I have a confession to make. I’ve basically failed at every single “diet” I have ever tried to go on. Seriously. Every. Single. One. The term “diet” alone makes me cringe. And when I say “diet” here, I mean those little “nutrition programs” that we embark on in an attempt to lose weight, gain health and look good naked. You know what I’m talking about…the Atkins diet, the Paleo diet, the South Beach diet, the Juice Cleanse diet, the intermittent fasting diet, Mediterranean Diet, blah blah blah blah blah…The ones that people do for short periods of time before they remember how good birthday cake and beer is. I’m not convinced that these diets are good for anything, because most people don’t work them permanently into their lifestyle. These are fad diets, crash diets, and people jump on and off and become yo-yo dieters. There are good reasons why I failed. And here they are:
FAIL REASON#1. Too many rules and too many extreme changes at one time.
Diets have too many rules and I’m not the kind of person who follows rules. When I think back to all the diets I’ve ever embarked on, they are just riddled with long, awful lists of things you can’t eat. And you can’t eat carbs, or dairy, or potatoes, or red meat, or anything with flour, or sugar, or alcohol, no cake, no ice cream, nothing after 6pm and no joy. Ever. Or else you’ll be fat and equally as unhappy as if you didn’t eat any of your own birthday cake at your surprise birthday party so you could squeeze your butt cheeks into a pair of jeans you wore in College for about a week until you went back to eating like a normal human being and then put your stretch pants back on.
FAIL REASON #2. It’s too hard to stick to diets that make extreme changes abruptly.
Diets require WAY too much commitment. I mean, where are the cheat meals scheduled!? Seriously. For a person who was raised on ice-cream sandwiches, you think I’m gonna just quit cold turkey? I don’t think so. Or write me a prescription for the Chantix of ice-cream sandwiches please, before I start streaking for klondike bars. In the article that I’ve included below, a study done at the University of Toronto proved that “those who stuck to their diets, no matter the type, lost significantly more weight.” …OMG. DUH. My issue is, how the $%^& do you STICK to a diet!?!? And why not just shoot for an 80/20 or even a 90/10? Nobody wants to be that person who declines the cake and champagne at a party because the size of their ass is more important than their best friend’s engagement. Seriously. Can we at least take a bite to celebrate life? Let’s not get too crazy here. Besides, how long do you have to STICK to a diet to make it a success? 90 days? 1 year? The rest of your life!? (<———my vote is this one). Because I’ll bet that when the diet is over, a lot of people go back to eating the things they enjoy and in a short matter of time, end up right back where they started.
So maybe you’re like me and maybe you don’t do well with extreme changes and strict rules to your diet, which in my opinion, sets people up for failure. Personally, I would rather follow a series of loose guidelines and change my diet gradually than begin starving myself on January 1st every year and end up binging to make up for it by the time the holidays roll back around. Once you get the idea in your head that you CAN’T eat something, the obvious thing your brain does next is ONLY WANT THAT THING and crave it until you satisfy the craving. And we all know how absence makes the heart grow fonder…. But I digress.
We can fix this with 2 simple guidelines:
1) Make small, gradual changes to achieve realistic goals and
2) Give yourself at least a little wiggle room (again, be realistic)
I honestly believe (and have tested this myself) that the best thing if you want to successfully change your eating habits and lose weight for good is to do it SLOWLY. And with small changes, one at a time. That way they can be permanent changes that yield permanent results. So the juice cleanse you’re doing for 2 weeks? Worthless. You’ll die if you do that for the rest of your life and you know it. It’s starvation. The moment you start eating food that you have to chew, the pounds will go right back on your hips. Read this for proof.
Figure out what works for you for the long term. Make it easy. If you drink sugary drinks all the time, just try to cut that one thing out for 90 days until you don’t miss it. And if you relapse twice in that 90 days, who cares!? Forgive yourself and get back on the wagon. Then move on to cutting out fast food in addition for 90 more days until you don’t miss THAT. Then move on to the next small change. Years later you won’t believe you consumed so much of these things. But it takes YEARS. It’s an ongoing struggle and the struggle is real. I don’t actually remember the exact time I said goodbye to fast food because it was so gradual. Maybe it was sometime in the early 2000’s. But by the time it had been years since I had ate at McDonald’s, I tried it once and it made me completely sick. I don’t need it anymore and I don’t want it anymore. It’s like that ex-boyfriend (or girlfriend) you wonder what you ever saw anything in. You’re a so-much-better person now. And hindsight is 20/20.
You don’t have to crash diet, jump on a fad diet twice a year and become a yo-yo dieter.
When it comes to dieting, don’t be so hard on yourself, especially if you fail at the fad diets. I have done all that and it’s not worth the hassle. When I’m too hard on myself I fail…and then I’m even more hard on myself for failing and I start down a shame spiral and eat a bag of Cheetos to make myself feel better. This is the wrong approach. Take it slow. Make small changes and small goals that are achievable and realistic for you. Be flexible and forgiving with yourself. Those crash-dieters may look good for a little while, but they gain it all back. Trust me. Don’t be that person. Make slow, permanent changes for slow, permanent results. You’ll be thankful for your patience later. In the long-run, it always pays off. It did for me.
2005/6 as a crash-dieter (30 lbs lost and gained all back in the same 12-18 months):
2015 after having 2 kids in 3 years and NOT dieting: