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The Year Of You
New year is the perfect time to set goals, and after the indulgences of the festive period most New Years Resolutions feature something about losing a few pounds and getting in shape.
Old Ways Won’t Open New Doors
Most people are great at losing weight quick, the problem is keeping it off. Motivation wanes and the weight creeps back on. But why?
What usually happens when we try to lose weight, is that we go from one extreme to the other. We finish the year eating everything in sight – chocolate, crisps, pastry, sweets, cake, take-aways, desserts, rich food, alcohol, creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows – then jump to eating nothing but grilled chicken, steamed fish and tins of tuna with kale or other leaves, no carbs, drinking only water or green tea, as well as doing Dry January and maybe even giving up smoking too just for good measure.
And what happens? After a short period we get bored, think that this healthy lifestyle lark isn’t for us, and we give up. We might lose a bit of weight whilst we do, but I can guarantee it will go back on. Why? Because we haven’t changed our habits or learnt anything new.
So this year we want you to try something different.
Why Diets Don’t Work
This January we don’t want you to go on a diet – diets don’t work – we want you to stop swinging from one extreme to the other and learning nothing.
When we go on a ‘diet’ and leap from one extreme to the other. We eat food that is low in carbohydrates, low in fat and high in protein. We go to the gym or exercise every day, when previously we have done a lot less exercise.
Our bodies have to work harder to make energy, so it sucks up all the energy that we store in our muscles and liver, in the form of glycogen. The result is we quickly lose weight. This process could mean you lose anything up to half a stone, maybe more – ‘great!’ you might think…. but, when you come to exercise your body has no fuel, so you feel sluggish, tired, with legs like lead, and a fuzzy head.
But it’s OK, because it’s only for a short period until you lose the weight, get to where you want to be, then you can go back to normal again, right?!
When you go so low carb and low calorie with your food, what also ends up happening is that your body has to eat itself(!) to provide energy, so it starts breaking down your muscle tissue first (because muscle is easier to break down than fat), the result is that you lose muscle tone and strength and you still haven’t lost much fat, which is actually what we want to get rid of.
Remember it’s the fat that is bad for our internal organs, our overall health, and it’s the fat that we don’t want to see when we look in the mirror. We want to keep and grow our muscle tone and strength, as this fills out our skin and gives us a nice shape.
You might keep the low carb, low fat, extreme exercise routine going for a few weeks at the very most, lose a stone, perhaps a little bit more, and then think ‘Yay, I can come off the diet. Thank God, I can go back to eating normally again!’ True?
So back to ‘normal’ eating we go, our gym attendance reduces until we eventually give up and go back to the take-aways, sweet stuff, crisps and snacks, junk, higher carb, higher fat and ultimately higher calorie food. And, because we have started eating carbs again, our body reacts and stores them for future use, because it needs it to replace those depleted glycogen stores, instantly putting pounds back on.
We carry on like this for another few weeks, then realise that we are gaining weight and then eventually decide to go back on the diet. And so the cycle continues…. forever and ever and ever! Sound familiar?
You have swung on the diet pendulum from one extreme to the other forever! And because of this you only know two ways to eat – ‘being really good’ and being what you consider to be ‘normal’. And this is why diets don’t work!
Work Towards A Happy Medium
What we need to do is stop jumping from one extreme to the other and work our way to somewhere in the middle – to a happy medium.
What would happen if we slowly developed a new normal? What would happen if we ate food we really loved, but in the right portions and frequencies to allow us to maintain our weight, stopped gorging ourselves on the high calorie stuff, and used it as a treat that we savoured once a week maybe? What would happen if we took small baby steps to improve our lifestyle, that meant we didn’t give up on it after a few weeks? What about if we lost between 1/2 a pound and 2 pounds a week, without really feeling like we were on a diet, and got to our goal weight and stayed there?
Does that sound like a nice way to live? Does it sound like a sustainable way to live?
What if for the first week you have a look round the Be Strong website and find out what your daily calories are to lose weight? Educate yourself about what it actually would take for you to lose weight. Then, rather than heading straight for the diet food, just reduce the number of take-aways or the amount of junk food that you have, and make an effort to cook and prepare your own food? Or make an effort to making drink more water a part of your routine. Or just something that was an improvement on what you were doing before?
You might not see an immediate result on the scales, but you aren’t starving and you aren’t miserable, and you are taking a step in the right direction.
Then in the next couple of weeks, you make another improvement, maybe start writing down what you eat. No need to look at calories just yet. Just start writing down everything that passes your lips, 6 days out of 7 in a week.
In time, you might start looking at calories on food packaging and learning about the food you eat, how it is made, working out if it’s a good choice or not for you and your daily calorie allowance.
Then in the following weeks, you might decide to up your physical activity a little, and go for a walk a couple of nights a week, or join an exercise class. Not caning every class going until you can’t get out of bed in the morning for the DOMS that you have got going on in muscles you didn’t even know you had.
And we do this week after week, after week, until our lifestyle looks like we want it to, rather than our bodies. Once our lifestyle looks like we want it to, we carry on like this, and our bodies start to catch up. Friends and family start commenting on how well you look, how your skin looks great and your outlook is really positive, how they are noticing a real change in you.
They might even enquire ‘Have you lost weight?’ the question we all long to hear!
Work On Ourselves
This process is all about working on ourselves and improving our habits and behaviours.
The Lifelong program, can help with this, giving us a structure to follow, developing good habits and eradicating old ones.
This is something that could take some time, and we need to be patient. But, changing our habits and behaviours will be the key to staying in this game forever.
We Aren’t Striving For Perfection
Where we should be is somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. Not full on saintly food, but not full on junk food either. Not training like a demon every day of the week till we are exhausted but not sitting on our backsides every single evening watching TV and fridge foraging in the ad breaks.
When we are somewhere in the middle we have a balance – we are physically active, improving our fitness and our health, we have healthy habits, we are fuelling our body correctly, and we aren’t starving all the time. We are living our best life!
So this January, make the right changes, don’t jump back into that diet cycle, take some baby steps to improve your lifestyle and have some patience. Learn about your calories, your food, look at your habits, learn about the food that fits into your calorie needs, find the food that you love. When you make these changes they are lifelong. And when you make lifelong change you hit your target weight range and stay there forever this time.
This week we will be focusing on how to construct a really great goal, and the steps we need to take to achieve it! But this week we want you to tell us what you want for the year ahead – the year of you. How are you going to make it your year?
Use your Facebook Group to tell us about your New Years’ resolutions, whatever they might be – they don’t just have to be about losing weight, they could be anything…. and please keep us updated on your progress.
We love to hear from you, at every stage of your journey, whether you are doing good or bad. If you need help, ask a question, and you will get so much support from the whole Be Strong community.
Lifestyle change isn’t necessarily easy but it is worth it!