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How to stick to a diet in three steps

The holidays are right around the corner! If you’re anything like I used to be, you’re kind of dreading them because you know how many delicious temptations there are and you don’t want to gain weight. But before you start a diet for your new year’s resolution, read the following three steps.

Step 1: Don’t start a diet in the first place

Repeat after me: Diets do not work! When I say “diet,” I mean the traditional kind where you are depriving yourself of a food group, a macronutrient, “bad” foods, etc. These are strategies that may work for fat loss if you are in a calorie deficit (i.e. consuming fewer calories than your body burns throughout the day). But they will not work long term. So yeah, you may lose 5-10 pounds quickly. But then gain it right back, plus a few more pounds when you realize how much it sucks to give up all your favorite foods. This, my friends, is why diets don’t work and you shouldn’t start one in the first place.

Step 2: Be flexible and have fun

It is possible to enjoy your favorite foods and lose weight — I wrote a whole blog post about this. This doesn’t mean you have to completely overhaul your eating patterns. You can make some small changes such as increasing your protein to .7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight. Or you can make sure to eat 25-30 grams of fiber per day. But you also need to create a nutritional plan that fits your lifestyle and allows for flexibility and fun. This is what’s going to keep you going long term. As soon as we deprive ourselves of the things we love or make ourselves eat things we don’t enjoy day in and day out, we start to have cravings. I used to start diets that were so strict that as soon as I allowed myself a slice of pizza, for instance, I felt like a complete failure and totally fell off the wagon. The “all or nothing” approach is realistic for long-term success, people!

Step 3: Be patient

We see so many quick fixes, fad diets and other weight loss nonsense promoted nowadays that it may seem that weight loss can easily happen overnight. This is not reality. Healthy, sustainable weight loss happens slowly. If you are consistently eating about 500 fewer calories per day than your body needs to maintain weight, then it is healthy for most people to lose about .5 to 1.5 pounds per week. Some weeks, you may see a downward trend, other weeks your weight may stay stable. But weight loss takes time, consistency and patience. It’s easy to give up after a couple weeks when you don’t see a change on the scale, but for you to lose weight and keep it off, you will need to keep at it for several months.

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