The majority of people who are overweight think it’s a constant battle. I think we’ve all heard the same old things. Eat less. Drink more water. Exercise. Small changes. Etc, etc, etc. Yes, all of these things are true. If it really was that easy, everyone would be doing it successfully, right? There are three things that are absolutes when it comes to weight loss. The only way we can get these lifestyle changes to be permanent is to change our way of thinking regarding our present thoughts and habits about food and fitness. There is no other way. Willpower is limited and cannot be relied on for permanent weight loss.
What are the 3 “must-dos” to maximize your success with permanent weight loss? I use the acronym “TAP” which stands for Thinking, Awareness, and Planning. These things are critical components of making changes that stick and become habits. Let’s start with thinking. When you set out on your goal to lose weight, you need to inundate yourself with all things weight loss. At the beginning of your journey, keep your weight loss goals at the forefront of your mind. Write down one or two reasons why you want to lose weight. Put these next to your bed, screensaver on your phone and/or computer, sticky note in your car, and anywhere else that you will be able to see them several times a day. Pick a favorite nutrition/fitness website, subscribe to a magazine, listen to podcasts, follow your admired health gurus on Twitter or Facebook. You want your brain to get the message and submerging a majority of your thoughts to improved health and the hows/whys/ways to get there is imperative! Any goal you set for yourself takes time and effort. Losing weight is no different. It must be a priority and it takes focus and concentration. The hard work in the beginning will eventually pay off as your new and once challenging behavior changes become automatic!
Awareness. Are you aware of your feelings of hunger? Ravenous? Stressed out, tired, angry, sad, or some other emotion/feeling that lures you to eat as a way to “feel better”? Are you aware of how fast or slowly you eat? This becomes crucial in trying to combat or avoid those situations you find yourself in each day. For example, if you are aware that when you take your teenage daughter to school each day (no one I know, of course), you inevitably have an argument and on your way home you swing into Dunkin Donuts. By being aware of what causes the stressful situation (taking your daughter to school), you can select another activity (reading/exercising/taking a bath) that makes you feel good! What other things do you like to do that you find relaxing and stress relieving? For most of us, it takes a lot to get started. Once you change your habit (and I mean selecting an activity you enjoy other than eating), it eventually becomes automatic. After dropping your daughter at school, take your dog for a walk, listen to feel good music, or go to the gym. I have never heard anyone EVER say they REGRET exercising! There are tons of alternative activities to choose. By becoming more aware, you are able to try and understand the whys and hows of your eating behaviors and attempt to implement positive changes.
Ok, now onto the third, but no less important must-do. You have to plan! Leaving your meals/snacks up to chance each day diminishes your chance of success! Some people pick a day of the week to shop and cook/plan their meals for the week. Others do it each day. If you know you are going to be in meetings all day and no real time for food, plan accordingly. Make sure you eat a high protein, satisfying meal or snack prior to going into your meeting. Have snacks on hand to make to make sure you don’t get too hungry. If you are going out to dinner, check out the menu in advance and pick out your entree. When we take the guesswork out of it, we make better choices.
There are many more specific ways you can utilize “Think, Awareness, Plan” to increase the likelihood of doing well with your weight loss goals. This is a start. I promise you these things will help. Of course, the very first step is making the commitment! And remembering…..