The short answer is yes!
What's the problem with dieting?
When it comes to losing weight, our first instinct is often to think we need to completely overhaul our diet, massively reduce how much we eat, and cut out our favourite foods. The problem with this is that unless we are extremely committed and motivated, and don't have any other pressures in our lives, which is, let's face it, unlikely, especially at the moment, our good intentions may not last. This is because we are trying to change too much at the same time, and that’s really hard work, especially as it usually means giving up things that we love, and doing what we think we 'should' do, as opposed to what we WANT to do. So that’s always going to make it hard, and can result in the rebound effect, and losing control and ending up back where we started. That yo-yo effect. I'm not knocking diets, as they can be very effective for some people, but let me tell you, if what I have described above has been your experience in the past, and you intend to follow this approach again, this time is NOT going to be any different I'm afraid. So it's time for a new approach.
What about exercise?
Contrary to popular belief, exercise, unless we are getting very hot and sweaty and/or doing it for very long periods of time, does not make anything like as much difference as making changes to what and how we eat. Especially as we can often be short on time or energy, and it can trigger the feeling of needing to reward ourselves with food, and can make us more hungry. So whilst exercise is absolutely brilliant to do, for many reasons, unless our eating habits are already spot on, which if we are overweight chances are they're not, it should not be seen as the solution to losing weight, and definitely not in isolation.
So let’s take a closer look at eating habits
We usually put on weight over a long period of time as a result of developing less than healthy eating habits over the same long period of time, sometimes decades. These habits often include eating larger portions than we need, eating when we’re not hungry, not stopping when we've had enough, and eating too many of the ‘wrong’ things.
It really doesn't take much of eating more than we need, if we do it over a long period of time, to put on weight. For example, if we eat just 130 calories more than we need every day, the equivalent of 2 bourbon biscuits, we will put on a stone in a year. The reverse is also true of course, so we may not need to cut back very much to get results, as long as we are patient. However if we are eating MUCH more than we need daily, then we will need to cut back a fair amount, there is no getting away from that. But not to levels that are likely to be difficult to stick to and make us too hungry, if we approach things in the right way, and don't approach it with an 'all-or-nothing' mindset.
So it stands to reason that by addressing these less-than-healthy eating habits, we can start to reverse the issue, but we have to do it in a way that is sustainable, as at the end of the day, we will do what we want the most in the moment, and if we are forcing ourselves to behave continuously in a way that does not feel right, we will not stick at it, no matter how good our intentions at the beginning.
So for some people, changing things a little at a time is more achievable, whilst at the same time working at other factors which influence their behaviour, and working on their motivation to change what they actually really want, which is what I do in my coaching. Doing this makes it a whole lot easier as we are no longer in conflict between doing what we want to do, and what we think we 'should' do.
There are 10 things that I do to manage my weight, and which I encourage my clients to do too. They can help to reduce how much we eat, and to eat more healthily both in terms of what we eat and how we eat, without it feeling like we are on a diet, or being too restrictive, or giving up everything that we love. Many of them are common sense, but the challenge really of course is actually doing them, and being consistent. But rather than doing them all at once, which can feel daunting, it is often better to choose one or two that you think will be easiest to adopt consistently, and build up from there.
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Until next time...