Motivation is What Gets You Started, Habit is What Keeps You Going.

Apparently the second week in January is the time when most people give up on their New Years resolutions. To become fitter and healthier is almost always the most common one but this is mainly because people feel like this is the thing to do and unless you actually really want to make the change then you’ll find any excuse not to.

For the people who are committed to making the change it is inevitably difficult but once you make it past the first few weeks without totally giving up then chances are you will be more likely to adopt this new lifestlye permanently. The reason for some people succeeding over others isn’t purely due to an abnormal level of motivation but rather due to them developing habits. If you can get into the habit of preparing healthy meals, replacing sugary snacks for healthy ones and exercising regularly then eventually these things that once seemed like so much effort will just become a part of your daily routine. “They” say it only takes 21 days to develop a habit which isn’t really that long on the scale of things.
Another thing to remember is that the most successful people focus on progress and how far they have come, not on perfection. They also expect themselves to have slip-ups at times but don’t get too upset as they know it is inevitable so just get back on track as soon as possible.
Why aren’t you losing weight?
If you really are trying to stick to a healthy diet but are finding it very difficult and the weight isn’t coming off as well as you’d hoped then maybe it isn’t totally your fault (as long as you’re being totally honest with yourself and not constantly sneaking in treats). It’s well known that everyone has a different genetic makeup and different metabolisms so why would one diet work for everyone? For example, I’m sure you know somebody, as I do, who eats nothing but junk food and sugary drinks yet is perfectly healthy and a normal weight (or even wants to put on weight but can’t) and then there’s somebody else who eats the same but is overweight and riddled with health problems. Clearly their bodies and mind respond differently to food so a one size fits all approach just doesn’t work.
If anybody else watched the BBC programme during the week called “What’s the Right Diet for You?” then they’ll know what I’m talking about. This show is based on a study by Professors and Doctors from Oxford and Cambridge Universities who investigated if personalized diets will work better for weight-loss than the current one diet fits all approach. They took 75 overweight or obese individuals and analysed their genetics, hormone levels and mentality towards food. Based on these results they categorized them into one of three groups; Feasters, Constant Cravers or Emotional Eaters. Each group was then given a specific diet plan to suit their personalities and genetics which should make dieting easier.When people were assigned to these groups the investigators found that they stuck to their diets better and on average lost over 5% of their bodyweight in three months.  If you want to take the test to find out what type of dieter you are you can do it here and you can also get the nutritional plan to follow based on your result. I got the Constant Craver category which makes sense as I’m always thinking about food!
This is a brief explanation of each type of dieter, you might be able to identify with one or be a mix of a few or even none at all:
  1. Feasters: These are people who once they start eating can’t stop as they don’t feel full. This is because they have low levels of a certain gut hormone that relays the feeling of being full to the brain. Feasters are encouraged to follow a diet high in protein and low-GI foods as these are broken down slowly and are therefore absorbed lower down in the gut which means you feel fuller for longer as more hormones are produced relaying this information to your brain. These types of dieters are encouraged to stay away from high GI foods such as potatoes and bread as these are broken down quickly and will not fill you up leading them to eat more in an attempt to feel full.
  2. Constant Cravers: The investigators found that this group found it the hardest to diet as they are constantly thinking about and craving food. This means they would find it extremely difficult to stick to a diet for 7 days a week and are more likely to quit. Instead, this group were encouraged to try a type of diet known as intermittent fasting or the 5:2 diet where you eat normal but healthy meals on 5 days of the week and on the other 2 days you eat under 800 calories. The aim of this is that you shock your body into burning fat instead of glucose as an energy source. Since you only “diet” on two days (which are non-consecutive) this plan should be a lot more manageable for people who are constantly craving food.
  3. Emotional Eaters: This is probably the most well known of the three types and as the name suggests these type of dieters eat when they are sad, stressed, angry, lonely etc. They use food as a comfort and have developed bad habits which are difficult to break. These people do well from having a support group either online or at weekly meetings who encourage and motivate each other. This support is invaluable to help them overcome whatever emotional stress they are going through without turning to food which they don’t really need or want.
All three groups were encouraged to exercise which as we all know improves general health and aids weight loss but there is a catch as the investigators on this show realized. They found that the dieters were happy to do their assigned exercise and burnt lots of calorie in the process but they negated the effects by being more sedentary than normal on their days off and ultimately overcompensating. So the main point here is to do your exercise but don’t take you “rest days” too literally.
Top Tips for Everyone:
  • Eat Slowly – if you eat slowly  the levels of hormones in your gut will increase,sending signals to your brain that you are full and to stop eating. If you eat too quickly you could end up polishing off a huge meal that you didn’t need as you haven’t allowed your brain enough time to receive the signal to let you know that you’re full.
  • Eat Thick Soup – I’ve always been a big fan of soup as a lunch but now I know why it’s so good. The doctors in this study did an experiment by giving people a plate of roasted vegetables for lunch one day and getting them to do a task after. Most of the participants said straight after the meal that they were still hungry and were hungry for a while after. The next day they were given the same vegetables which were blended with water to make a soup. This time most of the participants said they were full straight after and weren’t hungry again for a few hours. This is because when you eat the soup it fills your stomach and stretches it, nerves pick up on this and send a message to your brain saying that you’re full. Because thick soup leaves your stomach to go to your intestines more slowly, your stomach stays fuller for longer and keeps sending messages to your brain.
  • Don’t shop while tired – Tiredness impairs your decision making process and if you shop on a rough nights sleep you won’t be able to make as good a choice while shopping as you would if you were well rested. Your body will be craving bad foods, you’ll end up buying these and then when you go to take something out of your press or fridge you’ll have no other options. Therefore it is highly recommended to always make a list when you are thinking clearly so you know what you are going to buy.
Thanks for reading,
Aisling x