Weight-loss psychology

By May 28, 2013Fitness, Nutrition
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Play mind games to improve weight-loss results

1           Regular weigh-in

Knowing you’re going to weigh or assess your progress can help to keep your goal in your conscious mind and therefore influence decisions you make throughout the day; take the stairs, choose the salad, make time for your workout, snack wisely and so on…

2           Keep a food diary

Guilt can play a wonderful roll in the decisions you make throughout your day. Noting everything you eat and drink into a food diary could help to keep you from picking at a poor choice of snack not in line with your goals – nobody wants to note down the bar of chocolate, caramel latte with two sugars or high sugar pop. Make an issue of showing the diary to your trainer every couple days so he/she can give you a hard time about it – this will help improve your mental strength, motivation and commitment towards your goal. A really simple and effective way to do this is to take a photo of everything you eat and drink using your mobile phone. this is not only a great way to keep track of everything but will also allow you and your trainer to see the portion size of your meals.

3           Make your workouts as set appointments in your diary

Ever heard a trainer guarantee results? Follow the steps and you will achieve exactly what you set out to achieve… there is some truth in that, only in the sense that if you stick to it there is a much greater chance of success. But much more important than that is the play on your subconscious mind to create a good habit. Make your workout schedule an automated habit and there will be less chance of falling off the routine. “Gym-goers, fitness bunnies, enthusiasts, fitness freaks…” they’re just people who enjoy their workouts and keep to them like a German train timetable. Make it a habit and part of your weekly schedule and you might begin to enjoy it too.

4           A friend to keep you accountable for your efforts

A training partner, or a friend who would like to achieve a similar goal, is as useful as the appointment in the diary, perhaps even more so. If you let yourself get away with missing a training session, I doubt a good friend and training partner will let you off as easily. You can help to motivate each other through a tough routine but also, more importantly, drag each other along when you least want to – if need be, kicking and screaming. Weigh-in together, lunch together or tell each other when you’ve messed up so you can give each other a hard time about it. Better still – enjoy your success and achievements together!

5           Baby steps for regular success/achievement

We are all motivated by success and once we feel a sense of achievement, we want to feel the same again. Take little steps to achieve a goal such as; if trying to lose 6lbs in body fat, try breaking it down to 1lb or half a pound each week and ticking that box every time you achieve it. You could even break it down further and check if you’re on trend to being where you need to be by the end of the week and doing something about it if you’re not. Don’t just set a target and hope you hit it come the deadline but keep on top of it and make sure you know you’ll hit. We also like to set more tangible goals along the way, rather than just focussing on the weight loss. Set yourself the goal of getting the gym 3 times in the first week and give yourself a big tick when you achieve this. By doing this you’re already making good progress and the weight loss will follow!

6           Positive reinforcement, tell yourself well done

Too often people give them-selves a hard time for not achieving the strength, fitness or fat-loss they aim for instead of focussing on the positive gains they have made. This is disastrous for your subconscious – it nurtures a ‘can’t do’ mentality. If you aim for 3lbs of fat-loss this month but only hit 2, think “fantastic! That’s 2 less than I had before and 2lbs closer to where I want to be”. Thinking that it’s not good enough or that you’ve failed can be more detrimental that you think. Stop giving yourself a hard time and pat yourself on the back for your efforts so far and recognise your achievements. It’s not easy.

7           Try something new

Stuck in the same routine? Boredom can kill motivation and enthusiasm. Change it up a bit. Plan your routines to incorporate different exercises or changes every so often. Let’s get something straight – your muscles don’t have memory that learn what you’re doing and stop improving. What we find is generally the case is you get complacent and the same work gets easier and you don’t push your muscles as hard. Try working the same muscles in a different way such as with a TRX or cable rather than barbell or have a workout with a different trainer with new ideas and different methodologies.

8           Make a dummy-proof plan

The old saying, fail to prepare and you’re preparing to fail. If you have a plan taking you step by step towards your goal, there will be a much greater probability that you’ll hit your target. Ask your trainer to plan out cycles of training and nutrition to help get you where you want to be. Make your effort count.

9           Visualise with a photo or dress size – carrot to donkey

It’s all about staying focussed on your target; having a dress in the size you want to fit into hung somewhere that you’ll see every day or a photo of you in the shape you want to return to can be the visual cues that will keep you on track. Think it and it will be so – see yourself in that dress (I often do this and it works for me, wink wink!!). You need to achieve the target in your mind if you want to keep the results you’ve achieved.

10        Track progress with big green ticks over good days on a calendar

Everyone likes a big green tick. Keep a calendar hung up in the kitchen or somewhere you’ll see every day and mark it with big colourful ticks for when you’ve kept to your eating plan and completed your exercise for the day. Aim for more green ticks that red crosses of course – perhaps 6 out of 7 days… a cheat day every now and then can help keep you focused and motivated – one bad day in 10 will not have much impact on your results but use the markings on the calendar to keep them to an acceptable minimum. At the end of the day it’s a constant battle to stay “goal-focussed” rather than not focussed at all.

As with most weight loss tips, they’re nothing new and you’ve probably heard it all before. Just keep it simple, stay away from strict or hyper-restrictive fad diets and get healthy – your natural metabolism will then be a great boost towards your results.