same amount of alcohol, said no to the McDonalds and had a hungover day filled with your normal foods as you don’t want to stunt your progress.
Or if it became your main priority you may even say no to the night out.
I believe it is completely possible to have a flexible approach to diet that supports your lifestyle choices and whatever they may be, but you need to accept that changes will have to be made elsewhere to support this. I do promote clients to go on dinners and nights out, because at the end of the day, what’s the point in looking fabulous if you cannot go out and flaunt it?
Main takeaway from this, is find balance. It’s important to be motivated and show a level of dedication to your goal. But, like I stated earlier there’s no point being miserable and lonely, go out and enjoy yourself (within reason!).
Blunt, I know.
This is an obvious one, eating too much will eventually result in weight gain. But why are you eating too much?
Do you stress eat?
When our bodies are stressed, they go into “fight or flight mode”, which actually dampens our hunger (think about a time in work you’ve had a deadline and managed to work through lunch without even realising). This is because our bodies release a hormone called epinephrine (also known as adrenalin) which stunts hunger.
Unfortunately, this rule only applies to short term stress. When our bodies are stressed for a prolonged period of time our bodies will release cortisol which will increase our motivation to eat. Once cortisol levels drop back down, the desire to eat should stop. However, if you are consistently stressed your cortisol levels may stay elevated meaning your desire to eat is constant, even if you are not hungry.
Interestingly, they showed that when you eat hyper palatable foods (eg. “more-ish” foods) your body released dopamine, which in the moment will make you feel better from your bodies stressed state.
So, how do we avoid this?
Have you ever noticed that young boys can go hours and hours on end without eating when they are playing video games? (I promise I am going somewhere with this)
It is because they have found something that puts them into a flow state. They get an enjoyment and hit from playing these video games, that makes hours pass by like seconds. Because of the enjoyment they get from these games, they will get a dopamine hit which will affect them like a piece of cake would affect us.
Obviously I am not suggesting you go and play video games, however find something you really enjoy doing:
Find something that gives you a rush and makes hours pass by like seconds. Get into your flow state and distract yourself from mindless eating.
Leading on from this – be mindful when you come to eat. Are you actually hungry or are you just bored?
Ask yourself: “Would I eat a plate of broccoli right now?”. If your answer is no, likelihood is you’re not actually hungry (this obviously only counts if you like broccoli).
I hope some of these tips may help you to achieve your goals in the future. I think timing and lifestyle has a massive affect and therefore sometimes you may need to make bigger changes in order to help you reach your goal, whatever it may be.
If you have any questions or queries at all, then please do not hesitate to drop me a message and ask away! I will always love to help.