What Are The Key Strategies for Weight Loss Success?

Have you ever wondered how some people are able to achieve their weight loss and then go on to maintain it over time? So many people who sign up for a weight loss programme or group can start to lose weight with the initial burst of motivation and focus but then somehow it all comes back on. It's easy to get stuck in a cycle of yo-yo weight loss and gain, or to simply decide that no programme works for you.

Well, now we have the research and evidence that shows exactly what behavioural and psychological strategies these weight loss maintainers are using that support keeping the weight off over time. I've covered the findings below. You may be surprised at how unsurprising the strategies for successful weight loss actually are, however, on the plus side, that means anyone can utilise them to increase results. 

Now, of course, in a recent post I wrote about how weight loss in itself won't necessarily make you feel happier, according to all the research. Yet there is no doubt that there are substantial health benefits to losing weight and that is certainly a goal worth achieving. And if you want a better quality of life, to wear those clothes, have more energy, move more easily and prove to yourself and others that you can do it, then so much the better.

So what are the strategies of those people who lose weight and keep it off over the years?

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Weight Loss: Will Losing Weight Make You Happier and Healthier?

As I write this post, we are still under lockdown here in the UK and in many ways this seems to have become the new normal after a few weeks of limitation and social distancing.

Certainly my days have formed their own reasonably familiar structure from getting up to exercise and then onto doing some work, playing with the kids, practicing guitar, watching a movie, a bit of reading and then bed. Certainly I've found having a rough sort of routine and being occupied are making the days pass by reasonably smoothly.

And one thing I've been doing as part of my work on mental health and wellbeing, is revisiting the excellent Science of Wellbeing course run by Yale University (you can sign up and take the course for free on Coursera here: The Science of Wellbeing). I first went through this course early last year and found it to be excellent, which is why I'm taking the opportunity to go through the science again. 

As the science shows, what we think will make us happier and what actually does increase our happiness are often two very different things.

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Weight Loss and the Impact of Self-Hypnosis:

I remember way back being overweight well into my teens. In those days, it seemed much less common of a thing to find people who were overweight or obese. I'm sure they were about but all the evidence suggests not in as great numbers as they are today. Weight loss is now an industry, a problem and still a challenge.

Back in those days I remember standing out like a sore thumb at school because of my size. I ate too much junk, paid no attention to healthy eating and had beyond little interest in exercise (I hated P.E. with a passion and did all I could to get out of it!). Maybe people were slimmer because (like my mum) they were doing the Jane Fonda aerobics video or the Callenetics one.  

Anyway, I started to lose weight when I got so sick of being fat and the limitations that went with it (including wearing trousers with an elasticated waist!), that I decided to do something about it. I cut down on the junk, I moved more and I even went through many months of sweating it out every night on an exercise bike in my room.

These days obesity is often described as an epidemic despite all the knowledge we have about healthy eating and the benefits of exercise. And although many people start out with the motivation and determination to lose weight, for most, after a few months they find that unhealthy habits creep back in, along with overeating and the tailing off of physical activity. Those bad habits and overeating, often along with a sense of being out of control over eating, often mean that any weight loss achieved soon evaporates. 

And in many weight loss programmes and systems, the psychological aspects of eating, such as emotional eating to suppress unwanted thoughts and feelings, and using food as a form of reward, are often overlooked.

A recently published randomized control trial has now reported their findings. They set out with this objective: "Obesity is a worldwide epidemic; most obese individuals who lose weight after lifestyle educative treatments, soon regain it. Our aim is to evaluate the effectiveness of a training to teach self-conditioning technique (self-hypnosis) added to standard care in determining weight loss compared with standard care in patients with obesity.

The results of their trial (discussed below) would assess whether a self-conditioning approach, based on self-hypnosis, is able to help people to modulate unhealthy patterns of eating and sustain weight loss in the long term.

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Overcoming Emotional Eating - New Weight Loss Video Testimonial:

Earlier this month, I recorded this new video hypnotherapy testimonial with a lovely lady who sought my help to change her relationship with food.

Interestingly, the testimonial was recorded around the same time that Public Health England reported on progress towards their target to reduce our sugar intake and their challenge to manufacturers and the like to cut 20% of sugar in a range of foods by 2020. One year after being set the target, retailers and manufacturers had achieved a 2% reduction in both average sugar content and calories in products likely to be consumed in one go.

Of course, sugary foods are often those that we turn to when we emotionally eat. The sugar fix calms our stress, anxiety and worry for a bit but then we may find ourselves repeating the same pattern of using food to feel better over and over. And that can have a huge impact on our health and waist line.

The other week my kids were eating a (not to be named brand!) chocolate and hazelnut spread and challenged me to try a bit. Because I want to encourage them to try different foods to decide whether they like them (rather than deciding they don't like it in advance of ever trying it!), I had a bit. I'll be honest: it was lush. Later on that day I saw I saw the jar in the kitchen, and suddenly deciding I was hungry and needed an energy boost, I had a bit more. "It's alright," I told myself, because I need the energy for exercising. Over the next few days I found myself thinking about eating it, even looking forward to it. I started to get little cravings for it that grew and grew if they weren't satisfied. 

Now luckily I spotted what was happening and decided that nothing should have that much of a hold over me and stopped my unnecessary consumption in its tracks. But I think it shows how sugar and fat filled foods can quickly take a hold and start to escalate the unneeded calories we consume. Add in an emotional element like stress or anxiety or feeling rubbish about ourselves and that hold and that emotional eating pattern can take on a force that can be hard to resist.

