Weight Loss Happens In Your Head, Not Your Stomach

05/05/2016 11:36 | Updated 05 May 2016

Want to lose weight? The first muscle you need to exercise is your brain.

I say this because it's another month, and another round of fad diets or silly, yet somehow trendy, workout contraptions promising a new body, a new you.

But let's not kid ourselves - nothing is going to work until you stop gazing down at your stomach in an accusing manner and start thinking about what's going on upstairs instead.

Weight loss is a mind game; end of.

And until we get past the quick fix mentality we'll always struggle with it.

In April, Brits were encouraged to try the 'chocolate and wine' diet, as endorsed by Tim Spector, professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King's College London.

He suggest that the key to losing weight is to keep the microbes in our gut healthy through a process of consuming chocolate, wine, coffee and cheese.

Sounds amazing, doesn't it!?

Meanwhile, across The Pond in America, the actress Kate Hudson was busy on Instagram showing off something called the 'Booty Belt' - an elasticated device that straps to your ankles and waist, adding resistance to training sessions and, apparently, giving you a perfectly toned bottom.

And yes, you might want a posterior to grace the silver screen like Kate, but, sorry folks, you won't get it until you reassess how your grey matter responds to food.

The word 'diet' sends a shiver of misery down most spines. I know this because I spent many years locked in a cycle of diet, binge, diet, binge, which in turn led to feelings of guilt and made a serious dent in my self-esteem.

Nowadays, if an eight year-old goes on a diet, you'll see it in the newspapers under a screaming headline.

Yet there I was, confused and angry and sure of nothing except one thing: I was fat. I knew I was fat and I knew it was leaving me feeling thoroughly miserable and my family ashamed of me.

I followed the convention and flitted between fad diets, chasing unrealistic promises.

Yes, the weight would come off if I ate nothing but cabbage for months on end, but I'd be hungry and miserable... and within weeks of ending the diet, all that weight would be back on again... and often a bit extra just for good measure.

You see, one of the biggest problems with traditional dieting is hunger. And hunger is an incredibly powerful urge, coming a very close third to the urge for self preservation and the sex-urge.

Telling someone who's dieting and is ravenous to simply 'use your willpower and don't eat!' is fundamentally useless and doomed to failure.

Here's my advice - pick your battles, and simply control what you can. And understand that your brain can be constantly trying to sabotage and undermine you.

Many of those choices are made in the subconscious part of our brains, and it's a powerful part indeed, which produces emotions you simply can't control.

It's your autopilot mode, running away in the background and doing all the things you take for deciding if you're hungry or not.

Trying to use 'willpower' to overcome the subconscious is utterly fruitless. You'll fail, like telling a goose not to fly south for the winter.

But just like you can train a dog, you can train your own subconscious. You can set it a goal and leave it running to get on with it.

And here's a few tips on how to get going;

1. Now is always the right time to start anything: because if you're waiting until some arbitrary criterion is met, you'll never do it.

2. Buy a Journal: Recording how you feel, not just what you eat, can help you reach your goals.

3. Take it day by day: Stick to a rough plan and you'll have far more successful days than unsuccessful ones.

4. Before you get out of bed lie quietly with your eyes closed for a few moments and picture your day ahead. See yourself happy, content and relaxed.

5. Stop lying to yourself and start telling the truth. Every time you lie you're telling your subconscious 'my words don't matter'. So when you talk about losing weight it'll think, 'Oh right... here's something else we don't have to do!'

6. Don't feel you have to justify everything to your friends and family.

7. Be kind to yourself. As the Buddhists say, 'all things in moderation, including moderation itself'.

8. Remember there are no inherently 'good' or 'bad' foods - it is emotionally neutral and any feelings you have about it come from within yourself.