“I’m going to be a fat blob on my wedding day!” The voice on the other end of the phone was desperate. “Can you help me?”
So Karen came to see me. “It’s always the same,” she told me. “I’m motivated for a few days and lose weight, then something happens. I gain everything – and more – back again! My wedding’s in three months! That should be motivation enough, but lately my weight’s been even more all over the place!”
Karen was right. Weight loss motivation is easy…at first. Rapid progress, compliments, wearing outfits you really want to, feeling more attractive, having more energy. All this positive feedback is motivating, captivating. Yet this weight loss ‘honeymoon period’ inevitably wanes. And then it can get tough.
Slim people do it! How?
Living as a slim person is a way of life. A healthy weight won’t be sustainable long-term if it requires constant positive feedback and the excitement of feeling newly slimmer.
“What do you mean: ‘Something happens’?” I asked Karen.
“Well, I might have a problem at work, or my kids wind me up, or I start worrying about being fat at my wedding!”
Ah, so Karen, like millions of people who struggle with their weight, was using food for emotional support as well as simply nutrition.
We had a simple goal, then. Karen needed to start thinking and behaving like a slim person long-term, up to and beyond her wedding. What follows are some of the approaches we used; you can ‘make them your own’ so they really work for you.
Tip 1: Think slim
This tip is about that all-important moment: What do you experience just before you eat something?Do you tussle with yourself? “I really shouldn’t… but I want to!” Do you imagine how the food will taste, even feel in the mouth? Or do you focus on the real consequences, rather than the temporary satisfactions of eating?
People who are overweight tend to imagine how food is going to taste and feel as they eat. In contrast, people who naturally ‘eat slim’ tend to imagine how that pie or cake will feel heavy in their stomachs for so long after they’ve eaten it. Jumping from a great height might feel fun whilst it lasts, but theconsequences that come after we hit the ground are what we consider when deciding not to do it.
So when you’re tempted to eat something you don’t need, practice imagining how your stomach is going to feel ten minutes or an hour after you’ve consumed that weight-increasing food. Keep it up until this becomes a natural habit for you.
Tip 2: Surround yourself with slim people
No, I’m not suggesting you dump all your less-than-slender friends. But research has shown that the average body type of the people with whom you hang out affects your weight and size (1). Start hanging around with slimmer, fitter types (perhaps at the gym) and your subconscious mind will pick up a new template for what is ‘normal’. Karen started hanging out and socializing with slim types at a jogging club.