The general belief is that once a person goes on a diet, they will have amazing success and all their weight problems, and any problems associated with their weight will simply disappear.
Although it may happen for a very few, the reality for most people who diet is they turn into “dieters”. They start a diet, something throws them off, and then they feel compelled to diet again without knowing there are other options.
Although exact numbers in diet failure rates vary from study to study, some show failure as high as 70- 95%.
Per the Center of Disease Control, nearly 75% of Americans are overweight or obese. Considering how many diets there are out there, if they worked, we wouldn’t have this problem.
I’ve been talking to many people over the years about the importance of lifestyle changes for weight loss and I think because various dieting techniques are the societal norm, that it’s hard for many to understand what the differences are so, I’m hoping with this information today, to shift your perspective.
Diets are short term:
When most people are dieting, they are either “on” their diet or “off” it. If you’re an “all or nothing thinker”, this usually means you’re being very strict with the diet rules and when you fall off the wagon, it’s very far off the road. You probably say to yourself “I blew it anyway so, I may as well eat…” This can be difficult to come back from and the person typically ends up overeating until they can psych themselves up to hop on the diet wagon again.
Lifestyle is Long term:
Making healthy lifestyle changes is about deciding what changes will make the most difference towards your goals. Then, making small, consistent improvements in those areas while considering what you can live with as a long-term solution instead of “white knuckling it” for 8 weeks just to go back to the old ways that brought on the extra weight to begin with.
Diets say “I can’t”:
Diets are all about deprivation and not allowing ourselves to enjoy the foods we love and even removing entire food groups altogether. This is a recipe for failure because once we tell ourselves we can’t have something; the craving becomes even more intense and more difficult to fight. Even most adults will rebel against this mentality at some point and end up overeating exactly what they had tried to avoid.
Lifestyle Incorporates Moderation:
Lifestyle change incorporates all foods, without deprivation. Enjoying foods we love is a part of enjoying life. By having a plan in place in allowing foods you deem “worth it” in moderation is key to success. Yes – you can have small amounts of the so called bad foods and easily reach your goals, I’ve helped hundreds of my clients do that over the years and they never feel deprived again.
Diets Associate self-worth with numbers:
The scale, our waistline measurement, or our pant size doesn’t make us who we are and associating self-worth with these numbers is simply incorrect. This mentality can cause shame and guilt when we follow the diet rules and the numbers don’t change. These feelings of shame and disappointment can trigger overeating. You as a person, are so much more important than any number!
A Healthy Lifestyle is Rooted in Self-care:
A healthy life is one that is rooted in self-care and self-love. Making changes because you love yourself enough to do so, is much more effective than trying to force change from negative thoughts. Dieting typically comes from the perspective of “I’m not good enough” while a healthy lifestyle is about wanting to feel our best, look our best, and improve our overall wellness. When we make choices from a place of self-love instead of self judgement, it becomes easier and more natural to choose healthier options.
Diets are Stringent
Let’s face it, life is messy and things happen. Trying to follow a plan to the letter is very difficult for most people, especially if their current lifestyle is extremely different than the diet they are suddenly trying to implement. Most people do not stick to drastic changes and it’s best to implement changes that are not so drastic but are steady improvements on what you are currently doing. I also find it’s very important to help my clients implement various healthy options and work with life’s twists and turns than trying to have absolute, strict plan.
Lifestyle is Personal:
Everyone is different. Personality, gender, age, activity, goals, and current health conditions play a role in what will work best for each person. Trying to follow a cookie cutter program is typically not the answer. It’s important to take the time to find out what types of lifestyle changes would be best for you to reach your goals. I have my clients keep a simple food / mood journal so they can see first-hand how their bodies react to various foods so they can make better choices that are best for them. We then design a plan – not a stringent plan, but a plan that fits into their life instead of trying to fit their life into someone else’s plan.
Diet is Food:
Focusing on food can be an important piece of the puzzle, but it’s only part of the puzzle. There are so many reasons people turn to food that has nothing to do with the food itself. We turn to food to soothe, nurture, reward, comfort, give us something to do, and so much more. If we only focus on what to and what not to eat, we are missing most of the puzzle.
Lifestyle is Holistic:
Lifestyle is simply that – your life. Life is more than just food. Life is about enjoyment, fulfillment, movement, well-being, love, spirituality, and so much more! It’s my experience that if you’re not being fulfilled in your life, you may look for it in food. Having a healthy lifestyle is about incorporating things you enjoy in your life and yes, these other things help in reaching and maintaining your ideal weight.
I would love to hear from you! Have you had success with a lifestyle change that made all the difference in your weight or your health? Please, leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading!