All sustainable diets do not start in the kitchen. For the diet to become your new way of life you must start from changing your mindset.
If you have been overweight for many years it's probably due to your unconscious behaviours that you have learnt over the years and are now automatic. The bad news is that this behaviour may have brought you here today and left you with a bag full of health issues, low self-esteem, lack of confidence and self-worth. The good news is - you can change it and I will show you how.
Just like you did not put on weight overnight you will not lose it overnight. You will have to put some work in. You may find it difficult or challenging at first but once you start seeing results it will for sure be exciting.
All change comes from awareness. Until you are aware of your habits, you cannot change it. Stop for a second before you put something in your shopping trolley or before you eat something and ask yourself - why am I choosing this? Is it because of the price? Did the packaging catch my attention? Is it the way I'm feeling? How will this food make me feel? Bloated/Tired?
Once you understand your habit and are aware of it you need to interrupt the pattern. As I mentioned above, all change comes from awareness, however being aware alone will not make you lose weight. If only this was so simple, right? It's time to take responsibility for what you eat and start making better choices for yourself.
So, how do you make better choices? So far you have probably been making unconscious decisions, without much thinking about reasons behind them. It is time to put your conscious hat on. Start by simply taking your time before making a choice. Think about all possible options and outcomes and choose the best possible one. By simply pausing you are giving yourself a chance to reflect, catch yourself out and interrupt the pattern with new, better choices.
I am pretty sure you did not choose to be overweight, you just did not keep it in check. Your mind was on autopilot mode and allowed you to eat nutrient deficient food. Now is the time you accept it, take responsibility, grab the steering wheel and take back control.
You possibly tried numerous times and did not get anywhere so you gave up or maybe you are scared to try something new in case you fail. Have you ever wondered why making changes feels so difficult? Our brain is a very clever and powerful organ which can stop us from doing things, even things that are good for us. Why? Because the brain's main objective is survival. All our brains are interested in is keeping us safe and alive. This can mean, stopping us from changing our patterns simply because it is new and unknown. So if you have been overweight and unhappy for a while your brain welcomes it because it is familiar.
This is why working on your mindset should be a part of your weight loss process. You need to bring balance and awareness before applying a diet and workout plan. Only then change can be sustainable. It can feel uncomfortable at the beginning but the fear will fade away with a little persistence so don't give up just yet.
4. Be kind to yourself
We don't often realise how the self-talk and self-critic impacts our lives. Our brains do not know the difference between what is real and what is imagined or remembered. It believes whatever is in our head and reacts to it in case it is a threat. To put it into prospective, think about how watching a scary movie makes you feel - it can make you jump or even scream, your heart rate increases, you tense your muscles, even though you know it is just a movie. It is quite incredible how our brains work, isn't it?
This is why it is important you stop with the toxic language like - "I cannot do it" or "I'm not good enough". Inner critic can do more damage to your self-esteem than critics from external sources and it leads to inaction.
Move your focus away from what you DON'T want to what you DO want. Use the awareness mentioned before and catch yourself using a language that does not serve you and switch it to " I can do it", "I am worth it", "I am beautiful", "I am good enough". You will start seeing a change in you, your confidence and self-believe. Start today.
5. Letting go
To change your mindset sometimes you need to step away from people and things that have been causing you pain and have been affecting the way you feel and what comes with that - your decisions and choices.
This could mean you start saying "no" more often and put yourself first. Toxic relationships and language will only drag you one way - down. Reflect and maybe write down a list of things which/people who don't serve you and see if you can cut these out completely or at least limit them in your life.
Most of us also like to hold onto anger and past. If you think about it, dwelling on the past or being angry at someone because they said or did something will affect your life and people in it. Like my mindset coach says - it's like holding a hot coal. It only hurts you, nobody else. Maybe it is time to let go of that feeling and forgive. Drop the weight you have been carrying all this time. Nobody else will unload it. You are in control here. Use that energy on things that matter and things you want to achieve. Start here and now but without the extra load.
6. And relax...
Sleep plays a key role in your body's recovery and promoting good health. Poor or insufficient sleep can cause slow metabolism, high cortisol (stress hormone) levels, promoting fat storage.
In addition, bad quality sleep can make you crave foods high in sugars and fat. Consuming this type of food might give you a temporary sugar surge and energy increase but shortly after it drops right down causing hypoglycaemia, which increases your appetite. You then reach out for more sugary snacks and a vicious cycle begins... You may end up consuming too many calories in a day and not having the energy to exercise which leads to more fat storage. Having one bad night of sleep will not do much damage but imagine what happens if you neglect your sleep long term.
Sleep and recovery have a big impact on your stress levels. It is important that you keep these in check before you apply a diet or a fitness plan to your lifestyle as this can cause more stress to your body and do more bad then good. It won't be long until you stop following the plan, you will feel like you have failed which can cause depression, anxiety and low self-esteem and it can make you eat yourself happy again. It is not sustainable. Start with a clear head. Be mindful, not mind full.
To improve your sleep try to have a nice calming evening. Maybe go for a walk or run after work, join a yoga class. Try different activities and see what works for you.
Start winding down about an hour before going to bed. Put your phone in Airplane Mode, dim the lights, light a candle, listen to a calming music, meditate or find three things that you are grateful for that happened that day. Try to avoid alcohol which has been proven to cause an interrupted sleep. Aim for six to eight hours of sleep for best recovery.
Health and nutrition can be confusing. With so many different diets out there we often don't know where to start and what to follow. The best place to start is your head. Be aware of your food choices and start making better ones, disturb the pattern, apply changes, sleep well, learn to control your stress whether it is through exercise, meditation or just a few deep breaths.
In my next blog I will be sharing some tips with you on how to make better decisions when food shopping.