Confession time: I used to be a serial dieter. From the ages of 16 to 27, I went on at least 10 diets every year. That’s more than 116 diets (and a third of my life spent attempting to stay on some sort of food plan).
Although I never had long-term success with any of the diets, I fell prey to the promise of weight-loss success. Each new diet had the potential to solve all my problems: lose weight, wear a smaller size, and love my body forever.
Except it never seemed to pan out like that. I’d inevitably fall off the wagon and then desperately try to get back on the next day, week, or month. I didn’t seem to learn my lesson until the very end of my dieting days. My final diet lasted all of two days. And that’s when I knew I was done for good.
So, with 116 diets under my belt, here’s what doesn’t work:
1. Telling yourself you’ll start over on Monday
This is very tempting, especially after you’ve had a crazy weekend of social events, happy hours, appetizers, and wine. It also creates a very destructive cycle that can end up in a binge.
If you start over, that means you have to “go on” something. Whether it’s a diet, a food plan, or a strict-eating regime, you begin something. And when you “go on” something, you have to “go off” of it eventually. When you begin something, you have to end it. Dieting in this way takes you completely out of developing a normal, healthy, intuitive relationship with food and puts you in a mindset that sets you up for an unhealthy outcome.
2. Saving up your calories for an event or party
When you restrict yourself all day and save up for something like a wedding, happy hour, dinner with friends, or a family reunion, you end up setting yourself up for failure. This way of thinking is an illusion. We think we’ll eat fewer calories if we don’t eat all day and then have the majority of our day’s fuel at the event.
In reality, once you get to the event, you arrive famished and want to eat everything in sight. Your blood sugar is low, your body is craving an instant hit of energy, and you immediately want to devour anything you can get your hands on.
3. Having cheat days
Certain diets use this as one of their perks. If you eat “perfectly” all week, then your reward is a cheat day on the weekend. In theory, it sounds reasonable. In reality, it always ends up being a disaster.
Cheat days never work out the way you think they will. It can also send you down a very destructive path. Not only does it set you up for a very unhealthy relationship with food, but it perpetuates the myth that there are “good” and “bad” foods. You begin to become consumed with eating perfectly, never straying from your plan, so that one day a week you can overindulge to your heart’s desire.
Once you overindulge, it’s even harder to get back “on track” and stick to the perfect food plan that you’re supposed to be following.
The next time you’re tempted to diet, remember these three things that end up inevitably backfiring and hindering your progress! Instead, aim to eat as healthy as possible at every meal, and when you get off track, just start over at the next meal.
- How I Finally Lost 60 Pounds Without Trying
- 6 Rules I Followed To Lose 145 Pounds
- 11 Weight-Loss Tips From Contributors Who Have Lost 1,172 Pounds
Photo courtesy of the author