Psychology of Dieting: What are the Best Behaviours to Help Lose Weight?

vegetablesThere are millions of overweight people in the world, particularly the western world, and unfortunately when a person is overweight it gets harder and harder for them to lose it.

There are social factors involved such as having to give up some of your free time to workout or figure out the calories in your diet. Also there is a certain stigma attached to dieting in men which is prevalent, but happily in decline, which stops them from starting a diet. Strangely the reverse seems to be true of women. There are social pressures to be skinny, most notably the pictures you see splashed over the front covers of womens magazines of celebrities who have a slim physique.

Biology is a factor as well for the overweight and dieting. People who have more fat on their bones find it harder to do physical exercise and so are put off. Also their bodies tend to produce more insulin which is the chemical produced by the pancreas which helps to convert glucose into fat and as a consequence they get fatter faster. So that’s all of the things which stop you losing weight but what can we do to help you to shed those pounds?

Find a Positive Treat (Not Food!)

Too often people go home, sit down on the sofa and think to themselves ‘I’ll just have a sticky bun or a glass of wine because I deserve it’. Now I’m sure that you do deserve it however when you are trying to lose weight you need to find something that is a treat that won’t add to your calorific intake. I’m going to give you some suggestions but don’t feel you have to stick to these because they might not be best for your situation.

You could treat yourself to buying something. While this could become quite expensive if you are methodical and can workout how much money you are saving on food and drink then you could add that up and buy yourself what you want. In particular if you cut down on your meat and alcohol purchasing then you will save a significant amount of cash.

A particular book you want to read or TV program you like to watch could be a good goal. For example you could set yourself the goal of doing a certain amount of exercise or reaching a certain amount of calories and only then are you allowed to watch your program or read your book.

Give yourself time after exercise or at the end of the day to indulge in your particular hobby if you meet your goals. The hobbies that I use are gardening or silver smithing but what ever floats your boat!

Record Everything

I know a lot of people have a problem with recording everything about their diet. The attitude tends to be ‘I’m already taking up time with this diet, I don’t want to lose any more to writing about it’ but honestly it is the only way to accurately track your progress.

About 70% of all people are visual learners, meaning they can remember and better understand visual information. So if you can present the information to yourself in a visual way that should encourage you to continue along the path to a healthy body.

You should be recording things like: The calories, fat, salt and sugar that are in each meal you have every day to make sure you don’t go over your limit, how much you weigh and your calorie intake to output (how many calories you estimate you have burnt). There are so many tools out there to help you record this especially if you have a smart phone that this process is becoming easier all the time.

Now that you have all of these data the best thing that you can do is present it to yourself in a visual way. If you have excel or a different version of spreadsheet software then try putting all of the data into that so you can form charts. Just imagine how satisfying it will be to see a nice steady line heading downwards, showing you how much you’ve progressed.

Set yourself Limits

When I say set limits I mean at both ends of the dieting spectrum. You have to make sure that you are doing enough exercise but you also have to make sure that you are not going to far over to the other extreme. It is far to easy to slip into an eating disorder like anorexia if you over compensate.

Give yourself target amounts of calories that you want to eat each day as well as target amounts that you would like to burn. Don’t diet to fast as well because that causes other problems. A good place to start would be to measure your body mass index and then see how much you have to lose to reach your target weight and over how much time.

The general consensus on a healthy amount to lose is between 1 and 2 pounds per week. To lose 1lb of weight is a calorie deficit of 3500 calories so if you are a woman and your recommended calorie intake to maintain weight is 2500 per day then to lose that in a week you would have to step your diet down to 2000 calories per day or better yet lose the dame amount of calories through a balance of dieting and exercise.

Adjust Your Habits

This is the most difficult one of all because otherwise they wouldn’t be called habits! Most of us get into a routine and then when we choose to lose weight it is difficult to interrupt that routine to make time for exercise or to buy different foods.

The best way to do this is to simply replace one habit with another. To give a common example people will often replace their coffee habit with tea because of the reduced caffeine intake. It gives a similar experience of a hot drink and a small ritual of going to make it but it’s healthier. This way it doesn’t interrupt your routine but merely changes it.

When you are at the shops don’t buy crisps, buy something healthier that is a snack food. If you have a habit of coming home and having a beer change it to a healthier drink. If you come home and put the TV on for an hour, go for a run or cycle for an hour.

This can be incredibly difficult to achieve particularly with comforting food and drink and if you find yourself simply unable to resist then as a last resort don’t buy those things when you go to the shop. If they are not available in your house then you can’t have them. This is not the ideal solution because it is best to have the self discipline when they are within arms reach but in a pinch this tactic does work.

Good Luck!

These tips should help you on your way to the body that you want and hopefully through your weight loss journey you will find out something new about yourself. Good luck to all who are trying to become healthier and do let us know how you get on in the comments section.

Please share. It really helps us a lot.

About Alexander Burgemeester

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