Rule 1: Do not rush weight loss
In Bonci’s experience of helping clients lose weight, she’s noticed the self-education process takes about 12 weeks. You need those three months to train your brain to make a habit of eating well: getting used to reading labels at the supermarket, learning how to plan your meals and shop accordingly, and figuring out how to add more fruit and vegetables to your diet. Quick-fix or fad diets, such as those that rely on one ingredient (the cabbage soup diet, anyone?) or exclude nutrients (usually fat or carbs), are destined to fail because they’re just that – a quick fix. “You want habits that are sustainable for years, not a few days,” says Bonci. And it takes time to develop these habits. Remember, you’re a work in progress – as an eater and a runner.
Make it work
One of the keys to slimming down for good is avoiding some of the common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight quickly. They’re usually errors of deprivation: limiting options until your taste buds become bored, or holding yourself to impossible standards. Then, when you fall off the wagon, the bad habits quickly return. Be flexible and don’t ask too much of yourself.
MAKE YOUR FOOD TASTE GOOD
“When people go into diet mode, all they eat is grilled chicken salad,” says Bonci. “Pretty soon their eyes, tongue and brain start begging for something else – such as salty crisps or sweet ice cream.” She suggests trying foods with different textures, spices and flavours. The more variety you have, the less you’ll experience cravings for unhealthy foods.
KEEP FINE-TUNING YOUR PLAN
Sometimes an injury ruins your race plans. So you readjust and come back stronger. The same holds true for your diet. A good way to re-examine your strategy is to use a food log (see Rule 5). You might realise you’ve been hungrier on tough workout days and need an extra snack. Or you might see you’ve been rushing through lunch and should slow down.
DON’T GIVE UP
Just because you had an extra custard cream, don’t fall into the ‘I’ve blown it’ trap. “People set up such rigid guidelines,” Bonci says. “Then it’s, ‘Uh-oh, I deviated, so I might as well continue eating until bedtime.’ Maybe it was more than you wanted, but it’s not the end of the world. Move on. You’ll be far more successful on your path to weight loss.”