Weight loss is a daunting task for many people. We’re brainwashed into thinking we need to diet, restrict food intake, force ourselves to exercise, all while feeling deprived along the way. It's subtly suggested you just need to suffer for a while until you achieve your ideal weight. Once you’ve achieved it, life will be perfect, all your problems will disappear and you’ll live happily ever after.
Anyone who’s ever tried losing weight through dieting and restriction knows this is most definitely not the case. Even if you’re able to stay self-disciplined, maintain your restrictive diet and lose weight, the moment you go back to your old habits, all that weight you struggled to lose comes back.
As a “professional ex-dieter,” I can affirm that diets didn't work for me. But there’s a funny thing about dieting: we often hear that diets don’t work and aren't sustainable, yet we still secretly believe “this time is going to be different,” that this time you’ll be able to persevere and somehow magically maintain a restrictive diet for the rest of your life. And that this time you’re so determined you'll succeed.
A reality check, my friend. Do you know the definition of insanity? It’s doing the same things over and over again, and expecting different results. If dieting hasn’t worked for you until now, then it'll probably never bring you the results you’re after.
I’d been struggling with my weight for almost a decade, having tried almost every diet under the sun. While they worked in the short term, the changes never lasted. It was only when I changed my mindset about food, quit dieting and adopted a healthy lifestyle, that I was finally able to shed 40 pounds of excess fat.
So here’s exactly how I gradually changed my diet in order to succeed at losing — and maintaining — weight.
1. If you’re just starting, start small.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with following any diet down to a "T." Simply add more high-water-content raw food to your diet. The improved energy you feel will be a great motivation to take it to the next level.
2. Avoid an “all or nothing” approach.
Once you’ve added more healthy foods to your diet and started feeling better, you can eat healthily most of the time and let yourself indulge when it feels warranted. This might not work for everyone, but it worked for me at the beginning of my journey because knowing I had the ability to treat myself once in a while made it that much easier to stick with my healthy diet the majority of this. (Some people use the 80/20 rule and find that helpful.)
It's often a necessary first step to avoid resistance and make steady progress, especially if you’ve been trying an “all or nothing” approach and failing in the past.
3. Educate yourself.
Read about how certain foods affect your body. Instead of blindly following a diet, try to understand and work out for yourself how each food or lifestyle habit affects your health. The key is to figure out how to eat best for you.
4. Make it fun.
Don't overwhelm yourself. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves and it provokes resistance. Find a weight loss buddy and/or set yourself a fitness challenge that will motivate and make you feel enthusiastic about your goals.
5. Work on your mindset.
This is the only thing that will truly help you sustain a healthy diet. If you’re currently overweight, there’s most likely a deeper psychological reason why your body feels the need to hold on to excess fat. And unless you make that reason conscious and release it, your body and mind will do everything they can to sabotage your good efforts, making sure you remain heavy. Working on your mindset is crucial.
And most importantly, take this journey one day at a time. You didn’t gain weight overnight, so don’t expect to lose it overnight. Losing weight won't solve all your problems, but if excess fat is holding you back from being your true, authentic self, losing it might make the difference in how you feel about yourself and life.