If you’re feeling the need to lose a few pounds for the new year, you have my sympathies. I am very amateur at this process, but have found a few useful hints along the way. I am not a medical doctor nor qualified to be a weight loss counsellor – any weight loss programme should only be undertaken through consultation with your doctor – these are just things I’ve found personally helpful.
- I decide that I’m in it for the long haul – I’m thinking of it as a year’s project to eat more healthily
- I decide what I aim/need to lose and then break it down into smaller goals
- I expect to be more energetic as I lose weight
- I realise that I may get support from friends, but I myself am my best encourager and coach
- I am aiming to do a Personal Best, not be the Slimmer of the Year
- As I’m overweight, I owe it to my body to decrease the load on it, especially as I get older
- A trusted friend read in a science report that every one pound of weight you lose, takes 4 lbs of pressure off your knees. So when I have a time when I ‘only’ lose one pound, I remember that my knees are happy
- I will have a more exciting choice of clothing in shops and look better in them
- I’ll look younger
I’m not going to obssess about food but instead make it a small part of my life
I get unhelpful foods out of my sight and have helpful foods to hand
I get rid of thinking about food as much as possible by having a week’s list of what I’ll eat each day for breakfast, lunch and tea. Also, a matching food list, so I buy all the ingredients ahead of time. This takes a lot of time to work out at the start. But once I’ve done it for a few weeks, I then reuse the weeks’ menu plans and shopping lists. If I have 3 weeks of such, I will have enough variety to not be bored.
Helpful things I do:
- I find someone who has lost weight successfully, gradually and kept it off, on a well-known, sensible weight loss programme which is medically unquestioned. I join that programme. Having that person’s success before me is a role model and encouragement to keep going.
- I weigh myself only once weekly. My health programme has scales more accurate than home scales: digital and to the half-lb. Also, the weight doesn’t wobble as you lean over to see the result. However, I have a friend with enough iron self will to not join a class but lose it alone, and weigh herself (works for her).
- I try to drink 2 litres of water a day. I find it helps having a bottle of water beside me as I work, especially when at a computer, where I’m not really aware of what I’m eating and drinking as I’m looking at the screen. The week when I don’t keep up my water intake, my body panics and tries to hold onto liquid = liquid weight gain on the scales
- For maximum healthy intake, in hot weather I can eat salads, in cold weather, I rely on soups. But they have to be exciting and with a huge variety of ingredients.
- When I cook a healthy diet meal, I freeze extra. That way, on a day when I’m too time-squeezed or uninspired to cook, there’s a slimmer meal ready to defrost and reheat in minutes
- I get a wineglass with the measures marked on it, so I can have my favourite tipple as an occasional treat, but measured accurately
- I only cook healthy meals – if other people sharing the house with me want to eat something unhealthy, they have to cook it themselves. Usually, for simplicity, everyone in the house then eats healthily (and eats unhealthy snacks privately)
- I get a life apart from food! I refuse to think about it as much as possible
- I brace my wallet – buying more fruit and vegetables definitely increases my food bill – but it’s a payoff to get better health
- I find a healthy but genuinely enjoyable in between meals treat – e.g. I have found a fat-free yoghurt in a flavour I absolutely love
How NOT to lose weight
Now, in this area, I am an expert, sadly. Here is how to fail to lose weight:
- Think wistfully about it but do nothing
- Compare yourself to someone else and give up. One programme I crashed out of was when I joined a programme with a co-worker, who had only a little weight to lose. Result: she achieved her target loss, celebrated and I was still slogging along, hungry, discouraged and with more to lose. I gave up.
- Decide that weight programmes work for everyone else but not you
- When you do lose weight, ‘reward’ yourself with food
- Eat a meal later than usual, when you’re almost fainting with hunger – your plummeting body sugar means your body sends emergency messages to your brain to eat lots of anything, so you find yourself eating vast quantities of unhealthy stuff
- Run out of healthy food options in the fridge
- Talk about food all the time with other people
- Become a diet bore – you will, eventually, bore yourself