The New Year has come and gone, and I am sure those annoying old habits have already sabotaged many of the weight loss resolutions. For a few of you, you may still be riding high on a new beginning and your tank is still full of willpower.
I hate to be a “Debbie downer” but at some point, your willpower will run out. This is the truth, and the main reason why only 5% of diets result in weight loss that lasts long term. Willpower is also the reason why your local gymnasium is crowded from January to March but then dissipates to only those attendees who have reshaped their environment to make things conducive to exercising regularly. Willpower is great to have and is definitely needed to get things kick started but most of us will be challenged early and often with obstacles. How we react to these obstacles determines how successful we will be accomplishing our resolutions.
If challenged with an obstacle and your experiencing more work stress then normal, do you think it will be easy to tap into that stored willpower and continue along this new healthy (or healthier) lifestyle or will those old demons that don’t celebrate the turning of a New Year or want to become the “New You”, start to whisper in your ear about how soft the couch is, or how warm the home is, or how nice it would be to skip the gym and head out to dinner with friends. For many of us, this is all it takes, despite our best willpower efforts. So how do we make lasting changes conducive to weight loss (or any goal, really)? The answer is, in addition to willpower we also need what Dr. David Katz calls, skillpower.
Skillpower, is your surroundings, environment, tools, tricks and strategies, that are necessary for long term success. All of which will guide you through the good times when things are easy but also during those difficult times as well. When you have systems in place, almost an “if this, then that” scenario and you have identified and either eliminated or created a plan of attack to work around obstacles, you will be able to brush off inconveniences and other events that arise, and trust me, they will arise.
[sws_grey_box box_size=”701″]Here are my 8 tips for creating Skillpower
1. Get organized – Stock the cupboards and fridge with healthy whole foods. If you are someone who “can’t eat just one” then don’t have it readily available. This leads to grocery shopping practices, which the majority of time should be spent on the outskirts of the store; however, some healthy foods can also be found within the aisles.
2. Cooking– Pick a day and set aside time to cook a few meals, preferably meals that produce a number of servings like stew, chili, nutrient dense soup and even casseroles.
3. Planning – Menu plan for the week or at least for a few days ahead. This way when you come home from work, before you spend an ounce of energy thinking about what you want to eat, you will have meals planned and because you followed #2, meals will be ready. On those days you come home and don’t feel like cooking this is where you open the freezer and defrost a precooked meal.
4. Read food labels – Reading the back of food labels will allow you to choose foods that have fewer ingredients and are lower in sodium. Put more stock into the back label of a product rather than anything on the front of the package. The front is often used for marketing and can easily influence the customer.
5. Fill up on roughage – Eat at least 2 cups of leafy greens (or vegetables) with meals to ensure an adequate intake of fiber.
6. Water – Always have a glass or stainless steel water bottle with you. As soon as it is empty, fill it back up right away. Men should drink roughly 3L per day while women about 2.2L/day. The best way to determine if you are well hydrated is to examine the colour of your urine. We are aiming for a pale yellow.
7. Exercise every day – As a strength and conditioning coach in addition to being a nutritionist, exercise plays a huge role in helping to shed unwanted body fat but also to maintain weight lost over time.
8. Go to bed before 10pm – Adequate sleep helps to balance hunger and appetite hormones as well as allowing for rest and repair. Plenty of sleep each night provides energy that can be dedicated towards maintaining an exercise schedule. [/sws_grey_box]
These are just a few of the skills that I help incorporate into people’s lives. Unfortunately, it is our nature to stick with what we have been accustomed to doing, as we normally don’t handle change very well. What we forget to realize is that once that change has occurred and it becomes the new norm, we will fall right back into the (new) status quo. Change is difficult; it usually takes us outside our comfort zone where we feel vulnerable, frightened and insecure. However, this is where change takes place, and why it is in your best interest to acknowledge these feelings and take that first step.
Functional Fat Loss Program
If you live in and around the Toronto area and would like to help with creating a maintainable nutrition plan, I have recently teamed up with The Dempster Clinic – Center for Integrative Medicine and together we have launched a medically supervised weight loss program called The Functional Fat Loss program. If interested or would like more details, give the clinic a call at 416.551.9577.