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Behaviour Change for Fat Loss

Does psychology and behaviour change have a lot to do with how successful we are at achieving fat loss?

Do you eat while you are preparing meals? Finish the leftovers on the kid's plates? Eat when you are stressed out or unhappy? If you want to be successful at weight loss, you need to alter behaviours that caused the weight gain in the first place. Sure, it matters what you are eating, but how, when, and where you eat are equally as important. Behaviour modification techniques that help you get in touch with your eating habits are the true silver bullet to permanent weight loss.

A Lifetime of Bad Habits

You need to become more aware of your eating habits and recognize that eating is so much more than meeting your nutritional needs. Changing your habits takes time, effort, and a great deal of discipline, but the rewards could last a lifetime. To make the necessary changes, you have to think differently, dismiss self-defeating thoughts and behaviours, and replace them with positive behaviours that help you gain self-control. You need to view eating well and exercising as a lifelong pursuit; highs and lows are all part of the journey toward successful weight management.

Slow and Steady

Don't try to change everything at once. Slow and steady is the operating plan. If initially you can only handle a few minutes of exercise each day, that's fine. Each day, try to do a few more minutes and before long you will be meeting your goal. If you try to change a lifetime of poor habits all at one time, you will be frustrated and tempted to revert back to those old habits. Rapid changes and quick fat loss can rob you of energy and make you feel deprived. Give yourself time to unlearn those old habits and replace them with more healthful ones.

Best Behavioural Tips

These are tips that will help you control your urges, cope with stressful situations, and use behavioural principles that will enable you to make small changes in your habits. There are no magic bullets and no substitutions for calorie control, but there are behavioural techniques that can help you increase your awareness of your eating habits and help you meet your weight loss goals. Be realistic and only make the changes that you can maintain and incorporate into your lifestyle.

  • Journal your food intake every day along with your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and your analysis of your progress.

  • Write down your goals, desires, and simple wishes -- put them on paper and refer to them often to help you stay focused on what you want in life (i.e. to lose weight, be healthier, have more energy, climb a flight of stairs easily).

  • Do something that diverts your attention from the food to a more healthful activity like take the dog for a walk, get to the gym.

  • Plan ahead so that your cupboards and refrigerator are stocked with healthy food.

  • Learn to cook differently. Subscribe to a healthy cooking magazine, or try my recipes I have sent you.

  • Eating out at restaurants can be very challenging. Have a plan in hand and stay away from buffets.

  • When self-defeating thoughts creep into your head, refer to your list of goals and remind yourself that this is hard work, but you are worth it.

  • Chew your food slowly, savouring each and every bite. Make sure you swallow everything in your mouth before taking another bite of food.

  • Eat only at the kitchen table -- not standing up, not in the car, not while on the phone. Limiting your eating to one spot will help control your intake.

  • Use luncheon-sized plates for your meals so the food will look more plentiful.

  • Don't fixate on food. Instead, talk about things in your life.

  • Weigh-in once a week only. Being tethered to the scale is emotionally defeating.

  • Record your physical activities every day or buy a smart watch and keep track of the number of steps, striving for 10,000 daily.

  • Cope with cravings by taking just a few bites. Then ask yourself whether it is worth it to continue or if you've satisfied your desire.

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