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How many times have you started a diet, determined to lose weight, by taking extreme measures? This could be a starvation diet, going as long as possible through your day without eating, taking appetite suppressant pills, teas, and sprays, or cutting out certain foods completely like carbohydrates.
Perhaps you’ve adopted high fat and high protein diets that leave you feeling desperate and unhealthy, or you’ve been over-exercising to make up for splurges when you are hungry and cannot resist your favorite, not-so-healthy food?
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Only to find yourself backsliding to your former eating habits, and gaining back the weight you have lost, and then some?
All of these diets have a few things in common, which ultimately lead to failure. And we really want you to succeed at becoming the best you that you can be!
So let’s look at the common factors in most weight loss methods, and start your body transformation off on the right foot.
Common Pitfalls in Most Diets
Extreme diets have a few common denominators that can set you up for failure if you are not careful. Watch out for the following:
- They are unsustainable
- They are based on self-hatred
- They are based on deprivation
- Your favorite foods are most likely “forbidden”
Now let’s break these down…
They are unsustainable
Diets that require long periods of fasting, or avoid food altogether, or avoid certain types of foods that you need for a healthy lifestyle, or limit your food intake to certain foods (the egg diet for example) or keep you feeling hungry or deprived, may work in the short term but are not sustainable in the long term. Eventually, if deprived of your body’s basic needs for nourishment, or required to never indulge in beloved foods, or eat differently than most other people, you will most likely break.
You can sustain this kind of diet as long as you are fueled by a desperate desire to change your appearance. But in the long term, you will need a diet that is lifestyle appropriate, allowing you to feel fed and nourished, with foods that are available and healthy.
If not, you may lose weight, but you will pay the price in terms of your health, and, as most research indicates, eventually gain the weight back and then some. Crash diets can interfere with your metabolism’s healthy functioning as well, making it harder and harder to lose weight.
A successful diet has to be sustainable in the long term, without chronic feelings of hunger or sub-nutrition. It has to be a lifestyle choice that you choose, to follow forever because your habits have you both looking, and feeling better.
They are based on self-hatred
If you are yo-yo dieting, starving yourself, or denying your body the nutrition it needs, then you are not loving yourself. In fact, most of this kind of dieting stems from self-hatred.
This can go beyond just the physical form, to deeper ways that you have become accustomed to rejecting yourself, your needs, and, of course, your body. Self-hatred can motivate radical, short term change, but it won’t sustain the long term wellness that you need to nourish body and spirit.
Hating oneself takes more energy than it returns, and leaves you feeling drained. Externally changes in your body may bring short term relief, but will not address underlying issues of self-worth, self-care, and self-love.
Eventually, you will break, abandoning your extreme diet or exercise regime, if your choices are based on hate rather than love.
They are based on deprivation
Any diet based on deprivation is destined to be short term. Of course, to lose weight, you will have to have a menu that keeps your calorie intake on the low end (based on your weight and age, between 1200-1800 calories a day), but a low-calorie diet does not mean deprivation.
You can take lots of small, healthy meals and keep your weight down, without keeping yourself in starvation mode. You can emphasis healthy foods, limit your carbs, and give your body what it needs.
All foods can be eaten in moderation; once you come to be aware of the basic building blocks of a healthy diet, you will learn how much is the right amount of a good thing. That way you won’t feel deprived all the time.
Because a deprivation mentality is time-limited, you won’t be able to sustain that for long.
Favorite foods are forbidden
Oftentimes, we associate “dieting”, with denying yourself our most favorite foods. This can be deadly to a sustainable nutritional lifestyle, because it can lead us to focus too much on “forbidden” foods, and eventually get obsessive about them, leading us to abandon all in a moment of weakness.
So how can you lose weight while eating your favorite foods?
The key is to give yourself a treat meal once a week. Choose the day of this treat within a couple of days of your weekly weigh-in, and plan it ahead.
Throughout your week, as you make healthy food choices, you will have a desire for various fattening foods that you especially enjoy. When you do, think about your treat day, and you will have both the anticipation of satisfying your craving, and the knowledge that you are choosing when, where, and how to eat this treat meal.
Your self-respect will grow because you can enjoy this food without shame, but instead, fully embrace with gratitude this yummy meal. Fluctuations in caloric intake (within reason, and limited to about once a week), can actually aid in weight loss by tricking your body into activating your metabolic processes by surprising the body, which is trained to hold on to fat when in deprivation mode.
Psychologically, this weekly fun meal gives you feelings of satisfaction and anticipation that can help to motivate you to watch what you eat for the rest of the week.
So enjoy this meal in every way…by savoring every bite, by celebrating your healthy lifestyle, and by eating in a special place, in a festive manner. Nourish your body and your soul.