Friday, February 1, 2013

How to Stop Dieting and Start Losing Weight

(dog and his human mother taken a year or so ago at Tide Point in Baltimore)

Every time I talk to a friend who is going on some new diet I know immediately what the end result will be. They will lose weight for a little while and then some event will come up and they go off this diet. The next thing you know they have stopped losing weight and generally they regain everything that they had lost. I see this over and over again and yet people continue to “go on and off” these crazy diets.  

I want to say this in the clearest way possible, Diets Don’t Work!  Those of you who have been reading me for a while know this s a recurring theme with me.  The reason that I continue to bring it up is that I am constantly talking with people who are going on diets and have high hopes of success only to see those same people back to life as usual (and the same weight) within a relatively short period of time.

(typical farmers' market haul at our house)

If diets don’t work what does work?

The answer is simple yet few people actually figure it out how to make it work.   In order to change your weight you have to change your habits.  Think about all the habits you have that impact your weight.  I will use an unnamed friend of mine as an example to illustrate my point. This friend always “talks” about wanting to lose weight but when I make suggestions the excuses start flying.  I hear things like, “my spouse won’t eat this way with me so I can’t do it.”  Sometimes I hear, “I don’t want to cut (insert unhealthy food here) out of my diet.”  Or my favorite, “I’m too lazy to exercise”.   By thinking of reasons why they can’t succeed this person is actually rationalizing why they won’t be successful.  In essence when people give themselves excuses they are harming themselves and ensuring that they don’t succeed.  Please think about the next time you make up an excuse, like that you are too tired to exercise after work. 

By the way, not being able to exercise at night was one of my favorite excuses.  A friend of mine (waves hi to Matt) exercises multiple times per day and generally in the evening after work.  When I said that I couldn’t exercise after work because it would keep me awake he called me “on my stuff”.  Guess what?  I tried exercising later in the day and it hasn’t impacted my sleep at all.   This is exactly the sort of thing I mean.  Even if you think what you are doing is the only possible answer, be open to other options particular those that you are know are better/healthier.  In this case exercising versus not seemed the clear choice and it was.

In addition to problem with excuses there are the people who want to eat unhealthy food in moderation and yet they expect to get big results.  For example I have worked with people who want to get healthy, but they tell me that they will reduce but won’t give up (insert any unhealthy food you like) from their diet.  Often it is cheese that people are addicted too. Sometimes it is something really absurd like soda or candy.  Whatever it is that you think you can’t give up that is a sign that the food is in control of you rather than you are in control of the food.  It is time to take back control.  I would strongly suggest that any food that you feel like you “have to have” in your diet needs to go.  By eliminating it for a month you give yourself time to regain control.

Here is the ugly truth.  Everything that you put in your mouth and every physical activity you did or passed up has resulted in the health that you have now. If you want your health and weight to change you have to change what you do.  You can’t take a pill to kill your appetite and expect it to keep weight off you long term without other side effects. You can’t buy an ab belt off TV to stimulate your abdominal muscles and expect a flat stomach. The sad fact is that in order to reach and maintain a healthy weight you have to eat right and you have to exercise.  Ok, I can sense the groans as you read this. But you didn’t really think there was some magic answer did you?  People who are a healthy weight have healthy habits and it really is that simple.

(My "girlie"  adjustable dumbbells LOL)

How do you start to change your habits?

This one I have talked about many times but I think it is important so I will discuss it again and maybe this time it will click for some of you.  I always start working with people by asking them what they don’t like about their current physical condition and how it impacts their life.  This is something that I have them work on for days to get down into what they don’t like.  The reason I have them do this is cement in their mind why they need to change.   Losing weight for the sake of vanity is generally not enough for people. It works for some people but not many.  Most people have to embrace the health, wealth and quality of life consequences of being unhealthy/overweight before they are ready to change long standing habits. Whatever you come up with that will motivate you long-term to stick to healthy habits use that. Remember motivation is a choice. You either decide to be motivated or you decide to return to your unhealthy but comfortable habits.

I hope my description of this issue was different enough that maybe I made some sense to those of you who need a little nudge in the right direction.  One thing that I always remind myself that may help you is that each choice makes a difference. Each meal is a chance to nourish myself or to harm myself.  Each choice to be active or not is going to have positive or negative consequences for your health.  It helps keep me on track and hopefully it will work for you too.  *fingers crossed*

Happy thoughts:
  1. Our lovely unseasonably warm weather from Wednesday has disappeared. Today we experienced temperatures 25 degrees colder than yesterday and crazy winds. All that meant that this girl was happy to be busy inside today. ;-)
  2. I had some nice calls today which is always a great way to spend the day.  When people are open to changing their habits there is nothing better than helping them improve their health. Seriously I get so much enjoyment from it I would do it for free. I think that is when you know you have found what you should be doing.  Love that!
  3. Today I had a friend say one the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.  This person told me that they considered me "a gift in their life". Seriously guys I almost started crying. Can you think of anything nicer than that for someone to say?  Here is hoping that all of you have people in your life who consider you a gift too. J
  4. Even though I broke my juice fast yesterday with an enormous salad the scale this morning was exactly the same as the day before, down 4.2 pounds.  *happy dance*   See why juice fasting is addictive?  ;-)
  5. I have some new “gadgets” that I have been using in the kitchen that I need to tell you about soon. I get so happy when I find useful new kitchen items. I am such a geek sometimes.  LOL
  6. Last week I ordered Barry White’s Greatest Hits and have been enjoying it ever since. Every afternoon when I finish working I put Barry into the CD player and dance.  Yes I actually do this, no joke.  After sitting a lot of the day it good to get up and move around. Not to mention who doesn’t love to dance?  There is something very positive and uplifting about dancing so I go with it.  J
  7. I was chatting with an online friend this morning that just happened to be traveling through my childhood hometown and he sent me photos. It was wonderful to see my childhood stomping grounds.  It is crazy how you meet people and they bring something unexpected into your life.  However I love that aspect of life. Sometimes the littlest things just make my day.  

Signing out:

Once again I am writing this late in the evening. I really need to work on writing this earlier in the day and on my breaks.  In the past I was great with time management so I am not sure what happened.  But hopefully I will figure it out soon.  J

Here is hoping that you have a wonderful Friday and a fantastic weekend.  Ciao for now.


  1. Great post. I love your message and strength of approach- no matter how hard I try for the majority of the time my bad choices have kept me overweight.

    I've been thinking about goal weights recently and was wondering what your thoughts were on them? do you value bmi/body fat %/measurements etc?

    I know what you mean about juicing being addictive- I've just started another fast because I missed how good I was feeling!

    1. Good morning Claire,

      Thank you, I am glad you liked it. :-) As a "fat girl in recovery" I have made every bad choice imaginable so I know of what I wrote. I used to have every excuse in the book. It took me a long time to sort thru all my stuff too. ;-)

      Regarding goals and measurements I definitely think that they have a place in any good plan. However their usefulness varies with each person. Some people (like me) have to get on the scale everyday to know what is happening. Other people can't do that because they get too "freaked out" by the daily variations. I also like BMI and body fat measurements and personally use them all. To that I would add using a tape measure and monitoring those numbers as well. What I find useful is it keep a log of all your numbers so you can see the changes. I recommend doing it at regular intervals as well. Of all the measures you asked about I find weight to be the least valuable only b/c fat and muscle look different but weight the same. Someone can reach their goal weight and still be "skinny fat". I hope that made some sense. If you think I need to write a post on this topic let me know. :-)

      Juicing is crazy addictive. Thank goodness it isn't just that way for me. LOL!!! Lately I have been juicing at least one meal a day just b/c I like the way I feel when I am consuming some juice. I sleep so much better when I juice. Does that happen for you too?

      Happy Friday, and have a great day!

    2. Yes!! My sleep is so much better when I'm juicing. I have abnormal sleep (insomnia, lucid dreams, night sweats, moving etc) so this is a HUGE bonus for me. I'm actually considering juicing 2 meals a day, eating the third and seeing if I can still reap the rewards. We shall see...

      I find juice for breakfast is my favourite meal to replace, it almost sets the day up for success, sets the right tone you know? Plus, what a way to reboot the system.

      Thank you for sharing your opinions on goals/measurements- I find myself easily disheartened so try to weigh less frequently... but then greater success seems to accompany daily weighing- even if I sacrifice some sanity. It's a fine line for me I think.
      I'm not sure if others have this problem but I really appreciate you sharing your tips! Thank you :) x

  2. Something that has worked for me is keeping lists. I decided recently that I really wanted to change things, and that I would work on it one habit at a time. I started with cooking, which has been a key 'habit' for me in change, and now make out weekly menus and put on them each thing I need to do each night to make sure we have healthy meals. Once I had that established I started making lists of other things to do. I'm starting exercise lists next :->.

    For motivation, reading about animal welfare issues really helps me stay vegan. For some reason, knowing that it's healthier for me doesn't motivate me (probably because I haven't had a major health crisis yet). Seeing my husband's cholesterol and b/p numbers did motivate me to start making sure we eat healthier, though, even though watching my own cholesterol creep up didn't do it.

    Oh, and I've given up diet cola! Two weeks's getting easier but I have to say that the first week was MUCH harder than going vegan was.

  3. Ali, I made a big batch of juice today (I froze some of it) and was wondering what quantity you drink on your "juice fast" days. It must take a huge amount of produce to be making that much juice all the time. I was getting really hungry just before dinner and drank about 12 ounces of juice, plus ate a couple handfuls of nuts & dried fruit, but it didn't put much of a dent in my hunger...we then went to a Thai restaurant and I ate plenty. I don't see how you can be comfortable on juice alone.


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