Once I stopped saying the word “diet,” I lost weight. I don’t use the term diet, I don’t diet in general — and my life is wonderful. Believe it or not, I have also managed to maintain my weight loss for over a decade.
Diets do not work, because they set us up for failure. The weight-loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that feeds off of people like me, who are constantly trying to lose weight, maintain weight, stay fit and find a better, easier way.
And we all buy into it — purchasing their programs, products, fads, gimmicks and promises over and over again. These products and concepts are not sincerely intended for us to succeed. If we all experienced lasting weight loss, there would be no one left to sell to. It is a never-ending merry-go-round with no exit, until we are willing to completely re-haul our old ways of thinking and get off the ride. Here is how to turn the tables on the traditional diet industry, re-define your long-held views of losing weight and finally achieve lasting success:
1. Stop using the d-word.
Instead, view the way you eat as an ongoing effort to improve your habits, reach your fitness goals and be a happier and healthier person.
Set clear and realistic weight-loss goals. Let’s face it, you’re not going to lose 10 pounds in two weeks. Instead, aim for one or two pounds a week. Only weigh yourself once a week, at the same time and on the same scale, so you have an accurate comparison. Weighing yourself every single day can turn into an obsession — and your weight fluctuates based on so many factors.
2. Find a meal plan that is right for you.
Commit to a food plan that is sustainable, based on who you are and the way you live, so it will be manageable and even enjoyable. Avoid programs that do not meet your unique needs, lifestyle or preferences. Sure, you maybe be able to stick with it for a few months, but once the program is over you will likely return to your old ways. Find a plan that will assure lasting maintenance.
Don’t fill your kitchen with tasteless, boring or cardboard-like food. You will just set yourself up for failure. Surround yourself with healthy veggies and lean proteins that you actually like eating. Otherwise resentment, boredom or simple hunger will encourage setbacks.
When I decided to stop dieting, I based my eating patterns around three meals and three snacks every day. I tried to not go longer than three hours without eating. My diet consists of lean protein, veggies, fruit and limited fats and carbohydrates. I also allott 150 calories a day for whatever I want.
3. Be kind to yourself.
You will have days that are harder than others. Beating yourself up is useless and unproductive. Instead, look at those days as learning experiences. If you couldn’t wake up for your morning workout, go to bed earlier that night so you’ll make it happen the next day. If you abandoned your healthy-eating principles and splurged on a cheat meal, vow to make your next meal a more nutrient-dense one.
Do not try to starve yourself the day following a cheat day or meal. That will just lead to hunger and resentment — eat as you would on any normal day and do not cut calories. Each day is a new opportunity to do it better.
4. Do not avoid temptation — walk through it.
If chocolate is your weakness, find a way to work it into your daily or weekly plan. Look forward to it. Completely avoiding your favorite foods teaches you nothing. Losing or maintaining weight is hard, it is ok to indulge in your favorite foods in a balanced way.
5. Find a healthy balance that works for you.
My life would be pretty sad if I could not spend time exploring new restaurants, cooking up great meals, eating my favorite comfort foods or breaking bread with my favorite people. As I previously mentioned, I allow myself an optional 150 calories of whatever I want every day. Some days it's a glass of wine. On other days it's seven Hershey's Kisses or I wind up not using my "credit" at all. Just knowing that if I wanted, I could have a treat, allows me to use these calories wisely.
Know you CAN have it all, just in reasonable quantities with some pre-planning. If you go a bit overboard, tomorrow is a new day and with that, a new opportunity to do it again, and maybe even better.