Weight Loss NinjaA Weight Loss Blog
Bored of the usual diet advice? Let’s give you some hope!
Published: 26th November 2018
This Article was Written by: Nik - Weight Loss Ninja
Do you ever find yourself getting fed up of starting yet another diet or buying a new diet book that says ‘This is not a diet book,’ as well as also claiming that ‘This time around it will be different? This time you will get that success that you deserve.’ However, you find that it never works? If you do feel like this I understand, I have been there too.
…yet I love the diet industry.
- I am immediately going to contradict myself here.
- I love the diet industry.
- I cannot say enough positive things about it. For every diet book written, (especially those based on proven nutritional science and techniques), many people will benefit. And for that, I cannot thank the diet industry enough. You help people to potentially live longer and with healthier and often more fulfilling lives, and for that reason I think, personally, the diet industry needs a massive pat on the back.
You may wonder how can I on the one hand pick holes in those diet books, whilst simultaneously loving the diet industry itself?
This is because diet books detail an eating approach or a plan that helps you to physically lose weight. They do not claim to provide psychological coaching and behavioural-change techniques to help you to stick to that plan, (or at least most of the ones I have read do not).
That is fine. Let us love the diet books and the diet plans for what they are and what they set out to do. They give us a crucial vehicle to lose weight. Diets are, essentially, much needed.
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A key question to askI have possibly an even simpler question than that.
What makes the difference between those people who do succeed on these diets, and the numerous others who simply do not?
I am going to introduce you later to 4 simple letters that I feel lie at the root of that difference.
First of all, I would like to talk about feelings.
Have you ever felt like this?
I am going to make an assumption in the hope that we may have experienced similar feelings in the past.
Having been a big bloke for pretty much all of my adult life, I have definitely had ‘those’ feelings associated with being far heavier than I wanted to be. If you are anything like me, you too may have felt that sense of frustration at not being able to find an easy and effortless way to lose weight. I had years of being fed up with failed diets. I felt the internal embarrassment of being surrounded by thin, lean and healthy ‘gym-goers’. Maybe you have also felt like this? I even secretly always wanted a pill to be invented that I could take each day and the fat would dissolve away irrespective of what I ate. A pill that required minimal effort for maximum gain.
If you and I share any similarities and some of the feelings above, I promise you, I do understand.
To compound matters, I would buy diet book after diet book. After reading the first few pages I would have a renewed sense of hope, yet days later I would find myself back in my old patterns of behaviour once again.
For every failed change in behaviour, (and having spent yet another £10 or so on yet another diet book), my sense of despair would rise each time. More importantly my sense of hope would progressively fade like a dying dream, slowly but surely. Such disempowering feelings would grow more and more as each failed diet came and went.
It culminated in me topping out at my heaviest weight ever of 19 stone 2.8 pounds. This was a real shock to the system.
I even started to have crazy, dare I say, even irresponsible thoughts. I found myself thinking that the magic solution would be a serious problem arising, forcing me to visit the doctor. Here I would receive the ‘shocking news’ that would give me the required kick-up-the-backside to provide me with the catalyst for me ‘having’ to finally lose weight.
It is not unusual to hear about this happening. Someone goes to the doctor, they receive some bad news, a shock to the system, they change their ways and as a result they end up slim.
This is rather an extreme strategy to lose weight.
I know how I personally lost 5 stone 9.8 pounds (36.2 kgs / 79.8 lbs)
For me though, I did lose that weight. All 5 stone 9.8 pounds of it. A third of my body weight.
One day those 4 letters kicked in.
One day Hope kicked in. I love this word. 4 incredible letters. H. O. P. E.
What Hope is (and what it should not be)
Hope is not a negative word, yet it can often be perceived as just that.
When hope is given to someone, under the umbrella of ‘naïve optimism’, then hope is not good.
Giving people hope based on an expectation that things will ‘just fall into place ‘somehow’, without a concrete plan of how it will all happen, sets the word hope up for failure. Giving people this type of hope provides a goal, but it does not provide a plan as those scenarios rarely come to fruition.
As there are so many things out there in the world that we cannot control (technological changes; other people; economic conditions; political changes; losing a job; not getting that contract you have been working on; illness etc), building hope on ‘chance’ can lead to hope getting a bad name.
In this case, hope is not something that we should give. This false hope, as it should be called, should not be given.
Clear and realistic hope however is something quite different.
What makes Hope different from Optimism?
Hope is concrete. Optimism, as described above, assumes that it will just happen. Optimism assumes that someone, and something out there will make it happen for you.
Hope sits above things like goals. It sits above optimism, commitment, determination and self-belief. These things are all essential when losing weight. Hope comes as a result of all these things coming together. It is the metaphorical Managing Director where self-belief, commitment, determination etc. are all the employees.
Having clear goals, and a plan of how to get there broken down into achievable steps is essential. A sense of why you want your goal; having progressive and positive thinking; a knowledge of who can help you in your journey; deep-rooted self-belief; positive mental attitude. All this, and much more, gels together to give you hope. Clear and realistic hope.
Once Hope is felt in your core, it can act as that friendly hand that supports you and nudges you gently forwards towards your goals. It acts as an alluring and attractive force that, like a hand holding your own, magnetically pulls you willingly towards your destination.
Hope does not happen by accident. It cannot be forced. It has to come naturally.
Let us use these 4 powerful letters to break Hope down into easier-to-understand parts.
Opportunities and obstacles
Effortless weight loss
Hope: Heightened awareness
At the heart of being an Executive and Life Coach is a technique I use in every single coaching session, without fail. That technique is ‘raising awareness of the untapped potential’ which is lying dormant in my clients. It is always there. In fact, it is there in all of us. Coaches tap into this by asking questions.
Coaches ask probing and deeply well-thought-out questions, which provoke intense and deep self-reflection by the client. By doing so the client comes to realise that all that is standing in the way of them achieving their goals, is often a pattern of habitual behaviour that they tend to fall into, rather than digging a bit deeper and making the effort to try something different.
We are creatures of habit and we all tend to quite simply repeat the same behaviour time and time again (i.e. habits). It takes less effort and mental processing to take the habitual route, rather than thinking harder and using more energy to try something new and different. Coaching is all about trying out different approaches using different behaviours.
No awareness, little chance of change.
Nothing tends to happen unless we “unpack” the root causes of why we continue to fall into our old habitual ways of approaching any given situation. This is where Heightening our Awareness kicks in.
Everything happens for a reason, and every behaviour will originate in our past. We did something once and got a reward for having used that approach. We tried it again, we got the same reward. By doing this numerous times the habit was formed (because we actually started unconsciously chasing after that same reward).
Once we connect with the original source of our habitual behaviours, we can start to come up with other ways of behaving that still feel natural and congruent to us, but will inevitably lead to another result.
So, H stands for Heightened awareness. Heightening and raising our awareness of:
- why we do the things that we do,
- what we want (our goals),
- why we want those goals
- what are we good at, and what skills do we possess that we can use to empower us to try something different.
During this process of heightening our awareness we can also come to realise that we are not good at everything. We often also come to realise that maybe we do not have the required skills or knowledge in certain areas. Just knowing this is phenomenally empowering as it enables us to do something about it (such as going on a training course, reading a book or talking to a specialist to gain new knowledge).
HOpe: Opportunities and obstacles
I mentioned a magical word above. Goals. During the coaching process I always ask a client what they want. What are their goals? In other words, what opportunities do they want to capitalise upon? What opportunities do they want to create for themselves? Setting a goal is all about creating an opportunity to go after.
Goals are essential in life. Without knowing what we want, how can we begin to figure out how to get ‘there’; especially if we don’t know where ‘there’ is?
Losing weight is all about goal setting, but it is not just about knowing what you want. Much more important is knowing why you want that thing. Just getting to your target weight is one thing, but what does that target weight unlock for you? What will it mean to you once you get it?
For instance, it could mean a longer life. It could mean that you will have more energy and time to spend playing games and having fun with your kids. It could give you more confidence, and that could lead to a whole host of benefits and knock on effects.
It is far more important to be in tune with what opportunities losing that weight will unlock for you. Again, knowing this at the beginning of the weight loss process acts as yet another part of the ‘Hope Jigsaw Puzzle’.
Obstacles. Have you ever come up against an obstacle and then simply given up? I know I have, many times.
I also know what has enabled me to historically push through other obstacles; other obstacles that I have metaphorically smashed through. That one thing was hope. Clear and defined hope based upon having a concrete goal set out in my mind (and importantly on paper).
When we are clear with what we want and why we want it, we tend not to give up as easily when those inevitable obstacles come our way. We do not get overwhelmed by them because we are pulled forwards, beyond the obstacles, thanks to being clear about what we want.
The best bit is yet to come. The more we smash through our obstacles, the more we feel that we can do it. We are creatures of habit yes, but we are also creatures of experience. We learn from our experiences. The more we smash through obstacles, the easier it is to believe in ourselves that we can do it again. We essentially leave behind us a breadcrumb trail of success and achievement that proves to ourselves that we can do it again.
HoPe: Passionate planning
Why passionate planning? Why not just planning? What is the relevance of the word passionate?
Passionate planning is all about planning with a specific relevance to what motivates you in life.
We are all passionate about something in life, and that passion changes from one person to the next. Passion is one of the big sources of our motivation.
We tend to do the things that we either enjoy doing, or things that are important to us. Both of these are fuelled by the same thing, reward and pleasure. When reward and pleasure kicks in it helps us to get passionate about that behaviour.
