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behaviour change goals weight loss

Successful Behavioral Strategies for Sustained Weight Loss

Gad Saad is an evolutionary psychologist And Professor of Marketing at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada). He’s written over 75+ scientific papers as well as writing for psychology today, and publishing several books.

He writes on a broad range of evolutionary psychology disciplines including consumer behaviour, marketing, advertising, psychology, medicine, and economics.

Gad recently shared some of the behavioural strategies he used to help him lose a large amount of weight.

I’ve organised these into 4 simple recommendations

1. Chunk Down Goals Into Small Wins

Perseverance is probably the most important aspect of sustained weight loss.

Take one day at a time, and persevere. The small wins add up over time into big wins. 

Don’t overly focus on the total weight loss goal. Instead, break it down into small manageable chunks or goals.

This is less overwhelming, and helps to keep motivation higher over the long run.

2. Be Specific With Behaviours

Be specific when it comes to your behavioural weight loss strategies.

For example, just saying “I’m going to try and eat less” is too vague, and doesn’t give a consistent reliable measure.

Here are some examples of more specific behavioural strategies:

“I won’t eat more than X calories per meal / day”

“I won’t eat after 7pm”

“I will only eat 3 meals a day with no snacks”

“I won’t drink alcohol all week, but will allow myself 2 drinks on a Friday”

3. Create Feedback Mechanisms

Create feedback mechanisms by measuring and tracking regularly. E.g weighing / measuring daily or weekly.

Failing to regularly measure and track progress is metaphorically like an ostrich burying it’s head in the sand.

Weight gain usually occurs gradually over a long period of time, and without regular monitoring it’s easy to ignore it, and avoid taking action.

Weighing & measuring regularly is a mechanism to intercept this process, and auto correct at more regular intervals.

This recommendation is also one of Layne Norton’s 5 evidenced based habit and behavioural strategies to lose weight that I wrote about previously.

4. Work Around Obstacles

On the weight loss journey, there will be obstacles, such as  injuries, emergencies, distractions, work changes, holidays, parties, etc. 

Cultivate a mindset that expects obstacles and works around them. Don’t allow obstacles to become excuses.

For Example:

With a shoulder injury, walk instead.

Having to work late, do a small workout in front of the TV before bed.

At a party where there will be lots of cake. Eat a large healthy meal before going.

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behaviour change habits weight loss

Five Top Habits For Weight Loss

All Diets Work

In one sense, all diets work. No one diet is the ultimate best diet! E.g. Low Carb, Low Fat, Keto, Paleo, Primal, Plant Based etc. When studies equate for calories, all diets do about the same.

The best weight loss diet is really the diet that we prefer, and can stick with the most.  This will be different for many people. Some will thrive on low carb, some on low fat, some prefer counting calories, others macros. And so forth. 

“Find the method of restriction that feels the least restrictive to you”

The adherence rate for all diets is pretty appalling, and studies show that more people regain lost weight than keep it off. This illustrates that diets alone, are not always enough.

Habit and Behaviour Based Weight Loss

Ultimately, changing behaviours and habits is fundamental for long term weight loss & maintenance.

Below are five habits and behaviours from Dr Layne Norton for successful weight loss and maintenance. Studies show that these behaviours are very prevalent in people who successfully lose weight and keep it off .   

Layne Norton has a BS in Biochemistry and a PhD Nutritional Sciences with honours, and has published several studies, in areas such muscle protein synthesis and leucine. He’s also an author of several books including his recent “Fat Loss Forever”.

He’s also been a pro natural bodybuilder and pro powerlifter. He’s now bodybuilding & physique coach.

  1. Cognitive Restraint

Successful dieters who lose weight and keep it off employ some type of cognitive restraint.

For Example, Calorie Counting, Fasting, Carb Restriction, Fat Restriction, Points System, Macro Counting.

2. Regular Self Monitoring

They employ some type of regular self monitoring such as regularly weighing or measuring themselves.

This provides very rapid or instant feedback to help keep them on track.

3. Regular Exercise

They exercise regularly.

There is good evidence that exercise sensitises us to satiety signals, and may also help lower our body’s set point as we lose weight. 

4. Structured Programmes

They follow some sort of structured programme, such as hiring Weight Loss Coaches, or Nutritionists, or joining groups such as Weight Watchers, etc.

These people on average perform better. Dieting without a structured plan doesn’t often work out very well.

5. Low Recency

People who did better at weight loss and keeping it off, also considered the effects of their momentary actions against their long term goals.

Considering long term goals into their decision making process, made it easier to decline foods that were not on their plans, and complete their planned exercise activities.

People with low recency would choose their long term goal over their short term feelings.


When I see clients for weight loss in my hypnotherapy practice, a large component is helping them to change their underlying habits and behaviours.

We spend time in our first session, working together to identifying the habits & behaviours that they want to change, then using hypnosis and other techniques to make that process more automatic.

There are other areas we work on too, such as boosting confidence, self worth, and self belief.

This can really help boost motivation and determination to stay the course and engrain the new healthy habits.

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