I believe the most important part of my job as a nutritionist is to help people transform the way they think about food. I think every one of my clients has at one point or another said these words to me, "I know what to do, I'm just not doing it." That thing that gets in your way every time you try to make a change to your diet, is the most crucial part of the transformation.
You've most likely had success in the past with a diet or exercise program. You got into The Zone, as I like to call it. You were focused and determined. It feels so good when you're there. Then there were times when you just couldn't get it started. You'd change your ways for a few days and then find yourself right back where you started, with your hands at the bottom of a bag of chips!
What is it that gets you into that sweet spot, that zone? It all starts with a very important first step. It's the first step to lasting weight loss that lots of people either forget about or are unaware of. Without it, you'll have nothing to bring you out of that mindset of, "I don't care anymore, I'm eating the (insert your favorite sugary, carb-rich food here)!"
The first step to lasting weight loss is:
Finding your why.
Finding your why is all about digging deep to find out what your true motivation is to make this change.
Your why will give you a clear sense of purpose that will enable you to focus your efforts on what matters most, compelling you to take risks and push forward regardless of the odds or obstacles.
So, how do you start the first step to lasting weight loss? Start by asking yourself a few questions. I always encourage my clients to journal. It's a wonderful way to get to the bottom of what's going on in your head. I suggest finding a beautiful journal and a quiet space where you won't be interrupted and contemplate these questions:
The first step to lasting weight loss:
Finding your why...
You may start with wanting to look better in your clothes, and that's fine. Just don't stop there. Dig deep! Do you want to lose weight because you are afraid to go to the doctor for fear of hearing a diagnosis that someone in your family has? Do you want to be able to run and play with your kids? Does your body hurt from the pain of inflammation? Do you want to gain confidence to get that new job, new mate or just have the confidence that comes from accomplishing your goals? Do you want to live a long and healthy life with the people you love?
Do yourself a favor and keep it positive. If you feel compelled to write anything such as, "I want to lose weight because I'm fat and I hate myself" STOP! You may feel that way, but turn it around to a positive statement. Try, "I want to lose this excess weight because I love myself and I deserve to feel good in my body." Doesn't that feel better?
Keep writing until you know you've hit the nail on the head. This may take a few days. Give yourself some time. Starting this process with 10 minutes of meditation will bring a lot of clarity to you and will speed up the process.
Once you are sure that you arrived at your answer, write it out and read it each day before you go bed and again when you get up in the morning. Post it on your mirror, your refrigerator and your car. Remind yourself as often as possible to keep it in the forefront of your mind.
In other words, why is this your motivation? For instance, if your why is "I want to lose weight so I can more easily play with my kids", what does that mean to you? Why is that important to you? It may be that your kids get so sad when when you won't go on a bike ride with them or play tag.
If your why is gaining more confidence, what will that confidence bring to your life? A new job? The confidence to start dating again?
List all of the positive changes reaching your goal will bring you. You can also list what your life will look like if you don't reach your goal. What things will you miss out on? What will your future health look like?
Visualization is a very powerful tool. If you can visualize accomplishing your goal, you can achieve it. I love the saying, "If you believe it, you will see it." In other words, if you can see it in your mind, you'll see it in your life. Take some time to visualize your why. A perfect time to do this is during a meditation.
Let's go back to wanting to have more energy to play with your kids. Picture in your mind exactly that. Picture laughing and playing with your kids. Taking a fun hike through the woods or a long bike ride. Picture how happy it makes you all and how much closer your family will be.
Anytime you find yourself in a situation of having to make a decision about food, bring this picture into your mind. Ask yourself if the decision you're about to make will bring you closer to your goal or take you further from it.
It is important to figure out if there is a recurring situation that has kept you from reaching your goal in the past. There could very likely be a story you've been telling yourself that is keeping you from the body and health you desire. For instance, do you think that the excess weight somehow protects you? Do you think that you don't deserve to have a fit body? Do you tell yourself that everyone in your family is big, therefore it's in your genes? How about, "this is just who I am."
These are all just stories that you've been telling yourself. The good news is that you can change the story. Start with changing it into a positive statement. Let's take the it's in my genes story. Change that to "I am my own person. My family does not determine how I choose to live my life." I hear "this is just who I am. I'm a just a big person" a lot. That can be changed to "I am healthy and I treat my body with respect. I am a healthy person and I make healthy choices for my life."
Lastly, and this is a big one: are you afraid to fail...again? It is our human nature to put avoiding pain above gaining pleasure. Failing is very emotionally painful for most people. That can outweigh the pleasure of reaching your goal of weight loss. In other words, it feels better to not fail than it does to succeed.
If you have failed at countless diets, this could be a very big issue for you. What is helpful is to look at the situation differently. Keep this in mind, some of the most successful people in this world have failed countless times before they reached success. Anytime you are making a change in your life, there are bound to be failures. Just think of that failure as a need to change course.
Maybe one of the problems your facing is night time eating. If you've set a goal of not eating after 7:00 pm and you continually fail to reach that goal, change course. For a short time you could set the goal at 9:00 pm. Once you get some success with that time, make a new goal of 8:00 pm. Gradually work up to the goal of 7:00 pm.
As you get closer to reaching the goal that is your why, keep track of small results along the way. Look at situations like how well you are now sleeping, your energy level, some bad habits you've removed from your life, or compliments you may get. When you have a day that your motivation is low, look at these notes to remind yourself how far you've come.
Lasting weight loss is a process. It takes time to make these changes stick so that they become lifelong habits. Give yourself that time. Be gentile and patient with yourself. You are worth it!