I lost 10 kgs over a few months and people started asking me how I did it. They want to know if I went Atkins or Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, or Nutritarian. They want to know what dried Patagonian super fruit I sprinkle over my organic bio-dynamic locally sourced Acai smoothie each morning.
So I told them what I did (it’s nothing odd or unusual) and they’re always disappointed. Or they try to follow the plan and they don’t get results. As one of my coaching clients said, “Kevin I’m really clear about what the rules are, it doesn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing.”
That’s because losing weight isn’t about the food.
Here’s what I mean. Weight loss often comes up in my workshops and when I’m presenting about motivation. I think it’s because weight loss should be so easy and yet it’s not.
If you were kidnapped by an evil alien who demanded you either lose 5kgs or learn how to chat with dolphins, you would choose to diet. We all know how to lose weight - just stop putting so much food into your mouth. In theory success is guaranteed. In practice you might as well be teaching sign language to Flipper.
When diets go wrong people are quick to blame themselves. When someone in a goal setting workshop asked me for weight loss advice I replied ‘Why are you finding it hard?’
He said, ‘I don’t have the willpower’.
He’s wrong. He has plenty of willpower (BTW show me any goal that requires willpower to succeed and I’ll show you a goal that is setup to fail!) What he has is the wrong beliefs.
Losing weight isn’t about the rules of the diet – it’s about what you believe about what it takes to lose weight. I believed a lot of delicious sugar-coated nonsense and it made me put on weight. When I stopped eating lies the needle on the scales started to unwind.
It’s your beliefs that drive your behaviour. What you believe about how difficult it is to achieve a result, about how good that result will be, and about the likelihood of achieving the result - all compared to the guaranteed pleasure you could be having right now.
When you come to losing weight here are just a few of the beliefs that might be holding you back.
· Dieting doesn’t work. I’ve tried.
· Dieting means being hungry and I hate being hungry
· I have to finish my plate because … Mum.
· It’s a crime to waste food because … Africa
· Nutritional advice keeps changing – fat bad then fat good. No one really knows what works.
· I deserve this treat because [insert reason]
· I need sugar to think
· I love my tucker too much
· I don’t have time to exercise
· I don’t like exercising
· I don’t have time to diet
· My body shape is just the way I am (it’s my genes)
· Being thin isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
· This little bit of [cheese/icecream/lobster] doesn’t matter
· You have to measure everything and I cannot be bothered measuring calories
· My grandpa ate what he wanted and was as thin as a stick
· You can prise that beer from my cold dead hands!
You get the idea. If I was to interrupt you rummaging through the fridge looking for cheese at the end of the day, what would be the reason you would give me? There is always a ‘reason’.
What if that reason was wrong? What if they were all wrong? I won’t rebut them all now – just the ones that got started me on the right path. (Once I got momentum the rest of them crumbled away.)
Diets don’t work – Guess what? You’re already on a diet. Right now you don’t eat everything, at some point you push the plate away and declare enough. In the war against your cravings why not settle for having the front lines a little further away from you?
Diets don’t work – You’re right. If you mean stopping yourself from having something good and healthy is psychologically sustainable, it’s not. But we’re not talking about stopping yourself from eating - just stopping from eating so much f*&king garbage. You don’t breathe smog for a treat, so you don’t have a sugar packed strawberry thickshake as a treat.
I have to finish my plate – You’re not 5 anymore and by the way what’s the chances your whole life you were served exactly the right amount of food?
I can’t waste food – Which is worse? Putting that food into the bin or putting it on your belly? That food has already given its life. You don’t need to torture its corpse by sending it through your intestine.
I deserve this treat! – No, you do not deserve not to push this crap into your mouth. Yes, it looks tasty, but you feel horrible afterwards. You’re not having it because you’re not allowed treats. You’re not having it because it makes you feel terrible.
I need sugar to think. You’re drowning in sugar. It’s in everything. (When I cut back on sugar if anything my thinking improved!)
I love food too much to diet – Eat a little less, I guarantee that you will enjoy your food a LOT more.
I can’t be arsed counting calories – Good news. You don’t need to - once you get in a routine! Measure breakfast and lunch once, and then just use portion control on your dinner (so have one small bowl of low carb whatever).
So with a few cracks now in the armour of my beliefs I could start learning the skills and then I began making progress. Once you started making progress then you become UNSTOPPABLE!
The skills to lose weight will be in an upcoming blog.