“Monday is a good time to start my diet!”

“Monday is a good time to start my diet!” When did you last say that?

Diet starts tomorrow

Let’s be honest, there is never a good time to start losing weight, you could start Monday and end up having a bad day and give in by the evening. Have you done that? I know that I have!

Life will constantly throw challenges at us and try to sabotage our success, but we can overcome.

The main issue is that ‘Dieting’ is perceived by our body & mind as a threat, dieting means that what we start doing is different to our normal ‘comfortable’ ways, we feel uncertain, maybe fearful (fear of success and failure) and sometimes it will be difficult & challenging.

Our minds are designed to stop us at all cost from doing anything that might hurt us – it’s one of our survival mechanisms. So, our mind will make us recall all other times when we felt uncertain & confronted by difficult uncomfortable situations. It will increase our hormones to make us hungry, so we think more about food and crave carbohydrates to give us energy and feel better. Generally, on our first diet we can overcome these feelings but if you have been a yo-yo dieter you probably don’t have a great feeling when you think about going on yet another diet and you will therefore give in much sooner.

I constantly hear “I know what to do but I just don’t do it!” This is because changing is completely linked to our feelings. Antonio Damasio’s research (1) shows that we make decisions 95% of the time based on how we feel. Which is why committing to changing, our food/exercise habits, is so challenging because we get some good feelings from eating lots of chocolate/crisps/cake, drinking wine and just lounging in front of the TV.

Knowing what to do will never be enough. It’s not as simple as, “Just do it.” If it were that simple, we would all have lost the weight on our first diet. The first step is to learn how to conquer our own feelings otherwise they will constantly be at war with your thoughts and your feelings always win. If you don’t feel like doing something, you won’t do it long term and you will continue yo-yo dieting.

If you are struggling to overcome habits that you want to change that will help you get and stay healthy, but you are finding it difficult, don’t wait until we feel motivated and the time is right. You could be waiting a very long time! I waited 35 years of yo-yo dieting before I finally decided to stop thinking and playing at losing weight. I realised that I couldn’t control how I would feel every day but what I could do was act NOW! Now was the time to get serious, now is the time to make small changes even if I don’t always like them.

Every day taking action makes our brain build new habits and erases existing ones.

So, don’t just go on the next ‘diet’ unless you are going to sort out your mind! You can’t always control how you feel but you can always choose how to act. Use the 5 second success solution to push yourself to act now:

• Every morning set your alarm 10 minutes earlier than you need to. Count in your head 5..4..3… 2… 1…. (it must be backwards) and immediately sit up or get out of bed
• Then count 5..4..3…2….1…. and decide what one thing will help you today to be the ‘healthy, slim you’ – it probably will be something that you don’t like doing much or find challenging because the easy things we tend to just do anyway!
• Then count 5..4..3….2…..1…. get up and dive into your morning action routine.
• Then throughout the day – every time you start to think about some unhealthy habit or procrastinate about not doing something that could help you on your mission because you don’t feel like it. Use the 5..4..3…2…1… second success solution. Just count, tell yourself I’m okay, I’m satisfied, I don’t need that poison and then push yourself to do something better for you. The more you do this the more you your mind becomes convinced that you’re in control and the easier fast healthy decisions become.

It’s easy but it works! If you don’t get started you will never change!

So, no excuses – start changing your life NOW!

1. Persistence of Feelings and Sentience after Bilateral Damage of the Insula Antonio Damasio et al. 2013