Step 7: Eat less
The final step in my seven point plan for losing weight is to eat less (see my previous posts for the first six). I’ve left this one till last, which might seem surprising as cutting back on what you eat seems to be the most obvious part of “going on a diet”. For me, this bit of the plan has been important, but probably the least significant part of the “eat less, drink less, exercise more” formula. It was probably this mismatch between what I actually did to lose weight and the questions I got about what diet I was following that prompted me to write this series of blog posts.
My wife Amanda has always cooked healthy food at home and we’ve never really eaten dessert on a regular basis. So for me, the key things to address on the food front were lunch and weekday work dinners. I’ve already mentioned the potential of the “mobile lunch” (an apple and/or banana eaten on the move whilst walking off the calories) to help balance out your weekly net calorie statistics. I’ve also found that it is pretty hard to hit the weekly goals if you have more than 2-3 “high calorie” meals a week (Sunday roast, restaurant meal out, anything with chips etc). So if you have a job like mine, controlling the number of weekday invitations you accept is important and one of the things I did was to ask my PA to help me impose a “maximum one meal out a week” constraint.
As I’ve already said, I didn’t have a big problem with snacking. But saying no is still important. People in the office are very friendly and sociable and there is a tradition of bringing in cakes and other snacks on birthdays and after travel trips. If you are serious about controlling your weight, you have to learn to say no and not be worried about offending people.
Some final thoughts
There are a few things I want to mention that haven’t fitted in to my step by step guide and I want to cover these before I finally shut up.
Toning up. After a few weeks focusing on “cardio”, I decided to add some strength and toning exercises. You need to find another 10 minutes a day and I don’t really know whether this helped on the weight loss front. But for myself, I think it did and it is certainly something I’d recommend as part of a campaign to get healthy and feel better about yourself.
Feedback. There is huge value to making enough progress in the first few weeks that people start to notice and give you positive feedback. Being told things like “wow, you’ve lost lots of weight”, “you look great”, “you look younger” are all great for the motivation and give you the impetus to carry on. As an aside, people usually don’t tell you that you are looking fat, old or unhealthy (well, except perhaps your mother). Maybe if they did we wouldn’t let things get to the stage that a diet is necessary at all.
Support. Losing weight is easier as a team. In my case, having a supportive spouse willing to share my non-drinking days, help me eat more healthily and join me on weekend walks was invaluable. So make sure you enlist the help and support of colleagues, friends and family wherever you can. Some of the social features of today’s health apps can play a role here. Exercise classes such as those run by our friend Gilly Cook at GLF Fitness would I’m sure be a great solution if you can fit them into your schedule.
Sustaining it. Obviously this is something I can’t really speak about with the benefit of experience. After a pause over Christmas, I’m back on my target trajectory but still have another 9 pounds to go. But there are three things that give me confidence that I won’t be putting the weight back on:
- When I made my decision to lose weight, I decided to change my lifestyle permanently, not just “go on a diet”.
- As I’ve tried to explain, I designed the steps I took very carefully, with a full appreciation of my weaknesses and only including things I was confident I could sustain.
- Now I’ve written this blog and broadcast it to the world, it would be far too embarrassing to become a fat slob again.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading and I hope that at least one or two of these ideas may be things you can use to help you stick to your own New Year Resolutions. Good luck!