Twelve tips for permanent weight loss

In Grace Kitto’s memoir of weight loss, Saving Grace, she outlines 12 points to permanent weight loss. They are:

  1. Do the mental work

The biggest help you can give yourself is to be your own detective. Work through your history and your present to see what drives you. Be truthful about it but also be forgiving. Learn to be flexible and accept solutions which are far from perfect. Train yourself to succeed.

  1. Do it slowly

At least at the beginning. It’s easier for you to carry out. It’s likely to be more permanent. It’s less of a shock to your system. It gives your skin a chance to recover and shrink in line with your weight loss, leaving no sagging folds of loose flesh. If you want to speed up in the later stages, so be it.

  1. Keep it balanced

We are omnivores and should eat like omnivores, a little of everything, nothing forbidden. Rules that are too strict are hard to keep.

  1. Keep it varied

If a diet stops working, change it. We are not cult members. Just because we joined one diet programme, it is not our failure if it stops working. Feel free to move on.

  1. Set a realistic timeframe for changing your diet, but no timetable for your weight loss

It will take as long as it takes. A year is a good place to start. Once that time is over, the second year is easy to commit to. If you have a lot to lose, you will be very lucky to shed as much as a pound a week long term, whatever the magazines tell you.

  1. Practise patience

This is a long slow process. Calm your thinking and ease yourself into it. This will help when weight is slow to shift, or when inevitable plateaus hit.

  1. Practise restraint

Teach yourself to wait a while between desire and consumption. Stretch the waiting time. It’s a habit you can learn. You are not helpless over your own behaviour.

  1. Sleep

Recognise that lack of sleep is associated with obesity and commit to resting for eight hours a night, and getting as much sleep as possible in that time.

  1. Treat diet products cautiously

Eat normal food and use portion control to restrict calories. A few judiciously chosen diet products may be helpful. But be aware that there is often very little calorie difference between a diet product and the non-diet version. ‘Low fat’ versions often have added carbs or sugars to make them more palatable.

  1. Chart your progress

Measure success in the long term, not daily or weekly. Half a pound off a week sounds like a minimal result, but half a stone in three months sounds great. They’re the same thing. Commit for the long term.

  1. Give yourself recovery time

At the end of your diet you will need to allow at least half as much time again to regularise your calorie intake and adjust to your new weight. Factor it in right from the start so that you don’t trip up at the end.

  1. Learn to say yes

It’s as important to say yes as to say no to our own desires. Don’t make this process a torment. Sometimes consciously decide to relax the diet regime in a positive way – not a lapse, but a decision. Eat mindfully. Enjoy this moment to the full, and then practise restraint afterwards.

Julie Myerson has called Saving Grace ‘a grippingly intelligent and likeable feminist memoir of weight loss’. If you want to read more, you can order it from any good bookshop and here.