If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know that our primary focus when it comes to weight loss is habits.
That’s because our habits influence everything, especially your weight. You can have the best of intentions to lose weight, and you may even develop a sound plan of attack that looks great on paper. But at the end of the day, weight loss is not about what you do, but about why you do what you do.
We have covered this in a couple of previous blogs, so if you’re not sure what we mean by that, or you’d like a refresher, you can find them here: The solution to your bodyweight problem is not in addressing what you do, by why you do it and Why weight loss is never about food and exercise.
The bottom line is that weight loss is all about habits.
When talking about habits, most people think about staying motivated, using willpower, eating ‘well’ and training regularly. They may also think that giving up their drinking or bingeing habits will help them lose weight. But this is where most people go wrong.
There are actually a number of other habits to focus on that will give you better results — and they have nothing to do with diet or exercise.
So without further ado, here are our top 7 habits for effective weight loss.
1. Do what’s best for you and stop worrying about what other people think
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to weight loss is worrying about what other people think of you. This habit stems from fear of judgement. As humans, we just want to be loved and accepted by others. Many people are afraid of being ridiculed, laughed at, gossiped about and rejected, so they spend their time and energy modifying what they do, say, and believe in order for other people to like them and feel accepted. In short, they become people-pleasers (which we will address next).
If you care too much about what other people think you’ll spend time and energy trying to make other people happy, instead of making decisions that will benefit yourself and your own goals. For example:
- You’ll say ‘yes’ to a late night with friends to avoid upsetting them, instead of getting to bed early so you can get up for your early morning training session.
- You’ll choose to go to the pub for lunch with your workmates so they won’t think you’re boring, instead of eating the healthy lunch that you made.
- You’ll avoid making yourself accountable to a weight loss coach because you’re afraid of what they’ll think about you, and instead, you’ll continue to go around in circles doing diet after diet.
Do what’s best for you and stop caring about what other people think.
You can read more about this in our blog Why caring what others think leads to weight gain and how you can stop caring.
2. Learn to put yourself first, instead of people-pleasing
A habit that is closely tied to caring what other people think is people-pleasing. This habit stems from low self-worth. People-pleasers believe that saying ‘yes’ to everyone will help them be liked and accepted. However, it’s very common for people-pleasers to mistake this habit for being ‘kind’.
There is nothing wrong with being kind or helping other people. However, continually putting other people’s needs before your own is a problem and if you do this, you’ll always struggle to lose weight. Pleasing other people cause you to be time-poor, which will mean no time for exercise, healthy meal prep or sleep — three things that are vital if you want to change your body shape. You’ll also experience higher levels of stress, because you’ll be always watching what you say and do, trying to keep everyone happy. Stress is not only a metabolic blocker, but it contributes to poor sleep, increased alcohol intake, and emotional and binge eating — all of which will prevent you from losing weight.
Learn to put yourself first, instead of people-pleasing.
You can read more about this in our blogs, Are you ‘too nice’? Why people pleasing is making you overweight and How to put yourself first without feeling guilty.
3. Focus on your own journey instead of comparing yourself to other people
Comparing yourself to other people is a disaster if you want to lose weight. Yet many of us have this habit. When you compare yourself with others, you’re actually comparing your reality with someone else’s highlight reel which is not a fair game at all. You’ll always feel inadequate compared to other people which means you’re likely to copy what someone else is doing in order to be ‘like them’. In the case of weight loss, doing what someone else is doing is likely to sabotage your results rather than enhance them.
For example, someone you know may be following a strict diet and cutting out food groups in order to shed kilos quickly. You see that they are getting results so you decide you will do it as well. However, if you have a diet mindset (which we will get onto in a minute), going on another strict diet will send you backwards. Not only will you perpetuate the dieting cycle, but you’ll further damage your metabolism, which means it will take even longer for you to lose weight. The same principle applies to copying someone else’s workout. If you decide to do the same workout program as someone who has been training for 5 years, you will end up burning out or becoming injured.
Focus on your own journey instead of comparing yourself to other people.
You can read more about this in our blogs How comparing yourself to others slows down your weight loss and How to stop comparing yourself to others.
4. Accept weight loss is a process, and drop the diet mindset
The diet mindset is strongly linked to immediate results, low self-esteem, lack of flexibility and deprivation which is primarily born from the diet industry. Anyone who has ever been on a diet (and that’s most of us), can relate to the belief that you have to deprive yourself and get everything right, in order to lose weight. However, this approach will backfire.
For one thing, following food rules or meal plans creates a cycle of starving and bingeing. The more you restrict your food, the bigger your binges will be and the more you will be tempted to restrict food even further in order to make up for a binge. This not only plays with your emotions, and stresses you out, but it also causes you to consume more calories than you would if you didn’t’ restrict your food.
The diet mindset will also cause you to feel guilty about eating, take an ‘all or nothing’ approach to lose weight, and discount any positive changes that you make on your journey to lose weight — all of which will cause you to gain weight instead of losing it.
The best approach is to understand and accept that weight loss is a process of ‘unlearning’ all the habits you currently have and learning new ones. Permanent weight loss is a process that takes time not something that can be achieved by a fad diet.
Accept that weight loss is a process, and drop the diet mindset.
