Why does weight loss feel so difficult? Most people would say it's because they feel like they have to deprive themselves.

It's painful to:

  • Stop eating foods you love.
  • Eat foods you don't particularly like.
  • Miss out on social activities or cut back on them for fear that they'll derail your weight loss goals.

It's no surprise then that most people find losing weight difficult. Who would ever choose to feel deprived or unsatisfied?

But what if our thinking about how to lose weight was all wrong? What if the best way to lose weight was actually to NOT feel deprived at all?

So many people believe the "no pain, no gain" approach to weight loss is the most effective. But let me put it this way: If achieving a goal — weight loss or any other — requires being miserable, how motivated would you be to really stick to it? You wouldn't!

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For weight loss to be long-term it has to be pleasant. Otherwise you will always be struggling to stick to it. (And the sad thing is often when you struggle to stick to an unpleasant diet, you blame yourself. But it's not your fault. It's the diet that was unsustainable.)

So how do you ensure that weight loss is pleasant AND sustainable? Here are 5 ways:

1. Make tiny changes.

A lot of weight loss advice comes from the "shock and awe" school of thought. You throw out everything in your fridge and completely replace your existing diet with something radically different.

But the more drastic and different your new eating plan, the less likely you are to stick with it, especially when life gets busy. It's much easier to keep your eating plan relatively the same and then make small changes in the right direction.

he best place to start is food portions. I tell my clients that even reducing portions by as little as 5% is a great start — something anyone can do.

Once you've cut back by 5% see how you feel. If you don't notice that you're eating less, brilliant! Now cut back 5% more.

n other words, make changes slowly so that you don't notice them. Over time, lots of tiny changes add up to one big result.

2. Don't stop doing what you enjoy.

Another popular diet strategy is to stop eating all the foods you love. But is that really sustainable? Of course not.

Instead, prioritize. Instead of eating both a cookie and a chocolate bar, decide which on your like more. Stick with that one, and stop eating the other.

3. Remove temptation.

I know lots of people who keep food on their desk at work. This is often food they really love but also can't resist.

If you keep candy on your desk, every time you see it you think "Should I have it?" Even if you only give in once in a while, it still means calories are being consumed that you may not even have wanted and wouldn't have missed if the temptation wasn't there.

By all means eat candy, but make it a deliberate decision.

4. Watch for the last third.

How many times you have been eating, got two-thirds of the way through the meal and felt full. Did you stop eating? No, you probably kept going, partly because our moms told us to finish everything on your plate.

If you can train yourself to stop eating when you're full (or better yet, serve yourself less), you'll save yourself a lot of calories without feeling deprived.

5. Stop obligation eating.

This one might not apply to everyone but I know a lot of my clients find themselves pressured into eating out of a feeling of obligation.

Whether it's a pushy friend insisting you have another glass of wine or a work colleague making you eat another slice of the cake they baked, you need to get better at saying "no." Realize that each extra calorie you waste on unwanted eating is another calorie you can't have for something you actually want.

Most importantly, remember that you don't need to suffer to lose weight. There are hundreds of ways you can cut back your calories without sacrificing enjoyment and quality of life. Always be thinking "How can I eat less without feeling deprived?" It will keep weight loss pleasant and ensure that you can stick with it for the long-term.


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