You don’t need a diet. Ever. Because weight loss is a series of tiny micro habits – skills, in fact.
How do you lose weight without following a diet?
That was the question that set me, food psychology coach and Weight Loss Life Coach Laura Lloyd on a journey of discovery.
“Diets don’t work for me!”
As a former binge eater, I can attest, if you can’t sustain weight loss from diets, or even the thought of a diet sends you into binge mode already, it’s not your fault.
Overeating is a learned behaviour, cemented in place with patterns of thought and habitual emotional reactions. It’s usually underpinned by a loss of belief that sustainable weight loss is possible.
But you didn’t know different! Nobody has ever taught you HOW to unlearn overeating before – diets just tell you oversimplified messages like ‘you shouldn’t overeat’.
You need actual psychological and doable weight loss skills – and none of them is willpower, or living without carbs, or giving up sugar forever. If you have a relationship with food that’s sane and full of kind self-control, you don’t need to worry so hard about ‘getting right’ what you put on your plate.
It’s micro habits that make up a self-loving lifestyle approach to weight management and ending overeating.
In this vid below, Laura introduces the series of articles and resources, and why she’s so passionate about sharing it.
I know from experience that ‘giving up’ things like sugar can cause binges long-term…
so for everyone who is interested in making the kind of changes they can KEEP, don’t be downhearted about what lies before you. NONE of these habits involves self-deprivation.
In fact you’ll find, as you read on, that this single blogpost is an entire toolbox. Coming up, there’s a list of the full 21 habits. And for each one, there’s a link to an entire blogpost you can read and enjoy too!
Ultimately, the reasons we overeat come down to our thoughts.
“I’ll just have one”.
“I’ve had a hard day”.
“I’m so tired”.
“It’s a treat”.
“I’m not sure if I can do this work”.
“I am the only one around here who ever unstacks the dishwasher”.
And so many more.
The thought and emotion habits you have created are your personal, unique set of triggers, and YOU are the best person to take them apart. I’ll show you how.
And I’ll also show you how to think better things that help you look after yourself, make deliberate choices, and like what you’ve chosen for yourself.
It doesn’t really have much to do with what’s on your plate.
Well, think of it this way: what you put on your plate, and what you lift to your mouth, is an action you take as a result of your thinking.
That’s what a diet won’t change. It’ll just give you a set of rules to follow (or feel bad if you don’t follow).
- It won’t help you make the 200+ food decisions we need to be responsible for making each and every day.
- It won’t help you learn to trust yourself.
- It won’t help you learn to like yourself and feel worthy, at the size you are now, and at the size you’ve got in mind.
And these aren’t just nice luxuries – byproducts of getting compliments about your weight loss – they are key skills that’ll get you there.
Come over to my page and learn more as I show you how doable a lifestyle approach to weight and eating is.
Take heart! This is going to be an amazing and transformational year for you.
Ready to learn? Here are 21 micro habits to make weight loss stick:
Most of us embark upon weight loss with the hope that losing weight will make us feel better about ourselves. Or to get away from the shame and self-judgment we believe comes from others’ opinions of us.
Weight loss is not a solution to a self-love deficit: Your thinking will follow you. Happily, self-worth and positive body image can be deliberately created separately (one of the greatest gifts of life coaching).
If you felt good about yourself, though, would you still want to lose weight? If the answer is YES, perhaps you are inching closer to getting a good ‘why’ for your weight loss that is driven by desire and not fear; inspiration and not desperation.
Geneen Roth adds the caveat: “This does not include the car.”
The reason this eating habit is so helpful is that it’s really about making all eating conscious, and in plain sight.
So many of us are eating standing up (it feels like it doesn’t count that way), eating in secret, or behind our own backs.
Some of us have a voice in our head that’s admonishing us so hard for the eating, that we can’t bring ourselves to sit down: that would be to give ourselves full permission to actually eat what we have already chosen to.
When you start to sit down to eat everything, you start cultivating a relationship of absolute honesty with yourself.
Hunger and satisfaction are where it’s at.
Most of us are trying to decide where to stop with portion control, calorie counting, and other intellectual antics.
Learning to eat consciously is key, but it’s going to require that you create moments of body awareness during your meals.
Mindful eating is super helpful if it’s your jam, but you don’t have to slow down to monk-like concentration. Simply being willing to check in a couple of times during the meal will go a long way.
Learning new thoughts is something most of us don’t do.
No amount of insight from therapy or counselling can teach you to actively adopt new thoughts.
You have to do it. Cue cards and post-it notes are an easy way. Hypnosis is ultra helpful as a way of rehearsing new thoughts too.
Stop waiting for helpful thinking to ‘arrive’ in your head, it ain’t comin’!
You have DIY’d your transformation long enough.
You have got a cheapish app to learn mindfulness. Tried to slow down. Searched the internet, done your own research. It’s all helpful, but it’s not a comprehensive solution.
The fact is, it’s hard to think about your own thinking. It’s useful, if you can allocate the resources to it, to get an extra expert brain working with you on it.
When I coach, I teach you to self-coach. On all things, not just eating. You have to learn and practise this. You have to be consistent.
Being a food psychology journey and adopt a growth mindset.
Mistakes – overeats, binges, random Fuck It eats – are all opportunities to learn and strategise.
Everything you have tried up to today, including the diets and lifestyle change attempts, have taught you useful things you can take forwards. Even if only to discover what’s unsustainable for you so that this time, you only lose weight in a way you’d actually like to live.
