Can't lose weight? The secret is getting started

Ever envied someone’s before-and-after photos and wondered how they achieved their incredible weight loss? The secret to success might be simpler than you think.

You’re probably familiar with a few theories about the best way to lose weight. Some people believe it comes down to maths, saying ‘Calories in must be lower than calories out’. Others subscribe to a specific food philosophy, like ‘Carbs are out and protein is in!’ Some follow a strict, specific diet plan like the Paleo Diet or plant-based eating.

But often weight loss is about more than just the black-and-white of diet and exercise. It’s also about overcoming the psychological barriers preventing you from achieving your goals.  And the very first mental hurdle a person has to face is simply getting started.

Sure, it sounds like a no-brainer. But finding the courage to admit you need help controlling your weight, then taking the first step to address that problem, is tougher than it sounds.

Here’s how to motivate yourself to finally throw out the ice-cream and get off the couch and on your way to a happier, healthier you.

Find somewhere small to start. Making small-scale adjustments to begin with will make it easier to get started, and make the whole task seem less daunting. Choose three or four changes that you can implement without getting discouraged, such as simply cutting back one soft drink a day or skipping the sugar in your coffee. You’ll feel pleased when you succeed and it will be easier to move on to bigger challenges.

Prepare for Day One. When you’ve made the decision to change your habits, make sure clear your cupboards of tempting foods like pasta (for carb lovers) or biscuits (for the sweet-toothed) ahead of starting your new regime. You’ll be reminded of your commitment to yourself every time you open the pantry or fridge and you won’t have any tantalising food on hand to test you in the early days. As time goes on, you can meal prep healthy lunches in advance and ensure you always carry healthy snacks in your bag to crush cravings.

Get the right support in place. Before you start out on a new program, always check in with your doctor to talk about the best plan for you, whether that means cutting back sugar, getting your cholesterol under control, or finding support through the latest new developments in medicine. There might be something out there that can help you, and you don’t even know about it! A professional can also help you understand what will work for your body, like understanding the science behind your cravings, and evidence that the human body can be ‘programmed’ defend against weight loss and maintain a certain range of body weight, known as ‘set point’. Having a consult ahead of starting your lifestyle change also keeps you accountable so you know someone cares about you staying on track.

Once you’ve started, don’t stop! Even if you have a down day and scoff a whole chocolate cake while binge-watching Netflix, remember it’s not the end of the world. Seeing a blip like this as a ‘failure’ can lead to feelings of shame and guilt, which only compel you to ‘give up’ and eat more. The only way to succeed is to keep on keeping on, so put your cheat meals behind you and move forward with confidence.  

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