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

Dieting goals – a good idea or not?

2 pounds a week. A stone by Christmas. Exercise 4 times a week. Size 12 by the summer

Goals come in all shapes and sizes. For those of you who have looked at goals in depth you will no doubt be familiar with this  acronym which is widely used when setting a goal:

S – specific

M-measured

A-achievable

R-realistic

T-timed

E-enthusiasm

R – reward

They all speak for themselves except perhaps the last two. The idea with these is that if you are enthusiastic and attach emotion to a goal , you are more likely to achieve it. The reward ( not food) is what the payback will be for you if you achieve this goal. Better health, greater self-esteem, smaller clothes etc…

We all make dieting goals at one time or another but should we?

Goals have their place and for some people they are an absolute must. We’ve all read the articles from successful slimmers saying that the goals they set were what kept them focused but is that true for everybody?

The flip side of this is those people who feel pressured when they have set a goal, especially if the possibility of achieving that goal is a long way away.

So what makes the difference between those who thrive on goal setting and those who shy away from, or feel pressured by goal setting?

Well, it could be a number of things like the type of goal they set, whether it’s a long term or short term goal, how specific they have made it and also and most importantly whether their personality type gravitates towards goals or away from them. 

There are certain personality types who need a goal, their natural character traits lead them towards having a focus. If you are naturally a person who likes detailed, structured pathways then a number of short term goals, all set out from the outset will help you achieve what you want to.

A long term goal with no intermediate steps is unlikely to be achieved as you may well lose your way.

If however you are a more social outgoing personality type it’s essential that you involve others in your goal. After all, you will need to factor in a social life and their support will be invaluable.

For the personality type that knows their own mind, is assertive and goal driven, then the goal is a must but only if the individual is setting their own goal. If it’s a goal that is foisted on them and they are not truly comfortable with it , then they are set up to fail.

As you can see a knowledge of yourself and your innate personality can be the difference between the use of a goal, the type and length of a goal and whether you are successful or not.

Helen Clarke, Co-Founder DietMaps

Where has my motivation gone?

Most of us start a health and weight loss regime full of enthusiasm, convinced that this time it’s going to work.

If we are lucky this feeling can last a few months but inevitably motivation slips, enthusiasm wanes, goals get forgotten. For the lucky few who reach their target the effort of maintaining a new lifestyle proves to be too much and gradually the weight creeps back on.

Until the next time. What’s going on?

Have you ever asked yourself “where has my motivation gone” as though it was something tangible?  I have heard this question many times when working with clients. Some even think I can find it for them!

So, what is motivation? The Cambridge definitions are:

  • Enthusiasm for doing something
  • A need or reason for doing something

Humans are emotional creatures and we need to tap into our emotions to be able to imagine and feel excited about the future we want. The reasons why we do something are an important aspect in our chance of success.

Some of us are motivated by imagining something we want in the future, we can see it and feel excited by it. Motivation is very high at this point.

Some of us are more motivated by something we don’t want in the present, such as tight clothes, aching joints, heartburn etc. Again motivation is very high at this point.

There is a subtle difference between the two however. One of them is more likely to sustain the motivation levels for longer.

Imagine you are someone who didn’t want a tight waistband. You wouldn’t have to lose too much weight for the waistband to feel more comfortable. When that happens what will sustain you to carry on? The immediate discomfort has gone hasn’t it?

The person who is excited about the future has a much better chance of long term success – they are constantly moving forward in the direction they want to go and more importantly, they know what they want and why.

Sue Arkle, Co-Founder DietMaps