The journey to transformative weight loss is a long one that often seems strictly uphill. However, the keys to success are often easier to find than you think, even if they don't always make sense at first. These 6 tips definitely fall into the category, but have the ability to make that uphill climb a bit more level.
1. Variety Is Not the Spice of Life...
... at least when it comes to weight loss. In fact, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted a study which found that eating the same thing makes a difference in the overall calories we consume. Participants who ate the exact same lunch menu every day for a whole week ended up consuming nearly 100 fewer calories every day. The reasoning behind this is simple: when you always eat the same thing, food loses its appeal. This 'boring' aspect, even if only instituted during one meal subconsciously compels you to eat less.
2. Change Your Life One Step at a Time
Changing your life is not a 'wake up and everything's new' situation, quite the contrary. Lasting change needs to be gradual in order for it to stick. By easing yourself into a new way of living, you allow your body and your mind to adapt rather than stress out over the scary aspects of change. Even if you need to change everything, doing so is akin to calling your life in its present state a failure which leads to destructive coping behaviours like overeating.
3. Your Willpower Is Fragile
Many people who don't need to lose weight make the mistake of assuming it's all about willpower. But it's not and studies consistently show that our willpower is similar to a fuel tank. We can only burn so much of it before we are running on empty. Even worse for those trying to lose weight, the part of our brains that control our willpower actually operate on glucose. Therefore, as we deplete our stores we crave the very things which we were trying to avoid.
4. Exercise Must Be Gradual
I do not believe in the 'go hard or go home' approach to exercise. In addition to its tendency to cause injury it reinforces the false belief that exercise must equal pain. Instead, I advocate a gradual approach that translates to big returns over time. Consider the following:
3 weeks of 100% effort yields 300% results, but
20 weeks of 25% effort yields 500% results
You are far more likely to stick it out through the longer, less intense programs. They also naturally become part of lasting change since they don't feel so tough and fit into your life more easily. What's more, by leaving some energy and effort for the 'next time' you make yourself 'want more'.
5. Keep Your Journey to Yourself
This goes against almost every 'expert' opinion out there about workout buddies and group inspiration. However, studies actually prove that verbalising goals create inflated self-images and lead to poorer work and goal achievement.
Here's the problem: when you verbalise a goal, you also imagine it and imagine the way achieving it will make you feel. Unfortunately, other people latch onto that attitude and encourage you, leading to a feeling of accomplishment without actually doing anything. This is called 'social reality' and it happens when your brain mistakes encouragement for achievement causing you to work less to actually reach a goal.
6. Calories Count, but You Don't Need To
The simplicity of a calorie, as in the amount of heat you need to raise one kilo of water one degree Celsius, is simple enough. However, this concept does not tell the whole story. Our bodies may be mostly water, but they are not all water and different types of calories have differed reactions in the body. This is especially true in terms of the amount of energy it takes to digest a calorie that comes from carbohydrates and fats vs. proteins. Digestive performance counts as well since a properly nourished, healthy gut absorbs fewer calories. The whole business of 'counting calories' is flawed since the quality of the food you eat and its macronutrient (carb, protein, fat) composition makes far more difference. by Sally Symonds