I consider the word “diet” to be a four letter word – one of those bad words that people get uncomfortable when they hear it.
Nobody likes going on a diet. I mean honestly, when your doctor tells you that you’re overweight and need to shed some pounds, odds are you don’t run gleefully out of his or her office yelling, “Woo Hoo”! – I get to eat more kale!” Right?
Instead, the images that come to mind when someone tells me they are going to start such-and-such a diet this week are usually people who are depressed, stressed, angry, or sad, with a little trepidation about just how long they think they’re going to last, leaving their favorite foods behind.
Why do people generally fail at dieting? Because most people can’t stick to a diet for long. Most diets have some sort of restriction, or they wouldn’t be called a diet to begin with. No sweets. No Chips. No ice cream. No pasta. No breads. Name your favorite foods and they are likely on the forbidden food lists.
So in order to try convincing yourself that it won’t be “that bad,” your mind already starts thinking in terms of your upcoming diet as something that has a beginning and an end. Surely in a few months you’ll have dropped the weight and will be at a good place where you can stop dieting and return to your earlier eating habits.
And that’s why diet’s don’t work! You mistakenly thought that dieting has a beginning and an end. You did great and lost 35 pounds and feel wonderful in doing so, while denying yourself your favorite yummies for so long. Now you’re “off” the diet and guess what. If you’re like most people… odds are you go right back to eating like you used to – before the diet. And before you know it, those 35 pounds you lost have snuck back in and brought their friends to boot and suddenly you have 40 extra pounds! At which time many folks end up blaming the diet, or believing that diets don’t work! When in fact, it is a set-up to fail to begin with.
I was watching the Today show the other day when Megyn Kelly was putting a variety of diets under the gun, as to their effectiveness as well as longevity. Weight Watchers was getting many accolades but, Megan said, “But you can’t stay on Weight Watchers forever.”
And therein lies the problem … the great myth that takes me back to the word diet. In fact, if you want to shed those pounds and keep them off you need to make your food choices a “lifestyle”, as opposed to a diet. Meaning, even if you reach your goal weight, you’re aware every single day, of just how much food you put in your mouth and your body to keep the weight from coming back.
Yep. Every day.
Now that’s not as bad as it sounds. For example, for me to keep my weight at 142 pounds (I’m 5’7”), I allow myself about 1,600 – 1,800 calories per day. Might sound restrictive to you but what I didn’t tell you is that I don’t begrudge myself partaking in anything I want – whether it be a birthday cake, Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, or the barbecue chicken at the office party picnic. I’ve been known to eat an entire box of Girl Scout thin mints in an evening (I don’t advise it!) and still hold my weight.
How, you ask? For two reasons … First, I stay fully aware of how many calories are in the items I’m gulping down. Yep, those thin mints might only be 160 calories per serving (4 cookies – not an entire box!) But the whole container was 1,280! That only left me 520 calories for the rest of the day. And if I’d already eaten half a day’s calories before I even hit the cookies, odds are I’m way already over my limit to begin with.
OK, NO GUILT. NO SHAME! That’s what I mean when I say “No Cheatin’, Just Eatin’.” It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle. I wasn’t cheating when I ate the box of cookies. I just chose to eat more of it than I needed. Which will definitely slow my weight loss plans, for sure. No reason to throw in the towel. No reason to blame the diet. You just pick yourself and start again tomorrow. So this is where the second part of my plan … the next couple of days I cut way back on everything. Tighten my calories back to 1,200 – 1,400. Make sure I get some exercise in and probably eat more salad, lean meat, and fruit than usual. And I eat that way until the number on the scale is more acceptable to me. Usually a day or two is all it takes.
I can handle giving up my junk food every now and then, knowing I can have it back in just a couple of days. After your first week or so of counting calories you’ll know in your head what the calorie counts are for your favorite foods and can likely calculate your intake each day simply and easily.
And with all the apps and Fit Bits out there these days, keeping track couldn’t be easier!
So don’t diet to lose weight. Make your weight loss plan a lifestyle of something you can live with each and every day.
My mantra: I can eat ANYTHING, just not EVERYTHING!
That’s my lifestyle and it helped me lose 50 pounds for good!