I'm in a very lovely waiting room reading the latest addition of Vogue magazine seeing what the latest is with Beyonce when my name is called and I'm led through for my appointment. Welcomed to the room, it dawns on me, I need to think about my lifestyle choices.
See, the last few weeks have been crazy for me. Usually I'm very consistent with my diet, my exercise and my general lifestyle but recently a few things have changed which have presented some barriers to living the life I am accustomed to.
It all started back in August, when following a long standing pelvis, hip and back pain issue, the GP referred me for some scans and an appointment with one of the surgeons at my local hospital.
So as I'm led through from the waiting room to see the surgeon, I was expecting the usual "nothing to see here speech".
You can imagine my surprise when the surgeon diagnosed me with arthritis of the hip and explained possible surgery is required.
The problem is mostly genetic because my little hips do not quite fit the socket of the joint and are very shallow. Combine this with some bone legions sticking out and into the cartilage, apparently you have a recipe for disaster with any exercise.
The surgeon duly advised me to avoid excessive exercise and limit any impact movements. Lucky I did an ultra marathon back in April then!
Combined with this, I was pretty busy. I work the standard 9-5 job, plus run exercise classes 3 nights a week and one day at the weekend. I also see private clients as part of my Winning Weight Loss Programme. Therefore, my day was starting at 5am to squeeze in some exercise and finishing around 9pm. Hence the lack of activity on the blog and social media of late. I do love what I do but it doesn't take Einstein to see that I may have been overstitching myself.
Suddenly unable to exercise as frequently I would like, I was able to reflect on my behaviours which have been so routine for me for so many years. It occurred to me as my consistency with my exercise has dropped off I have had to find more dietary measures to combat gaining weight and living healthy.
Reflective, it occurred to me one of the major obstacles my clients have is consistency and how a lack of this can mostly explain the vast majority of why many of my clients have struggled with their weight in the past.
Diet, Consistency and Diet Plans
Whether you are wanting to improve at sport, piano, fitness, DIY or diet, consistent practice is key. I recently embarked on trying to learn French. Naturally, I have fallen off the wagon and not surprisingly, I still can't speak French. How fluent would I be now had I managed to stick with it?
This is why many of my clients have a history of yo yoing with their weight because they are unable to stick to a plan long term.
They think of it as a diet and once they hit their goal weight, the job is done and they gradually return to their previous behaviours. The very behaviours which led to weight gain. They bounce between diets never truly committing long term.
For successful long term weight loss, you need to change your baseline behaviour. It really is a lifestyle change. Whether that is going onto a diet plan, slimming group, or making a few changes, you will need to stick with them. Like learning French, you need to keep it up. You can't be frustrated because you can't speak French after a month. Just like you can't be frustrated all the weight hasn't fallen off after one month.
This is one reason I moved away from writing prescriptive dietary plans. Typically, you will see diet plans marketed as 'my 3 month fat shredder'. Such a concept sets you up for failure because it is putting a time limit on it. It doesn't teach you anything about nutrition and making changes in the context of your own life.
In my opinion, a much better approach, is literally write down what you are eating in a typical week. Then you can start to make changes to this as time progresses. This keeps it specific to you rather than following someone else's plan.
Once the changes are made, stick with them! Just like your piano skills will improve more quickly if you practice reguarly rather than every so often, your weight loss will improve if you are consistent.
Consistency has two components
Consistency has two components. 1) How long you stick with the changes and 2) how consistently do you eat healthily day to day.
The first is quite self explanatory. It is a lifestyle not a diet and therefore for long term success, it needs to be forever.
The second point is slightly more confusing. Work out how often in the week you are eating healthily compared to unhealthily. The more the week favours healthily the more consistent you are with your diet.
The old 80:20 rule is quite good here. If you are consistent 80% of the time, it allows for the 20% lapse. If you increase this to 90:10, you are more consistent with your diet. If you decrease it to 50:50, you are unlikely to see much difference and are less consistent.
This rule should allow for treats without impacting on your weight loss.
Think about how consistent you are with your diet. If you are regularly eating high sugar and high fat foods, are having large portions, not moving much, getting takeaways weekly or more, there is a strong chance you are lacking consistency. The balance needs to be firmly tilted to favour healthy eating for long term weight loss success. Ensuring you are eating plenty of vegetables and lean sources of protein, trying to be as active as possible, limiting portions combined with the occasional treat and will help you to start winning at weight loss.
Like me, who for the first time is having to actively think about my lifestyle choices as my exercise routine is taken from me, try engaging with your diet and seeing how consistent you actually are.