5 psychologist’s strategies to tip the weight management game in your favour

I hear the pain of people struggling with eating, exercise, weight, and body image issues every day.  So when I recently wrote to you about 5 reasons people struggle endlessly with their weight I was heartened to hear what you had to say! As well as echoing the affect yo-yo dieting had on your lives, you understood some of the reasons why you have been struggling, and were comforted to know you were far from alone.  But the inevitable question also came:

“But how do I change all of this?”

This is an exciting question. Most of us know the changes that would be good for us to make, but the tricky part is in the changing, right? I’d say about 20% of my work is helping people understand more about themselves – the other 80% is helping them do what they already know they want to.  So I wanted to spend our second “session” looking at some simple ways you can begin to move past these barriers.  I’m going to share some of my favourite tips with you along with some client stories from our Twelve Month Transformation participants*, just so you know it’s possible!

Problem #1: You focus on weight too much
Possible solution: Throw away the scales.

Tossing the scales can be daunting I know – you may worry about losing motivation or not knowing how you are going without them keeping you accountable – but it really is one of the best ways to free yourself of weight worries.  And once it’s done it’s done – like ripping off a band-aid (I encouraged Steph, one of this year’s Biggest Loser: Transformed contestants, to do this mid-competition and she did – watch the video here – if she could do it then, you can now!). If you still feel you need to keep an eye on the scales you can jump on when you see your health professional from time to time. My office cupboard is a graveyard where my clients’ scales go to die…and you know what, no one ever asks for them back!  When you let go of the scales you open yourself to all of the possibilities for positive change and often end up getting benefits far beyond just weight loss, like Robyn, who told me:

“I just have to say how this course changed my life….Normally when I go for a job interview I am a nervous wreck and can’t string two sentence together….Something inside of me clicked on a recent job interview….I listed all the things I can bring to the role. I know this program was for weight loss which is going well as well (walking 3 ks a day sometimes more and eating is much better) but it has an overall impact on my life and it was the best money I have spent, I have now got the job thanks to this course!”

Problem #2: You ignore your mindset.
Possible solution: Start to address mindset. 

While mindset work is new for many, the good news is there are so many ways you can begin to transform your mindset.  Of course, you can see a psych…but there are also great books, podcasts, and online programs out there.  If you want to start for free why not check out some of my blogs and videos.  Just have a browse around and see which ones apply to you; even looking at one a week will help to improve your mindset! The benefit of mindset work is seen in Maree being able to finally acknowledge her progress using an Alreadys List.

I’ve already got together with buddies and we share struggles and strategies weekly.
I’ve already started to apply mindful eating to one foodstuff at a time, starting with cheese. This now lasts in the fridge 4x longer than before.
I’ve already accepted that dieting fails.
I’m already kinder to myself with my ‘failures’.
I’m prepared to stay longer with a tricky program lesson and therefore benefit further from it.
I’m already acknowledging some of my deeply held beliefs about myself and understanding that the position I find myself in is not all my fault.
I’ve already joined a Pilates class. This is really enjoyable exercise for me..

My perfectionist/achiever would like to trumpet ‘more significant’ successes, but these ones are real and sustainable. This is a lifetime of snail’s pace change, not just a year!”

Problem #3: You prioritise results over habits.
Possible solution: Focus on creating one habit.

This one is actually pretty easy if you can wrap your head around it. Just aim to create one new habit without sabotaging the opportunity to make lasting change by focusing on short-term outcomes.  It’s sometimes hard because the focus on results sneaks its way in so quickly you really have to catch it.  Jane loved this principle so much she shared it with a friend:

“I got asked the other day how many times a week I go to the gym as this person wanted to start exercising. I made a point of explaining that my journey started with a few 10min YouTube yoga videos, that progressed into a few short walks, to longer walks, to running and now Crossfit 4 times per week. It reminded me of Glenn Mackintosh‘s little demo from the first module, of taking small steps and looking back every now and then to see just how far you’ve come. Still a work in progress but definitely proud of where I am today!”

