Lorraine discovers how setting the right goal makes all the difference


This week we are looking at how Lorraine organises herself and her staying power. Both very important qualities when trying to achieve a goal.

Lorraine is a naturally organised person and this is reflected in how she sets her goals.

First of all she has a number of short term goals related to various events coming up. The first of these was to lose a stone before attending a wedding. I am pleased to report that she was successful.

Secondly she is looking at the longer term. Her ultimate goal is weight maintenance and she sees the short term goals as a preamble to what the journey is going to be.  She likes the fact that she doesn’t have to starve herself because she knows it’s a long term goal. She has managed to let go of the instant gratification that short term dieting behaviours can bring.

Occasionally old thinking patterns come back but she is able to recognise them and stop them in their tracks.

I asked her what has changed. She no longer ‘beats herself up’ if things don’t go to plan. She is much kinder to herself now and allows herself to have the odd day where she will choose less healthy options. The big difference is that she still likes herself afterwards and doesn’t use it as an excuse to give up.

Lorraine has a very busy social life. She has 3 more short holidays coming up in the next couple of months and has set another short term goal to lose a further half a stone before she goes on her next trip in 7 weeks.

She has much more confidence now because she knows she can make sensible choices and still have fun.

What Lorraine is doing differently this time is to reappraise her whole approach and in particular, her goal.

In the past her goal has always been ‘weight loss’ and she never looked beyond it.  She now believes she has been focussing on the wrong thing. This time the goal is weight maintenance and she is prepared to give herself the time and space to achieve it.

One of her personal strengths is her staying power and she freely admits to applying it in all other areas of her life apart from her health! I don’t think she had recognised this before. Now she is using this natural ability to focus on what is important to her.

Her DietMap showed her that she is likely to feel overcome if she tries to go it alone and that benefits by sharing her target and goal with those she really trusts. This is what has made the big difference for Lorraine.

Next time we will be focusing on self efficacy and risk failure. As soon as we take a peek at what the future might look like (losing 5kg for example) we also create the possibility of failure. Our attitude to that is very much a peronality issue.



Sue Arkle Co-Founder DietMaps

Which ever way you look at it some change is inevitable if we are to achieve and maintain a healthy body.

Lorraine has been on holiday so how did she manage?

In our coaching session beforehand we discussed her strategies and how, by utilising her natural strengths and preferences, she could enjoy herself whilst staying focused on her long term goal to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

She decided that she wasn’t going to repeat the mistakes of the past by putting on loads of weight.

I am pleased to report that she gained less than 1lb, despite having a brilliant holiday and not denying herself the things she enjoys eating and drinking!

By understanding her personality better she was able to enlist the support and encouragement of her friends to help her. This is very important to Lorraine and played a huge part in her success.

A friend helped her improve her front crawl which enabled her to swim 20 lengths of the pool every day.

At dinner her friends agreed to share starters and desserts which meant she ate less overall whilst still enjoying her meal.

She cut down her alcohol intake by drinking spritzers which were perfectly nice in hot weather!

When I asked Lorraine how she felt when she got back she said “Proud of myself. I can enjoy a holiday and still be sensible”

What has changed for Lorraine? She is now taking a more rational adult view of her eating behaviour which is a totally different outlook for her. In the past she has given in to the demands of having what she wanted when she wanted it, without considering the consequences.  She has stopped beating herself up if things don’t always go to plan and is able to be her own guide and mentor.

I asked Lorraine to sum up how she feels at this stage of her journey and she said:

“I’ve tried all the wrong ways before finding the right way”

Whatever way you look at it some change is inevitable if we are to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. How we cope with change is very much a personality issue.

Lorraine isn’t someone who rushes into change for the sake of it, but gives it very careful consideration. She values a slow steady approach. However, once she has made her decision she will implement the required changes willingly, as we can see from her holiday experience. What has worked really well is getting her friends and family on board with the changes she needs to make.

By understanding her natural approach to change she has been able to cope with any ups and downs without being thrown off course. She knows she is in this for the long term.

Next week we look at how Lorraine organises her life and her staying power – very important if she is to be successful in the long term. 




Sue Arkle Co-Founder DietMaps

Motivation is a personality issue. Find out how Lorraine uses her natural preferences to stay motivated.

How is Lorraine getting on?

She has dropped a further 2lbs since our last coaching call a week ago. She is not on a conventional restrictive diet so how is she doing it?

She has taken on board the information in her DietMap and is using it to tap into her natural strengths.

In the last week she has had two social events to attend and decided beforehand to enlist the help and support of her friends to ensure she didn’t use the occasion as an excuse to overindulge.

