Christmas Challenge Weight Loss Tips: Week 5
Hopefully you are already feeling more confident about slipping into your little black dress this festive season. But what should you do if the dieting blues have started to kick in? This week, I've put together some top tips to help keep you motivated and on track.
1. Reassess your reasons for wanting to lose weight
If your motivation is flagging then it's a good idea to remind yourself why you wanted to lose weight in the first place. Was it to look amazing at this year's Christmas party? Was it to improve your health and fitness? Was it simply to have more energy to play with your children? Then ask yourself what you'll gain by shaping up. Most people who lose weight say they feel happier, healthier and have more confidence. It's something scientists have discovered, too.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that 95 percent of people who lost weight felt their general quality of life had improved. Meanwhile, 92 percent said they had more energy, 91 percent a better mood and more confidence and 86 percent better health - not to mention the benefits of better relationships and improved performance at work!
2. Look forwards rather than backwards
When things get tough, it's easy to dwell on previous dieting experiences - and even easier to find examples of times when you've felt like this in the past, given up and ended piling on all those lost pounds in a matter of weeks. This doesn't mean it's guaranteed to happen this time, too. Thinking negatively will almost certainly result in you giving up. Instead, the key to losing weight is to put past dieting failures behind you and instead focus on the success that lies ahead.
3. Don't waste time on negative thoughts
Remember how I told you in week one to add up all the hours you'd wasted worrying about your weight and then to compare that with the number of hours you'd spent feeling great about your size, shape and diet! Well, hasn't it felt fantastic in the last month to think so positively? Then think about the effect it's had on you and those around you. Chances are you laugh more, are more outgoing and have generally started to feel better about life. And because you feel happier, other people have probably picked up on this and can't wait to be around you. Do you really want to lose that feeling?
4. Visualise the new slim you
When things get tough, spend some time visualising your new life as a slimmer, fitter and healthier you. Find somewhere quiet where you won't be disturbed, sit in a comfortable chair and close your eyes. In your mind's eye see yourself as the slimmer you. How does it feel? How much more confident are you? How do you look? What are you wearing? What are you doing in your new life? What ambitions do you have? What changes have you made? Hold onto this image of the new you and take time to revisit it whenever you're in need of a motivation boost.
5. Break the routine
Quite often, our motivation starts to flag when we get bored with our diet, so think about what you've been eating and drinking over the past month. Have you been eating the same foods, day in and day out? Have mealtimes become uninteresting? If so, it's time to start experimenting with different ingredients and recipes. For example, if you've been sticking to a salad of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber why not make one using red cabbage, grated carrot and sliced red onion instead? Or try swapping your usual bowl of branflakes for a bowl of porridge. Even doing something as simple as adding a handful of fresh herbs to a pasta dish can stimulate your tastebuds. There are plenty of ways to find new recipes, too. Pick up some of the free recipe cards in your local supermarket, check out recipes on the back of food packets or simply surf the Internet. The same goes for exercise, too. If you're bored with your exercise plan, you'll be less likely to stick to it, so find some new activities that you can easily build into your lifestyle.
6. Treat yourself
If you've been really strict about your diet and cut out all your favourite foods, chances are you're feeling deprived - and it's no wonder you're feeling demotivated. If this sounds familiar, it might be time to start including a few of your favourite treats, whether it's a small packet of crisps, glass of wine or couple of biscuits. Simply remember to include them in your daily calorie allowance.
7. Forget about 'good' and 'bad' foods
Stop thinking about all the foods you should be eating less of and instead focus on all the foods you're eating more of. Picture them in a positive light, too, by thinking of words to describe them that makes them sound delicious, for example, a juicy, crunchy apple, a mouth-watering bowl of strawberries or a satisfying, filling slice of wholegrain bread.
8. Celebrate your success
Each time you lose a couple of pounds, treat yourself to something you really fancy - and no, I don't mean a doughnut, packet of crisps or Chinese takeaway! Whether it's a new CD, a manicure, a long soak in the bath or an hour on the sofa with your favourite magazine, being kind to yourself will guarantee long-lasting success.
9. Don't beat yourself up
Don't punish yourself if you have a bad day. Lapses in your diet and exercise plan don't mean failure - they're a normal part of life and one you need to learn to accommodate. Simply get back on track the next day.
10. Beat the dieting blues
Remember that everyone has the odd down day when losing weight seems like hard work. The easiest way to beat these dieting doldrums is to stop thinking about food and focus your attention elsewhere. Maybe ring a friend and have a giggle or pamper yourself. Going for a walk or cycle may also help as exercise releases endorphins, the body's own happy chemicals that give you a natural high.
11. Remind yourself of how well you've done
One of the best ways to keep on track is to look at old pictures of yourself when you were bigger and reflect on the differences in your appearance now. Doesn't it feel great to have more prominent cheekbones, slimmer arms or a trimmer waist? Or try on old items of clothing that used to be tight. There's no better feeling than trying on a pair of trousers that were previously tight but are now too big for you! And if you're still not convinced, remember this fact: research proves that you only have to lose 1kg of fat in order to lose 1cm from your waist!