One size doesn't fit all when it comes to weight-loss.
I am frequently asked weight-loss related questions, for example, the classic 'What can I do to lose my belly?' I usually answer this with another question; something along the lines of 'What do you think you have been doing that caused your belly in the first place?'
In most cases this is not the answer the individual was looking for, but I am sorry to say that there is not a generic magic answer to the question of weight loss and getting results.
The question is how do YOU lose weight?
The steps you need to take to get results will depend on your current dietary habits and individual lifestyle choices, and to see any changes you will need to give your diet and lifestyle your full attention and make an effort to implement necessary adjustments.
The first thing to do if you want to succeed.
Find a way of recording what you eat and drink over a week; write a food diary, make mental notes, count calories, or even take pictures, and be sure to record every single bite, nibble and sip! Then think about why you made the choices you did; was it habit or circumstance? Were you influenced by other people or situations?
Once you have this information you will become aware of your eating patterns, food choices as well as the amount you eat and drink. You may also recognise particular behaviours, habits or situations that affect your eating.
Time to discover what you need to do
Here are some common reasons as to why many struggle to see results, and below these I offered solutions for each reason.
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
Too much on your plate, a nutritionally unbalanced plate or going back for seconds.
Eating frequently in between meals, sometimes when you aren't even hungry.
Lack of movement
You sit for prolonged periods of time and don't move much in-between.
Mindless picking without realising, a common pastime when preparing food.
Too much of the wrong foods
The most common being too many sweet foods or starchy carbs.
Alcohol is a part of your daily routine or a strong part of your social or professional life.
Lack of life routine
A lifestyle that limits choice or makes it difficult to create an eating routine, usually resulting in poor food choices. Often akin to those who travel or who's daily routine is unpredictable.
Failure to plan ahead, no forward attention given to your diet, often resulting in impulsive 'on the spot' decisions rather than thought-through choices.
Your diet is influenced by home life or social/professional environment.
Food is your 'go to'
You eat for something to do, to fill gaps of time or to break up the day.
Food is your friend
You turn to food to seek comfort, manage stress or to distract from how you are feeling - often resulting in feelings of guilt and remorse.
Habit can contribute to any of the above factors. You are accustomed to choosing food types, or have developed eating patterns and behaviours.
Once you have figured out what you are doing that's stopping you seeing results, you can start to think of solutions and actions you can take to break habits and create new ones.
Here are some solutions to each problem mentioned above:
Measure portions. Put food directly onto your plate rather than on the table in serving bowls. Put away (or throw away!) left overs before you start eating a meal.
Plan your 'go to' snacks and have these at set times of the day. Only snack if hungry. Keep a bottle water to hand and get into the habit of sipping from this instead of reaching for snacks.
Lack of movement
Find ways in which you can incorporate movement into your daily life like walking, keeping busy at home instead of sitting in front of the TV, or find a new activity that will increase movement.
Become mindful of your eating so that nothing slips past the net. At times when you are eating, just eat and do nothing else. Make a pact with yourself not to eat on the go, when standing up and especially when in the kitchen - even if it means chewing gum while cooking!
Poor choice of foods
Limit indulgent eating for planned moments and make your staple diet rich in foods that have a positive effect on your goals, include good nutrition and plenty of water.
Look at people/environments that influence your tendency to drink and adjust your lifestyle and routine to limit these influencing factors. Adopting an overall healthier lifestyle may change your priorities reducing the desire to drink.
Lack of routine
Take efforts to plan and to think in advance, and make the best choices available to you in any given moment. Sometimes choices are limited but there is always a way around it, it just takes a bit of attention and effort.
Create a weekly plan in advance, organise your daily food and always have well-chosen foods at hand so you don't get caught short. Structuring other areas of your routine like sleep patterns and daily activity will help to give you a complete life overview which will help you stay on top of things.
Be your own person rather than follow the crowd. With family dinners make adjustments to your plate. If you can't control yourself in social situations then limit them.
Food is your 'go to'
Keep busy to distract yourself from thoughts of food. Change up your routine. Rather than consuming, break up the day with a few exercises or some stretching instead.
Food is your friend
Identify your triggers and habits and then become mentally prepared for these moments. Focus on your goals, remember the regret you feel after comfort eating. Learn to manage stress and if self-belief is an issue start taking steps to increase confidence.
This can be complex and is limited to the individual. Give your diet attention, be aware of behaviours, remove influences factors, become goal-focused; whatever you need to do, do it and most importantly never use determination.
Louise Appel Personal Trainer, St John's Wood & Personal Trainer Maida Vale offers customised, individual Personal Training and Pilates at Lords Cricket Ground, St John's Wood. Personal Trainer Harpenden & Personal Trainer St Albans is located at EsTR Fitness.
Ask Louise is a free service offering advice on all things health and fitness. Contact me and ask me a question.