We've all heard this: Diets Fail! Lifestyle changes Succeed! --- This can't be truer. Over the last few years, I've lost over 200LBS and have been slowly putting weight back on -- approximately 75LBS of my total weight lost is back on. It's pretty easy to understand.
Here’s where “I” failed: "Fad" and "quick-loss" diets fail over time
I am the perfect example of how NOT to approach a "FAD" or "QUICK-LOSS" diet like Ideal Protein, ONE Weight, Atkins, etc. So let me explain. I believe that there are three phases to these types of weight loss programs:
1) Getting initial weight off quickly – This phase where you will work closely with your support staff and follow your diet plan the closest. Mainly, because you're seeing noticeable changes to your weight/body within a very short amount of time... Even as much as weeks or a few months -- this can be VERY motivating. When I was on the ONE Weight diet, I was sometimes losing at much as 10-15 LBS PER WEEK. This meant I had to buy new clothes fairly often; and, I was receiving A LOT of compliments about my weight-loss and overall appearance.
2) Education - This is the phase where you'll be learning about proper diet, begin to form good habits, and slowly integrating a wider variety of foods back into your diet --- like healthy carbs, fats, and sugars. You'll still be "dieting" --- but working closely with your diet plan/staff to stay- on-the-right-track. In my opinion, this is THE most important phase of the weight loss program because you'll be learning how to manage your weight for the rest of your life.
3) "Living" without a net - This is the phase where you'll be taking all of the information and habits that you've formed through your journey --- and USE them in your day-to-day life. In this phase, you won't be really "dieting" anymore because healthy eating and exercise will be 2nd nature to you. This is the phase where IF you did everything right you'd be considered "FIXED."
So, why did "I" fail??? Well, Phase 1 went really well; and, I lost ALOT of weight quickly and felt great. WORSE THING EVER! Why? - Because I considered myself "fixed" way too early! I went from a size 60" waist down to a 38" waist. "VOLIA" I thought --- I'm done. I neglected to really LEARN about proper nutrition and diet. Basically, I skipped Phase 2 and 3. As you'll see from the above chart, I lost the weight ---- but quickly put it right back on after I stopped the "diet."
I FAILED to create good, long-term diet/exercise habits. I took the “short-cut” and didn’t truly “re- program” myself. I truly believe that a “diet” cannot be maintained for the rest of your life. It’s a quick fix! Adopting life-changing habits is what really wins!
Here are some other factors that contributed to my failure:
Not logging food intake
As much as I HATE tracking my food intake, I TOTALLY believe that it’s important to successful weight loss over time. Without knowing the nutritional data from the foods you are putting into your mouth, you’re treading on dangerous ground. In a 2008 weight-loss study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that after six months participants who logged everything they ate or drank six days per week lost twice as much weight as those who logged their food only one day per week or less! --- It can be a chore; BUT keeping a food diary will assist you in staying AWARE and ACCOUNTABLE of what you are consuming. The good new is that these days, there are some great mobile apps that can help. My favorites are “LoseIT” and “MyFitnessPal.” --- More on fitness tech later.
Not making exercise a “routine”
Whether you LIKE to exercise or NOT…. Its important to get into an exercise routine that you: 1) can do regularly and 2) ENJOY… For me, I neglected to take time for myself to regularly exercise. I actually started to see exercise as a waste of time --- where I could be spending time working, surfing the Internet at coffee shops, spending time with family and friends. Basically, I got LAZY. I stopped seeing exercise as something that was fun --- it became a chore that wasn’t fun and rewarding.
So what am I doing now? Actually, slowing down my ‘rush’ to lose weight.
- STOP Dieting, instead making long-term lifestyle changes
- STOP trying to make BIG changes to my diet. Make slow/consistent changes that you can actually succeed at maintaining.
- Using technology to help with quantifying my exercise and food intake
- “Falling back in love” with exercise: Walking, Cycling, going to the gym
Again, this is what happened to ME… Everyone’s body and mind is different. I’m sure that many people have done diet programs that worked for them ---keeping the weight off. However, for me, I’ll never “DIET” again.
Will's blog here or catch him on twitter.