Part 1: Post Summer focus!! Long-term Weight Loss
Wow! Where did the Summer go? It feels like it's been a full one, but a fast one!
Maybe the kids are heading back to school now, your vacations are a fond memory and the Pimms and BBQ season is drawing to a close. It's time to turn your focus back towards you-you've selflessly whizzed through Summer thinking abut everyone and everything else, now you may be left with the distinct aftertaste of overindulgence and regret.
If that's you, I'd love to take you through a successful journey to losing weight from this point on with the following blog.
Who am I to be talking about long-term weight loss? Read my full story here.
When I am working with clients one to one, we hone in on what is really deeply going on for them around their weight loss, but there are generally a few rules of thumb which get overlooked or misunderstood by the majority of people embarking on a new eating plan or weight loss journey, so I'm going to blitz those and break them down for you over the next few blogs.
Part 1: Transitioning from THINKING about losing weight to ACTUALLY losing weight
Part 2: Setting goals for successful weight loss the strategic way
Part 3: Taking daily inspired action to move towards your weight loss goals
Part 4: Maintaining weight loss and your goal weight when you get there.
Part 1: Transitioning from THINKING about losing weight to ACTUALLY losing weight
The overall weight loss cycle:
It really, really helps to understand how your mind ticks when it comes to weight loss. Everybody moves through these stages with weight loss-it's scientifically proven, so when you know this to be true, it can change your perspective around losing weight and of course, where you're at right now with yourself and how you are feeling about your weight, body shape, energy and confidence.
When you are unaware of the overall weight loss cycle that we move through, you can often think that when you slip off a healthy regime for a day, that it spells the end of it and you start to slide down a slippery slope back to old habits and that's the end of your good intentions, for days, weeks or even months. This is not true at all, but as our beliefs mould our reality, a self-fulfilling prophecy takes over and we become what we think about.
The weight loss cycle does exactly what it says on the tin-it's a cycle-we move around it, through it, sometimes backwards, mostly forwards, but providing we have a clear, powerful goal that our cycle revolves around, we can always bring the cycle back to working in our favour, and most importantly, we can do that for the long-term, even when we have achieved our dress size or weight loss goals.
That cycle goes like this:
- PRE-CONTEMPLATION - CONTEMPLATION - PREPARATION - ACTION - MAINTENANCE - RELAPSE -
Pre-contemplation is quite honestly the state of mind where you are oblivious there is a problem with your weight or your relationship with food, or have become so complacent that you don't realise you are sliding or have slid into bad habits again. This often comes about through a life event or a depression that triggers you into becoming unaware, unconscious of the way you are eating, what you are eating, the times, portion sizes and how and why you are eating that way, therefore making it hard to see the need to change. You are simply not thinking about changing your way of life at this point-it's just not on your radar.
For most people, after a period of months, or even years, you get a sudden jolt back to reality around your size and weight, a health scare, a family photo or holiday snap where you can not help but see yourself in the cruel, cold light of day, or someone makes a comment about your size. I call this 'The Shift', or 'The Breakdown'. You are literally snapped back into seeing yourself as the person you DON'T want to be-you become aware that your clothes are snug, your skin is grey and patchy, you're not sleeping well and you just don't feel 'yourself'.
At this point, you are nudged forward to Contemplation, 'maybe I should drink more water', 'it's time I cut down on chocolate', 'I need to lose weight.' Or there is a time-sensitive driver in force-a wedding, a holiday coming and you know you HAVE to do something, but you still don't take action yet, it's simply a movement of your thinking from not being aware, to becoming aware that you have to do something about your weight.
Contemplation can also vary from lasting a few hours, to a few days or weeks, but ultimately, our minds and bodies start to manifest the circumstances and events that pull you through to preparation; you might see an Weight Watchers advert on TV, check out an ad on your Facebook, hear a friend telling you she's starting a new plan, and it spurs you on to investigate further.
This is Preparation. Researching healthy recipes, plans, looking at subscribing to a gym or a smiling club usually, for some, rock bottom may mean they are looking for counselling or, therapy. There is also a huge range of emotions connected to this process, as you can imagine-a rock bottom feeling does not come lightly, but to the contrary, change can often be followed by excitement, anticipation, renewed willpower. For most in a yo-yo pattern of dieting, a sense of urgency often comes up alongside these emotions.