At each event she asked a friend to choose the food from the buffet for her. What she got back looked very different to what she would have chosen. She had colourful platefuls of healthy food with smaller portions of her favourite things.

I asked her if she felt in anyway deprived or resentful and she said “Not at all, in many ways it was a relief not to have that conversation with myself about what I should or shouldn’t have. The support of my friends means so much to me; it feels like they are on my side”

We also discussed how Lorraine is motivated and makes decisions about what she wants. These are both personality issues.  She needs to involve others in her decisions to get their buy in and values their ongoing support to keep her motivated.  Lorraine has realised that going it alone just doesn’t work for her and her DietMap helped her discover this.

She commented that this journey feels very different because she has her support network to help her stay on track.

When coaching Lorraine I encouraged her to think about who can help her in different situations. Because she values relationships very highly it matters to her that she is able to join in with what others are doing. By getting her friends onside she can feel part of things without sabotaging her goal.

Next week we’ll discover how she copes with a holiday abroad with friends.

Sue Arkle Co-Founder DietMaps


Lorraine’s Story – a client journey

In this weekly blog I am going to share with you Lorraine’s weight loss journey and how I coach her using her DietMap. I will demonstrate how, by tapping into her natural strengths, she can access the resources she needs to be successful in the long term and achieve her goals.

Lorraine is an HR Consultant and is very familiar with psychometric testing and personality profiling. In fact, she uses several systems in her work. She has never seen it applied to health before and was very excited to see her results.

Of course, with her knowledge and skill set she already had a lot of self awareness, but crucially, not how it affected her weight.  In fact, she was pleasantly surprised at what she discovered.

The first thing she liked was how fast and easy the questionnaire is. The second thing she liked is that the report focuses on natural strengths, rather than pointing out weaknesses. In fact, the message is one of positivity and success.

So, what is Lorraine’s personality type and how does it play out in her day to day life?

Lorraine resides in the South West of the personality map. She is dependable, a good listener and focuses on values and depth in relationships. Her feelings and intuition play an important role when making decisions.

She likes others to rely on her, sometimes at the expense of her own needs.  She shows her love with food and admitted that both her adult children had lost weight when they left home!

She is aware that she needs a support network but felt that the ‘slimming club’ model wasn’t for her. She doesn’t like big groups of people as she is naturally more internally focussed.

So what did Lorraine do? She looked at her friendship group and identified those who she thought could mentor and support her. Interestingly, she didn’t just choose one person because she recognised the different strengths of her friends and what each could do to support her.

She now has two mentors, one to help her with exercise and the other who, like her, has tried every diet going and understands only too well the frustrations and disappointment when yet another diet hasn’t worked. She has arranged a weekly catch up with each friend.

Between Lorraine getting her report and our first coaching call she has already dropped 5 pounds in weight. 

Our next coaching call will be focussing on how she goes about deciding what she wants

Several factors come into play in trying to decide what we want. This is as true of weight management, as it is of other areas of our lives and our personality plays a big part in that process.


Sue Arkle Co-Founder DietMaps

Women criticise themselves on average 8 times a day – Guess what the number 1 topic is?

Correct – their size!

A recent report in The Daily Mail highlights research undertaken by WomanKInd, a nationwide campaign that explores why modern women are unkind to themselves.

2000 women were surveyed and they discovered that the average woman criticises herself 8 times a day, with nearly half of the respondents admitting to at least once before 09.30 in the morning. My guess would be it starts when deciding what to wear, not necessarily what we would like to wear but what we think we can get away with.

If we start the day thinking we don’t look good it’s easy to see how it can impact the rest of our day.

Image based criticisms were next on the list – including:

  • Your hair is a mess
  • Your belly looks too big
  • Your bum looks too big
  • You’re not as stylish as other women
  • You deflect compliments by saying something negative about yourself

Not earning enough money or having a good job were also regular put downs.

Imagine if others could hear our thoughts! Most would be horrified at how unkind we are to ourselves and would probably tell us we are wrong (at least those who care about us would)

And we wouldn’t be so unkind to others would we? Not if we wanted to have any friends!

Unfortunately these thoughts appear very real to us and once we engage with them they shape our lives by affecting our feelings and behaviours, often with unwanted or unintended consequences.

So even though we may not voice those thoughts out loud they do find a way out into the world and have an effect.

Here at DietMaps we believe the starting point for any undertaking is the extent to which we believe in ourselves. This is particularly true for weight loss which is why it is one of the subject areas in our full reports. 

