I remember a diet my roommates and I did that involved dry tuna, beets, plain toast and a cup of vanilla ice cream. You have never seen a measuring cup so tightly packed with ice cream. It lasted for 2 days. I googled it when writing this and was promised “lose 10 pounds in 3 days.” There was another where I bought packets of dehydrated food that I would add to boiling water and eat. I mean Cabbage soup, South Beach, Atkins, shakes, I bought into anything that promised quick results.
I was the person the diet industry targeted. The lure of a quick fix was so enticing because it was a making a promise. A promise that if I endured the agony of restriction and elimination, I would not have to change my behavior forever. With every before and after photo, they had me hook, line and sinker.
Sometimes I lost some weight, sometimes I didn’t. But every single time, I gained weight when I abandoned each plan. The roller coaster of unsustainable habits solidified my inability to make lasting change. When my focus finally shifted from the result to making behavior changes, I was able to start making progress. Over the years the inclination toward a quick fix has been replaced by focusing on the following:
I had to find the right balance of foods that worked for me. I consulted so many professionals that told me eat more vegetables, reduce dairy, add protein, blah blah…. It wasn’t until I started experimenting with different foods and paying attention to how they made me feel that I began to understand what I needed to eat to feel the best. I learned that added sugar in the morning would make me irritable. I learned that starchy carbs at lunch will lead to mid afternoon crash. I learned that if I eat 5 equal meals a day my energy stays constant. I learned that no food groups were off limits but the balance of what I ate and when had to be a priority.
Slow down to speed up
If weight loss is your goal, maintenance has to be just as important as the loss. In fact, I found it harder to maintain than lose. For a yo-yo dieter, learning how to eat more without eating too much proved difficult. After losing about 10 pounds a few years ago, I made a conscious decision to stop losing and work on just maintaining that loss. Again, I was focusing on the actions not the result. I was able to maintain +/- a few pounds for about a year before I decided to lose a little more. It took a long time before I felt like I was at a healthy weight. I had to work hard not to compare myself to others that dropped the same weight in 6 months when it took me 3 years. But I had figured out what worked for me. Following the pattern of putting just as much intention and effort into leaning how to maintain my current weight has helped me create lasting change.
Eat the ice cream. Eat the birthday cake. Telling myself I couldn’t have something only made me want it more. Learning moderation will prove much more valuable to you than depriving yourself while you stand around watching your family enjoy ice cream cones on a summer evening. Every so often I will focus on reducing certain foods as a kind of reset, knowing that it is a short term and a method that is effective in helping me eliminate cravings. Being intentional in planning for ‘treats’ goes back to creating that balance in your eating habits. Avoiding elimination and deprivation will foster a much healthier relationship with food, which in turn will promote long term success.
Make a Commitment
When you invest time and money in something you are more likely to be successful. You bring you're A game. You spent money so hey, you better show up with your best effort. Find a support system, a coach, a group, something where you are part of community with similar goals. Make a commitment for a minimum of 6 weeks and focus on habit development. Track your progress and your success will be the motivation you need to keep going.
Am I still tempted by the quick fix? Absolutely. But really will I be happier if I have visible abs and thighs that don’t touch? No, I will just look that way on social media. Will I be happier knowing that I have developed habits that facilitate balance and health? Absolutely.