Weight loss today tends to be very overwhelming, difficult, stressful and many times unsuccessful despite our best efforts. Most Americans make on average 4 attempts every year to lose weight, and the kicker is 90-95% end up gaining all of it back. With these types of statistics, it’s no wonder weight loss can be described as frustrating, stressful, and discouraging.
Eating healthier and being more active is such a positive change that impacts our lives physically and emotionally. Most of my clients come to me wanting to lose weight with the desire to feel more like themselves after many failed attempts. At the very beginning of working together I will ask them about their prior weight loss attempts. This description typically includes words like “frustration,” “failure,” “up and down,” “never ending effort” and “not enjoyable.”
About 6 months into working together I’ll have them reflect on this new weight loss experience and describe it to me. This time around they will use words like “empowering,” “confidence booster,” “freeing,” “overall happier,” and even “easy.”
So what’s the secret?
Why is it that my clients are experiencing a positive and uplifting experience despite negative experiences in the past? Below are my top 5 tips for making weight loss stress free!
1. Find things you enjoy!
This one might be the most important one. Most of us have an idea of what “healthy eating” looks like in our mind – in fact, you’re probably thinking of a few foods or meals right now. Our society has taught us that less is more, being hungry means you’re on the right track, and removing the foods we love is the only way to go. This couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the very first things I do with all my clients is make a list of all the foods they love and enjoy – whether they are healthy or not, all foods can fit into a diet. If you hate broccoli, don’t force yourself to eat broccoli. If you hate running, don’t get on the treadmill. Make of a list of the healthier foods you enjoy eating and the activity you enjoy doing and start there!
2. Focus on what you’re adding instead of what you’re taking away.
This one can be a game changer- instead of focusing on the fact that you have to give up your daily bacon egg and cheese breakfast habit, focus on the new foods you get to start incorporating. Love blueberries? Great, have them every day! Love shrimp when you go out to eat at restaurants but not sure how to cook at home? Buy a cook book and have fun with a few new recipes! Always pass a health food store on your way to work but haven’t stop in yet? Check it out this weekend and pick out some new items!
3. Set realistic SMALL goals.
I always appreciate eagerness and killer motivation in my clients but I tell them this is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t burn out early on. Take is slow, make small reasonable changes. Telling yourself you're going to dramatically change everything about your diet and routine "starting Monday" will surely set you up for failure. This would be challenging for even the most motivated individual to maintain past the first few days. In this case, you want to take the path of least resistance. It’s okay to take the easy road. If you haven’t been to the gym in months, don’t go all in saying you'll be there everyday for an hour. Start with a goal of 2 days a week for 30 minutes. Feel good about accomplishing that and then slowly increase over time. In a couple weeks, bump it up to 3 days a week for 40 minutes.
4. Positive mindset – fake it til you make it!
I’m all about the positive mindset with my clients because evidence supports it! You are more likely to be successful long term if you have positive thoughts compared to negative ones. So when you’re looking ahead at the week, reflecting on a weekend or even thinking about foods you like/don’t like – make it positive. Most importantly when you’re thinking or talking about your ability to succeed – this is where the magic is. The more you tell yourself you can do it and support yourself, the more likely you will be successful at achieving your goals. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the well-studied and tested theory behind this thinking. Several studies have shown that your thoughts can affect your feelings which affect your actions. The more positive you can be will not only make your day a little more enjoyable but positively impact your ability to succeed at achieving your goals.
5. Get accountability from someone who knows what they’re talking about!
These days everyone claims to be an expert in nutrition and wellness. Be careful where you are taking your advice from. The diet industry is over $60 billion and growing every day. Everyone from health coaches, magazine editors, supplement companies, trainers, your friends, and neighbors provide guidance to how you should eat and what to do to lose weight. Make sure you consider the source when taking advice from others. My recommendation – listen to the credible and credentialed experts, registered dietitians. We have at least a 4 year degree in nutrition, usually masters too, clinical supervised practice and sat for a nation board exam. Even when reading an article, look for those two little “RD” letters after the authors name to have some peace of mind. For true changes and support, personalized guidance from an expert working 1-on-1 is where the best bang for your buck will be.
If you are interested in exploring the idea of working with a dietitian - let me know! the initial consultation is only $25, no obligation. You can pick my brain, and I'll help get you on the right track! If you're truly ready to make some changes, consider a 3 month or 6 month plan!