Problem #4: You overlook emotional eating
Possible Solution: Identify a More Marvellous Method 

To transcend emotional eating you need to learn new ways to deal with whatever feelings are leading to the overeating.  Fortunately there are infinite non-food alternatives to manage your emotions.  I call them More Marvellous Methods to Manage Your Moods!  If you can identify one particular emotion that leads to overeating for you and a new way to deal with the feeling to experiment with, I want you to print out this sheet and write it down. Then put the sheet on your fridge or pantry as a reminder for when you most need it! Freeing yourself from emotional eating takes time, but if you invest it you may have a similar experience to Kirsty, who said:

“I have spent my adult life stressed, easily upset and reactive to others. I was often consumed with inner turmoil, which affected my whole life, especially my health, weight and relationships. This year I decided to take a holistic approach to improving my life and sought some help. I did not know what to expect, but Glenn’s practical approach was refreshing.  He helped me to recognise my reactions and adjust my thinking and subsequent emotions towards a healthier outcome. By making small, consistent but important changes to my behaviour, I now feel calmer, happier and less stressed. An important outcome of my counselling is, as a wife and mother of two daughters, I have improved my relationship with my family and I am helping them learn the same skills in handling life. I have made some important life changes and I really appreciate life on a whole new level”

Problem #5: You want to “Fix” yourself. 
Possible Solution: Love Your Body Healthy. 

This idea can seem a bit airy-fairy (or downright impossible!) when you first hear it, but humor me.  For a second I want you think about what love is.   What qualities make up love?  Now imagine what would happen if you treated your body with this type of love.  What would change for you?  For me, loving your body has three main components; acceptance, trust and care.  Why not experiment with treating yourself with one of these today – you may end up having an experience like Rebecca’s:

“I wanted to share something cool with you Glenn Mackintosh.

I am a pretty experienced internet dater. I’ve done a lot of it over the last 3 years and for a few years before I met my ex husband (about 15 years ago).

I don’t have problems getting dates, but attracting the kind of man I am interested in for a long term relationship and who is interested in me for a long term relationship has been my challenge.

I started to become really self conscious and thinking no one could ever find me attractive. Then I had a really BAD date and decided I shouldn’t be dating while fat. So I stopped for awhile…

I watched your dating video yesterday and decided I needed to change things.

I have full length photos on my profile and explicitly state I am fat on my profile. But still I used to check with potential dates that they knew I was fat and were ok with it…warned them I looked fatter in real life…they may not be attracted to me…

I had a coffee date today and did none of that. I spoke positive things to myself about the other non physical qualities that make me attractive and shared with him stories about the amazing single life I have built for myself…my hobbies…how I am enjoying being active for the first time in over 10 years at the gym

The date was great and not even 5 minutes after leaving him I got this message from him.

I don’t think it’s going to be the romance of the century BUT…It just goes to show that what’s going on in my head plays a big part with my dating success.
Thanks so much.”

Now as well as identifying any problems, you have some potential solutions.  You may even be starting to imagine how good it would feel to work through implementing some of them!  You can guess what I want you to do now, right?

Print out and fill in the Tiny Transformations Checklist.  It will help you identify some of your “hows” and then you can get to work on them.

Tiny Transformations Checklist

❏ Throw away the scales
❏ Read a blog or watch a free video
❏ Focus on creating one habit
❏ Find a More Marvellous Method to Manage My Mood
❏ Treat my body with love (acceptance, trust, or care)

I’d recommend having a play with just one of these ideas – we don’t need to build Rome in a day, just for you to start understanding you can actually change for the better.  I always suggest choosing the most “bang for buck” change (the one with the least amount of time, effort, or money required that you think will give the most benefit).

If you have been receiving my emails for a while, all of these points will probably sound strangely familiar… as these 5 challenges are so important for your long-term success they form the basis of our Twelve Month Transformation and Twelve Month Transformation Online programs. I’m going to write to you again soon to talk about how we can work together to put it all into practice and support you to improve in a more strategic and methodical way, but for now play around with moving some of these pieces, tweaking some of the old rules of you had been playing by, and I’ll be back to show you how we can change the whole weight management game in my next email.

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*This information is shared exactly as it came with the exception that every name has been changed.  Although stories are de-identified they are also used with expressed written permission.

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