5. Control what you can control, and forget the rest
As human beings, we have a deep need to feel in control. We believe that being in control keeps us safe, causes us not to worry about things, helps us predict the future, and protects us from something bad happening to us. The need to control things is a way to keep fear at bay.
There are a lot of things we try to control — what our kids do, what other people think of us, how other people react, what we eat, how we exercise, etc. But the truth is that we can’t control everything. Trying to do so will lead to overthinking which causes stress. Stress then leads to sabotaging behaviours such as overeating, drinking, hanging around toxic people, and will compromise your sleep. All of these things will make it nearly impossible to lose weight and keep it off.
The only approach that will work is to focus on what you can control, and let go of the rest. For example, if you’re increasingly unhappy at work but you’re afraid to speak up because you’re trying to control what your boss will think of you, you’ll end up feeling frustrated, angry, anxious, helpless and powerless — and your situation will only get worse. These negative emotions will escalate the amount of stress you have in your life making it harder for you to lose weight.
However, if you understand that the only thing you can control is how you handle the situation, then you have the power to change it. This might mean speaking to your boss, changing your processes, changing your attitude, or even finding a new job. When you learn to let go of control, you actually end up taking more focused action regarding the things you can control, and you become calmer and happier, which will help you lose weight.
Control what you can control, and forget the rest
You can read more about control in our blogs Dear control freak and How to feel in control when everything is out of control.
6. Believe you are worthy now instead of waiting to lose weight to feel worthy
A lot of people who are overweight feel worthless. They believe that if they can just lose weight, then they will feel worthy. However, unless you believe you are worthy at any weight, you’ll never be able to lose weight.
That’s because low self-worth affects you in more ways than you realise, all of which impacts your weight. For example:
- You don’t believe you’re worth investing in, so you won’t make the effort to lose weight or be consistent with your efforts
- You won’t do anything out of your comfort zone, so you’ll continue to do the same things that you’ve always done, and get the same results you’ve always got
- You’ll people-please and compare yourself with other people
- You’ll use food or alcohol to fill the void inside of you.
The answer to your weight problem isn’t found in a diet. It’s found in accepting yourself for who you are and where you’re at — even if you’re overweight — and understanding that you’re just as worthy as anyone else, even someone with the ideal body. Once you believe in your own worth, you’ll automatically stop engaging in the behaviours that are sabotaging your weight loss and start doing the things that will help you lose weight.
Believe you are worthy now instead of waiting to lose weight to feel worthy
You can read more about low self-worth and how to improve it in our blog How low self-worth affects your weight.
7. Aim for consistency, not perfection
One of the most common things people do when trying to lose weight is trying to do everything ‘perfectly’. People who aim for perfect often have a diet mindset and are afraid of making a mistake. This fear can cause them to procrastinate and not take action at all. And the pressure to be perfect causes a lot of stress.
The truth is no one can be perfect all of the time, and there is no perfect, linear weight loss journey. Everyone will make mistakes and have setbacks. However, it’s those who embrace their mistakes and learn from them that get the best results.
Best results also come when you focus on consistency, rather than perfection. As we’ve already discussed, trying to eat perfectly implies that there are ‘good and bad’ foods. When you restrict food, you inevitably have a binge, so the best approach is to focus on consistently eating healthy nutritious food and allow yourself your favourite treat foods every now and then.
The same approach applies to exercise. One year of consistently working out twice a week is better than 6 weeks of working out every day. This is because doing too much exercise will inevitably lead to burnout or injury, which will see you on the sidelines for an extended period of time.
When you focus on being consistent instead of perfect, you’ll reduce your stress levels, and you will get better results.
Aim for consistency, not perfection
You can read more about this topic in our blogs Why you’re not losing weight despite being perfect and How to be consistent with your weight loss.
A bonus habit…
We’ve come to the end of our 7 effective habits for weight loss, but there is one more that we’d like to bring your attention to. Consider it a bonus if you like.
Sleep and rest
If you want to lose weight and change your body shape, one of the best things you can do is focus on improving your sleep, and resting more.
Most people discount the importance of sleep. If someone who is trying to lose weight was given the choice between sleeping and getting in an extra workout, they’d probably choose working out. However, skipping the extra workout and getting more shut-eye will be more beneficial.
It’s also important to pay attention to your rest and recovery. As we said earlier, the best results come to those people who can train consistently, and those who are the most consistent are the ones who recover the best from their session. Part of this recovery involves rest (i.e. not smashing yourself with intense workout after workout).
There are lots of reasons (many backed by science) as to why sleep and rest are so important to weight loss. You can read them in our blogs Sleep and weight loss: the unexpected connection and The power of rest: Why resting isn’t being lazy.
If you want to know how you can improve your sleep, be sure to read our blog Top tips to improve your sleep.
Change your habits to change your body
As you can see, the 7 effective habits for weight loss are habits that may not necessarily be easy to overcome and will take some time to address. But that’s where we come in.
We understand how influential habits are and how powerful it can be to change just one habit. That’s why we help you every step of the way, focusing on one habit at a time. We provide you with systems, tools, strategies, structure and accountability, so you can develop the habits you need for effective weight loss.
If you’re ready to join us, we’re ready to help.