To achieve the right frame of mind about slimming you need to recognize three things:
- Weight loss does involve change – in the number of calories you eat; and/or the amount of exercise you take; and/or in the type of food you eat.
- These changes need not be drastic and certainly need not be unpleasant.
- For many people, changes in habits take time.
Don’t think of losing weight as being on a diet. To slim successfully you must never, ever, wake up one morning (often a Monday morning, for some reason) and say: ‘Oh help, day one of my diet!’
To overcome the diet mentality you need to:
- Start gently so you don’t wake up one morning with that sinking feeling common to dieters of a tyrannical diet.
- Control your slimming campaign your way and don’t take any notice of what other dieters you know are doing.
- Limit the fat content of your diet so that you can still eat plenty while you slim. Eating plenty is one of the keys to permanent weight control. The latest UK study shows that people who diet on as much as 1,600 calories a day show better overall weight-loss results than people who try to keep to nearer 1,000 calories a day. This is because the people on 1,000 calories a day find it harder to stick to their diets (not because, as is often argued, low-calorie diets make you fat!). As long as your overall food intake is less – even if just a little less – than your energy output, you will lose weight. So in theory if you stay fat on, say, 2,250 calories a day, cutting down to 2,000 a day will still have you losing in the long run. Eventually you will have to cut down a little more, but that’s another story (see Step Four).
- Set yourself a reasonable goal weight. If you have a lot to lose, this should be towards the higher end of the height/weight charts (see page 94) and it will also help if you divide the total amount of weight you need to lose into ‘manageable bits’ and ‘mini-goals’ (say, a stone (6.4 kg) or even half a stone (3.2 kg) at a time).
- Aim to reach your goal (or mini-goal) in no specific timespan. It isn’t to get there in any particular length of time; you just need to get there eventually. This way you will avoid setting yourself unreasonable weekly weight-loss targets. It is very easy to say: ‘I will lose 3 lbs (1.4 kg) a week’ and then, if one week you only lose 1 lb (0.5 kg), instead of feeling pleased at the 1lb (0.5 kg) weight loss you feel you have failed. As this point the likelihood of you giving up is greater.
So if you do prefer to set a weight-loss target, it is better to choose a low one and to consider your weight loss over a period of a month rather than on a weekly basis.
This is particularly useful for women who have menstrual cycles, as weekly weight readings can give a very false picture both because of pre-menstrual fluid retention and because of many women’s natural need to eat more in the week or so preceding the period.