A few years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution I was determined to keep. After seeing the number on the scale creep slowly upwards, and the waistline on my trousers grow ever-tighter, I decided I was going to lose some weight.
So, I signed up for Weight Watchers and interviewed their experts along with some of the sharpest minds on tour who went through their own, similar experiences.
It wasn’t easy, but 40lbs and a few years later, I feel great. A lot of people come into 2023 with similar resolutions, and sometimes they’ll ask me what I learnt along the way.
What I say in response is that the process of losing weight is relatively simple: If you create a calorie deficit, which means you’re burning more calories than you’re eating, you’ll lose weight. You have to eat the right calories, for sure, but for me, the really hard part came in changing my behaviour — from building new habits to becoming disciplined enough to stick to them and keep yourself motivated.
Playing golf really helped with all those things. Done right, the game you play for fun can be a useful tool for making your feel and look better off the course. It may even help you play better on it, too.
So, if you want to lose weight, here are a few ways to make your new resolution stick — and use golf to help you do it.
1. Establish your ‘why’
This is a big part of the Weight Watchers programme. It’s essentially no different setting a goal for yourself, like you’d do with your game. Why do you want to lose weight? Remind yourself of that often and it can help keep you grounded.
2. Budget your carbs
There are no bad foods, and that includes carbs. Just remember the purpose carbs serve: Your body burns through them quickly when it needs them for short-term energy. That’s what makes them great before a round of golf or a range session. But if you’re eating lots of carbs without doing much, you’ll be stuck in a cycle of feeling hungry and eating more, faster than your body can burn them off. Budget them accordingly.
3. Eat more protein
One of the reasons why Weight Watchers incentivises people towards more protein is because it gives you a more sustained energy source that keeps you feeling full longer. The best diet is a balanced one, but when in doubt, you can’t go wrong with lean proteins such as chicken or turkey breast.
4. Plan ahead
A bit like going to the range with a game plan of what you’re going to practise, spend a little bit of time at the end of each day to plot your meals for the following day. Changing what you eat, more than anything else, requires building a new set of good habits. If you’re going to have a carby breakfast, what are you going to eat for lunch? Or dinner? What kind of fruit are you going to eat along the way? A little planning ahead, especially in the early days, can go a long way in keeping you on track.
5. Don’t let yourself get too hungry
If you’re like me, when you don’t plan out what you’re going to eat for the day ahead of time, you’ll invariably end up hungry. And that’s the worst time to start thinking about food. When you’re hungry, your brain and body will naturally start craving fattier, higher-calorie foods. Keeping a conveyor belt of healthy fruit and high-protein snacks during those long stretches between meals (like when you’re on the golf course) will stop your cravings from leading you into making bad decisions. Simply put, it’s really hard to build healthy habits on an empty stomach.
6. Weigh out your food
It may sound excessive, but this truly was a game changer for me. If you’re gaining weight and not sure why — or rather, you’ve made some dietary changes and still aren’t seeing the pounds come off — you may simply be eating way more than you think. Weighing out carbs like pasta, and seeing how they compare to the serving size, was an eye-opening experience.
7. Look for easy upgrades
Not every change you make to get healthier has to be a big one. Sometimes, it’s the smaller ones that can work the hardest for you. So look for those easy upgrades: Rather than reaching for a sugary sports drink on the course, try a water instead. If you usually take a cart, try working in a round with a push cart every now and again.
8. One bad hole doesn’t make a bad round
When you’re trying to change your eating habits, you won’t always succeed. You’ll get hungry and cave. You’ll be in a social setting with friends and decide to order dessert, or keep reaching for that delicious appetiser somebody brought to the party. Not if but when this happens, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember not to lose sight of the goal and don’t let one bad day destroy all your hard work. It’s not about what happened, it’s about what happens next.
9. Keep score
There are definitely real and serious drawbacks to being too laser-focused on the number the scale says, but if you’re serious about getting healthier and losing weight, you need to be honest about where you are. Weigh yourself on a regular schedule: Whether it be daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, make your weigh-ins routine and mandatory. Just as tracking your golf stats can highlight the areas of your game where you most need to improve, tracking your weight will do the same with your body.
10. Focus on the process, not the immediate results
If your goal is losing weight, some days will feel easier than others. You may not see immediate results either, or even if you are proud of shedding a few pounds, those around you may not give you the kind of positive feedback you may be craving. It’s important to remember during these times that getting healthy and losing weight really is about playing the long game.