Traditional doctrine states that losing weight sucks. It is believed that we must sacrifice our current lifestyle at severely uncomfortable levels in order to see any possible progress. Furthermore, if we’re not progressing on a regular basis then we feel like failures and need either a better plan or more discipline.
It doesn’t help that we attach our emotions to eating. Eating is just so pleasurable to many of us. We all have our favorite foods, indulgences, and guilty pleasures and depriving ourselves of pleasure, many feel, requires intense self discipline and razor-sharp focus. We think the goal of losing weight should be a process of entering into some sort of special state of mind while leaving our old life behind.
It’s time we try a better way, a more realistic way to lose unwanted weight and live our lives without depravity and severe sacrifice. Your best body isn’t some special project requiring monumental shifts. It should be a sound, realistic plan that fits your lifestyle.
Define your why
The first step is always a mental one. We must define our why. Why do we want to lose body fat in the first place? Is it to look better, feel better, be healthier, or some combination of each? Write out your why, make it personal, and give it plenty of detail.
For example, if your goal is to feel better and healthier it might look like this:
“I want to lose 15 pounds of unwanted fat because I want to feel better and healthier for my spouse so we can enjoy vacations, travelling and hiking more often.”
By being specific (lose 15 pounds) and personal (family/spouse) it will carry more weight and importance.
The next step is to do some mental cleaning. We all have rather ingrained beliefs when it comes to healthy eating to lose weight. Our minds quickly go all Negative Nancy on us and we become at risk for failure before we ever get out of the starting gates.
Below are five of those mind traps we find ourselves in. Negative perspectives that work to subconsciously sabotage our best efforts. But fear not, we can flip each one to our favor and finally devise a successful, realistic plan of action.
Beware of the perfect plan
As mentioned earlier, we somehow believe that our plan must not only be perfect, but also perfectly executed. Any deviation is considered utter failure. We throw our hands up and haphazardly plan to start over at some vague future date.
Flip it: Instead of thinking of your entire plan from start to finish, focus on the start and go small. Ask yourself what are one or two things you could do this week that don’t require a ton of effort and could be easily put into play? Is it cutting back on sugary drinks most days, eliminating an unhealthy snack midmorning, or maybe switching to more water throughout your day?
When focusing on smaller habits on a weekly basis, you’ll quickly see that all of those tiny actions add up over time and build real, tolerable discipline without ever using the word “perfect.”
To say the fitness industry has evolved over the last five or so years is a massive understatement. Social media has changed the game for better and for worse. On one hand it’s brought people together like never before. On the other it’s given every snake oil salesman a pulpit to spew false promises and hawk their powders, pills, and plans.
By all means, if you follow someone on social media that gives you inspiration and motivation in a healthy, meaningful, and responsible way that is relatable then go for it. But steer very clear of those who seem too unrealistic and are always making their feeds about them and not their audience. Even worse, if you feel down on yourself after seeing their posts, why would you keep them around?
Flip it: Do a social media cleanse. Either delete some accounts that don’t add anything to your life and/or clean out your feeds of the classic “influencers” who are just out for likes and your money. I’m looking at you shreddedboi2020.
The human body is an amazing thing. Its ability to work, recover, and adapt is second to none. We have systems that work 24/7 for our wellbeing, but one thing we need to keep at the forefront of our minds, especially when it comes to losing weight, is that we are not machines.
When we embark on a weight loss diet we expect to lose x amount of pounds per week or per month. With this machine mindset firmly in place we think if we don’t meet those goals each week or month we’ve failed. We’ve calculated the numbers, done our math, and followed the plan to the T. So what’s going on?
Flip it: A machine we are not and to think so will only lead to frustration. Our lives ebb and flow. Stress, family and work obligations, and unforeseen circumstances life likes to throw at us can easily make things more complicated. Instead of the false hope in linear progress, adopt a more organic approach.
If you’re humming along losing weight then all of a sudden you plateau, don’t despair. Look at the big picture. One week you may not lose a single ounce, but the next you might shed three or four pounds. As long as you're making progress in the long run is what really matters.
We live in a time where hustle is the new standard. If you’re not “killing it” or #grinding then you’re not going to be successful. When it comes to the perceptions of dieting it’s no different. We feel like we need to suffer, to constantly be hungry, uncomfortable, and deprive ourselves of our favorite things. If we’re not then we can just forget it. We didn’t hustle hard enough.
Flip it: If your goal is to lose some weight, feel better, and live a healthy life then you’ll need something that you can live with, that fits your lifestyle. “Killing it” every day will only lead to boredom, banality, and burnout. As stated earlier, take one step at a time, develop small, weekly habits, and do things that fit your lifestyle. You’re not a Navy SEAL nor do you need to be.
The hermit life
Finally, when we get into weight loss mode we feel almost obligated to ostracize ourselves from society. We turn down invitations to go to restaurants, spontaneous outings with friends, and trying new things in fear they will somehow derail our fragile, perfect plan. We must stay close to home, eat our prepared meals, and avoid risking anything that threatens us.
Flip it: Again, think organically and be pliable. Don’t turn into some antisocial hermit chained to your tyrannical diet plan never to see the light of day again. Be smart and know your limits. When you go out, choose healthy options, smaller portion sizes, and when you do splurge do so conservatively. Avoid all-out binges by eating slowly and enjoying the food you love. Make the diet fit your life instead of trying to fit your life into an unrealistic diet.
A new starting line to live with
The goal shouldn’t be to overhaul your life just to lose a few pounds. Our bodies work well under moderate shifts versus monumental changes that can potentially upend our day-to-day lives. Be pliable with your plan, don’t follow influencers with ulterior motives, have patience with progress, don’t be so hard on yourself, and live your life the way you want to. Sometimes to get the body you want requires a little unlearning.
Read more from Brad:
- 5 Practical Tips I’ve Learned for Eating Healthier
- How to Start Working Out Again: A Simple and Manageable Starting Point to (Finally) Get Back on Track After the Pandemic