Often people think Dietitians are naturally blessed with a fast metabolism and find it easy to be slim. Well, I am not one of these people. I know first-hand how difficult it is to lose weight,and more importantly keep it off. In fact losing 10% of my body weight in my twenties is what attracted me to the profession. I understand first-hand the amazing effect weight loss can have on your life but also the effort required each and every day.
Many people (usually trying to sell you stuff) will claim that they have fast/easy ways of you losing weight. You know, drinking only juice, or maybe a concoction of maple syrup and pepper (Yes, Beyonce I mean you!). If it was that fast/easy why are nearly two thirds of adults in the UK overweight or obese?
From my four year study of dietetics and experience working with people trying to lose weight, I wanted to share what you can do to prepare yourself for making long-term lifestyle changes. You know the old saying, right? Fail to plan and plan to fail!
Why are you doing this?
A helpful tool when starting your own weight loss journey, and something commonly used in clinical practice is a pros and cons grid. This tool helps you explore the pros of making changes to your lifestyle (which may be obvious) and cons (which may at first be less obvious). This can help you understand personal barriers to weight loss, and think about how you might overcome these. It also allows you to explore what is going to motivate you through implementing changes. We have made a free tool for you to use – click here to download it.
How confident do you feel?
Another great tool is called the readiness ruler, mark out on a scale of 1 to 10 on how motivated you feel to makes changes to your lifestyle and also how confident you feel. You can download and use our free tool here. If you are low in confidence, think about why. This might be due to past failed attempts, lack of support or other things going on in your life right now. It might be helpful to ask your GP to refer you to a dietitian or join a weight loss group to help build your confidence.
Write it down
Evidence shows that people who keep a food diary lose significantly more weight than those who don’t. Why? It allows you to notice what you are doing and improves self-regulation skills. You can take this one step further you could track your intake on an app such as my fitness pal.
Check your body composition
This is especially important if you have a history of yoyo dieting. Many ‘quick fix’ diets lead to weight loss through the loss of water or muscle mass when we want to lose fat. You can track this using body fat % scales, to save buying your own pay a small amount to use those found at many high street chemists (e.g. Boots). Combining both cardio and weight bearing physical activity into your weight loss plan helps ensure you maintain muscle mass.
Make changes for life
I know it sounds boring, but to keep weight off you are better making smaller, more sustainable changes to your diet. Think to yourself – will I still be eating like this in 6 months? If it’s a no (I am thinking back to the maple syrup and pepper cocktail here), then it might be worth having a rethink of goals you can stick to (even if they seem small). You can build on these gradually and develop healthy eating and lifestyle habits for life. This is the key to maintaining a healthy body weight in the long term.
When to ask for help
If you are planning a weight loss diet, especially if you have a health condition, ask to see your GP. They can, if appropriate, refer you to see a registered dietitian for individualised weight loss advice and ongoing support. A registered dietitian can help you work through these questions and find the approach to weight loss that suits you best.