Did you know that there’s a ‘hard way’ to lose weight – and it’s probably the one you’ve been doing…
For so long, we’ve been led to believe that the ‘hard’ way is the only way, and it involves:
- Relying on the strength of your willpower
- Counting and restricting your calories
- Endless hours of arduous cardio workouts
Essentially, the ‘hard’ way requires us to change our behaviour but what it fails to do is teach us the most essential step in making those changes sustainable – hence why it’s the ‘hard’ way to lose weight.
As a health, nutrition and mindset coach, I’ve helped countless women achieve their health goals by giving them the tools they need to adapt their habits and create a healthy lifestyle the right way – the sustainable way.
Changing our habits and creating consistency isn’t easy but when you have the right tools and assistance, you can make sustainable changes to your health without relying on your willpower. So, if you want to head into Spring with a renewed approach to losing weight and you’re ready to make truly sustainable changes to your life, then keep reading for the 3 secrets for weight loss that doesn’t rely on your willpower!
Secret #1: True, sustainable weight loss begins in the mind
Surprisingly, it’s not just our willpower that we battle with when trying to implement healthy changes to our lifestyles – it’s actually to do with our prehistoric brain chemistry in your limbic brain. You see, back in the caveman era our brains evolved to keep us safe by seeking pleasure, avoiding pain and expending as little energy as possible.
Our prefrontal cortex, on the other hand, is the part of your brain that deals with logic and reasoning. When we try to make healthy decisions, these two parts of our brains battle between seeking comfort/ avoiding pain and making a choice that we know will benefit our health.
This battle is what makes it so hard for us to make healthy changes, but the good news is that we are able to override the caveman brain by shifting our mindset and learning how to make our pleasure-seeking brain enjoy healthy habits.
Here are three ways you can adapt your mindset to make healthy changes stick around:
Replace judgement with curiosity
When trying to adopt new habits, you’d want to work on avoiding pain as much as possible in order to avoid triggering that reward-seeking, self-sabotaging behaviour. For example, instead of judging yourself and beating yourself up when you struggle to stick to healthy behaviours, stop, take a breath and replace that judgement with curiosity. I wonder why this happened? What can I do better/differently next time?
Understand and overcome your cravings
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in our brain that plays a huge role when it comes to cravings. Most people think it makes you feel good, but it’s actually designed to make you feel like you are about to feel good in order to keep you hunting and gathering. Just by being aware of the fact that it’s dopamine driving your cravings, making you reach for another biscuit, can help you make more mindful, rational choices towards your health goals.
Focus on identity first
When we focus on the person we want to become, rather than the things we need to do, our reward-seeking brain prioritises our vision of our future life over our cravings – a cookie becomes far less tempting when it poses a threat to the ultimate reward. Have a clear vision of where you are heading and the type of person you want to become; What would they do?
Read, What is Visualisation and Does it Really Work?, on the blog now to dive further into this topic!
Secret #2: Avoid the blood sugar rollercoaster
We all know the feeling when it hits 4pm and we’ve totally run out of fuel. The 4pm slump is often a result of eating a high GI (glycemic index) diet which spikes your blood sugar and forces a subsequent crash leaving us feeling tired and susceptible to cravings.
The reason we react so strongly to high GI foods is because our bodies didn’t evolve to process food such as white bread, white pasta and other refined carbohydrates. When we eat these foods, our blood sugar gets spiked above the range our bodies consider healthy and to combat it, we produce a large amount of insulin – often too much. This then triggers our blood sugar to crash below the normal range and our bodies start craving a sugar hit to get us back within the normal range – the cycle starts again, hence the ‘blood sugar rollercoaster’!
To avoid this, it’s best to try and stick to foods that don’t cause your blood sugar to spike. Low to medium GI carbs and balanced meals that include fibre (mostly from vegetables), healthy fats and protein. Meals that are nutritious and balanced will keep you satisfied, help you avoid the 4pm slump and reduce your cravings for sweet and starchy carbs.
Ready to kickstart your diet and learn how to eat foods that nourish you and keep you fuller for longer? I run seasonal 5-day RESETS which reset your eating habits and guide you towards a diet and lifestyle that makes you feel great. Learn more here!
Secret #3: Create healthy habits you can stick to
Remember that pleasure-seeking brain? Well it considers any change to the familiar as painful, even if it’s for the benefit of your health. This is likely what you’ve experienced if you’ve ever tried a restrictive diet before – too much change and our brains will simply resist it and make it almost impossible.
So, there’s a good scientific reason why traditional ‘diets’ don’t work but how do we adopt new eating habits and overcome this resistance? We have to design changes mindfully and in a way that makes sense to our brains. Here are the four laws of behaviour change that you should stick to when trying to make sustainable changes in your life:
- Make it obvious – I will [behaviour] at [time] in [location]
- Make it attractive – Pair an action you want to do with something you need to do
- Make it easy – Create the right environment
- Make it satisfying – Make the habit itself satisfying
For example: Making healthy eating a habit
- Make it obvious – I will eat a nutritious breakfast every morning in my kitchen
- Make it attractive – Use my favourite bowl/plate, listen to music or an uplifting podcast
- Make it easy – Plan/prep your breakfast, have all the ingredients, keep it simple
- Make it satisfying – Make sure it tastes good
Top tip: If you find it hard to find consistency – use a habit tracker and keep to one habit at a time so your brain doesn’t get overwhelmed and start resisting!
You don’t have to push yourself through the ‘hard’ way – in fact, it’s nearly impossible to make truly sustainable healthy changes this way! Here’s what you should do:
- Shift your mindset so you can break bad habits and stay on track even if you run out of willpower
- Reset your eating habits and learn how to nourish your body even if you think you don’t have time for preparing healthy food
- Create healthy food and lifestyle habits you love and can maintain for the rest of your life
Need a hand making this happen?
I offer support to women who want to make real, sustainable changes to their lifestyle and finally learn the right tools to achieve their health goals. If you would like to find out how I could help you do the same in a 1:1 or a group coaching capacity then get in touch for your free consultation with me!