The weight loss journey would be a far simpler endeavour, if not for the emotional and psychological aspects that impact our decision making.
If we replaced our minds with emotion/craving-less computer chips, we could just eat 100% all natural foods in a calorie deficit day in day out.
But there is (obviously) a very human element to losing weight.
And if we only examine the practicality side- the physiological components of achieving your ideal physique, then we’d set a large majority of us on a route to fat-loss stagnation.
Which is exactly what we’ll be addressing within this blog. What psychological factors do you need to consider, so that you can properly adapt to the required physiological components needed to facilitate long term progress?
You Need To Separate Your Identity From Your Weight
I say this with 100% certainty without ever having laid eyes on you: you are not fat.
This is a realization that can hold back progress for a lot of people.
But you, as a person, aren’t fat.
Now, this doesn’t mean you don’t have a level of body fat you’d want to lose for health, performance and aesthetic reasons.
Certainly, that may be the case (it is, in fact, quite probable you feel this way, by the fact you’re reading this blog).
But you, as a person? You aren’t fat.
You (assuming from now on that this is the case) have fat that you want to lose.
Your body fat percentage isn’t a reflection of who you are as a human being.
The acknowledgement of this can play a significant role in knocking down a large mental roadblock that often inhibits weight-loss progression.
So, from now on, reframe “I am fat”, to “I have a level of body fat to lose in order to (insert goal here)”.
Because you are not fat. It doesn’t define your character. And if you begin to allow it to do so? Every time you start taking actions to change your weight you’ll put up roadblocks. You’ll tell yourself this is just “the way you are”.
It isn’t. It’s the amount of body fat you may currently be holding. But it’s not permanent. Reframe your thoughts on your self-definition, and you’ll have made a large stride in the right direction towards achieving your ideal body and health.
You Need To Set Goals AND An Ideal Lifestyle
Saying you want to “fit into my old bikini by the holiday in 6 weeks” or “fit into my suit for the Christmas dinner” are great goals.
(And goals ARE important, check out how to set them here: The Importance Of Understanding The ‘Why’ Behind Your Goals.
But they can be fleeting.
What happens the week after you’re back from the beach? Or come January when you have no need to wear that suit for the foreseeable future?
An obvious answer to this would be ‘goal hopping’. As soon as one’s hit, set up another.
This approach is to be commended, and if approached correctly can be highly motivating (especially should you adapt the habit of rewarding yourself for hitting each goal).
But by their nature, goals have an end date. At least any ‘good’ goal does.
It’s measurable, and has a set amount of time to be completed within.
Crafting an ideal ‘lifestyle’ however? That’s usually less specific.
Creating your perfect lifestyle actually often requires a large amount of “I never” statements.
- “I never want to get tired climbing the stairs at my apartment building”
- “I never want to feel guilty on a Monday morning, knowing I binged on fast-food and laid around all weekend”
- “I never want my children to see me as a negative example to their health”.
These “nevers” require ongoing action.
For example for the first, it requires you to upkeep a constant level of fitness. Which can be achieved by going to the gym year round, and taking regular walks.
The second could be achieved by having a regular weekend activity planned, like a bike ride with the kids, or walking around the shopping centre with them during the winter.
The third could be avoided with a combination of the first two, and by staying atop of your diet.
Goals are great at getting you to a point. But reflection on how you want to live your life? On how you never want to feel? Or never want to be seen? Those factors remain constant even as you tick off goal after goal.
If you can set those? If you can craft lifestyle habits that ensure you’re always meeting your personal requirements? Then weight-loss and health becomes less of a ‘quick-fix’, and part of your existence.
And if you want to live a long, healthy and happy life? Then crafting a lifestyle based off ongoing desires is paramount for making that life a reality.
You Need To Accept It Won’t Always Go Perfectly
I think most of us have been there at some point…
We have the perfect plan for dropping that ten pounds- a 4 day a week training programme and diet plan that is guaranteed to get results.
No sugar, no fizzy drinks, low carbs and zero booze. Week one you smash it, you’re on track to reach your goal.
Then on Wednesday week two, you eat a chocolate biscuit.
It was offered by your boss and you took it without thinking, no big deal, right?
Except once you’d had that one biscuit, you may as well just treat yourself, I mean you’re already ‘off the wagon’…
That one biscuit turns into half the pack. Which turns into skipping the gym and ordering take-out. Which turns into a week without training and having sugars in your coffee again which turns into “what’s the point, I’ve failed this”.
The old “all or nothing” approach.
Know how often that works long term? A good 1% of the time. And of the 1% that it does work for? At least .99% of those people are really, really missing eating cakes and drinking beer.
Life isn’t all or nothing.
We can all stick with a plan in the best case conditions.
Give me a free Saturday to shop, a Sunday to food prep, and a perfectly free window between 5.30 and 7 to train after a stress free working life, and I can smash out my training and nutrition.
But throw in stressful work days, kids messing with scheduling, having an emergency at the weekend that causes my food-prep to go out of the window?
Things start to get a little less perfect.
Just last week I had four training sessions planned. I made it to two. Why? Life can get in the way.
But, does that mean I’m now going to skip training sessions this week, or my diet went out of the window because I’m not training so “what’s the point”?
Of course not.
I fit in the training I can, and still ate the way I planned to.
Which, for me? Means 80% of the time I was clean, natural foods. And for one meal a week, I allow myself more of a ‘pleasure meal’. This week I had a burger, chips, and a milkshake.
Does that mean all progress is lost?
A successful journey is about balance.
It’s about accepting things won’t always be ‘perfect’. That it’s about the grand scheme of what you’re eating, and the actions you’re taking- you aren’t defined by a single day.
You’re defined by the actions you take on a regular basis.
So if I had to skip the gym this week, but get right back on the horse next week? It’s not the end of the world.
Plan for the ‘perfect scenarios’, but accept it won’t always work out that way.
Have back up healthy snacks in your car (more suggestions on that here: Discover How To Beat Common Cravings To Stay On Track With Your Fitness Goals
Have a ‘quick workout’ you can fit in if you’re full session isn’t possible (Such as this one: 25 Minute Fat Burning Workout
And don’t throw everything out of the window because of one bad meal. A single chocolate biscuit won’t add slabs of fat to your frame the same way last week’s salad didn’t get your shredded.
Things won’t always be perfect. But if you learn to roll with the punches? Progression will happen. Because waiting for perfection is a long wait- make the choices that can fit your circumstances now, instead of waiting around.
Adjusting the psychology around the emotions attached to your training, and visualising yourself having achieved all your fitness goals is a powerful motivator to take action and ‘be the person you have to become’ to get there.
This can be a difficult concept to grasp at first, but by reading the above article a few times hopefully it will begin to make sense and you’ll be able to understand the benefit in this approach.
All of our comprehensive personal training programmes do include help with the mindset and motivation components – including visualising your goals as if you’ve already achieved them – to ensure you’re successful in achieving your goals.
We offer a complimentary consultation so you can find out more about these programmes and how we can help you achieve the results you desire.