Losing weight isn’t as simple as creating a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you consume). The biggest x-factor in weight loss, and what most people aren’t aware of, is the psychology of human behaviour. As creatures of habit, we constantly fight a battle of the wills and this is no different with weight loss. If weight loss is a struggle you haven’t been able to crack, you’re not alone. To millions of Canadians, weight loss is among the top of the list of goals they haven’t been able to achieve. Here’s where we tell you there’s a different way to approach it.
Weight loss isn’t exclusively a biological problem. So why are we only using biological solutions like eating less, diet pills, ketosis, veganism, etc. to fix it? What about the psychological aspect behind eating? Addressing human behaviour is the necessary push that turns weight loss from uncertain to realistic. Below we’ve listed 5 clever ways to conquer weight loss from a psychological standpoint. It won’t tell you what to eat because the complicated nature behind diet slows a lot of people down. What we’ll do instead is give you very realistic and actionable techniques you can use now. Yes, right now. Use them to decrease your hunger, improve your eating behaviours, and develop long-lasting habits conducive to healthy diet choices (no matter what they are). Here’s an easy way to lose weight.
#5 Do your grocery shopping after a full meal
A recipe for unnecessary food purchases is going to No Frills, Fresh Co, Superstore, or wherever you shop on an empty stomach. There’s something about being hungry that makes things you normally wouldn’t consider buying that much more tempting. It’s not rocket science though – studies have shown that your hunger will practically make anything look appealing. Saving money is an added bonus to using this trick.
#4 Drink more water for weight loss
A lot of the time when people think they’re hungry, they’re actually thirsty. That’s because dehydration means less space is being occupied in your stomach at any given time, and hence a trigger for your hunger signals. Here’s an interesting fact though: people who consume 2 glasses of water before a meal consume 22% less calories than those going into a meal dry. To put that into perspective, you’ll cut the amount of food you eat each day by 1/5th if you stay hydrated before meals. Talk about an easy way to lose weight!
#3 Get enough sleep
Did you know that sleep deprivation affects weight loss negatively? Oddly enough, it doesn’t take that much sleep loss for it to happen either. Studies have shown that a wide variety of changes happen to your body when you don’t catch enough Z’s, primarily in hormones that regulate our appetite and hunger. In short, there are two main hormones involved in eating behaviour: Ghrelin and Leptin.
Ghrelin, is responsible for hunger perception. A lack of sleep leads to its increase, causing you to generally feel hungrier throughout the day. And let’s be real, most of us will probably eat more if we feel hungry more often. Leptin on the other hand, suppresses your appetite for food. And you probably already guessed it, but this hormone decreases with sleep deprivation leading to an increase in appetite (and likely food intake). In short, both of these hormones are affected by sleep deprivation in ways that can increase our food intake
Another problem with sleep deprivation is that it affects the types of foods you gravitate towards. Studies show that when sleep is on the low, people choose foods higher in simple sugars. Simply put, you will crave junk food more when tired. On top of that, sleep deprivation is one of the stronger factors in the development of obesity (on top of other factors of course). Lowering sleep deprivation lowers the risk you’ll become obese. If you didn’t think sleep was important before, hopefully that’ll change your mind. To learn more about sleep, Matthew Walker is a world-renowned expert, and definitely someone worth listening to about the health benefits of sleep.
#2 Make small food behaviour changes
Pacing – eating quickly and/or while distracted makes it hard for your brain to register satiation signals right away (feelings of fullness). This is particularly important for people who are stressed or watching television while eating. The solution is to eat mindfully. Removing distractions while you’re eating and focusing on your meal does two things. You’ll enjoy your food more and eat less of it.
Portion control – pre-determining the amount you will eat/pack for lunch or dinner helps control all variables involved in your calorie consumption. This one is pretty straight forward, but powerful when implemented on the regular for losing weight.
Eat only when hungry – Get in the habit of eating only when you’re hungry and you’ll have an easier time controlling your calorie consumption. This also means avoiding snacks. Our theory is that snacks in the workplace is a pleasurable retreat from getting hard, focused work done. That’s not the right reason to eat food. Of course, if you have any medical condition requiring you to supplement certain aspects of your diet with periodic snacks, then consult your doctor first before using this strategy. But my point is this: 9 times out of 10 you don’t need snacks.
#1 Invest in your weight loss
Just like you’d invest in a lawyer, accountant, real estate agent, broker, midwife, etc. invest in your health the same way. Find a certified personal training coach from a reputable source. Spend time going through reviews on Google. Find word-of-mouth recounts from sources you can trust like friends/family. Try the personal training coaches out via consultations and free trials. Once you’ve determined they’re the right fit for you, invest! Most people get caught up thinking they can train themselves to achieve the results they dream of – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But just like you can do your own taxes or represent yourself in the court of law, you won’t be nearly as effective without the right professional.
An elite personal trainer will properly assess you and create a plan for your goals that addresses your unique body and lifestyle. They will adjust the plan for every plateau you hit, monitor your progress to determine what’s working, and use proper form/prehab techniques to limit the risk of injury. But they don’t just train you, they should also coach you. The difference is that a coach understands that everyone learns and gets motivated differently. They will adapt to your learning strategy and build the necessary rapport so you can trust them every step of the way.
Take Home Message
Weight loss is not just a biological problem, it’s a psychological one too – hence we need to treat it as both. Here’s one of our weight loss experts.
Doing the little things like the above 5 points will go a long way in helping you lose weight, as well as maintain the losses since we’re also changing behaviours!
Never underestimate the help a professional can offer – consult with a personal training coach to get on the right plan.
There is an easy way to lose weight – it just takes a broader understanding of what goes into it! There’s definitely a lot of merit in the more biological approaches such as intermittent fasting. We’re just trying to point out that weight loss goes beyond just human biology.