While the temptation may be to jump straight in, it is essential to first spend a week or so getting ready for the journey on which you’re about to embark. Put aside some time to really understand how to best tailor the plan to maximize your chances of long term success.
What’s the most important factor for you to address first? Is it your self-esteem? Is it a lack of movement? Is it that you don’t prioritize your sleep and therefore are trying to lose weight with one hand tied behind your back? Or, is it the way you have set up your home environment? Your road map to success will be unique to you.
PREPARE YOUR MIND
Getting your mind right for the journey ahead is a crucial component of any weight-loss plan. Sit down in a quiet space with a pen and paper and answer the following questions.
- Why do I want to lose weight? List the benefits.
- How much of my diet consists of “real food”?
- Do I sleep enough to feel refreshed? If not, why not?
- When stressed, what do I use to soothe my emotions? It may be food, alcohol, social media, or something else entirely.
- What movement do I do on a daily basis? How much do I walk? What movements would I like to bring into my life?
- Do I eat mindfully? Or do I eat while in a rush and distracted?
- How frequently do I eat every day? What time do I start, and what time do I finish?
- What do I think is my main obstacle or obstacles to losing weight?
When you’ve finished, write down a positive statement about what you consider your top priorities to be. Examples include:
- I want to improve the quality of my sleep.
- I want to see if I can use something other than food to soothe my emotions.
- When I feel bored, I will phone a friend or a relative, instead of turning to food.
- I will only bring foods into my house that nourish my body and mind.
PREPARE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Your environment exerts a powerful influence on the choices you make.
Prepare your food environment—Your home and, if possible, work environments should be stripped of temptations and filled with healthy nudges. This is one of the most powerful and effective things you can do.
Prepare your sleep environment—Make it easier to fall into a deep, relaxing sleep by removing temptations from your bedroom, such as televisions, laptops, and tablets.
charge your smartphone outside your bedroom and if you need an alarm, simply pick one up from a thrift shop or online. Make sure your curtains are effectively blocking out light or think about getting some blackout blinds. Eye masks, ear plugs, and blue light-blocking glasses can also be helpful.
Prepare your friends, family, and tribes—Humans are social animals. If we want to succeed, the support of our networks can be crucial. Tell your friends, family, and work colleagues what your plans are and that you would like their support.
Prepare your shopping—Write a meal plan for the week and plan to do your shop at a time when you are not tired, hungry, or stressed. Shopping online can be a great way to reduce temptation and you can set it up so that the nourishing foods you are trying to eat regularly automatically go on your list. Shopping well leads to eating well. Plan your shop carefully.
NOW YOU’VE PREPARED, IT’S TIME TO START
Over the next few pages, I will introduce you to the Feel Great, Lose Weight toolbox. Within it, you have everything you need to lose weight for good. It comprises of:
- 3 × FOUNDATIONS
- 3 × EVERYDAY HABITS
- 3 × BOOSTERS
Like all toolboxes, some tools are essential and foundational for all of us. Other tools, however, are dependent on our individual situation and the specific issue we are trying to address.
3 × FOUNDATIONS
These are the three core foundations of fat loss to infuse in as much of your life as possible. Try your best to make small changes in each of them, to the best of your ability. Please remember that these foundations are areas that can always be improved.
Don’t worry about getting them all perfect from day one. This is not a conventional “plan” where you have to have completed specific tasks in week 1, week 2, week 3, etc. before moving on.
Please don’t punish yourself if your progress isn’t as quick as you’d like. Small changes made consistently over time is what leads to the big results.
#1 EAT REAL FOOD (AS MUCH AS YOU CAN)
Real food gets your signals working properly and helps you lose weight without making you feel too hungry.
Choose minimally processed food that’s as close to its natural state as possible.
Choose the ones that you think will work for you and your life.
#2 MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY
Not sleeping well makes you hungrier, makes you crave more sugary food, makes it easier for you to put on weight, makes you more emotional, and makes it harder for you to resist temptation. Getting sleep right makes everything else easier. For most of us, a few small lifestyle tweaks is all that is required. Use the tips below to help you. You do not need to follow all of them but the more of them you do, the more likely it is that the quality and length of your sleep will improve.
- Get at least 20 minutes of natural light every morning.
- Enjoy drinking caffeine in the morning—stop at noon.
- Try and eat at least 2-3 hours before bed..
- Try and minimize bright light exposure throughout the evenings.
