The 5 Golden Rules
Most people who want to get fitter and some lose weight tend to follow these sorts of thought patterns:
God, I need to lose weight and get fitter.
God, I need to lose weight and get fitter. I’m definitely going to start a diet soon.
God, I need to lose weight and get fitter. I’m definitely going to start a diet next week.
God, I need to lose weight and get fitter. I’m definitely going to start a diet on Monday.
God, I need to lose weight and get fitter. Which diet shall I do?
Tried that one last year…stopped after 2 weeks.
That one was terrible…gave me stomach ache.
That one…how can you not eat for a whole day?
No, not that one…I like pasta too much.
I know what…I’ll go running…
God, that hurt!
Oh well…maybe next month.
Does this sound familiar?
The trouble is, the latest fad diets and new exercise regimes only treat the symptoms of being overweight or unfit…by either trying to limit the calories you eat or by trying to burn off the excess calories you have already eaten.
They don’t address the reasons WHY someone eats too many calories or doesn’t exercise. Many of these reasons are either beliefs that we’ve had since childhood, or routines and habits we follow during day in, day out. It’s these that need to be changed if we want long term effects.
And remember, you don’t have to go on a fasting diet or run a marathon to lose weight or get fit…if you slowly start leading a healthier and more active lifestyle, your body and mind will follow suite, adapting over time to reach your “normal” body weight…and the best thing is that these changes will be permanent and won’t involve food deprivation or sweaty gym sessions!
You will feel happier, be less stressed and have more energy!
So…that’s easier said than done isn’t it?
Well, no, not really.
But, like many things in life, being successful at something is quite often down to the amount of planning you do beforehand…and getting healthier is no different!
So, here are the 5 golden rules to follow BEFORE you start trying to get fitter and losing some weight.
You may be surprised to know that none involve food or exercise!
Most people just plunge headlong into a new diet or exercise regime and then wonder why they fail. Follow these rules and you will massively increase your chance of success!
Rule No 1: You have to really want to change!
If you don’t pass this test, then you shouldn’t even start.
Why is this so important?
As you may have learnt from experience, if you’ve ever wanted someone else to change their behaviour or habits, the mere fact that YOU want it is not enough. However much advice you offer or however many practical suggestions you make – if that person doesn’t choose to change, nothing will happen!
‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’ Lao Tsu
Commitment comes from taking the first step. The choice to take that step is yours and only yours.
Ask yourself these crucial questions:
‘Do you want to change?’
…or do you just think you should (there’s a big difference!) maybe because of what you have heard or someone has told you?
‘Why do you want to change?’
Maybe you’ve read about the potential illnesses that can result from being overweight and/or unfit and you want to do something about it? Do you want to lose weight for a certain event, or are you fed up with yo-yo dieting and want permanent change? Perhaps you get out of breath quickly going up the stairs, you’re always tired or stressed and you want to get fitter?
‘What is it you want to change?’
Your weight…your body shape…your dress size…your general fitness or health…your stress levels? Really drill down into exactly what you want. Write things down if it helps.
Remember though, just thinking that “you want to lose weight” should never be thought of in isolation. Your weight is just a function of your lifestyle (or, more specifically, your eating and activity habits and routines), change this for the better and you will lose weight as a by-product.
It’s VERY difficult to just “lose weight” but change nothing else.
The clearer you are about what you want to change, why you want to change it and about the outcome of those changes, the more likely you are to achieve them. Remember – if you are setting out on a journey, it’s helpful to have a destination in mind!
Take some time out by yourself, or with your partner or a friend. Write down lists if necessary and get a clear image of how and what you want to be when you have finished.
Rule No 2: Find out if there is anything stopping you making a change.
Now that you have DEFINITELY decided to make a change, is something stopping you now…or has something stopped you in the past? You may have tried to lose weight before but failed, or succeeded for a while then regained all the old weight. You may have taken out a gym membership in the past but rarely used it.
‘I really want to change my eating and fitness habits but…’
“But” is the keyword here. Whatever follows the word “but” is the clue to what may be getting in your way. Once you have identified the obstacles to change, you can take action to move them out the way.
‘…I don’t really have the time…’
‘…when I get stressed, I eat and I’m always stressed …’
‘…I hate getting sweaty…’
‘…I just like my chocolate too much…’
‘…when I diet, it drives the rest of the family mad…’
‘…I can’t resist a second helping…’
‘..I just can’t say no to food…’
‘…gyms scare me…’
Identify the thing or things that are stopping you achieve your objective. Really clarify exactly what they are rather than just vague thoughts or ideas…write them down if necessary. You will see that some are ‘practical’ and some are ‘mind set’ obstacles. Let’s deal with the former first.
Think quickly about what you have to do to resolve these obstacles and write the solutions down…however difficult they may seem at the time.
‘…I don’t really have the time
…because I have to juggle a job and family and there is never enough time in the day’
OK…the kids will have to do a few more chores, I’ll try and get up 10 minutes earlier and my partner will have to take the dog out more often. I’ll watch a bit less TV in the evening and turn that damn Facebook off! That will free up a few minutes a day for me.
‘…I can’t resist a second helping
…because I’m still hungry and the food tastes so good’
OK…so eat slower to enjoy the food and either get up as soon as you have finished the first helping and put your plate in the sink, or push your plate to the other side of the table. Do something drastic like pour some water onto your plate to stop you piling it high again. This is much easier than it sounds and will make you feel so good about yourself! You’ll also find out that by breaking the routine of helping yourself to more immediately, you may well not even miss it. After all it takes a few minutes for your brain to get the message that your stomach is full.
So do you get the idea? Be really specific and work out the ‘BUTS’.
Continue this process (it may take some time but persevere!) until you feel you have addressed all the practical obstacles in your path and you should see some clarity emerging! This technique is extremely valuable for building confidence and belief in your ability to cope with and achieve things.
Remember, these issues will always have been there, but you may not have identified them so clearly. Making changes to habits and routines is never easy, particularly if it involves other people, but they must be done if you want to make the positive changes you want!
Rule No 3: Identify and change your negative beliefs.
Now you’ve examined some of the practical barriers that may stop you reaching your objectives, you have to deal with the mental ones.
Many people are limited by their lack of belief in their own abilities and what it’s possible for them to achieve, particularly when it comes to eating and fitness!
Therefore, before you embark on anything that aims to change something about you or your way of life, it’s important to address any negative beliefs and habits related to food and exercise. Quite often these will have been ingrained into your mind from childhood and will have become an automatic response…just like pulling your hand away from a hot plate, or stopping at red lights.
There may also be more emotional reasons why you eat or avoid exercise. Many people eat when they are upset or stressed…that’s OK, but it’s important for you to recognise that this is the reason, rather than your body needing food for instance.
So a belief is something which our own minds have created. A lot of people think the process of changing a negative belief will be very difficult, involving doctors or therapists.
However, here’s the good news! You can change a belief by changing the words that you say to yourself in response to a specific situation or trigger.
Important point: You’ll have noticed that we haven’t even mentioned calories or exercises yet! That’s because getting control of your weight and lifestyle is mainly about attitudes, habits and mind set…not necessarily about a “fad” way to reduce your calorie intake or flatten your tummy, despite what the slimming and fitness industry will have you believe! They try to deal with the symptoms but what they so patently fail to do is to address the underlying causes.
How to change a limiting belief.
We said the process was relatively simple…and it is! Take these steps:
Step 1: Identify the limiting belief and write it down.
‘I believe changing my eating habits will be difficult and take a long time to happen’ or ‘I’ve tried hard to diet in the past but I don’t think I’ve got the willpower to succeed’.
Step 2: What would it be more helpful to believe?
Write this down:
‘I believe I can change my eating habits and this can happen quickly and easily’ or ‘I believe I now have the determination to succeed in the long term’.
Read your new statement aloud and notice how it makes you feel. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, that means your unconscious mind is ‘fighting back’ – wanting to protect you against something which is different from what you have taught it to believe.
This is fine – that’s what the mind is there to do! Step 3 will help your unconscious mind to cope with change!
Step 3: Add some ‘process’ words to the new belief:
“I am learning to believe that changing my eating habits can happen quickly and easily’ or ‘I’m starting to believe I have the determination to succeed in the long term’.
Write the new statement down then read it aloud. How does it feel now?
If it is still making you feel uncomfortable you may need to add more ‘process’ words:
‘I am enjoying learning to believe that changing my eating habits can happen quickly and easily’ or ‘With the right preparation, I’m starting to believe I have the determination to succeed in the long term’.
Step 4: Once you have created a new belief statement which feels reasonably comfortable to say aloud, you are now ready to begin to transform your belief.
Write down your new belief statement at least ten times, one after the other.
Say the new belief statement out loud to yourself in the mirror at least ten times.
Write out the statement and put it up in places where you will ‘meet’ it regularly in your home. It could be on the fridge door, in a place where you can see it when you are sitting using a computer or watching television or cooking dinner – in fact anywhere where it will come to your attention often!
Record the statement on your iPod or smartphone and play it to yourself. This is particularly helpful if you listen to it followed by a piece of music you really like or a recording that makes you laugh.
Get some friends/ members of your family to say the new belief to you at regular intervals. You can even make this into a game with your children – maybe a challenge where they have to say the belief to you five times in a day at times when you least expect it.
Create a series of challenges for yourself to trial how the new belief is beginning to embed itself in your mind. Start simply. For example, consciously change a brand of household product that you have regularly used for a long period of time to something new or decide to travel by a different form of transport and/or a different route on a regular journey.
Notice and record how you feel about making these changes particularly any ways in which this is different from when you have made changes in the past.