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If you have ever been on a diet that didn’t end well, you are not alone. Millions of smart, kind, reasonable women like yourself go on diets every day and “fail”. In fact, the 95% of dieters who actually lose weight end up gaining it back. In no other industry do we reward lousy programming and yet, in the dieting world, we go back again and again.
Have you ever considered that maybe the problem with diets isn’t you?
Diets Don’t Work!!
Diets Are Not Sustainable
While sustainability has gained some glitz as of late with an environmental focus on farming practices, it’s probably not the word parked in the forefront of your mind when shopping for a “lose it quick” weight loss plan. Maybe this is because you know that restrictive diets are not a long term thing. And thank goodness! In reality, who really wants a life without birthday cakes and movie popcorn?
Diets fail us because most of them do not provide us with a plan that truly fits into our daily, monthly, and yearly lives. While I am grateful that our tastes change and our preferences flex with what they are exposed to, no food plan is going to beat the love of ice cream out of me.
We need to find habits that flex with our lives and add to our joy. All else is unsustainable.
Diets Don’t Change With Us
Take a moment to think about a skill that you have developed. I’m talking about something that, at one point in time, you were kinda terrible at doing. Then with practice and persistence, you honed your skills so that now you are pretty awesome.
I don’t need super powers to know that you worked hard to get to where you are today. At many points along your journey, especially at the beginning, it took a lot of resilience to keep practicing. I bet there were many times you wanted to give up. But… you didn’t. You allowed yourself to be a beginner, to make mistakes, and to grow in knowledge only as fast as you could.
That, my friend, is how we learn something new. We seek how to improve rather than questioning why we may not be a pro yet.
If you have not lived your life as a naturally thin person recently, or ever, there are several new habits that you need to acquire before you can find your “new normal”. Just like learning to play tennis or sew garments masterfully, there are mistakes to be made and lessons to be learned.
Diets. They are like sending your elementary school T-ball player to the World Series. Diets expect you to have all the skills you need to master healthy living, overnight. If you haven’t noticed yet, that’s not how you and I change.
Diets Don’t Get To Know You
Have you ever stayed with friends or family members and as you watched the way they lived life, you felt like you were on a strange planet? Each person, every family, each home has the way that they do life. It’s not that your way or their way is better or worse. It’s just different.
We all have different tastes, varying dietary needs, unique schedules, and our own personal values. You may thrive in the mornings while your best friend is a night owl. Perhaps you feel organic is essential while your neighbor opts to spend her funds on living an active lifestyle.
As different as we are, no one-size-fits-all plan can take into account our individuality. If the basis of your healthy eating and purposeful exercise is what you like and how you live, you have an exponentially higher chance of success.
Diets Are Black And White
If you have been on more than a diet or two, you know what it feels like to be “on” and “off” a diet. When “perfect” adherence is the goal, “failure” is inevitable. Feeling like we have “ruined” our diet stinks and regularly leads to the very behaviors we are trying to get away from in the first place. For chronic dieters, Monday mornings are met with the best of intentions but a Tuesday morning donut can throw the entire rest of the week into a tailspin.
If the goal is following a food plan, then slips are like falling off of a tightrope. Once we’re down, we’re down. This mindset leads to an illogical outlook that we’d never apply to other areas of our lives. It’s like getting a flat tire and slashing the other three. We just wouldn’t do it.
So What Does Work Then?
Small, Sustainable Changes
On the opposite end of the spectrum of unsustainable, dramatic lifestyle overhauls are small, sustainable changes. As we discussed, we learn new skills and develop new habits slowly, over time. What doesn’t feel comfortable today can be our new normal next month if we allow ourselves the time and energy to assimilate this new habit into our lives.
Rather than changing everything all at once, consider what change you could make just for today. And then do that very same thing for a week or two. I know, it’s not glamorous but it works. By approaching your lifestyle change in the same way that you do other areas of growth in your life, you are setting yourself up for habit after habit that add up to your results!
Giving Yourself Grace
When seeking to adopt better nutrition habits, we will do ourselves the biggest favor of all by giving ourselves grace. Habits, you see, are things we do most of the time. We may forget to floss our teeth one night but that oversight doesn’t rock our world. We simply acknowledge that we forgot and do our best to remember the following night.
Beating ourselves up is completely UNproductive. It discourages us and zaps our motivation. However, encouragement and grace cause their recipients to flourish. Yes, it may be scary to tell yourself that eating that pint of Ben & Jerry’s was ok, but try it and see how that attitude adjustment helps you get back on track much, much sooner. That occasional bowl o’ Ben becomes just a blip on the radar.