What is required for successful, long term weight loss?

I’ve been thinking about what is the difference between someone who perseveres with their weight loss journey and is successful and someone who isn’t.

I think initially most people ‘want’ to lose weight and it can be because of many reasons.  Some because their clothes no longer feel comfortable, some because they don’t like the way they look or they may constantly feel tired or a bit down.  Maybe their doctor told them that they need to do something about their weight before their health is affected.  There are lots of reasons for the initial desire to lose weight.

So initially the ‘want’ is there, but after a few weeks, it gets a bit boring and the old habits start to creep in again.  That is completely normal because remember, the old habits have been there a lot longer than the new habits have and it is almost like a ‘default setting’ that your brain slips back into.

So how do you get around this?  How do you hang in there for the long term?  I firmly believe that you must form new habits and a habit only becomes a habit if it is repeated over and over.  Some habits that I consider to be essential for weight loss success are:

8 Essential habits for weight loss success

  1. Organisation and planning. If you don’t know what you are going to be eating the next day, you may not have it in the house. If you haven’t got it in the house, how can you eat it? This is such a simple, but important rule. Try using your food diary as a menu and write it up a day ahead. 
  2. Measuring your portions.  It’s great to switch to eating better quality food, but if you eat too much of it, then you probably won’t get the results you want.
  3. Accountability.  The vast majority of weight loss clients that I see come to me not only for nutrition and lifestyle knowledge, but accountability too. Keep a food and exercise diary, they really work, but only if you fill them in honestly. The bits you miss off are the bits that are likely holding you back.
  4. Repeat your options.  If you like your breakfast and snacks, repeat them frequently so that they become a habit. As long as you like what you are eating, why not?  Whatever you are eating now is a habit, good or bad, so repeat the good meal habits and you are on to a winner.
  5. Eat more veggies!  Fibrous veggies steamed, raw, dry baked, as a salad, as coleslaw, just eat them. For good health, good bowel habits and fat loss you need to consume plenty of fibrous veggies (i.e. two handfuls at lunch and dinner) every day. This really does work.
  6. Drink more water. At any time of year we need to stay well hydrated, but in this hot, humid weather it is even more essential. Plain water, sparkling water, cups of tea, go for it. Remember that the water you drink whilst exercising is pretty much used up by the exercise, so you still need a good baseline.

    Try this calculation, your scale weight x 0.032 and the number that comes up is about how much water you need in a day. So for a 75 kilo person x 0.034 = 2.55 litres per day. Try buying bigger water bottles such as 1.25L bottles and see if that makes it easier to track how much  you are having in a day.
  7. Get in the habit of saying NO.  Once again, this is a really important habit to get into. No to morning tea shouts, No to slipping that bottle of wine or chocolate bar in your shopping trolley, whatever the situation may be, remember that saying Yes to everything won’t get you where you want to be. No is really important when it comes to moderating alcohol intake too, enough said!
  8. Lastly, form the exercise habit.  The days are already starting to draw in so if you haven’t formed the exercise habit already it’s time to get cracking or next there will be the excuse of ‘it’s dark, it’s cold…….’!  Try exercising with a friend, make the commitment to meet at a certain time on certain days of the week and then keep the commitment.

    If you don’t have someone to exercise with, then decide when you will exercise and mark the day and time in your diary and treat it as an appointment with yourself. If you have young children and no childcare, then maybe you could consider watching YouTube videos or buying an exercise DVD so that you can exercise in your own home. There is always (always) a way to exercise if you really want to.

    There are also plenty of good free apps out there for just about any kind of exercise to help motivate or educate you.  Here is a link to a 7 minute workout you can do at home without any special equipment.

All of the above are great habits to get into if you are serious about changing your nutrition and lifestyle to achieve long term weight loss. Yes, most ‘dieters’ can lose weight, but a much smaller percentage keep that weight off long term, solely for the reason that they slip back into their old habits.

When I did Body for Life back in 2001 I had a little mantra that I borrowed from a company I worked for and I repeated it frequently.  I still really like it, here it is:

Hold the Vision
Feel the Desire
Seek the Knowledge
Make it Happen

What is translates to is ‘imagine what you want to look like/achieve, really feel the desire to achieve it, seek help to get the right knowledge (nutrition and exercise) and then make it happen.  Remember, we are the only ones who can make it happen.  I found that very powerful – no one else could do it for me and any excuses really didn’t cut it.  The results I achieved were totally up to the amount of effort I put in.

So there is your motivation for this month, now make it happen!

Posted on February 3, 2015 .