The Anchor Programme
Dieting for many is often seen as a period of deprivation and restriction that has to be temporarily endured to achieve weight loss. Fad diets that cause rapid weight loss initially strip the body of stored carbohydrate and water and cause a large calorie deficit which leads to the breakdown of lean muscle mass to provide vital fuel for survival. Large calorie deficits are known to drive an increased appetite, and with the best will in the world it is hard to fight against physiology.
The heavy reliance on willpower or self-control frequently leads to burnout which is followed by a return to previous habits coupled with an array of negative feelings such as failure, anger etc meaning perpetual yo-yo dieting is hard to cope with psychologically too.
Evidence shows that relying on willpower alone WILL NOT achieve success as the very nature of constantly resisting temptation leads to people feeling drained and “burnt out”.
What is the alternative approach?
The Anchor programme combines the latest research in behavioural science and habit formation with practical, tailored advice on food and nutrition. We move away from reliance on will power and instead look at what will help to establish lifelong core habits and routine to support good health and a long term happy relationship with food.
The food bit
It is really helpful to deepen your understanding of what the body needs - we need nutrients but we eat food so it’s important to have a good practical understanding of what to eat, in what proportions and portion sizes and what will influence these needs.
We can’t escape the need for a deficit if fat loss is your goal, but the scale of the deficit, the types of food you choose, when you eat them and how they fit within the context of the rest of your day will play a part. The balance of nutrients that works for one, is not necessarily right for another.
Most of the decisions we make about food are not conscious ones - there are so many influencers - food availability, routine, likes, dislikes, time of day, who else we’re feeding, hunger, mood, stress levels, sleep… all these factors need exploring and are at the very core of your eating habits and behaviours.[H4]
Eating and exercise are often clubbed together as two sides of an energy balance equation and whilst it’s true that exercise burns calories the relationship between the two is a little more convoluted than that. There are so many benefits to movement - from improved strength and flexibility to improved mood and brain function.
When exercise is used solely as a means to lose weight some fall out can occur. Increased food intake is often a symptom of more exercise as we seek to reward ourselves for effort made. Just thinking of exercise in terms of calories burnt is quite limiting. Not only does it seem to take a lot of sweat to burn off a biscuit, but we miss the value in certain types of exercise.
There is a value to working muscles and protecting/ building your lean muscle mass to preserve metabolic rate and change body shape. It’s also worth remembering that muscles act as storage for fuel in the form of glycogen (but we can discuss this in more detail once we’re underway).
So as you’ve probably got a feel for by now this programme aims to equip you with knowledge, skills and confidence to help you make sustainable beneficial changes to your lifestyle. It does not encourage reliance on willpower, instead helps you establish routine/core habits and a supportive environment tailored to your daily life. It’s a journey and there is no quick fix. The good news is though it gets easier and when you’re free from the shackles of ‘another diet’ it paves the way for exploring the thoughts that drive our behaviours, the things that most influence the habits we’re trying to change and the anchors from which we can create a new path of confidence, health gains and success .