We call it “self efficacy” which is a psychological term meaning “the extent to which we believe in our ability to execute the behaviours necessary to accomplish a task” Or, to put it another way “believe you can do it”

We also believe it’s a personality issue. Some personality types are more likely than others to have self belief and for those that don’t, there are things that can be done to improve it. Having that self knowledge is invaluable for helping clients achieve their dreams. Feeling good about ourselves is important no matter what stage of the journey we are at.


Sue Arkle Co-Founder DietMaps

New Year Resolutions

Have you noticed how they are like boomerangs?  They keep coming back – at least in my experience.

I was amazed to find so much information online about the origins of this tradition. According to Wikipedia Babylonians made promises to their Gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed items and pay their debts. I guess they didn’t have weight issues back then otherwise they would probably have been promising to start a weight loss/health and fitness regime as well!

During a recent clear out of old paperwork (I’m a terrible hoarder!) I came across a diary for the year 2000. Right at the back was a list of my resolutions for that year. I was shocked, firstly at how many there were and secondly at how many of them are still ‘unresolved’.

I can’t quite believe that I have made little or no progress in some areas of my life in 15 years. A salutary lesson if ever I needed one.  The other thing I noticed is that they were mostly framed in the negative, such as stop doing this, don’t do that etc. There was little encouragement to do anything positive or set any goals and milestones. Maybe that’s why nothing changed. Luckily I’ve learned a lot since then about the human mind and will definitely be framing my resolutions differently this year.

A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3000 people showed that men were 22% more likely to be successful if they set measureable goals and women were 10% more successful when they went public and involved friends and family. No surprises there. The other part of the study showed that 88% fail, despite 52% feeling confident at the beginning.

But, I’m not going to let that deter me. Stats can be interpreted in different ways and I choose to look at the positive and say that 12% of people are successful and there is no reason why we can’t all be one of them if we approach it in the right way.

I am going to take a lead from a guy I used to know. He was overweight but his resolutions were never about that. Every year he resolved to learn something new that interested him. One year he trained as a stage hypnotist. He had no intention of changing career but really enjoyed the experience.

So let’s all do it differently this year and resolve to expand our minds and seek out new experiences. What a wonderful way to improve our self esteem, and who knows maybe the stuff we don’t like will quietly go away.

Sue Arkle Co-Founder DietMaps

To weigh or not to weigh

How often should we weigh ourselves and is it necessarily the best indicator of how healthy we are?

Having worked with many hundreds of weight loss clients I have witnessed the full range of human emotions at the weighing scales.

Do any of these resonate with you?

 “Wow, I’ve lost more than I thought – all that hard work has paid off and I deserve a reward. I’ll have that chocolate bar I’ve been resisting all week”

“What? Is that all? I’ve worked so hard I can’t believe I’ve only lost that! What’s the point in carrying on? I’ve denied myself all week and for what? I might as well have that chocolate bar I’ve been resisting all week – in fact I’ll have two”

“How can the scales have stayed the same? I’ve been really good this week, honestly. There must be something wrong with the diet/scales. If I haven’t lost anything next week I’m giving up”

A recent study published by The Journal of Nutrition, Education and Behaviour has shown that while weighing can be a useful tool to help adults manage their weight it can have negative psychological outcomes for adolescents and young adults. The study found that increases in weighing can be significantly related to increases in weight concern and depression and decreases in body satisfaction and self esteem.

You can read the full article here: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-11/ehs-smb110315.php

I think we’ve been conditioned to believe that a number on the scales or the label on an item of clothing is all that we need to make us happy. Is this true?  Ask yourself how you have felt when a size in one store fits perfectly but is too small in another store?  The difference may be as much as 2 sizes. All that tells us is that manufacturers have different standards but the impact on our psychological well being can be very negative indeed.

So, what is the answer?

Look for other ways to measure how we are. Our clothes are the best indicator of all. If you find that your clothes are getting tight, do you need the scales to confirm what you already know?

I have met clients who believe that the only thing keeping them on track is weighing themselves every day. If it works then I am happy for them but if I’m honest, it feels like a prison sentence to me. My most successful weight management happens when I don’t weigh myself.

How about you?

Sue Arkle Co-Founder DietMaps

Mindful eating – is it the way forward?

Everywhere you turn at the moment you hear the term ‘Mindfulness’ but what exactly is it? The definition of Mindfullness given by Jon Kabat-Zinn a specialist in the modern day practice is “Mindfullness means paying attention in a particular way. On purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally.”

