When working with 1:1 dietary clients, as a rule, I send them out a questionnaire asking them if and how I have helped them and what I could do better. I've recently had some lovely feedback from clients who have thus far managed to lose a serious amount of weight amongst themselves and it inspired todays post.
One common theme these clients have fed back is the way in which I help them change their thinking from short term dietary behaviour to longer term sustainable weight loss.
For example, Jane (not her real name) explained how she had consistently struggled to find the ability to lose weight long term. Sure she had successes over the years but she would relapse once the weight loss was not as expected week to week. Downhearted, Jane lost the motivation and ultimately relapsed.
Another prime example is Sue (not her real name). Sue was able to hit target weight a number of times through various methods but once achieved, complacency would set in. Over time and without realising at first, Sue would regain all of her lost weight, with interest.
Therefore, the feedback from these two ladies in particular was great to hear because long term sustainability is exactly my aim.
I have found too many people want the quick fix. The trophy diet. The 7lb weight loss in a week. What such diets create however is a false economy of weight loss. If no one explains to them that despite 7lbs being a great weight loss in one week, they need to prepare themselves for the shorter times. This will not happen every week.
I find clients who are pre-conditioned for the big weight loss numbers week to week are very disappointed when they achieve 1-2lbs weight loss.
Personally, I don't even weigh my clients week to week because it doesn't allow enough time for true weight loss to be displayed. If someone loses 5lbs one week but gains 3lbs the next week, have they gained 3lbs or was it the actual circumstances of the first week masking what was really going on and therefore -2lbs is the net value?
I find month to month a better measure. Even if losing 1lb per week. That is 4lbs per month or 3 and a half stone over year. It is likely if you carry excess weight, your numbers on average will be bigger than this but if I offered you today the opportunity to weigh 3 and a half stone less one year from now, would you take it?
One client of mine has lost 4 stone in 6 months yet is disappointed because week to week the weight loss seems slow. It is short term thinking. The second the scales reflect zero weight lost for one week she forgets about 7lbs she has lost the previous 3 weeks.
Therefore, you need to condition your mind for the long term. How you do this varies from person to person but a common successful strategy I have found works is stop focusing on the weight and start focusing on the behaviours that will result in weight loss.
Long term weight loss is all about how consistent you are with your diet and to a lesser extent your physical activity (because you can lose weight without being overly active but you won't lose siginificant weight without changing your diet). If you are inconsistent your weight loss will be inconsistent. When I describe consistency, I'm talking about a lifetime. Not week to week, not even month to month. Your weight is the direct consequence of your dietary and physical activity behaviours.
It is this reason why many people cannot keep weight off long term. They gradually fall back into old habits and the weight gradually creeps back on.
You don't hear of people having a blow out for a week and waking up suddenly 4 stone heavier. Yet this is how many want to lose weight. Diet for a short period of time and have the weight fall off yet accept that weight just 'creeps' on. If it creeps on, it will likely creep off long term.
The time it takes will pass anyway. In one year, if you lost 3 stone in 6 months using a unsustainable approach but regained it in the subsequent 3 months, you're no better off from when you started. This is my typical client when they first come to me. If you lose 3 stone over the year but at slower rate and keep it of, it's done.
A much more sustainable and practical method for long term weight loss is to focus on behaviours that work for you and stay focused on them. Monitor using weight and other measures such as how your clothes fit but don't let this be your primary focus. This is purely your feedback. If the weight doesn't change one month, it is implying you need to change what's on the plate (i.e. more veg in place of meat, carbs) or how much is on the plate, or how much you moving etc.
Write out a list of behaviours you are going to change today and stick to it. Join a slimming club, hire help, join a gym, whatever it may be but be consistent with it. Think of the long term lifestyle not just the weight.