When you overeat, instead of beating yourself up, or writing off the whole day, just notice it, and move on.
One of my coaches likes to say “Well, that happened.”
You’d never expect anyone to learn anything with zero encouragement, so you’re going to need to recognise green shoots of progress and nurture them.
It’s also worth noting that overeating food is very intrinsically rewarding – in other words, your unwanted overeating habits have a strong reward at the end of them, making it really likely your brain will keep suggesting you repeat them.
So, you need to learn to reward yourself, and your own recognition is the most powerful way to do that.
Just move your body, or breathe, in whatever ways feel fun to you, and bring you a sense of wellbeing.
Have the experience of BEING a body often, instead of evaluating what you look like.
In coaching, we’ll spend plenty of time noticing our own excuses and justifications that make it seem OK for us to eat when we aren’t hungry – just little thoughts our brain offers us to try to get us to repeat old habits.
Does your brain tell you it’s OK to overeat salad “because it’s healthy”, or that the “protein bar” you buy on the train doesn’t count?
You are not alone, Friend.
Numbers. Data. That’s what a scale can tell you.
But we have thoughts about the number it shows, and ourselves, that can make or break a day.
We are going to de-drama using a scale.
At first, we might eat until the take-out box is empty, or our plate clean.
Bit by bit, we’re going to learn to notice when we have had enough food. This becomes so much easier when you’re very psychologically secure that you WILL have more food later.
Planning is an awareness tool, and it also helps you know what decisions you have to follow through on.
Many of us have mild trauma from being embarrassed by having to show a food diary to doctors, or overwhelmed trying to follow food plans in diet books.
But I’m talking about something a bit different here. A realistic, simple plan for your eating today, made by YOU. You are the authority of your weight loss and the greatest gift I can give you is the ability to make your own decisions around food.
We know our weak points. It’s all fine until…
We can strategise how we want to talk to ourselves, think, feel, and take care of ourselves around challengeing situations.
This is why it’s so helpful to coach over a full 12 months – to see you through one of every occasion. A birthday, a holiday….
What is an urge?
What is a random suggestion your brain offered you to eat?
When is eating motiviated by emotion?
And what is actual physical hunger?
When you are a little hungry, your body gets a moment to tap into its stored fuel: Your bodyfat.
Some of us hate getting hungry. We have felt faint on fasts. We have dieted and felt deprived.
Learn to wait until you are distinctly hungry, rather than eating pre-emptively, or to fit in with work breaks or your family.
Right now, you probably give in to most of your urges to eat when you’re not hungry.
Your brain has been habituated to wanting to eat for all kinds of reasons, including entertainment and reward, for years, so the urges will keep coming up.
But you can learn to be immune to them. It’s easier than you think, I promise.
Take a few minutes at the end of the day to reflect on one overeat, and figure out what happened in your thinking.
Most of us aren’t really curious about our mistakes, because we are too busy feeling guilty. Evaluation is the alternative to guilt.
Most thin people don’t ‘take advantage’ of surprise opportunities to eat.
There will be so many of these. My kids will offer me some of their treats. My husband will make a tea and I’ll think “He’s having a snack with it, so what’s the harm if I do too?”
But you have a plan as a guide. If it’s unplanned, you’re giving in to momentary urges rather than making decisions in your long-term interest.
With a notebook.
Keep your brain imagining and believing in your future relationship with food, your future body, your authority over food choices and that relationship with yourself where you do exactly what you intend.
There is no moral obligation to lose weight.
If you want to do it, just do it for you. Do it so that you’re less numbed to your life, more willing to feel, more alive, available for more emotion and more fun.
When we take the deprivation out of it, when we stop feeling like a victim, we can start to love the process of getting to know ourselves again. It’s wonderful, and the knock-on effects of learning to self-coach and manage your mind extend far beyond the realm of weight and eating, and apply to the other areas of your life too.
Access the full '21 micro habits' video training’21 micro habits that make weight loss stick’
Learn the exact ways to think and act, that'll make this year's changes last a lifetime.
Just a little side note from me:
Self-judgment is never even slightly helpful, people, if you want to lose weight.
It will stop you in your tracks. Self-judgment creates inaction.
I mean, we think it’s failure that’ll stymie success. That’s not true.
As Brooke Castillo says, failure is not the opposite of success. Inaction is the opposite of success.
Essentially, feeling like a human car crash because you have a lot of thoughts that aren’t helping you, and a lot of habitual behaviours bothering you, just makes it painful to look at what you’re doing, and analyse it.
Which is why we put off leaning in and looking at what we’re really doing when we’re messing up.
But when we do look at it with curiosity, it’s SUCH a relief!
It’s your ability to go into ‘data analysis’ and 'I'm learning new skills' mode that takes the drama out of your weight loss journey:
Scale gone up? Just data – which habit or skill do I need to learn next?
Mum make a snide remark about how you’re ‘getting too thin’? Just data – how can you let other people’s opinions wash off you like water off a duck’s back?
Notice that you ‘can’t’ sit down to work without a road snack to get from the kitchen to your desk? Just data – what am I thinking and feeling about my work?
Go all-out on chocolate one day, and body feels sick and jittery afterwards? Just data – what was I thinking and feeling that day? Does this information from my body change how I think about ‘how much I love’ chocolate?
Self-doubt creates overwhelm. Overwhelm stops you starting. And, once again – that inaction is the opposite of success – not failure.
Failure is very informative. Failure means you’re trying things. It increases your probability of hitting on a solution.
21 Micro habits to make weight loss stick - read the full series: