All too often I talk to women who have had some success with diets, cleanses and detoxes. Yet inevitably, they all fell off the wagon at some point. Why?
Is it the dieter's fault? Or is it that the diet itself that failed?
I think it's the latter.
When I was trying to lose weight years ago, I did silly things, like skipping meals, extreme cardio, along with depriving myself of the foods I really wanted to eat, like chocolate, and carbs.
The net result: hunger, anger, resentment, and no weight loss. I kept focusing on lack and deprivation, so that's what I got in return.
Then I decided to give myself permission to eat. I focused on eating whole foods that gave me vitality and energy. I started tuning into my body and better-managing my stress.
The net result: I lost 60 pounds and kept it off.
The difference here is following a short-term diet mentality versus a long-term lifestyle shift.
Diets focus on temporary fixes. And once the weight-loss goal is reached, many people end up over-indulging after the fact because they've deprived themselves for so long. The end result is gaining all of that weight right back.
For example, let's say you want to lose 10 pounds for an upcoming vacation. So you deprive yourself for weeks leading up to it and manage to lose the weight. Yay! You did it! But then you somehow end up eating the entire buffet table at the hotel.
Bam--weight is back on and then some. Enter increased guilt, shame and negative self image.
Desired results? I don't think so.
If you're ready to get off the diet wagon and lose weight, without having to make as much of an effort or deprive yourself here are my top five tips:
1. Make Small Changes Over Time
Long lasting success comes from smaller changes being incorporated over time. Some of these small changes are actually quite big and impactful, especially if you haven't tried them before.
For example, I've had clients tell me that drinking lemon water first thing in the morning caused them to no longer crave junk food. It can sometimes be that simple.
2. Be Mindful of How You Treat Yourself
There is a huge mindful component to weight loss and body image. In fact, I would say it's sometimes bigger than the food portion.
Putting yourself in a space where you are consistently depriving yourself over and over again continues to feed that inner beast. Your inner cravings will turn into a raging monster that is harder and harder to ignore. Why give more fuel to the fire of negativity?
Be gentle on yourself -- judging yourself or making yourself guilty over what you eat or don't eat, leads to unhealthy eating patterns. Enjoy the food you eat, and practice mindfulness while you're eating it. This can be as simple as saying a little gratitude either out loud or in your head before you start to eat.
Being aware of your thoughts, feelings and words will make a much bigger difference in your weight loss journey than cutting out certain foods ever could.
3. Stop Counting and Avoiding
Calorie counting, avoiding good fat, avoiding good carbs, not eating good chocolate, this all just equals a recipe for disaster for your hormones and blood sugar.
Instead, choose to eat foods that fall closer to whole foods on the spectrum. For example: Processed apple juice? Not a whole food. Apple picked fresh from a tree? As close to whole as you can get it. Fall somewhere in between those two extremes and you're golden. And limit packaged foods and fast food. The more you eat at home and make things from scratch, the less you need to worry about measuring, counting or avoiding.
4. Listen to Your Body
Start listening to your body. What is it telling you?
For example, do you have loads of food intolerances? This usually means you have a digestion issue that needs to be addressed.
Look to the root cause -- why are you reacting to these foods? It's often not the food itself but your ability to digest it. This is where working with a nutritionist can come in handy, as they can help dig into your symptoms and food irritations.
Once you know what the root cause is, then you can fix it -- and a pleasant side-effect is that once your body is no longer inflamed it can let go of any weight it's holding onto.
5. Commit Yourself to Being Healthy
Being healthy is a journey that takes commitment and work. If you don't want to put work in, you won't get anything out of it.
Quick fixes don't work. End of story.
In the same way you can't get rich quick, there is no get healthy quick scheme. So resist the urge to try and rush through it. Enjoy the journey. Celebrate each pound melting off, and each symptom going away. Rushing through your weight loss journey will only put you back on the diet wagon, and that's not a happy long-term strategy.
Tough love. It took time to gain the weight, it will take time to lose it.
Enough of the guilt and yo-yo dieting. It's time for you to love yourself, and cut yourself a little slack. It's time for you to slow down and start enjoying food again.
What is the one thing you're going to do right now to start treating your body better?