Unusual weight loss tipsNov 27, 2019
Weight loss tips for belly fat, men, women, PCOS, endomorphs…
Weight loss is about energy balance. You must use more energy than you ingest, but this isn’t helpful advice when it comes to the practical side of things. Weight loss nutrition is simple in theory and nuanced in practice. Eating fewer calories will result in fat loss over time, so any tips that improve diet adherence will work, no matter your goal or situation.
I’ve already recorded podcasts covering some dieting tips for both muscle gain and weight loss. You can listen below:
Here are some less-known tips to help you stick to your diet.
Focus on the process
An outcome-oriented person focuses on the end-goal of weight loss. A process-oriented person instead focuses on what they must do to get there. These behaviours themselves become the goal.
Why is this important? The biggest issue with weight loss is that it doesn’t stick. Many people are successful in shedding weight but are unable to maintain their progress once they transition out of their diet. In many instances, they regain to the point of weighing more than when they started.
This is because habits haven’t stuck. The daily routine around food and exercise is the key to maintaining a healthy weight for the long term, and a simple shift in mindset to focus on small behaviours can go a long way.
Let’s say you have a goal of losing 10kg. The focus is on the outcome. What happens when you get there? What’s next?
Outcome orientation is synonymous with a hamster-wheel.
There are parallels to other areas of life. Earning $40,000/year in your first job feels amazing, but soon becomes ho-hum. $60k would be far better, but once that target is reached, it doesn’t seem enough.
On it goes.
You’d expect that at some point earning hundreds of thousands a year would feel adequate, but there is always more to achieve, another level to climb.
It’s the same with weight loss.
Goals aren’t inherently bad; you need a direction to aim for. Instead, focus on the behaviours that move you towards the goal. This way you step closer to it and guarantee that you don’t blow it when you get there.
The WOOP technique
Process-orientation is the better way to think about goals, but there are additional techniques you can use to aid the process. The WOOP method is based on a concept called ‘mental contrasting’.
Most people believe that having a positive mindset is the key to achieving their goals. They visualise the road to success, seeing themselves doing everything right on their way more muscle and less fat.
While it’s true that being positive can be helpful at times, it doesn’t pay to ignore potential barriers to success. Research done by Stadler et al. (2009) and Duckworth et al. (2013) identified mental contrasting as a key technique for sticking to your guns.
Mental contrasting involves both visualising the path to success in a positive way (imagining that you’ll be successful and how good it will feel to get there) and contrasting this with picturing potential hiccups along the way. This allows us to feel that our goal is achievable, but also prepares us by simulating scenarios that need to be overcome and how we might solve them.
Enter the WOOP technique. WOOP stands for:
Wish: what’s your desired goal?
Outcome: think about what it would feel like to achieve your goal
Obstacle: Imagine a potential obstacle. It’s best to think about things you have control over like personal actions and feelings.
Plan: Devise a plan to overcome the obstacle. This allows you to practice your response before the problem occurs.
Here’s a practical example.
Wish: My goal is to lose 5kg by my birthday in 5 months’ time.
Outcome: Imagine how good I’ll look and feel at my birthday party in a new outfit
Obstacle: There are a lot of social events between now and then. I’m thinking about how I’m going to avoid temptation with food and drink when I’m out socialising.
Plan: When I go out with friends, I’ll look at the menu ahead of time and pick the healthiest option. I’ll still have fun, but I’m going to limit myself to 2 drinks. I’ll tell my best friend about my goal and ask for help to stick to the plan.
This method allows for better process-orientation since it anticipates bumps in the road ahead of time.
Take it slow
Patience and consistency are undervalued qualities in the quest for weight loss. Setting a time limit to achieve weight loss can create urgency and accountability, but it’s also often arbitrary.
Maintaining healthy eating habits should be a lifelong endeavour, not something used to quickly drop a dress size. So what if you hit your target weight two weeks later than you expected? On the scale of decades, it’s inconsequential.
The focus on your lifestyle habits and relationship with food will guarantee a healthy body size. Once these habits have been established, it’s simply a matter of time.
To play devil’s advocate, some research has shown that faster initial weight loss is more motivating, and this can be carried through to long-term diet adherence. Either way, having a longer-term outlook is important - lifelong habits must be established for long term success.
Understanding friction is vital to forming habits. Willpower is not an endless reserve and fighting against evolutionary instincts screaming at you to eat more and move less isn’t ideal for weight loss. Resistance can be introduced or removed from your environment to take the burden off your willpower.
Some easy examples of introducing friction points:
- Keep food out of sight. Even better, keep foods you’re prone to snack on in a hard-to-reach place or out of the house altogether.
- Allow yourself high-calorie treats, but only if you prepare them from scratch. It’s unlikely you’ll regularly eat ice-cream if you have to make it yourself.
Reducing friction between you and healthy habits:
- Prepare food in advance. Meal prepping, cooking larger batches, or packaging snacks in appropriate portions make it easier to eat well.
- Pack your gym bag the night before to make it easier to exercise in the morning.
- Get your partner or friends on board. Social support makes it far easier to choose places to eat out and keeps you accountable.
The best weight loss foods have a high food volume to calorie ratio, since this allows you to eat more and feel fuller without blowing out calorie intake. These are foods that tend to have higher fibre and water content like vegetables.
It’s commonly recommended to avoid drinking calories. Soft drinks, smoothies and alcohol aren’t conducive to losing weight. But there are ways to make this work by using vegetables.
A favourite ‘meal’ of mine is to blend some fruits and vegetables into a healthy drink. It increases my daily plant intake and I find it filling without being calorie dense.
My recipe involves mixed frozen berries, a kiwi fruit, some water and a large handful of mixed leaves (don’t worry, it tastes fine). I use a splash of low-calorie cordial for flavour (you could also use lemon juice if you prefer).
All up, I get around half a litre of nutrient-dense smoothie for under 200 calories, which can easily replace a much larger meal.
It pays to remember that dieting is a choice. It's normal to feel hungry or tired sometimes when you're on a diet.
This shift in perspective can make all the difference when you're mentally struggling. It's totally cool to complain sometimes. I'm quite partial to a good whinge myself.
But remember that you chose to diet. The ball is in your court. You could easily decide NOT to be hungry and eat as much as you want.
We're in a unique place and time in history where food is virtually unlimited to most of us in first world countries.
Shift your mentality with this idea.
I posted on Instagram to crowdsource dieting tips. I found it interesting that sometimes opposite advice was given – some people recommended restricting feeding windows and others preferred small, frequent meals.
It’s worth experimenting to find what works best for your situation. You can view the post here:
View this post on Instagram
I'm writing an article about dieting tips and I want to include some of yours (quoted). Here's one from me. Use 'friction' to help you avoid foods you don't want to eat and to help promote habits. You can create a friction point by making sure you don't leave food where it's visible. Even better, don't have problem foods in the house. This makes it much less likely that you'll mindlessly snack. You can reduce friction by prepping food in advance, packing a gym bag the night before or making sure your partner is on board with your diet. Over to you! Post yours in the comments below.
These are some of my favourite tips:
Volume - nutrient dense lower calorie for the VISUAL result and satiety.
When eating your “love food (chocolate) sit away from the phone and be present, and enjoy every part of it, for it has its place in your diet!
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