Results of Experiment ‘No longer weighing in weekly’

Ok so it’s taken me a while to build up the courage to admit to this- when I finally did weigh in 6 weeks after starting the experiment…….. I had put on 2 lbs.  Please don’t stop reading though, because I still think not weighing in weekly is the general way for me to go, all I need are a few added extras, and I’ll share what these are later!  Firstly let me run through the benefits of not weighing myself-

THE PROS

  • Less stress! It felt amazing not to go through the weekly emotional trauma which occurs each time I stand on the scales; the internal dialogue along the lines of ‘I could have done better’, ‘I could have tried harder’, ‘I should have lost more’, ‘What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I even do this simple thing’ etc.  As a result I felt much calmer and much happier.
  • More focus on behaviour. I really did focus much more consistently on the behaviours that will enable me to lose weight. Somehow, by not filling up my head space with worrying about the number on the scales, I had more time to really understand where my issues lie. I know now without any doubt that the ONE thing that STOPS me being consistently successful, is my evening grazing habit.  If I can fix that one, I’m pretty sure I’ll be mostly sorted.
  • No more emotional roller coaster. When I weigh in, whether it’s a gain, a stay the same or a loss, I feel (often far too intensely) some emotion-if not joy, then despair, sadness, disappointment and the emotion inevitably affects my motivation to continue to stick with my helpful behaviour changes.  Even a joyful weigh in experience can affect how I then behave- I might relax a bit and have the odd treat.  By limiting weighing in, I allow myself to get off the weekly emotional roller coaster that impacts on my behaviours.

SO WHY DID I GAIN?

I think the problem was that I had no clear plan of when I would be weighing in- in my head I had vaguely considered weighing in monthly; but after 4 whole weeks of not weighing, it became REALLY SCARY to face the scales.  Anyway the long and the short of it was, week 5 and 6 included a few social engagements, and also I lost my focus a bit (in the evenings again!).  The result was that I undid all the good I had done in the first 4 weeks.

MY LIGHT BULB MOMENT

My clients are seeing great success with their weight loss and yet they have also come to the conclusion that weighing in weekly impacts their motivation negatively.  How come they are doing well and I’m not?  The difference is…..wait for it…..they have a coach- ME!   (And I don’t!)

They get the focus of their weekly or fortnightly sessions with me.  Also they have a plan!  During the sessions they are able to talk in detail about what will work for them and when the best times for them to weigh in will be.

So guess what?  I finally decided that I could no longer afford NOT to invest (both money and time) in getting myself my very own coach to focus specifically on my weight loss!  In our first session I set about constructing my plan for measuring my progress fortnightly- I committed to weighing in once a month and I also committed to measuring my waist once a month. It feels wonderful to finally get the 1-2-1 attention and the accountability I have been secretly craving, and to have the opportunity to think in more detail about what stops me from being successful now, when I have been so successful in the past. I’ll keep you updated as to how it all works out.

It’s all about learning as we go along, right?  What have you learnt about yourself on your weight loss journeys so far?  Please tell me in the comments below

P.S.  For those of you who live in Berkshire, UK, and need some added focus in their lives, pop over to my facebook page Anna Jones-Time to sort it, for info on my new Coffee and Coaching group sessions which are happening in a couple of weeks’ time.

5 ways NOT to ‘feed a cold’

I’m going to keep this short and sweet as I have THE mother of all colds and don’t feel good.  Most of us I am sure have heard the saying ‘feed a cold, starve a fever’ and as I don’t have a fever, I thought I’d better ensure that I don’t use the ‘feed a cold’ line as an excuse to stuff my face.

So here is my 5 pronged ‘I am poorly with a cold’ strategy:

  1. Forgive myself for not being able to exercise.

I had planned a couple of sessions on the cross trainer this week, but as I am struggling to breathe I can’t do it and I’m NOT going to dwell on it.  I’ll focus on what I CAN do instead -i.e. control my food intake.

  1. Drink lots of fluid.

And no I’m not talking hot toddies!  I’m drinking lots of hot drinks and I am especially enjoying hot sugar free blackcurrant squash-no calories to speak of but strangely nurturing! (Also better than tea as there isn’t the same link to biscuits and cake….)

