Irish Daily Mail
Why successful weight loss is all in the MIND
Can’t break the cycle of yo-yo dieting? Psychologist Susi Lodola says changing how you think is the key to losing weight for good...
IT’S a tale that will be familiar to most of us — you start a diet on a Monday, live like a monk for the first few days, but by the time Saturday comes around you’re cracking open a bottle of wine and ordering from the nearest takeaway.
Life can get in the way of diets, especially when you are trying to get the children sorted with school and activities and maybe holding down a full time job as well.
But could it be that it’s not the fact that you are busy that’s sabotaging your diet plans, but your own subconscious?
Susi Lodola believes losing weight can be very much down to your mindset — and she should know.
The psychologist has lost over six and a half stone herself after deciding, at the age of 52, to apply her Cognitive Behavioural Therapy skills to the thorny issue of losing weight that affects so many of us.
AFTER successfully applying the principles to her own weight-loss journey, Susi has now developed a course that can help you beat the triggers that are holding you back when it comes to changing your lifestyle.
‘Most people know what to do to lose weight, but the difficult part is to sustain it,’ Susi says. ‘Everyone knows you need to eat less and move more, but after a couple of weeks people fall off the wagon and you end up being back to square one.
‘I looked at research about the best way of losing weight because I had been struggling with this myself for a very long time. I had lost some weight then put it back on and so on, like most people do.
‘But international research shows the best way to lose weight is to combine three elements — a healthy nutritional plan, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which is what I do, and then exercise.’
The main thing for Susi was to change how she felt about food and the way she thought about what she was eating.
‘The main thing for me was not how much weight I lost, but how to maintain that loss — which is the crucial point. I have changed the way I look at food, the way I think about food, and I want to teach other people how to do that.’
The first step, according to Susi, is to look at what your triggers are.
‘You need to think about when you overeat,’ she says. ‘Is it when you are bored, when you are stressed, when you are happy. At the weekends?
‘You need to discover your triggers. I would always have had healthy food. I have three children, but I always cooked everything for them from scratch. Because I was so stressed with three children going to three different schools and three different sets of activities, I would turn to chocolate when I was stressed.
‘This went on even though my meals were healthy. I
wasn’t drinking or eating takeaways, but it was the chocolate that gave me that feeling.’
So the starting point is to know what your trigger is and then deal with it in a different way than you did before.
‘Eating chocolate didn’t destress me — in fact it did the opposite, as afterwards I would be thinking, ‘what did I do that for?’ You beat yourself up over it.
‘So instead of reaching for the bar, the glass of wine, the takeaway, you learn to do something else like go for a walk, have a bath, do a bit of mindfulness, something to replace the food you would normally reach for.’
This way you can begin to identify when you are actually hungry and when you are emotionally hungry, and begin to tell the difference.
‘It is a process that takes a little time, but you get to understand the different signals from your body.’
Another key Susi explores is keeping your motivation levels high and the way to do this is by taking small steps to success.
‘People find it very difficult to stay motivated,’ Susi says. ‘But small, successful steps will motivate you. On the programme, people work in groups because research will show that working together gives you the best success rate.
‘And we look at the small ways of changing your habits.
‘Quick results means you are doing something that is not sustainable. It is about changing those habits and replacing them with something new.
‘For example decide to drink more water, or add more vegetables to your dinner, as this is adding things rather than taking them away.
‘Typically when people go on a diet they are thinking, ‘I can’t eat this’ or ‘I won’t do that’ or ‘I will stop doing that’, and those are negative words.
‘So adding things instead of taking things away can change that negative mindset.
‘You are not going to do stuff you don’t want to do — you can still eat the food you enjoy, but you start to look at food a bit differently. For example, instead of skipping that avocado, increase your healthy fats that are good for you. These help with your hormone balance and also help to stop you craving sugar.’
AND one of the reasons you might never manage to stick to changes is that your own subconscious is your weightloss saboteur.
‘The minute you start to make changes, your brain tries to stop you because prehistorically we are programmed to see change as danger,’ Susi says. ‘So your brain will be persuading you to have that takeaway because you deserve it.
‘All these messages are your prehistoric brain telling you that you need to eat to survive and you can’t lose weight.
‘Having lost weight, I find that last stone is even more difficult as my body is telling me I’ve lost too much.
‘We don’t have to worry about where we get our next bit of food from, but hunters and gatherers had to do that and we are designed to put on weight from the minute we are born.
‘The minute you start losing weight, it sends danger signals.’
But making small and gradual changes will help override this, Susi says.
‘It is about finding the right balance in your life — if you aren’t eating breakfast, start with that.
‘Try to have three balanced meals and two snacks every day.
‘And then you move onto the next step. It is all the things you need to put in place for yourself to make this fit in with your life.’ more information, visit mindoverbodyweightloss.com.