What are the secrets of the most successful losers? After coaching hundreds of people, I found these 15 habits and mind shifts in my clients who lose weight and keep it off. Now I am sharing the keys to losing weight and keeping it off with you.
Secret to Weight Loss Success
I was coaching a married couple who had been super successful with weight loss and reversing chronic disease. They were several months into the process and were glowing when I talked to them. I was so excited for their happiness and success. Not only were they reaching their goals, they had changed the trajectory of their lives.
After our session, I started thinking, “What was their secret? Why were they so successful? What did they have in common with my other successful clients?”
I decided the best way to figure it out was to just start writing. It turned out to be one of those magical, mystical writing experiences. I wrote the whole 15 Shifts to Become a REAL Loser in 1 hour. It was a revelation.
In my day job, I have found that if patients work with me long enough, they will eventually discover the fundamentals that lead to losing weight without dieting--all on their own. However, I noticed that when I gave my clients the 15 Shifts Guide at the beginning, they made progress faster.
And here’s why...
Let's say you have a new dentist across town. You're familiar with the area, but you aren’t totally sure which streets to turn on. You might be able to wing it, but you'd rather use GPS to get there.
Losing weight on your own is like realizing your phone is dead. Bummer! You eventually make it to the dentist’s office 20 minutes late and after several wrong turns. With no map, you get there stressed, frazzled and worst of all...late.
Losing weight with the 15 Shifts Guide is like having a fully charged phone and totally reliable GPS. You end up at the dentist’s office 10 minutes before the appointment...relaxed and ready to go.
I have never arrived to an appointment 10 minutes early, but I imagine that it would feel pretty good :-).
Many of these shifts will be surprising (check out #1), but they will all make sense. That's because you will relate to them. You'll know they are true deep down. But, here's the weird thing...No one in weight loss is teaching these ideas or at least putting them together like this. It's time for weight loss done different.
With no further adieu, here's the 15 Shifts...
The 15 Shifts to Becoming a Real Loser
1. Enjoy yourself more.
Everyone naturally wants to do what feels good in the moment. We can harness that power to reach our goals if we eat more healthy foods that taste delicious or we choose movement that we love. Eating right or exercise becomes a gift we give ourselves rather than a chore if we focus on how good they make us feel. It’s hard to believe, but losing weight can be enjoyable if we make sure that our healthy food tastes great and our exercise is fun.
2. Become a scientist.
We have a tendency to think that if we aren’t tough on ourselves, we will never lose weight. However, research shows that people who have self-compassion are more successful in the long run. I like to think of our weight loss journey as an experiment. A scientist does not get mad if her experiment did not go as planned. Instead, she takes the data, analyzes it, comes up with a new strategy, and tries again. If we aren’t successful with our goal or habit, we probably just need a new strategy.
3. Use willpower sparingly and to make good habits.
Most people think of willpower as something you use to keep yourself from making bad choices. Instead, as much as possible we want to rely on our habits to make good choices—not willpower. For example, instead of using willpower to keep ourselves from eating Oreos, we make a habit to only buy foods that are on our shopping list. So, we would never have to resist Oreos. They wouldn’t ever be in our cupboards in the first place. We use a small amount of willpower to make good habits-- rather than using a lot of willpower over and over again to avoid temptation.
4. Listen to your body.
Awareness will allow you to change what you eat without forcing yourself. If you notice when you are satisfied, you will stop eating. It does not feel good to overeat—not even one bite. Also, eating healthier foods versus eating sugary foods becomes easier as you notice how your body feels afterwards. This may take practice to get good at, so give yourself a break if you aren’t perfect.
5. Use the number on the scale for evaluation not success.
Research shows that people who weigh themselves more often, lose more weight. However, getting too invested in the number on the scale can be “crazy-making.” It is impossible for weight to go down steadily every day. Instead, look at the trend of the numbers as evidence as to whether the habits or strategies you are using are working. Success is not based on a number, but instead success is defined by the process of working on our habits.
6. Eat smaller portions and enjoy each bite.
Americans have lost sight of what a portion should be. In the 1950’s our dinner plate size was 9” and now it is a staggering 12”. Our norms of what we should eat have gotten bigger, and so have our waistlines. Choosing smaller plates and bowls, allow us to naturally eat less. Also, if we slow down our eating, our stomachs have enough time to communicate to our brains that we are satisfied. There are also theories that we need to notice the smell and taste of our food to feel satisfied. Eating more slowly and mindfully allows us to be satisfied with smaller meals.
7. Develop meal templates.
Research shows that people who eat the same meals over and over lose more weight. Repetition allows your behavior to become a habit with no decisions or willpower required. You don’t have to eat the exact same foods, but having a personalized meal template can help you to lose weight without using willpower.