  1. Go to bed earlier and if possible stay in bed a bit longer in the morning.

Isn’t that what the doctor orders when you’re under the weather-plenty of rest?  And the positive weight loss side effect is that if I am in bed, I’m not roaming around the kitchen looking for snacks.

  1. Plenty of Soup

How clever was I?  I made a batch of butternut squash and carrot soup when my throat started getting sore-full of nutrients and low on calories.  It’s kind of what I am fancying for lunch anyway, and again a great way to nurture myself and still stay on track.

  1. Visualisation

Instead of moping, I’m using my extra time in bed congratulating myself for not succumbing to extra treats just because I feel ill, and picturing how I want to feel and how I’ll look when I’m wearing the next size down jeans!

So how are you this week? And how are you managing to stay on track? Please feel sorry for me in my sick bed, and leave a comment.

P.S. If you want to take advantage of my reduced rates on 1-2-1 coaching be sure to get in touch with me before the end of February 2015-anna@timetosortit.com

The 3 Important Lessons of Dry January

Not a drop of alcohol passed my lips from 30th December 2014 to 1st February 2015 and I feel proud. To be honest, I have to admit it all happened by accident-at least to start with.  I had a migraine on the 30th of December which lasted into New Year’s Eve and the last thing I felt like doing was partaking of my usual glass of wine let alone the Prosecco I’d kept back specifically to celebrate the New Year.  And then unfortunately, on the first Saturday of the month I didn’t feel 100 % either (I DO like a tipple on a Saturday night!!) and again didn’t fancy a drink.  At this point having come so far (6 days to be accurate!)  my stubborn streak kicked in- and I decided to test myself and see if I could survive the whole of January without a bevvy.

Here are the 3 very important things I learned from my abstinence-

  1. Testing myself was good for my confidence.

I was surprised at how much better I felt about myself as a result of this new found sense of control.  At the risk of sounding like an alcoholic (and truly I am not!!) abstaining from my beloved wine was the very last thing I imagined I could do.

‘Why should I give up everything I enjoy?’, ‘Life’s too short,’ and ‘It’s my main way of relaxing and de stressing’ was what I’d say to myself to justify my habit.  I guess partly these justifications were camouflaging the fact that I was scared that if I made a commitment not to drink for a month, I might not be able to do it, and I would therefore feel a failure.  Actually now I have achieved the improbable, I feel like I can achieve many other improbable things too…..so there you have it- the happy outcome is that I definitely feel more confident.

  1. Abstinence does not necessarily equal deprivation

I believe that in the past I may have been guilty of telling myself that feeling deprived is not good for me.  That somehow if I don’t have what I want on a regular basis-let’s stick with the alcohol theme here as an example-so if I don’t have a little tipple on a Friday and Saturday then I might feel so deprived, that at the next opportunity (maybe even on the Sunday) I’d go mad and totally overindulge.  When I tried to lose weight in my teens-that’s sort of what happened.  I’d decide that in order to lose weight I’d never eat chocolate again. I’d manage 5 days and then give up, have a whole bar of Galaxy, feel a failure and then have some Maltesers as well. (My parents both worked for Mars)

I now realise that there is a difference between telling yourself you can NEVER have something ever again, and deciding that you are going to abstain for a short period of time, like a month.  The difference with short term abstinence is that the end is always in sight-it’s not a forever thing and therefore isn’t as scary.  And anyway now, because I’m feeling smug that I’ve managed to do it, I realise that my cravings have lessened ( yes really!) and I even appreciate my glass of wine more. All positive don’t you agree?

  1. It was easier than I thought

Yes I know that having a horrible migraine gave me a head start and helped me on my way, but hey I still did it-and not only that, I am still in one piece and here to tell the tale! Who’d have thought it? The cravings were nowhere near as bad as I thought they would be and I learnt to substitute what wine was giving me i.e. relaxation and stress relief, with other things that gave me the same i.e. a cup of tea, a sit down and Headspace the meditation app (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!).  The other thing that made it easier was breaking up the challenge into smaller goals; by taking each Friday and Saturday night as it came and asking myself ‘What do you want to do tonight-have a vino or stick to your commitment?’, the decision I made was only for one night at a time.  Breaking the journey into smaller steps made the biggest difference to my success-it put less pressure on me.

