Basically, you have better odds of recovering from heroin addiction that you do of losing weight permanently via dieting.
Why is this? Is it human nature? Are we just destined to be stuck in our ingrained patterns and habits, unable to change?
Well, I wouldn’t be worth much as a weight loss coach if I didn’t study this question in depth. I pour over research looking for the elusive success stories and then I study what they did and do in order to achieve AND maintain their success.
And I’m not talking about what the success stories ate, or didn’t eat!! I’m talking about their behaviors and mindset! More on that in a sec…
It also doesn’t hurt that I am living my own 3% success story. I know what I have had to do to maintain my weight loss for these past 10 years. And again, it has nothing to do with veganism, I was an obese vegetarian. It all has to do with behaviors and mindset.
So, diets. What’s the deal? Well, as I already mentioned, it’s not really about the food, it’s about behavior and mindset. As long as you’re in a calorie deficit you’ll lose weight no matter what diet you follow. Or, gasp, don’t follow! Yes, you can actually modify your own current diet and learn to just eat less of it! Some people like a higher carb diet, some like a higher protein diet, some like vegetarian/vegan, some like low fat, or high fat or whatever. You get to design your OWN diet that suits you, not anyone else. When you do that, wow, it gets a lot easier to comply doesn’t it?
The next problem with diets is that they are temporary in nature. You want to know what the death kiss is for most of my clients? ”I’m losing weight for a wedding/bar mitzvah/family reunion/trip” Guess what happens when that event is over? Yup, regaining it all back. Yuck.
So we’ve all heard that it needs to be a Lifestyle, not a diet, right? But what does that mean? I personally think a Lifestyle is just a Diet you can maintain for the rest of your life! Really get comfortable with that idea folks, because you are NEVER going to be able to go back to eating/living the way you are now! You’ve done that and you see the results.
Which brings us to the 3rd, and I think MAIN reason diets don’t work: They are unsustainable. ”I will never eat carbs again for the rest of my life, not even tomatoes or fruit or carrots….” said by the carb lover. Or “I am hereto-forth a 100% Raw Vegan. Cooked food will never cross my lips ever again.” said by the Junk food & meat lover. Extreme examples, but I hear them uttered in all seriousness by people EVERY DAY.
Within a month, that diet has been discarded and forgotten.
Did I mention that I used to do and say these very same things? It got to where I had to wake up and remind myself what diet I was on and what was permitted and forbidden! I used to start a new plan and totally clean out my cupboards and embrace all the allowed foods and recipes and then when the diet honeymoon wore off, and I moved on to something new, you know “This is going to be IT this time!” and I changed over my cupboards yet again.
And that goes for extreme calorie depletion also. You can’t go from eating 2000 calories a day to 1000 and expect to stay with it long. You are going to rebel and rebel BIG TIME, all the way to the ice cream store! Eating Disorders specialist Geneen Roth says
The fourth law of the universe is that for every diet, there is an equal and opposite binge. Diets aren’t free. You will rebel, and when you do, you will gain more weight than you lost. As fat as you feel now, you will feel–and be–fatter after the binge that follows the diet.
Not to mention the fact that if you lower your calories too far below your BMR, you will slow down your burn rate and be sitting on one of those super frustrating plateaus for so long that you’ll probably give up and go back to your old habits, concluding that diets don’t work.
Because they don’t.
But then time will pass and a friend will lose 25kgs for her daughter’s wedding by eating nothing but cabbage soup for 3 months and you’ll think “THAT’s it! This time is going to be IT!” and off you go throwing away everything in your kitchen that isn’t a cruciferous vegetable.
My darlings, you lose weight permanently by:
- Learning why you over eat in the first place and coming up with ways to not do it anymore
- A modest calorie reduction through eating less and/or exercising more. (This also depends on your current body weight. A 100kg person should not be on the same calorie level as a 80kg person!)
- Eat more vegetables. Agreed on by everyone. They fill you up, are low in calories and give you better health and energy. My only food “rule” that applies to everyone.
- Understanding how YOU want to be eating in an ideal world and working towards that in small, incremental, doable steps. DOABLE steps that you can sustain… say it with me… forever.
- Finding REAL LIFE solutions for how to live a different, yes, Lifestyle. You still need to cook for your family. You’ll still be invited to other people’s house. You will still go on trips and get sick and have stress and you need to have a doable plan for each one of those.
- Not trying to do it alone. Get help and support. It makes a world of difference. (And NOT the kind of “support” that enables your continued undesired behaviors!)
- Being in it forever. There is no finish line. You have to make permanent changes even after you lose your weight. (You actually have to eat LESS in maintenance to tell you the truth, not more!)