There is a myth that diets don’t work. The truth is diets do work. But only while you’re on them. It’s what you do when you come off your diet that measures whether you will maintain your weight loss, or see that weight creep back up.
Most people go on a diet after looking in the mirror and seeing they have gained weight, or when their clothes become too tight. Then they decide to lose weight by going on a diet. Which is just another word for Denial. I can’t eat this, it has too much sugar. I can’t eat that because it has too many carbs. I can’t eat that because it has too much fat.
So you become more fixated on what you can’t eat. You eat like a rabbit for as long as you can stand or until you reach your goal. Then you come off your diet and go back to your old eating habits. Which…
…is why you gained weight in the first place. And what do you think is going to happen? This is the very essence of yo-yo dieting. It becomes a self perpetuating vicious circle until something changes.
The other problem with the standard method of dieting is when you focus on what you can’t eat, you set up cravings. Have you ever noticed how when you go on a diet most of the television commercials seem to focus on food? And usually high calorie foods. They’ve always been there but you didn’t notice because you’ve always been able to freely have them when you want. Then you go on a diet, or a Denial, and suddenly you notice these ads every time they’re shown. Because you are craving those foods and you’re telling yourself you can’t have them because…diet. The worst thing is once you come off your diet suddenly you can satisfy all those cravings so you’re most likely to eat these foods over the next week or two because you can. You could easily regain 5 or 10 pounds in the first week or two just satisfying all those cravings.
Giving up foods because they are high in sugar or carbs is not the ideal way to keep weight off. It does work, but it has to be sustainable long term. Portion control and tracking calories is the best and most effective way to not only lose weight, but keep it off. I’ve been with a calorie tracking app, MyFitnessPal, for three years now. I’ve successfully lost the weight I wanted to lose and I’m maintaining very well. Simply because I know how many calories I should be eating daily and how many calories I am eating daily. I haven’t had to give up a single food item I enjoy. I also exercise almost daily. I run, I walk, I work out at the gym. I’m 100% focused on keeping my healthy lifestyle. Because that’s the secret of maintaining weight loss. By making it a lifestyle. If I go over calorie once in a while it’s ok. I don’t panic. I am not going to derail all my efforts because I eat unhealthy once in a while. And we have to live. You have celebrations, parties, birthdays, the holiday season. You have to be able to enjoy life. And I do. I eat under calorie probably at least 80% of the time. And the funny thing is once you’ve been at this healthy lifestyle for a while your binging habits change. Overeating for me now looks very different to how I used to eat when I was being bad. You find you don’t want to eat crazy after a while. You don’t enjoy it and it’s not worth the uncomfortable bloated feeling you get the next day.
There will be people who will say there has to be more to losing weight than eating less and moving more. They are right, of course. It’s a psychological battle most of all. The most critical ingredient is a healthy mindset. It’s a process and you have to commit to it. Yes, you can have crazy days if you want, as long as the rest of the time you make a serious effort to stay under calorie. But you have to be determined and keep your eyes on the goal. There will be frustration. There will be times it doesn’t seem to be working. The scale doesn’t move. Or worse, the scale ticks up. That’s when you will be sorely tempted to just give up. That’s when you need to have other weapons in your fight to lose weight. Measure yourself once a month. Measure your waist, your hips. Compare the numbers each month. Take photos before you start your journey so you can make comparisons. Pay attention to how your clothes are fitting. Nothing boosts your confidence more than dropping a pant size. All these things will keep you motivated and show you the process is working even when the scale isn’t co-operating.
Be aware there will be temptations along the way. Someone brings donuts in to work almost daily, or a friend keeps inviting you out to eat at high calorie places all too regularly. You have to learn to pick your battles and know it’s okay to give in sometimes. It’s a lifestyle, after all, and you you have to be able to enjoy your life.