So there we have it- who knew I could learn so much in a month simply (?!?) by abstaining from alcohol.  I might abstain from chocolate sometime soon just to test myself again……fancy joining me in a bit of abstinence?

Have you given something up for a while and learnt from it?  Or, if you were to test yourself for a month, what would you benefit from giving up? Please leave me a comment below.

To weigh or not to weigh?

Come on, don’t most of us deep down, know what we need to do to lose weight?

We may not have university degrees in nutrition, and it can be confusing to know what we should and shouldn’t be eating with all the conflicting information out there, but deep down I believe that most of us know when we should be eating a little less and moving a little more; really we do, don’t we?

So why is it so easy for some of us (even when we have seen success and lost a couple of stones) to get stuck?  I believe it all comes down to ‘motivation’.  Motivation is the key.  Staying motivated forever and ever is hard work at the best of times, but when a set of scales is involved it can become complicated!

So let me clarify this before I get thousands of comments about how wrong I am. (In my dreams!….thousands of comments…yes please! It can be lonely here you know….with just Mr Blog for company!)  I have weighed thousands of people in my time, and witnessed first-hand how motivating it is to see a positive result at the scales.  When you are doing great and on a roll and the number on the scales is going down each week-that can be incredibly motivating and is also great feedback on behaviour changes you have implemented in the previous week. (I have explored the best way to use the results at the scales before-click here if you want to go there.)

HOWEVER there is a very high chance that standing on the scales could demotivate you.  There are only 3 possible results- a loss, a gain or a stay the same. One of those results will almost certainly result in disappointment, which in turn could result in a sense of ‘what’s the point’ which equals ‘not motivated’.  Here are some other possible scenarios:

An unexpected gain could mean devastation which = de-motivation.

A stay the same after a ‘good’ week could = de-motivation

Even a loss that is not big enough could = de motivation

If you are in a fat rut (or a weight-loss plateau-you choose which you want to call it), I urge you to ask yourself this question- ‘Is standing on the scales every week beneficial in keeping me consistently motivated?’

I have asked myself the question and the answer is ‘NO! That’s not to say I will never weigh myself ever again because weighing is one of the simplest ways of getting feedback on your weight loss efforts. But I have decided that I will only weigh myself monthly, and only on a ‘slim’ day (I know you know what I mean) and on a day where I feel I can handle any result- a day when I am feeling strong and positive. This feels like a scary experiment to me and I will feed back the results honestly to you, I promise.  I guess in the end I am doing it because what I was doing before –weighing each week- was not working for me anymore.  So far not being preoccupied by the scales is working-I feel so much better about myself and I’m focussing more fully on my food habits and behaviours.  Ultimately that’s what needs to change (and stay changed). The number on the scales can end up being nothing more than a niggly distraction.

Please comment below and share your thoughts on how the scales effect your motivation-good and bad. I’m really interested to know……

One good reason NOT to make a New Year’s resolution

So it’s that time of year again (Happy New Year and all that…) and the pressure is on to make ‘resolutions’ and become all round better people.  At the time of me writing this, I wonder how many resolutions have already been broken?  And therein lies the fatal flaw of this whole concept-there is a very high chance that making a resolution to ‘do something’ will result in us eventually not doing it, and hey presto, there it is- a big sense of failure.

So that was it- the ONE very good reason NOT to make a resolution.

If we want to stay motivated to achieve better things in 2015, my proposal is as follows- get rid of the RE and just focus on the SOLUTION. (Get it?)

The  one very  useful thing about the New Year is that it makes it easy for us to focus on a fresh start, on drawing a line in the sand and (just one more cliché now…..bear with me) turning over a new leaf. This in turn encourages us to think of all the positives changes we want to have happen in the future.

So here is my solution- instead of focussing on all the things we need to be doing, or need not to be doing, we should be focussing on our goals and aims and using those as the starting point.

Let me use this example to explain what I mean.  Last year I said to myself: ‘I’m going to stop drinking wine and I’m going to start running; I’m fed up of being the size I am so I’m going to make these changes and that will sort me out.’  By day 2 I’d had a glass of wine which of course meant that I was ‘rubbish’ and ‘useless’, and all I gained was a sense of hopelessness. I sulked a bit and then put the concept of New Year resolutions to the back of my mind. (It’s now 2015 and the most action my trainers have seen, is a brisk walk!)

