Many of us have been there….
’the diet starts on Monday’
the dresses that hang in the wardrobe ‘just in case I lose those extra few pounds’
crash dieting to lose weight for the summer holiday ….
only to put it all back on again plus, in most cases, additional pounds!
So, why are most diets unsuccessful and why is it so difficult for us to maintain a healthy weight? And what has it got to do with psychology?
Weight Loss & Psychology
We all have thoughts and feelings that are based on long standing habits and beliefs. These beliefs and habits are what drive our behaviours, many of which we will not even be conscious of.
For example, how many of us were told to ‘clear your plate’ rather than ‘eat until you are satisfied’.
Trying to re-train your brain to do something different is difficult, it will always try and revert back to old patterns of behaviour and this is where the psychology comes in: losing weight is as much about retraining your brain as much as changing what you eat.
We have come up with five tips to get you started…
#1 Write down your motivation
Why do you want to losing weight? For example; ‘I want to be able to stay active for my grandchildren by losing 3 stone’ or ‘I want to lose 2 stone so that I can feel confident again’. Also, it is important to make sure the why you want to lose weight is not linked to a one-off event such as a wedding or a holiday, it should be an on-going lifestyle choice.
#2 Remind yourself why
Once you have written your why down keep reading it. Keep a copy of it where you can remind yourself regularly, particularly near places where you you have formed habits that lead to overeating. For example; if you are in the habit of snacking whilst catching up on those box sets keep a copy by your TV. Or put it on your fridge if you are in the habit of browsing the contents of it when you or bored! Or put one as your screensaver on your phone.
#3 One thing at a time
Long-term ‘global’ goals are difficult to measure, feel unattainable and often lead to failure so concentrate at changing one behaviour at a time. Putting smaller portions on your plate or taking the stairs at work rather than the lift are great ways to make small changes that are easy to sustain and slowly start to make a difference.
#4 Be kind to yourself
When you have not been able to achieve your goal instead of criticising yourself or giving up, use this as an opportunity to start to identify what the obstacles were and think about how you can overcome this.
Remember, whilst you can have the desire to reach your goal, your brain will be wanting you to revert to old habits but the more you repeat the new, healthier habits, the easier they will become.
There are many other things to consider but this will start you on your way. It can be very tricky and professional psychological support can help. We offer therapies to help overcome the patterns many have on unsuccessful dieting which explore the psychology to create a lifetime of healthy weight management. Book a free consultation to find out more.