Anyway, back to what Laura had to say in her video review of our sessions together...

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Sugar Cravings - are you craving chocolate at Easter?

As I write this article, Easter is just a few short days away and already my kids are craving chocolate that they expect to receive over the weekend (from the Easter Bunny herself!).

Yesterday I nipped into a local supermarket with my daughter to grab some water (for us) and spinach (for our rabbit) and it never ceases to amaze me just how many Easter eggs they can cram into one shop. The moment we entered the store we were faced with tall towers of brightly packaged eggs that seemed to be screaming to be eaten. There were hundreds of them. They were seemingly everywhere around the store; every corner and end of aisle was rammed with chocolate eggs. And assuming that the other local shops are equally as stocked up, I'm pretty sure that if we've divided them out there was enough for everyone in the City to have one (if not two) each! 

When I was a kid I loved this time of year and the huge hit that met my sugar cravings and cravings for chocolate. I'd eat tons of the stuff and that probably explains why well into my teens I was fat and overweight. 

And even though I never eat sweets (apart from during one ultramarathon as an exception), and don't have much chocolate, all those brightly coloured wrappers and promises of luxurious melting chocolate goodiness was enough for me to start salivating a bit (albeit way short of a full blown chocolate craving). I have been to sugar craving land and there was a time when I couldn't be in the same building as a chocolate digestive - and I've been known to fall into festive chocolate craving traps (even if I usually manage to keep to my arbitrary rule of only having three of them).

For sure, all that sugar and fat is enough to create chocolate cravings so overpowering that we can almost feel helpless in the face of the cravings. The chocolate call to us, it cries out from the kitchen beckoning us to enjoy both the sugar hit and the relief from battling against the cravings. After all, once that lot is all eaten, we certainly won't ever buy any more ever again, will we?

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Weight Loss - Does Britain need to eat less?

This week Public Health England announced steps to reduce 20% of calories in popular foods by 2024 to tackle childhood obesity. 

As they put it, 'Too many children and most adults are overweight or obese, suffering consequences from bullying and low self-esteem in childhood, to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers as adults. An obese parent is more likely to have an obese child, who in turn is more likely to grow up into an obese adult.' The aim is to help people achieve weight loss and be healthier by cutting the calories consumed by eating less.

Public Health England's challenge to the food industry is to reduce calories in their products, such as pizzas, ready meals and savoury snacks by changing recipes, reducing portion sizes and encouraging people to buy lower calorie products.

All very worthy stuff isn't it? And no doubt the food industry, sensing the direction of policy and keen to continue healthy sales will produce products to meet this weight loss demand. Anything that makes life simpler wlll help although actually, such products already exist for those who choose to take them. 

Personally I aim to eat relatively sensibly most of the time - having been 'the fat kid' at school, there is no way I want to go back to being overweight. I hated it. It impacted on my self esteem massively and created a negative spiral in that because I was unhappy I would eat more and being unfit I would avoid  the embarrassment of exercise as much as possible. Which meant that I ate more and moved less and got bigger. 

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How to stay in control over Christmas eating:

It's that time of year again when everyone buys enough food to last a month and over-eating becomes the flavour of the month! Or is it? 

Yesterday I was talking to a client who through our sessions has taken control over his eating, ditched unhealthy choices and ended binge eating. However, like many other people, he was a bit concerned that over the Christmas period this control would be put to the test and so he wanted a few quick and easy ways to help him enjoy the festive period but without impacting on his health and happiness. And that's exactly when I have for you here today.

Christmas can be a very testing time if you are someone who wants to be healthy and be in control over eating. There's almost an expectation that you should over-indulge in all sorts of food and drink or you won't be able to enjoy yourself. Of course that's nonsense, however, with sweets in the office and social events and alcohol, sweets and cake seemingly in every direction, it can be easy to overeat and then spend January wishing you hadn't!!

So here I've got 5 simple hacks to help you keep more in control over your eating if you want to enjoy the festive period yet not go too crazy!

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Health Motivation Help:

Could you use more help with motivation to make changes to improve your health and lifestyle? Perhaps you have a habit that stops you being healthier? Maybe you struggle to make the choices that you want to be making yet somehow can't stick to? Perhaps you just can't find the energy and focus to make it happen?

Further down this article you will find a new video testimonial from Julia who wanted to have the motivation to make positive changes for her health and wellbeing.

Julia wanted to get more active in her lifestyle and her health, to do more exercise and cut out things that weren’t great for her yet she had found it too hard to do on her own.

Take a look and listen to what she had to say below.

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5 weight loss tips to help you lose weight and keep it off are included in this article.

If you've been searching in vain for how to reduce weight successfully then you've probably already tried diet after diet, and maybe you've exercised until your body hurt and maybe you've even tried willpower and persistence.

Yet as every successful weight loss expert knows, if you are looking to reduce weight then it all starts in your head.

If you've been promising yourself you will become healthier and happier, yet you still find yourself over eating or lacking motivation then use these weight loss tips starting NOW!

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Emotional eating - is it something that you struggle with? If you eat when you aren't hungry then chances are that there is an element of emotional eating in what you do.

You may wake up in the morning with the best of intentions for the day, only to find that later on you can no longer resist the cravings and urges to eat.

It could be that your emotional eating is a response to stress, boredom, loneliness, unhappiness or anything else that leads you to seek relief in food to change how you feel.

And whilst using an external means to change how we feel is common, whether it is food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling or another means, if your emotional eating is leading to you piling on the weight and feeling unhappy then now is the time to reprogramme your actions and reactions.

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