1. Not thinking long term
Most people know that lose-fat-fast schemes are best avoided—as soon as you’ve finished the diet and lost a few kilos, you start eating ‘normally’ again, and back comes the weight. It’s a cycle that keeps the fitness and diet industries going: Australians spent $745 million dollars on weight loss pills, potions, plans and procedures in 2010. Despite this, not only are we one of the fattest nations in the world, but also we’re getting fatter faster than any other nation in the world.
Quick-fix approaches are everywhere, because everyone wants to lose weight fast—but the important part is keeping it off, and no plan or program that gives you a weight loss timeframe is going to help you keep those kilos off for good. Your local gym probably runs regular 12-week challenges, and while these might seem like a good idea in theory, they don’t foster a long-term approach to weight loss, and that’s what you really need. A good physical kick start? Yes, but beware the mental scars they may leave.
It doesn’t matter how many calories you burn in twelve weeks—it matters how many calories you burn in your entire lifetime. That’s more like 12 x 12 x 12 x 2.5 weeks, or 359 twelve-week challenges! Losing weight successfully is about changing your lifestyle and your habits for the better and enjoying the results, not punishing yourself for a short period of time in order to only get short-term gains.
2. Trying the same thing over and over again
For most people who decide they want to lose weight, the first thing they do is to go on a diet. The diet ‘works,’ they lose the weight, and then as soon as they finish the diet and go back to their old habits, they put the weight right back. Then what do they do? Go on another diet! The medical evidence that diets don’t work for long-term weight loss is overwhelming. They don’t work for our minds and they don’t work for our bodies.
Over years of dieting, what actually happens is that people become so accustomed to failing at weight loss that they lose confidence in their ability to ever do it successfully—that is, lose the weight and keep it off and not have to eat lettuce forever in order to do so. The good news is that it is possible to do that. How? Gain confidence in yourself and lose confidence in all those generic weight loss plans and programs—try something new instead.
Most diets or weight loss plans are the same—they tell you to set a goal weight and announce your intentions to the world. It’s not a bad idea in theory, but it just doesn’t work in the real world—practically and psychologically, diets aren’t sustainable.
So don’t just think outside the box when you start your weight loss journey—toss the box away! We all know the expression about insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The same applies to diets—try a different approach, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
3. Not taking control
As soon as you allow someone else to tell you what to do (for example, telling you what to eat, when to eat, and what exercises to do), you’re putting them in control of your life. But your weight is your responsibility, and the only person who is an expert in your own life—and, therefore, the one who should be in charge—is YOU!
More importantly, having a sense of control over your weight loss journey gives you sense of mastery and motivation, and this is key to maintaining a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle (and anything else you want to achieve in life). You can pay all the money in the world for gym memberships, personal trainers, and dieticians, expecting that you’ll get results just because you’ve handed over the cash. But it’s not up to any of those people to get you to lose weight—it’s up to you.
4. Thinking that weight loss is all about deprivation and discomfort
It’s the old ‘feel the burn’ mentality—and the fitness industry wonders why it only has a noticeable impact on about 10% of the population! Thinking about your weight loss in negative terms is only going to make you approach it in a negative way, which probably isn’t going to get you great results.
The real secret to keeping weight off once you’ve lost it lies in how you go about losing it in the first place. The journey is just as important as the destination, and if you hate the changes you have to make to your life in order to shed some kilos, there’s no way you’ll be able to keep them in place once you’ve lost that weight. Change has to be sustainable, and whatever adjustments you make to your diet and exercise shouldn’t fill you with dread.
Exercise will always be hard on the muscles, but it can be easy on the mind. Open your mind, try new things, and have fun with it—you’ll be surprised at how easy it can be to transform yourself from an exercise loather to an exercise-lover! The same apples to your diet—don’t think about changing what you eat as denying yourself, but as experimenting with new flavours and ingredients and opening yourself up to new experiences. If you enjoy your weight loss journey then keeping the weight off becomes a cinch!
5. Calling it a lifestyle change
Now, it is a lifestyle change, but that term has now become so much of a cliché that as soon as we hear it we neatly put it away in our mental filing cabinet and never look at it again. By labeling it—and using such a familiar term to do so—we’ve successfully managed to dismiss a whole range of behaviours without examining them properly.
Losing weight and keeping it off is a lifestyle change, but it’s also so much more than that, and it’s a process that both needs and deserves your thought and attention. Unless you’re hit by a truck—or experience something similarly traumatic—you’re not likely to wake up one day and think, ‘I’m going to make a lifestyle change!’ Losing weight is a step-by-step process. Approaching it in this way, rather than just sticking a label on it so I didn’t have to ever really think about it, is what helps people succeed in their weight loss journey . . . not just for now . . . but for ever!
For more information on weight loss and healthy living visit www.sallysymonds.com.au
Sally Symonds is the author of “50 Steps to Lose 50kg . . . And Keep It Off” – the inspirational story of how she halved her weight and doubled her life. She is also the director of her own Healthy Life Mentoring business which specializes in helping people lose weight and attain a work/life balance in time-efficient ways. She is currently conducting a series of seminars across Australia entitled “50 Ways to Time Efficient Weight Loss”.