So, you've researched some options, you dowloaded some recipes, your Pinterest board 'healthy meals' is packed full of goodness and now it's time to PRESS THE BUTTON and buy. You sign up to a club, make your appointments with your therapist and you hit the supermarket in order to stock up on healthy, fresh, whole, 'on plan' foods. You have meals planned and shopping lists prepared ready for the new regime.
Welcome to ACTION!!
You're eating better, you've reduced your sugar intake, despite the detox headaches and you're proud of yourself. You're going to Zumba two days a week, heading to the gym with a friend, drinking more water and it feels good! You're starting to embody the changes you need to make to feel better in yourself - weight loss starts, your energy goes up, your digestion improves, you're sleeping much better, your motivation is strong.
People you haven’t seen for a while start to notice! Now you're super duper proud of yourself!
21 days in to a new healthy routine, action starts to move into Maintenance - it becomes habit - the two work closely together until you achieve your desired weight or size goal.
Maintenance is a fundamental part of the weight loss cycle-most people associate maintenance with once they have achieved their desired weight and are aiming to keep it there. That is true, but maintenance kicks in long before that, as you learn and adapt to maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to lose weight in and around the daily stresses and time constraints of life.
Maintenance is all about creating habits and routines that you can carry on for longer than 21 days. This is why clear goal setting and action strategies are sooooo important, because if you start your new regime going to the gym 5 nights a week, going to two exercise classes, getting up at 5 am to prep the meals for the day etc. then as soon as you have to change that routine for something life has chucked at you, it is sooooo difficult to back into it. Making your goals and action realistic around your life ensures success for good, not just for a few weeks.
Consistency is key. Consistent action to be healthy and active taken over a period of time will lead to inevitable weight loss, toning up and dress sizes lost, not to mention all the huge health benefits. In Maintenance, your consistency is rewarded by the people you see every day starting to notice the changes in you, and of course, you are also feeling amazing as a result of fuelling your body with incredible nutrition and exercise.
There comes a point in anyone's weight loss journey where we hit a wall or plateau with our weight, or motivation evaporates, we are upset by something, or we just give up for no good reason.
In the weight loss cycle, this is called Relapse. I hate that term - it resonates with addictions, failure, weakness, pain and we of course feel the associated emotions; shame and guilt as we 'relapse'. It can come from a range of circumstances; unconscious programming, self-sabotaging behaviour, emotions, illness and boredom, for example.
I coach all my clients to reframe this period into a 'self-care', or 'review' period-it's so much more constructive, empowering and objective-taking out the emotion and applying logic and rationality to the slide in healthy ways. Do you want to know why I do this with clients? Because plateaus, relapses (YUK!), slips, life events are normal and occur for many reasons (I'll be covering relapses in much more detail in a later blog) - we have have have to learn to understand this, so we don't think we have failed when it happens. When the mind thinks it has failed, it will reinforce the belief you hold that weight loss is hard, it latches on to all the other times in your life where it thinks you failed and BOOM! you're in a state of emotions that renders you out of control of your eating....again...and back into Pre-contemplation you go, so the cycle begins again.
I hope you noticed from the diagram, relapse is a forward moving part of the cycle, it's not backwards. The key to transformation is to ensure that relapse is accepted with a logical mind, a touch of curiosity and a light heart. In doing this, Relapse becomes an incredible learning tool for you to understand yourself better, realise that you need to review what's working, what's not working, so you can slide backwards, into Action and Maintenance again, rather than fall off the wagon until you come round to Pre-contemplation and have to start over. Our bodies' needs change like the seasons change, so what was working a few months ago, may become ineffective until your body has received nutrients it is now lacking in, for example. It's in relapse where the real change occurs - yet we have for so long seen it as a negative thing, when infact it is one of the most empowering, educational periods in our weight loss journeys that we could come across.
So...what part of the cycle are YOU in? Where have you been before and for how long?
What do your next THREE steps need to be to move you forwards into the next part of the cycle, or keep you in the positive, action taking one you are in?
If you are in relapse right now, think of ONE small thing can you do move out of it now, which will have a BIG impact on your weight loss journey.
You know, if what we're hitting on in this article is making you feel like you can move through that cycle yourself now, but you know you need some support along the way, book yourself a complimentary 30 minute call with me to get you going on the right tracks.
As I said previously, I will dive into 'relapses' in more detail in a later blog as it is one of the most powerful parts of integrating successful weight loss and healthy eating habits into our whole life, for the long-term, not just for a short term fad or diet. So sign yourself up to receive regular updates here!
Sending lots of healthy, happy, love!