How to lose weight, get fitter, no cost, guaranteed.

Untold Social is a series of articles on topics that have arisen during discussions between those of us who run the site.  They have nothing to particularly do with football, but are issues we have talked about, debated, and come up with some ideas about.

There is nothing being sold, nothing being promoted, no links to advertisers (unless one comes along and offers us some money, which is always helpful to keep the site going.

This article: How to lose weight, get fitter, no cost, guaranteed.

The total, absolute and utterly guaranteed way to lose weight.  Better still it won’t cost you a penny in books, special diet, or clubs to join

There is one absolutely guaranteed way to lose weight, and it arises from a new understanding psychologists and nutritional scientists have developed as to why so many people fail to lose weight despite their best intentions.

It is very simple, you can start it at once, you’ll see results in a week, and major changes in a month.

The understanding behind this approach comes from the recognition that most people who eat or drink at a level that causes them to put on weight, and who also don’t exercise enough to remove that weight, do so because of habit.

Now we all have lots of habits – habits in the way we talk, walk, sit, scratch our ear,…. and in a thousand other aspects of our behaviour.

Scientists have recognised that while habits are very easy to form, they are actually much harder to stop.  We might say, “I am going to have smaller portions,” and keep up that resolution for a week, but then the habit of having larger portions slips back.

We then feel bad about ourselves, and feel we can’t reduce our food intake, and so our self esteem battered, we slip permanently back into our old ways.

The habit system within the brain is installed for a very good reason to allow us to put lots of our daily lives under subconscious control, so that the brain can be on the look out for the different or the unusual.   Habits take over our everyday actions: walking, driving, talking and so on.

The problem is that certain things can get established as habits which we dont want.   People who bite their nails do it out of habit the habit has been established and is no longer under conscious control – but there is no value in it.  

People who say the phrase I mean in every other sentence do so out of habit.  Weve all got habits, and they can be very hard to shake off.

Not impossible, but hard.

This is the problem: habits are very easy to establish, and very hard to remove.   There is a survival benefit in this because it allows us to learn quickly and act without thinking in emergencies, but is also very annoying if there is a habit we wish to remove.

So eating more than we actually need is a habit, and your task if you want to reduce weight is to stop the habit of eating as much as you do.

Now because habits are hard to eradicate, there is every chance that when you start trying to reduce the amount of food you eat, you will fail, and eat more than you really should.   That does not mean you are a failure. It just means that you are falling under the pressure of your habits.

But habits can be overcome.  Dont feel guilty, dont feel like a failure.  Just recognise that this is normal and start again.

So this new approach to reducing weight still involves the two obvious things: consume less food and fattening drinks that you do now (sugary drinks, alcohol, sweets, ready meals, crisps etc).  And exercise more.

The best way to handle this is to have something clearly identifiable to reduce, such as no puddings, or maybe no alcohol two days a week etc.  Or cut down sugar from two teaspoons in coffee to one. Or don’t buy any more packets of crisps.

Absolutely don’t try everything at once, just choose one thing to cut down on, and when you’ve sorted that, add another.

At the same time, up the level of physical activity you undertake.  If you are taking no physical activity other than what you have to do, start by walking 200 yards on day one, then 250 yards on day two, 300 yards on day three and so on.   Don’t sign up to a gym or buy a load of running gear or a new bike. Start with walking, and then move up to something else like swimming once a week or whatever you want to do.

You could do this by choosing to park at the far side of the car park at work, so you have further to walk to the office.  Or it could be walking round the garden once each evening.

Then, when you find yourself slipping back by eating or drinking too much, or by not taking your exercise, DON’T GIVE UP.

Just remind yourself that habits are hard to break, but you can do it over time.  Pick up from where you were and carry on.

That final bit is the key.  Most people stop the moment they slip back into the old ways.  They typically say, “I tried but I just couldn’t do it.” What they actually should be saying is “breaking habits is hard – you need to try it a number of times to get it sorted.”   

In fact some people make a mantra out of it which they say to themselves each day.  A mantra that says, “habits are hard to break, but I am trying” and you pick up again from where you got to.

Maybe you’ll have four days success before you slip.  Next time aim for five days success. Then six days…

It works.  Just try it.

So let’s go through this.   The four parts of the programme are

  • Understand the nature of habits.
  • Eating a little less each day
  • Eating a little better each day
  • Increasing exercise very slightly each day

Here’s a couple of final thoughts.   First do you tell other people or not?  Some people like to, some people don’t, but here’s one possible issue to consider.  If you are slightly over weight then the chances are that you have friends who are also slightly overweight.  So if you tell them about your new approach they might feel guilty that they are not doing it. As a result they might tell you this approach doesn’t work.

This is of course very much a matter for you, but if you want to reduce weight and feel that your friends might not be helpful (and also that you don’t want the embarrassment of admitting you have slipped back), find ways to avoid telling them.

For example, if you give up crisps, just say, “I don’t know what it is but I just don’t like the taste any more”.  If you don’t want people to see you taking an extra walk in the morning or evening, don’t announce it. If seen just say, “I’ve been getting a real back pain and the doctor said I should just take a short walk each morning to try and ease it after keeping it still all night in bed.”

Sometimes not telling anyone what you are up to, can be the easiest way to cope with the moment the old habits return.

Second, should you try this with a friend?  It is of course up to you, but if you plan for (say) a short walk each night is dependent on a friend, then if your friend gives up, that puts your plan in jeopardy too.   If you do work with a friend, it can be good to have a fall back plan if your friend proves to have less resolve than you.

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