So, Mindfulness is the practice of being aware in every possible moment, while keeping a non-judgemental outlook and, at the same time, observing your own bodily and emotional responses. This state has been hailed as a great stress reducer and a calmer, more content way of living but what about Mindful Eating? Some people describe Mindful Eating as eating with your full and absolute attention to the look, taste and texture of the food. I believe Mindful Eating is so much more than that. The very fact that you are completely focused on the food will most probably reduce the number of calories you eat which is great. A full mindful eating experience should also include feeling the sensations in your body as you eat which should also include the emotion you feel before, during and after your meal.

And  what about the triggers that make you decide what and when to eat.

  • Was your body or mind telling you that you were hungry?
  • Is the food nutritious , if not why did you choose it?
  • Are you eating to feed an emotion or a physical hunger?
  • If you close your eyes when you eat does it taste different?
  • What is the difference in how you feel before you started eating and afterwards?
  • What are your non-hunger triggers?

Answering these questions will give you a full Mindful Eating experience.

So how do we do it?

Well, there are a few techniques you could use but probably the easiest is to follow these few steps:

  1. If you are ready to eat, stop and check in with your body. Are you physically hungry?
  2. If you are, decide what to eat. Why did you choose that particular food?
  3. Always sit at a table to eat without TV, Tablet or phone
  4. Sit and look at the food for a minute, see its colour and texture.
  5. Eat slowly focusing on the flavour and texture of the food.
  6. Notice how you feel all the way through the meal and see if there is any difference between the start and finish.

Now I’m not suggesting you do this at every meal but if you just did this for one meal a day it would be of great benefit to you.

Helen Clarke Co-Founder DietMaps

Counting bites not calories

There is new research (Timeslive.co.za) that suggests that counting bites, not calories, could help with weight loss. I’m not sure what to make of this.

For the study, researchers from Brigham Young University in Utah asked a group of 61 participants to count the number of times they lifted food or drink to their mouths.

They were then asked to commit to taking 20 to 30 percent fewer bites over the next week.

The 41 participants who successfully completed the task lost an average of 1.6 kg at the end of the experiment.

The very fact that they were focusing on how many bites they were taking could have been enough to make the difference. If you think about it, how many times in a day do you really concentrate on what you are eating, do you register exactly when and how much you eat.

Now those of us on diets may well be counting calories, planning meals, staggering our eating, fasting some days etc.  This all takes effort and it strikes me that counting the number of times you actually take a bite each day is another useful tool as long as you are also combining this with planning exactly what it is that you are biting into!

Helen Clarke, Co-Founder DietMaps

Are you subconsciously resisting change?

Change can be emotionally uncomfortable, even when it’s a change we want to make. Sometimes it can be easier to give up and retreat back to our uncomfortable ‘comfort zone’

One of the biggest changes we may have to make is our behaviour around food if we want to lose excess weight for good. We know what we should be doing so why don’t we do it?

Here are seven signs that you may be subconsciously resisting change:

  1. Avoiding the people you have told about your plans; They now expect something from you and you find yourself avoiding them. They are a reminder that you had committed to doing something different.
  2. Procrastinating – and justifying your behaviour; When we tell ourselves we’ll do it tomorrow we’re giving in to instant gratification. We convince ourselves we’ll turn over a new leaf tomorrow but all we are doing is resisting change today.
  3. Telling yourself you don’t deserve it; This is a hard one because it’s emotionally charged. Some of us will use low self esteem as an excuse to avoid change but the reality is that making even a small change can improve how we feel about ourselves.
  4. Doing something because you think you should; There’s a difference between having a strong internal desire to make a change and paying lip service to it because we think it’s what we should be doing.  That’s a message coming from somewhere else rather than our own needs and wants.
  5. Allowing yourself to be distracted; Does this sound familiar? You start a plan and it’s going well but then you find yourself thinking or doing something else. You become preoccupied with work or spend time on unrelated frivolous things. You tell yourself you don’t have the time. This is classic avoidance and it can be very helpful to explore what it is you are trying to avoid.
  6. Becoming defensive; It can be very tempting to blame others for our situation. However, to make long lasting positive change in our lives the responsibility lies firmly with us. If you find yourself becoming defensive or feeling persecuted it may be you are not accepting responsibility
  7. Brain freeze; This can happen when you think about making a change or taking action. Mental blocks are frustrating because it’s hard to know where they are coming from.

Some change is inevitable when managing weight; from the food we eat to how we spend our leisure time.

Change can be exciting or challenging. Do you understand your approach to change? Are you someone who resists change, even when it’s something you tell yourself you want? The answer lies in your personal psychology.

Sue Arkle, Co-Founder DietMaps