- Ensure the 1 hour before bed is as relaxing as possible—ideas for activities include yoga, stretching, breathing, journaling, and listening to music.
- Bedtime Breathing Practice.
#3 ALWAYS CHOOSE TO WALK
Choose every opportunity that you can to walk. Walking is the most fundamental human movement.
Simply walking as much as you can sends your body the signal that you’re a thriving individual who’s engaging with life. Use the tips below to help you.
- Consider walking to work, school, or the store
- Get off the bus a few stops early or park farther away
- Try a quick five-to-ten minute walk before breakfast or go up and down your stairs a few times
- Walk fifteen minutes every lunchtime (in nature if possible)
- Try a quick walk around the block before dinner and/or after dinner
- Try standing when using public transport
- Consider joining a local walking group
- Schedule regular walks with friends as a way of catching up
- Consider having walking meetings at work
3 × EVERYDAY HABITS
The simplest and most effective way to start is by introducing these 3 daily habits into your life. They are easy to implement and within days of starting them, you will feel better and have more confidence.
Just as brushing your teeth for a few minutes each day takes care of your dental health for life, these quick everyday habits will help move you towards sustainable weight loss.
Doing these small habits consistently sends your body a powerful daily signal that you are worth taking care of. Don’t be fooled by their ease—they’re incredibly effective when done consistently. Once you have them ingrained into your daily life, it will make it much easier to implement the other ideas and principles in the book.
Lift something every day. Keep a dumb-bell or kettlebell in your kitchen. When you go in there each morning to make a hot drink or for breakfast, lift it. Even if all you do is five bicep curls, you’re showing your body each day that you’re a thriving human. When you’ve finished, make sure you allow yourself to feel good about it. Start small, but try and build up to a five-minute workout (or more!) each morning.
Connect each day with another human being. I often see people soothing their loneliness with food. That is why each day, connect with a person in a meaningful way. It doesn’t need to take long. If you feel you don’t have the connections for this, join a supportive online community.
Make time each day to see how far you’ve come
Many of us live our lives at a hundred miles an hour and we’re often too busy to stop, think, and reflect. If you’re going to change your relationship with your health in the long term, taking some time for yourself each day to reflect on how things are going is one of the most powerful things you can do. It needn’t take long—even just a few minutes will suffice.
3 × BOOSTERS
These three boosters are additional areas that you may wish to spend some extra time on. They are not essential for everyone. However, many patients find them transformative and the key to unlocking their weight-loss journey.
Even if you don’t immediately feel they might be relevant for you, they are well worth experimenting with if you hit a plateau or roadblock.
#1 EMOTIONS AND STRESS
This is often the most important issue to address, as underlying, unresolved emotions or stress can often drive eating behavior.
All behaviors serve us in some way. They are usually attempts to solve problems we’re facing or overcome emotions we’re feeling. If you’re the kind of person who’s drawn to food when you’re sad, lonely, angry, bored, or stressed, do the following exercise:
- FEEL: Write down how you feel the next time you experience a craving
- FEED: Write down how food helps you feed the feeling
- FIND: Find a way to deal with the underlying feeling that does not involve food
#2 FOOD TIMING
Some patients find changing when they eat is the secret to unlocking their weight-loss journey.
- Limit Snacking
- Eat Earlier in the Day
- Take Control of Your Eating Window
#3 PAYING ATTENTION TO WHAT WE EAT
When we pay attention to what and how we are eating, we often end up eating more in sync with what our bodies actually need.
- Eat With Others, Not With Devices
- Ten Minutes of Solitude
- Make Cooking Time Fun
- Eat Mindfully
- Tell Your Body It’s Time To Eat
Now you’ve looked around the toolbox, it’s time for you to prioritize which areas you are going to start working on. On the page opposite, or on a fresh piece of paper, write down the specific actions that you are committing to for the week ahead. Stick it on the kitchen fridge or somewhere else highly visible. Try not to write too many actions down at once, as this can feel overwhelming.
Remember: everyone’s plan will look different. Some of you will only feel ready to commit to one everyday habit at the start. Others, however, will want to commit to all three everyday habits and start work on all three foundations. Some of you will feel that your emotions are the priority and may wish to spend some time with the Freedom Exercise along with some of the everyday habits. And someone else w ho struggles with their sleep may choose to mostly focus on actions in that area. It doesn’t really matter where or how you start. As long as you start.