The critical element of weight loss maintenance you might be missing
Here's the thing.
Anyone can go on a crash diet. You buy the shakes, the bars, the high protein cookies. You read the book. You learn what's "good" and whats "bad". You have lists, a schedule. And you have a deadline.
3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months…. Boom - it's over. You did it.
You went a bit crazy in the head, you needed more sleep, your consumption of breath mints increased, but you dropped some weight. That was the ultimate goal right?
But now what? What on earth do you do from here?
You don't want to go back to how you were before, but you miss the food, the flavours, the textures. You reward yourself with a "cheat meal" and all of a sudden you're in a binge fest that would rival the daily intake of a sumo wrestler. You feel guilty, sickly full, and in desperate need of a long nap.
The next few days you try to find your feet with normal food again. You can't eat as much as you used to but it tastes so good your mindful eating habits go out the door. Slowly but surely you expand your stomach again, you start skipping gym because 'oh, I'll just go tomorrow, I'm too tired today', and you rediscover the treats you loved beforehand and buy a few because they're 'on special'.
You start getting into a routine of skipping gym, snacking a bit more, indulging whilst out with friends a little more, having a few 'cheeky' glasses of wine at night as a treat for your hectic day.
You grab takeaway from your favourites nearby as you just didn't have the time to prepare anything. Then the convenience is just easy - so you start to buy take away most days. You think to yourself - 'Hey it's saving you money - those shakes and bars were pricey and these meal deals are much cheaper!'
All the while, your body is saying 'Quick! Store this as fat incase she starves us again!'.
Months later.....your pants are even tighter than they were to begin with. You feel like you'll always be this way, and that you should just give up. You can't seem to look like the women you admire, so you quit on yourself. And you hate that you quit on yourself. So you say you don't care anymore. You put yourself as a last priority behind the pile of other things to focus on in life. Sometimes hiding behind these things as to not get hurt by 'failing' again.
You have a health scare, a wake up call via a photo or someone's comment, and you start the dieting again.
So what is going wrong? What on earth breaks this cycle?
Cutting the deadlines.
You have GOT to quit it with the deadlines. Deadlines mean there is an end. That once its reached, it's over. The scheduling of gym class over extra sleep; the meal prep of foods you're not too familiar with; the 'choosing the healthier option' when eating out; the recording of your food; constantly making meals from a meal plan; and the smothering feeling that you are following a life that just doesn't suit you, seems too hard, and has you yearning for that deadline.
What would happen if the deadline you were working towards right now just disappeared? Would you feel panicked, relieved, confused as to what to do next, or something else entirely? Would you keep going with your new healthier lifestyle? Or go back to your old ways?
Let me ask you this then.
What hurts more?
Old ways, old emotions, old negative thoughts about yourself, seeing that look in your loved ones eyes, feeling so unfit that daily tasks can be an effort, and old habits that in all honesty, you know don't make you feel good but you do them anyway and suffer the guilt….
Muscle pain from the gym because you're getting stronger, skipping a slice of cake at the work birthday that seems to come around every week, taking time to learn healthy food substitutions instead of watching old tv re-runs, opting for a healthy desk-side snack instead of some 'not-even-that-great' cookies in the work kitchen, The simple task of carrying your own groceries, helping others with greater ease, and even boosting your productivity at work? Or most importantly, making memories with your loved ones that you'll cherish because you felt so good? Having the memory of their excited faces engrained in your mind because of the simple fact that this time you joined in on their fun.
Who cares if you have no idea how to make a green smoothie, or even if you don't like them?! One person's version of healthy does not have to be yours! Finding a healthy lifestyle is making healthy habits fit into your life. Hate yoga? Guess what - I'm not that big of a fan either! But I found a type that I don't mind, and I do it once a week, because I ALWAYS feel better for it (even if I'm often counting down the minutes till its time for the 'nap' at the end). There is no denying it is beneficial for our mind and body, and I want those rewards.
Can't cook? Watch youtube, read blogs, hunt on Pinterest, buy an 'easy' cookbook, find your favourites and eventually you'll have a repertoire of go-to meals that you will enjoy.
There is help if you look for it, there is hope if you believe it, and there is always time if you make it.
Just quit the deadlines. As soon as you transition your thoughts from trying to be strictly healthy for 30 days, to enjoying life being a healthier you, it gets less complicated, less rigid and less of a chore. It becomes your way of life.
So what's the difference between a deadline and a lifetime?
All you need to do is continue to gradually make smaller positive changes to benefit your health, boost your self-esteem, look better, feel better, boost your mood, have more energy, boost your productivity, and live a longer, happier life with your loved ones. It's not as hard as you think. Smaller steps = longer term results. Cut back the alcohol to start with. Eat more veggies in your usual meals. Park further away from the shops and walk a bit more. Go to bed 30minutes earlier. Practice some deep breaths on the bus (if it's BO free!). Swap your 3pm snack for something healthier. Put back 1/4 of your regular serving size from your plate to have later if your portions are large.
Habits take a long time to adjust. You just can't give up. And if you do - if you eat a whole pizza because it's someones birthday, devour a pack of Tim Tams because your boss was being a bitch, or go out for ice cream because your best friend is in town - that is OK! Yes, you'll feel gross, you'll be down on yourself. But look at the bigger picture. You didn't die, you haven't lost everything, you still have a pretty amazing life, your clothes still fit, and people still love you. You don't do this every day - and hopefully not every week. So forget the guilt, and continue on with your healthy lifestyle. We need to live, so don't ever get so caught up in eating healthy that you forget to do this.
Being healthy allows you to be more, give more, do more, and live more. Forget putting others first, having no time, or feeling too tired. Improve yourself and you'll have a positive effect on your loved ones; make time and you'll find more time; look after yourself and you'll gain more energy.
Ultimately, it comes down to making gradual changes to create and sustain a healthy life that you love, without the deadlines. I know you can do it.
If you're ready to escape the deadlines, I can help. Just connect with me: