Losing weight inch by inch

The concept of losing weight is not difficult: you just need to “eat less and move more”, as actress Minnie Driver neatly summed it up. But keeping motivated beyond an initial weight loss and then maintaining that new shape? That’s the truly difficult bit, as anyone who’s currently a few weeks into a new year-inspired healthy eating or slimming regime will be only too aware.

Many of us will have started our new year diet with a short sharp shock — and are now feeling very hungry indeed. Doctors do not advocate any quick-fix approach, but advise if you started that way, treat it as an impetus, but now think about swapping to a longer-term programme. You should be introducing healthy foods into your diet to keep it sustainable. Don’t move from crash diet to crash diet.

If you are concerned that your weight loss has slowed down or plateaued, go back to keeping a food diary and check your habits. Are you still being as careful as when you started? And don’t be hard on yourself: one to two pounds a week is fine.

Motivational advice for all the family comes from Steve Miller in his new book From Fat to Fit, The Simple Way to Transform Your Family’s Health (Vermilion, £12.99). Steve, a clinical hypnotherapist feels it is vital to take care of our weight, warning that “on average an obese person dies nine years earlier than someone of normal weight”.

He suggests you identify a motivational driver to lose weight and keep reminding yourself of it, whether it is appearance, relationships, career prospects, health or being a good role model to your children.

Then he says: “Create an aversion to being fat by looking at old photos of when you were so big and let this motivate you away from being that size again. Perhaps imagine the fat around your organs taking you to heaven’s door sooner than you need.”

He also warns that you have to be firm with yourself. “Forget airy fairy excuses. If you hear yourself saying ‘Yes, but…’ then the fat is winning. In short, if you make excuses you will stay fat. You control food; it doesn’t control you.”

But dieting doesn’t have to be about denial,if you want a packet of crisps or a glass of wine, enjoy it — just make sure you include it in your plans.

Steve says: “Restriction long term will not work and will demotivate you. Instead follow the 80-20 rule, eating well for 80 per cent of the time and the other 20 per cent of the time eating the odd cake or portion of chips.

“Celebrate along the way but not with food. Do something to enhance your look, such as get a new hair-do, as a positive reinforcement to the new you.”

By giving yourself this type of non-edible goody, you take away the emphasis on food as a reward, don’t plan a slap-up meal as a treat; buy a new CD or exciting new clothes. And congratulate yourself when you lose weight: the diet didn’t do that, you did. Even not gaining weight can be a triumph, some weeks.

Steve Miller concludes: “Losing weight does not have to mean doom and gloom. Perhaps this year you can make it an exciting journey.”