Not everyone succeeds at losing weight, but the people that do tend to have very similar habits. The following 5 habits were shared by my most successful weight loss clients. Model your own behaviors after them and you too will succeed at reaching your weight loss goals.
They Eat Similar Foods Day to Day
Everyone requires a different level of variety in their diet. Some people can eat the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for a long time, while others need several different breakfast, lunch, and dinner options each and every week. What I have noticed is that the people who require less variety, say 1-2 different breakfasts, 1-2 different lunches, and 2-5 different dinners each week tend to do the best.
If you think about it this makes perfect sense. When you have less variety you make it more convenient to eat. You have less meal prep to do and can cook in bulk. And the more practice you get in preparing certain meals the more efficient you get at making them.
To improve your success rate choose the least amount of variety possible that still satisfies your taste buds’ minimum requirement for stimulation.
They Have Reasonable Expectations From The Start
People enter into their weight loss program with all kinds of expectations. Many people only see the dramatic success stories like the ones seen on TV or in magazines. These stories are far from the norm, so when these clients aren’t hitting a weight loss of 3-5lbs every week they get discouraged and give up.
It is possible to lose this much weight each week, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose, but the behaviors that have to be implemented to make that happen are difficult to sustain, and they won’t be the same behaviors that help you maintain that weight.
So what happens is the extreme calorie deficit and high physical activity required to reach that lofty weight loss pace cause physical and mental burnout in a matter of weeks. And the people that make it longer than that haven’t learned how to establish the right habits to help them maintain that weight loss.
The successful clients lost an average of .5-1% of their body mass each week. This ends up being 1-2lbs/week for a 200lb person, and a little less for someone who weighs 160lbs. But losing 1lb/week for a year is 52lbs. And the best part is that the habits that got you their will be same that will keep you there.
They Like a Variety of Foods
There is a direct correlation between the amount of different foods you like and your weight loss success. In fact, the correlation is so strong that I can usually tell by the food preference questionnaire a client fills out whether they will succeed or not. After all, most of weight loss is about food, and if you don’t like food how do you expect to fuel your body for weight loss?
Now there are exceptions to this rule. The people who don’t like many foods but don’t require much meal variety can be just as successful. The problem comes when people don’t like many foods, have a lot of food restrictions for whatever reason, and require a large variety of meals in their diet.
I have so much difficulty planning their meals that many times I have to refund their money and politely explain that I can’t help them. If I have that much trouble planning their meals, I can only imagine how hard it must be for them.
Many of us have aversions to foods that are based in fear. Do you remember your childhood when you were afraid of trying something new? Many of these fears are still around today. Make it a habit to try new foods regularly. Nothing bad is going to happen to you and you might be surprised how many foods you actually do like.
They Get Right Back on Track After a Dietary Slip-Up
This one is huge. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people, myself included, let a single messed up meal turn into a day-long or weekend-long binge. We tell ourselves that we’ll start over on Monday, but if that Monday ever comes we just spend the next week undoing the damage that was done the week prior. The cycle continues over and over and we spin our wheels in place.
Every successful client of mine has gotten right back on track with their meal plan as soon as they messed up. Eating off plan “accidentally” and having a big 1000 calorie meal is likely only 500-600 more calories than the meal they were supposed to eat. Those calories can be made up in a day if they get right back on track and not let guilt or rationalizations for starting over get in the way.
The key is to always do your best to stay in control. If you mess up, move on. One bad meal doesn’t make or break your success. It’s the sum of your habits – what you do day in and day out that matters most.
They Have a Healthy Relationship With The Scale
So many people have an unhealthy relationship with their scale. You can have a good relationship with your scale weighing every day or weighing once per month. You can also have an unhealthy relationship with it weighing every day or weighing just once per month. It’s not the frequency of your weigh-ins that determines that relationship – it’s how you view the number you see on it and whether that number dictates your mood and behaviors.
The scale is a feedback tool. It’s nothing more or less. It helps you to make decisions. I have 95% of my clients weigh themselves every day. The other 5% are twice per week with the goal of being able to weigh every day without negative feelings involved.
We take the average of those 7 measurements in order to smooth out daily water weight fluctuations. We compare weekly averages and use that information to make impartial adjustments to their diet and exercise program. So long as the trend is down over time we’re on the right track, and those daily fluctuations stop messing with their heads and they begin to trust the weight loss process again.
So there you have it – the top 5 habits that I’ve noticed among my most successful weight loss clients. There’s a good chance that if you’re struggling to lose weight you could be working towards improving at least one of these habits.