8. Turn down the reward centers in your brain.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter of reward. Dopamine is released in the brain when we eat sugar and other tempting foods. Along with changes in blood sugar levels, the dopamine release causes us to crave these foods even more. We can turn down this system by focusing on eating less processed foods. Michael Pollan identifies processed foods as “Anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce,” “Anything that won’t eventually rot,” or “Anything that your grandmother would not recognize as food.” We want to eat food not “food like substances” to turn off our cravings.
9. Know your radioactive foods.
Everyone has foods that I consider radioactive. These are foods that are so scrumptious to us that we find it very difficult not to overeat—even if we are paying attention to our bodies. These foods need special rules to allow us to remain in control. We need to be honest with ourselves about those foods and come up with strategies for them.
10. Do as much real movement as possible.
You don’t have to go to the gym to be healthy. Scientists have identified areas of the world where people live the longest—called Blue Zones. Blue Zones include places like Okinawa, Japan and Sardinia, Greece. Okinawans or Sardinians aren’t running on the treadmill or doing pilates. They just move a lot throughout their day. Gyms were invented because we have “industrial revolutionized” movement out of our lives. Let’s find ways to put natural movement back into our lives.
11. Sleep and stress need to be managed.
In our age of distraction, we need a plan to get enough sleep. Sleep is not a luxury, but it is part of the foundation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Along with food, water, and oxygen, we will die without it. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep can have disastrous effects on your hormones and weight. Prioritize it and track it. The same goes with stress. Simple techniques like taking deep breaths can move us from fat-storing “ fight-or- flight” mode to fat-burning “rest-and-digest” mode. Chronic, unrelenting stress can wreak havoc on our weight loss efforts, so let’s work on relaxing.
12. it really is about the small things.
Small habits add up over time. This is one comment that I get over and over from my clients. “I wouldn’t have believed how it was the small things that made all the difference.” Switching to water instead of soda, getting 10000 steps a day, sleeping an hour more, eating salad first, using a smaller plate-- these small habits are ones that my clients said over and over again make all the difference in their weight loss. Consistency will trump heroic, short term attempts at weight loss every time.
13. plan ahead.
Life does not always run smoothly (bet you never noticed that!) My most successful clients develop plans for when all goes well, and then they have backup plans for when it doesn’t. By looking a week ahead and anticipating challenges to your normal healthy routines, you can keep making progress towards your goals.
14. control your evironment.
As much as we want to think that all of our behavior is guided by our choices, this is very far from the truth. It’s estimated that 45% of our actions are determined by habits. I’m guessing that another 30%- 40% of our actions are determined by cues in our environment. For example, people snack 40% less if their kitchen is clean and uncluttered. People weigh 20 pounds more if they leave cereal boxes on their counter. Getting rid of temptations and cues can make your weight loss and maintenance easier.
15. develop support systems.
One of the most powerful influences on our behavior is that of our peer groups. Including health conscious people in your circle of friends can make all the difference in your long-term weight loss success. All you may need to do is share what your goals are and what you have learned from www.realhealthyhabits.com to make your friends into allies in your weight loss. You may also find it helpful to spend time with someone who has habits that you want to emulate. Be sure to get your husband involved and ask him to join you in this journey.
Want a Copy for Yourself?
These 15 Shifts to Become a Real Loser, will probably be some of the most valuable content that I ever make. I want to give you the map to losing weight without dieting from the beginning.
I’ve never seen a list like this before that spells out the shifts that you should make to allow you to lose weight and keep it off for the long run. And that is why I created it.
I want you to have it. You need it so you don't get lost on your weight loss journey.
You're totally welcome.
I’ll have posts on each of the 15 shifts over the next couple of months. I want to explain them in detail, so that you understand the process.
I will also create action guides with some of the posts, so you can put them into practice. Remember:
You can get the 15 shifts that are the secrets to my clients’ success now. You can jump to the chase, and print out the “Cliff Notes” version right now.
I want you to have the map. No more guessing and trying to figure out how to lose weight without dieting all on your own. I am here to help.
Until next time,
get the Guide to Losing Weight without Dieting!
What are the secrets of the most successful losers? After coaching hundreds of people, I found these 15 habits and mind shifts in my clients who lose weight and keep it off. Now I'm sharing the guide to losing weight without dieting with you. Get the guide here...
Hi, I’m Treva, your weight loss coach! I'm a dietitian, personal trainer, and health coach who helps women who want to lose weight, but are done with the deprivation and disappointment of traditional dieting. I help you develop a weight loss habit plan that is personalized for your body, your preferences, and your lifestyle. Want Help Losing Weight?