Being overweight in the summer heat is no fun. In fact, for people carrying excess weight, summer can be a time of great discomfort and embarrassment. So let’s look at some effective weight loss strategies to make summer a happier experience.
But first, a warning….
The summer weight loss trap
One guaranteed way to fail is to look for a ‘short cut’ weight loss method, like the type of programme that promises ‘a fast effortless way to reduce weight’. In my experience, crash diets don’t work. Also, the medical evidence is quite clear: the maximum rate of sustainable weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, perhaps a little more if you are obese. So don’t waste time and money on weight loss methods that make extravagant promises of rapid weight loss.
A three-month summer weight loss plan
You can’t lose much weight in a week or two. It takes about three months to see significant changes in your body shape. Remember, the human body is interested in survival, not cosmetic appearances. And since rapid weight loss is a symptom of disease, not good health; the only guaranteed way to improve your body shape is to adopt a gradual approach of healthy eating and increased exercise. In three months, you can lose about 26 pounds – more than enough for most people to experience noticeable health improvements as well as a leaner body. And by reducing your weight gradually in this manner, you have far less chance of weight regain. So you can continue losing more weight, if you choose, with less danger of hitting a weight loss plateau or other obstacle.
You need a motive
If you want to change your eating and exercise habits, you need a strong motive; something to keep you on course and focused. Whatever motive you choose, it must be something more powerful than the urge to eat high calorie foods in front of the TV! Anything that commits you in advance to achieving your weight loss goal makes a great motive. So be bold. Book a beach holiday, or buy some gorgeous clothes to fit the body you want to have at the end of your weight loss programme. These investments require you to succeed, and therefore provide constant motivation along the way.
Be positive about short term sacrifices
Whether your goal is weight loss or any other achievement, an important piece of the motivational jigsaw is the ability to be positive about making short term sacrifices. The choice is fairly simple. You can focus on the “deprivation” aspect of giving up certain foods, or you can focus on the benefits of not eating these foods. If you focus on feeling deprived, you will see your weight loss programme as a burden, which makes you more likely to quit. If you want to succeed, avoid this trap and remind yourself frequently of the longer term benefits from making short-term adjustments to your lifestyle.
The good news about improving your diet
Many of our tastes, food cravings, and general attitudes to food are strongly influenced by what we eat and drink. And the average modern diet is loaded with sugar, fat and sodium, all of which condition us to want more of these items. If you can reduce your intake of these ingredients even for 2-3 weeks, you’ll notice a difference in your tastes.
Which brings me to healthy eating…
Think healthy eating, not weight loss
One of the most effective weight loss strategies is to focus on healthy eating. It’s important to enjoy your food and feel good about your change of eating habits. And any diet you hate is guaranteed to fail, no matter how much weight you lose, because as soon as you achieve your goal, you will revert to your old eating habits.
The top 10 healthy eating habits
In a nutshell, a healthy diet involves:
- More home-cooked food, less eating out.
- More fresh fruit as snacks.
- More fresh vegetables as snacks and with meals.
- More beans as sides or in stews.
- More dense chewy bread, less refined white breads and bread snacks.
- Less red meat. A vegetarian or vegan diet has none of the growth hormones or antibiotics injected into factory farmed animals.
- Smaller servings of meat if you eat it, larger servings of vegetables.
- Eating low fat dairy foods, if you eat them. There are many tasty non-dairy alternatives.
- Adding less fat in the form of butter, mayonnaise, sour cream etc to the food on your plate. This is a huge source of excessive calories.
- Stocking up with healthy snack foods to keep hunger at bay. If you fill up with healthy nutritious calories, you won’t want the junk foods that hunger makes you eat. As far as weight management goes, hunger remains Public Enemy Number One.
Exercise provides great indirect benefits
Exercise burns calories and therefore helps to widen your calorie deficit. But its direct effect on weight loss is typically quite small. In fact, it’s not uncommon to gain weight when you start exercising, as muscle increases. The real weight loss benefits of exercise are indirect ones. It raises the metabolic rate, helping you burn calories faster. It also improves mood, which can reduce comfort eating. However, don’t overdo your exercise workouts. Ideally, start with 45 minutes a day of any physical activity you can easily manage, and gradually increase the duration and intensity. Listen to your body at all times, and be sure to warm up beforehand and warm down afterwards.
See yourself as you want to be
If your goal is a waistline you can proudly display in the sun, then don’t wait until it happens to “see” it. Visualise it from the moment you start your weight loss programme. Visualise yourself walking along a beach, or lying by the pool, looking leaner and healthier. Whatever your ambition for your weight or body, get used to visualising it in the greatest possible detail. Because “seeing it” is the first step to making it come true.
Very overweight? Visualise the benefits
If you’re very overweight, you may feel that losing a couple of stone in three months isn’t much of a goal. If so, ask yourself: what’s the alternative? Whatever method you choose, you won’t lose weight any faster. So it’s really a question of when you start and how long it’s going to take. If you were looking to lose, say, 7 stone (about 45 kg or 100 pounds), this would take about a year. Perhaps visualise yourself walking down the street (or strolling along the beach) 100 pounds lighter, and ask yourself if eating healthily for a year is too high a price to pay for such a wonderful prospect.
Your first priority: get support
If you’re serious about a weight loss programme for the summer and beyond, your first priority is to find support. When difficulties arise, the support of real people can make all the difference. You might consider joining a support group, a fitness class or walking group, or online forums. Losing weight on your own is perfectly possible, providing things go well and your scales keep saying nice things – and if you want to continue down this road, you might find this download helpful.
I have had fantastic success using hypnotherapy for weight loss with my clients – see my ‘success stories’ for one recent testimonial. Why not see how hypnotherapy can help you? It’s very effective in breaking old habits, create new ones, and improving motivation, and a proven success for weight loss. I am based in Canterbury, Kent and Peckham, London SE15; and also offer online sessions, wherever in the world you may be. Please feel welcome to call me on 07947 475721 for a free no-obligation 15 minute phone consultation to see how I can help.