For instance, I am passionate about skiing. It is not the skiing that provides me with the passion, it is the rewarding feeling, and the pleasurable experience of gliding over snow at speed that makes me passionate about skiing.
As a result we tend to form habits and get passionate about the things that give us reward and pleasure.
Why do we need to create new habits? Why do we not keep doing the things that we are passionate about?
Unfortunately, not all the things we do habitually are good for us. As an example, we may have a passion for eating lots of fine food and perhaps drinking alcohol to have fun, but they can lead to weight gain.
Therefore we know that we need to develop new habits that help us to stay away from that behaviour. It can be difficult to create a new habit, after all a leopard does not change its spots.
I disagree. There are a number of ways of making the habit formation process easier. We can use things like:
- writing therapy
- basic planning, let alone passionate planning, can help
- goal setting as we have discussed
- exposing ourselves to new things that can change our beliefs. Belief change can lead to new habits and new passions forming.
Whatever you do in this habit formation process, planning out how to change things and planning how to work those new behaviours into familiar routines (routines that you are already passionate about) can massively increase the likelihood that you will be successful in achieving your goals.
Let me give you an example:
- I have a passion for ice cream.
- I knew that ice-cream and my diet plan did not go hand in hand.
- I also like ice lollies. I also have a passion for them.
- I made a plan. A plan that I knew would fit in with things that I was passionate about.
- I bought two things. Ice lolly moulds for the freezer and low-calorie fruit flavoured water flavouring.
- I made up low-calorie fruit flavoured ice lollies and, to this day, months after coming up with that plan, I still eat them.
- Importantly I no longer eat ice-cream, yet I have no sense of deprivation nor sacrifice because I have what I am passionate about. It just comes in a different frozen form and with far fewer calories, namely an ice-lolly instead of ice-cream.
Planning is, I would argue, as important (if not more important) than goal setting. In fact, there is some debate in the world of psychology about goals and how we should focus less on what the goal is and more on the process, the plan, and the steps involved in how to get there. I agree.
To be crystal clear goal setting is crucial, however just having a goal on its own is unlikely to have much success, without working out a plan how to get there. If you have both however, that is where the magic happens.
There is still something even more important than the plan itself. By bringing the plan to life, two other amazing things happen. Learning and new habits.
The learning you pick up along the way, and even more importantly, the new habits that you form are, by far and away, more important that just hitting the goal and having a plan.
This is where the passion comes back in again. Habits come out of repeating behaviour that we enjoy and that we find ourselves getting passionate about.
Back to passionate planning.
Planning is key, but planning around your own life, and what you like doing is even more crucial:
- Plan new things to do, and new behaviours that you know will be different. Be realistic based upon your knowledge of what you like and what you do not.
- Work new behaviours into old routines. For instance, I leave the office each day. Instead of crossing straight over at the traffic lights to go home, as I habitually would normally do, I now turn left. Left is where the gym is, I now go to the gym before going home. I have simply worked a new habit into an old sequence of habits, thus reducing the amount of effort required to do something radically different.
- By connecting with your values (i.e. the things that are important to you), as well as what defines you, and what makes you feel good in terms of what your purpose is in life (e.g. as a parent, friend, boss, leader, etc.), you are better connected with the things that you are passionate about. This can greatly help you identify new behaviours. New behaviours that lead to results are in alignment with what you are passionate about in life***
*** For some people this can prove tricky to get your head around. Let me give you another example.
- Let us say that respecting other people is one of your values.
- Something may happen to you, as a result you are having a bad day.
- As you are now in a more negative mood, it is easier to also feel bad about being overweight.
- This can then affect your behaviour with others. You can more easily become irritable and that can affect relationships.
- However, if you are aware that your weight is the root cause of your relationship issues, then losing weight instantly takes on a more powerful meaning to you.
- By doing so, planning to lose weight now connects with one of your passions. In other words, losing weight connects with your passion to be more respectful to others.
Losing the weight = feeling happier = less irritable = better relationships = fuelling your desire to be respectful of others.
HopE: Effortless weight loss
Everything leads to here. Hope.
Hope automatically happens when you get that inner-feeling, that inner-sensation that:
- you know what you want
- you know how to get what you want
- the way in which you are going to get there feels natural
- you just know that you will be successful
With all that happening inside your brain, your confidence levels feel high because the probability of it all happening seems very likely. That is hope kicking in!
- A clear goal
- A clear plan of how to get there
- A plan that is aligned with you, what you want and who you are
- A sensation that whatever obstacles come your way, you will be prepared to deal with them
- Finally, a gut feeling that you can actually do it
Once you start to feel this, losing weight takes on a different meaning. It seems so much more effortless than it may have felt in the past.
All of a sudden out come those little metaphorical hands; the ones that gently push you forward, whilst another pair are simultaneously pulling you magnetically towards your future goal.
All this happens thanks to that magical first step, heightened awareness. One of the concrete foundations that underpins the entire coaching process.