The reality is that overall, diets don't work. Yes, with most diets you will lose weight initially but there are some things at play undermining your long term success that might be worth knowing.
Firstly, just the word, "dieting" can conjure up feelings of deprivation, giving up what we love and doing it tough! Secondly, it implies something that is finite, you will diet to lose weight and then it's over. Both of these thoughts and feelings might not be on the surface but the word 'dieting' might trigger some unconscious sabotaging by you because of this.
Where does this leave you? There is another way, it will take patience but it comes with wonderful, lifelong rewards. The approach to losing weight should be the same as we approach changing any old habit, take it slowly and be on alert for our self-talk. Here's 8 steps how:
1. First and foremost, don't consider it a diet (it's not temporary, nor terrible), start thinking of it as a lifestyle change. Think of it as, "This is simply how I eat now. I nurture my body with healthy foods and I exercise to be healthy and burn extra energy".
2. Start small! You could begin by reducing your meal sizes and taking a 10 minute walk three times a week. That might mean simply going from an upsized takeaway meal, to making it a regular one to begin with. Also each week consider one thing that you might swap for something more healthy. You might change a packet of chips for an apple, and that's all that you change in that week. Next week, you keep your apple and you change up one more fatty food for a healthier option. Also, after one week of walking 10 minutes, you might simply add two minutes more, to be walking 12 minutes. Allow your body and mind time to adjust to the new routine.
3. Notice the negative voice inside your head. Are you thinking about what you're missing out on, how much you just want that chocolate? Are you justifying why this isn't fair, or why you could always start it next week when you don't have so many social engagements? Be alert for your self-talk and gently reframe that thinking into something positive. Shift your thoughts to why you are wanting to be more healthy and how good it will feel. Then some action must follow to take you away from the temptation and thought, such as, going for a walk instead or reading a book, planning your next holiday, chatting with a friend or loved one. Just do something positive for yourself, other than eating the chocolate.
4. Understand that it generally takes around 21 days to change a habit. So those first few weeks are likely to be the toughest. Each time that don't give in, you get stronger. Your will-power is like muscle, the more that you use it, the stronger it gets. Be on alert for your negative voice and be ready to reframe it and then do something positive for yourself.
5. Don't do it alone. Engage a friend or partner to be your moral support. When you feel low, weak or have just given in and eaten something you weren't intending to, then chat about how you feel, what lead you to that point and what you've learnt from it for next time. Then simply get back on with it, forgive yourself and recommence your healthy new lifestyle again.
6. Don't weigh yourself every day. Only allow yourself to get on the scales once a week. It's important not to be a slave to your scales or to base your self-worth on what they tell you.
7. If you are suffering from low self-esteem, which might contribute to carrying the extra weight, then look into doing some daily affirmations and visualisations to build your fragile inner-self up into something more realistic and strong.
8. Celebrate! Every single time you use your willpower effectively, celebrate that. Acknowledge that you just owned your self-control and pat yourself on the back. Say to yourself out loud, "well done, I didn't give in and because of that I'm stronger and I'm closer to reaching my ambition of [what it is that you are looking forward to, such as running around with my children]!". Treat yourself to a warm soaking bath or a movie as our reward.
Will this make it all easy? No, it will not. What it will do is make it more realistic to achieve a new way of living and eating, to take you off that dieting rollercoaster. This isn't about dieting, it's about a new healthier way of living. This also isn't about not ever having the foods that we love. It's about having them in moderation.
Wishing you every success with your new lifestyle!