Most diets require you to overhaul your life overnight.
Anyone can make a massive change for a short period of time, but when your life changes (and it will at some point), or you have a disruption, you will revert back to your old habits.
The behaviors you were doing for the past 10, 20, or 30 years will start to come back. The abrupt artificial changes you made so you could follow a diet will fall by the wayside. As you revert back to your old habits, the weight you lost will return. This happens because the life, and habits, you lived before starting the diet supported the weight you were.
Weight loss is a process of moving you from where you are now with your habits to where you want to be in the long-term.
Think of it like a road map: if you are traveling to Florida from New Jersey, you can get accurate and clear directions that are specific to your current location and desired destination. However, if you just want directions to Florida and you ask someone for help without telling them where you are starting from, then they can’t tell you the best route to reach where you want to go.
Most diet programs and books have no idea of your starting point.
They have designed their program for a generic person. Someone who fits a certain “type,” but one who doesn’t necessarily have the same background or needs as you do.
There’s so much the diet books and programs don’t know about you, including:
- your lifestyle
- your food preferences
- your cooking ability
- your economic situation
- your pre-existing knowledge
- your family or work obligations
So how can two people with completely different home lives, education, and skill sets both expect to succeed following a one-size-fits-all diet?
Answer: They can’t.
I had a breakthrough moment when I realized not one diet book I’d ever read told me what to do when I binged. Sure, I could white-knuckle my way through adhering to a plan for a few weeks, or even a few months, but I always ended up bingeing. I felt so alone because the diet books never talked about binge eating.
They never suggested binge eating was a potential problem, nor did they offer ways to deal with it. Instead, they assumed the reader did not struggle with binge eating. (Interestingly, I’ve met more people who’ve struggled with binge eating throughout the weight loss process than have not.)
Now, I understand that those books and programs were not made to help us for the long-term.
Anybody can adhere to a diet and make behavior changes for the short-term. But then, inevitably, they will rebel.
And what happens when something unexpected occurs? All those changes you forced into your life start feeling artificial and forced, so you quickly abandon them to go back to what you’ve always done.
If you’d like to hear more about how to implement permanent habit changes into your life instead of “one-size-fits-all” quick fixes, then please listen to Half Size Me episode 376.
How to be successful in the long-term: slow behavior and habit change over time
Just going on a diet and suddenly changing all of the things you’re doing is a recipe for disaster.
You need to strategically build in small changes to your life. These changes will allow you to lose weight, and will also help you keep it off in the long-term.
Most of us could lose 20, 30, or even 50 pounds quickly by following any diet. However, for many, the weight loss never sticks. You don’t want quick weight loss; you want permanent weight loss.
Losing 20 pounds in 30 days may sound great, but when you gain it back, those 30 days are really just lost. But if you lose 20 pounds over six months and keep it off for the rest of your life, those 6 months are an investment. If you are counting down the seconds until the diet ends, it’s probably not maintainable. What you do to lose the weight should feel livable, and you should be able to see yourself doing it for a long, long time.
What are habits and how can you implement them?
Habits are everything you do from the time you get up until the time you go to bed.
Each day of your life is really just a string of habits, one playing off another. You know there are many good habits that can help you on your weight loss journey, such as eating more vegetables, eating on smaller plates, weighing your food, tracking your food, and getting in movement.
There are lots of other habits that can be positive. But some are neutral or negative, depending on how you approach them.
- when you get up
- when and how you get ready for your day
- what you eat for your meals and snacks
- how you prioritize your time for work, yourself, and others
- what physical activities you do (or don’t do)
- how you commute to and from work and what you do during that commute time
- how you deal with stress
- how you plan, prepare, and eat your food each day
- how you give your time away to others and not yourself
- how you talk to yourself
- how you handle “fun food” or “treats”
This list can go on and on, but I think you get the general idea. Changing these habits to positively affect your life will help you lose weight. But it needs to be done slowly and precisely if you’re doing it for the long haul.
That’s why I created the Stop Dieting Start Losing coaching cast. It will help walk you through this process.
Most people understand the ideas and concepts, but many struggle with the process and being honest about how much change they can do at once.
This is why I’ve created my Stop Dieting and Start Losing coach cast. In this coaching cast, I share with you how to start building in changes to your life systematically, and how to test those changes so you can be sure you’ll stick with them for the long-term.
In Stop Dieting and Start Losing, I also break down the problems with diets and how the diet industry has contributed to us feeling like we lack the self-efficacy and self-esteem to lose weight without a diet.
Know this: You are capable and you are strong. You can lose this weight and keep it off.
Instead of continuously getting stuck in the cycle of losing and regaining, let’s stop dieting and start losing together.