If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ll know it’s a “mind over matter” situation.
Staying motivated to keep on track is often the hardest part of the journey.
It starts with one weekend of indulgences and, before you know it, you’re back in your old ways with no spark to get back on the wagon.
Graeme Tomlinson, known as The Fitness Chef, reveals some strategies to help you stay on form in his new book Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind.
His approach to weight loss is to learn new, healthy habits to stick to long-term, while avoiding crash diets at all costs.
But as we all know, change takes time.
Here is how Graeme advises tackling those mental blips:
THE RED DOT
The “red dot” method is a way to refocus the mind.
Graeme says it has been adapted from classical conditioning, first developed by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist.
Graeme says: “Before the 2010 British Open, South African golfer Louis Oosthuizen was unable to focus before he hit each shot.
“In order to help him regain focus, he adopted what’s known as the ‘anchoring’ technique.”
This is how it would work:
- Think of a time you played a brilliant round of golf
- How did you feel when you played this round?
- What was your mood like?
- What was the level of focus?
- Give this state of peak performance a color
- Put a dot of that color on your golf glove
- Before every shot, look at the dot and use it to refocus on what you need to do
“For Oosthuizen, the color of the dot was red. He looked at it before every shot of the British Open, and he won. ”
So what’s golf got to do with weight loss?
Graeme says: “The seven steps above do seem like a lot to mentally absorb before every golf shot, or every meal choice you make.
“But even if you bear in mind one or two of the points each time, it can help to realign your focus and improve the quality of your decisions.
“Your anchor doesn’t have to be a red dot but having something you see every day can help remind you why you are trying to make changes in your life and what you need to do to achieve them.”
ONE PER CENTERS
Graeme says long-term change isn’t rooted in willpower, but slowly changing your ways in achievable steps.
He calls these “one per centers”.
Graeme says: “For fat loss, sustainability is not about having willpower, it’s about finding ways to make it easier so that it works.
“In a cheese sandwich, swapping 100g regular Cheddar cheese for 100g 50 per cent reduced-fat Cheddar saves 167 calories.
“Let’s suppose you like cheese sandwiches so much that you eat 100 every year.
“By switching to the lower-calorie Cheddar, you’d save 16,700 calories, which equates to 4.5lb body fat.
“That’s a third of a stone, or around 2kg body fat lost by eating the same sized portion of virtually the same food.
“The secret to creating outcomes that last is to never stop making continuous one per cent improvements, combining these tiny advances over time.”
We’ve all tried to stick to a new habit only to watch it slowly go down the drain after a few days, whether it be 10 minutes of daily meditation or a glass of water when you wake up.
Graeme has a trick to help with that, from James Clear’s bestselling book Atomic Habits.
It’s called habit stacking, and is fast becoming a strategy for forming and sticking with new healthy habits.
The idea is to introduce new habits by stacking them onto something that is already ingrained in your routine.
Graeme says: “Attaching something new to something you are already familiar with increases the chances of sticking to and benefiting from the new habitat.
“Stacking and pairing a new behavior with an existing one means you don’t need to make as much effort to implement the new behavior.
“If one habit is already ingrained, it’s the perfect place to stack a new habit that you want to make permanently.”
For example, if your goal is to drink more water, you could drink a large glass after brushing your teeth – something you do every morning and night without fail (hopefully).
If you want to go to the gym more, you could tell yourself to get into your workout clothes as soon as you take your work shoes off.
This will encourage you to leave the house and go to the gym.
Extracted from The Fitness Chef: Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind by Graeme Tomlinson (Ebury Press, £ 16.99).