This year instead of resolving to do this, that and the other, I have decided to identify my aims for 2015. One of those aims is to lose 18lbs so that I can feel totally comfortable and confident in a size 14 pair of jeans (they’ll be pretty loose if I lose 18lbs-bliss!). I am trying to visualise how amazing I’ll feel when I jump out of bed one morning and slip on those jeans. (Oh yes…..I’m visualising it now….ooh love it………….can’t wait to feel that way!)  The important thing is to be really specific and clear about what your goals for 2015 are; it then becomes easier to identify the actions you need to take to get there.

Do you see the difference?  Identifying my aim will of course mean that I’ll have to make some behaviour changes, but I can think about those each week and adapt them, and of course  I’ll learn as I go along.  If I do accidentally have an unplanned glass of wine at the weekend it doesn’t mean that I have failed to achieve my overall aim. So I therefore won’t be demotivated like I was last year.

Research shows that if we have a clear idea of what we are aiming for then we are 3 times more likely to achieve it.  So come on……what is your AIM for 2015?

Please share in the comments so that I can encourage you, by following up on your goals later on in the year.

Tick tock…………..

So back to the topic of time.
The more I think about it, the more complex I find the whole concept of time in relation to weight loss.

My last post revolved around how when I am busy and short on time, I feel out of control where food is concerned. And I know that when I have made time to plan ahead for the week and I spend time preparing food and I make sure I don’t miss meals, I generally have a ‘good week’ and a weight loss.

And BINGO!-there it is in print-‘when I have MADE the time’. When things are high on our list of priorities, when things are important to us -like picking the children up from school-(thanks Sue) like watching our favourite programme on TV, like meeting a good friend for a drink, like putting the bins out on the right day, we MAKE the time to do what we need to do. And you know what? Losing weight really IS important to me-in fact I spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about how great it would be to lose 20 lbs. I spend a silly amount of time thinking about how unhappy I am with the size that I am-I won’t go into detail on this……..it’s too boring; yet endlessly , day after day the glum soundtrack of my dissatisfaction plays inside my head.

Here are some of the reasons losing weight is important to me. I want to feel better about myself. I want to feel more comfortable in my own skin, as well as in the latest New Look or M and S fashions. I want to preserve my health. I don’t want my ankle to ache when I have spent all day on my feet. I want to spring out of bed in the morning, and with a sense of freedom throw on a pair of jeans and feel great. I want to buy clothes because I like them and they suit my character-not because they cover up my dodgy bits. And this is difficult for me to share-but I will anyway- being at my happy weight would give me more credibility and more confidence in my job. So actually yes it’s very important to me to ‘just get on and do’ this weight loss thing. So where’s it going wrong?

It goes wrong at certain TIMES of the week, and at certain TIMES of the day (there goes that word again!): namely at weekends and in the evenings! So at the beginning of my weight loss week –which is the day that I weigh in- I am really clear in my own head about how important my weight loss is to me and I feel focussed. But by the time the weekend arrives that sense of importance has become a lot fuzzier. Similarly in the mornings when I have had the ritual daily discomfort of deciding what to wear (does my bum look big in this?, oh no look at those thighs! etc.) my motivation to have a ‘good’ day is high, because at that moment in time I want to delete those negative wardrobe feelings for ever . As the hours tick by during the course of the day and my wardrobe-trauma memories become more distant and I become more tired, again my weight loss desires become fuzzier. And those are the times that my resolve weakens and I ruin all the good work I have done during the day by mindlessly munching.

And another thing about time! It goes so fast doesn’t it? I have been replaying the above routines for 4 years now-WASTING time! So I am now CHOOSING to repeat this cycle no more-there will not be any more wasting of precious hours because what I am also wasting, is my precious life.

This week I tried a new technique to help my memory: I have set reminders on my phone to coincide with my ‘forgetful’ times- these reminders come with messages such as ‘Don’t ruin today’s hard work by chomping on junk’ and ‘Make sure you stay focussed over the weekend-you deserve to look after yourself!’. And do you know what?…….. so far it’s working! 