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Why Dieting Doesn’t Work and What To Do About It

why-dieting-doesnt-work

When I was fresh out of college, I was so naive.  I told Rachael that I always wanted to workout hard enough to eat whatever I wanted.

That lasted for about 6 months…if that!

Over the next year or two, regardless of how hard I worked out, I couldn’t keep up with the soda, the pizza, and the ice cream.  I realized that I was gaining weight slowly and steadily.  Not what I was looking for!

Over the next several years, I proceeded to try all kinds of different “diets” and “programs”.  Some worked, some didn’t.  However, there was a consistent theme among all of them.  None of them were sustainable.  So, even though some of them worked, I would revert back to my old ways. Or be counting down the days until the “program” was over so I could eat all the foods I couldn’t eat on the “program.”

Sometimes, I wouldn’t revert back all the way, but I’d have a cheat meal.  Then it would turn into a cheat day.  Then it would turn into…”well, I had ice cream last night, so I might as well have it tonight.”

And that is why diets don’t work.  They don’t work because the basic idea behind a diet is that it’s temporary.  You’re dieting to reach a goal.  But once you hit that goal, then what?  You have a tendency to revert back to what you used to eat. Especially after you have been depriving yourself of the things you like for an extended period of time.

Change Your Eating Lifestyle…SLOWLY

My proposal to you?  Just change your lifestyle.  Over the last 5 years, Rachael and I have been working hard to change our eating lifestyle.  It’s been a slow journey, and one that I’d recommend to you.  Take baby steps.  Here are just a few of the small, incremental changes we’ve made over the last 5 years.

  • Going from Naked Juice in the morning to low calorie orange juice.  This saved us oodles of calories and reduced our sugar intake massively.  Eventually, we dropped the orange juice all-together and just stuck with water.  This change happened over the course of about 6-12 months.
  • Moving from regular ice cream to healthier, low calorie ice cream like Arctic Zero and Halo Top.
  • Changing from whole-wheat chocolate chip cookies to Lenny and Larry’s protein cookies.
  • Instead of making monkey bread on a Saturday morning (this wasn’t every Saturday), we switched to making pumpkin protein waffles with dark chocolate chips.
  • I switched from regular soda (Dr. Pepper and Root Beer) to diet soda (Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper).  I eventually limited my diet soda intake and switched to zero calorie flavored water like Ice.  And now, I only drink water and La Croix (flavored, carbonated water).
  • Transitioning from white bread to wheat bread to sprouted grain bread.

These are some of the dozens of changes we’ve made.  They didn’t happen all at once either.  It’s been a slow process, but it’s been fascinating to look back and see how the journey has unfolded.  If you’d have told me five years ago that my future self wouldn’t be drinking soda, I’d have laughed at you.  I was drinking 2-3 sodas per day (starting at 10:00 am I might add).

Make the First Step, Even if It’s Not Your Final Step

What I realized is that by making small, incremental changes, it isn’t actually that hard.  It takes time, but each step puts you in a better position to hit your goals.  And sometimes we’d make a change and realize that wasn’t the final step.  For example, transitioning from Naked Juice to low calorie orange juice.  Even the orange juice has more sugar than we wanted, but it was a good intermediate step to take.  And I don’t know if I could have transitioned straight to water.

It’s kind of like someone saying they want to run 5 times per week, but they just can’t do it.  You recommend that they run just once per week and they scoff, “What will that do?”  Are you kidding me?  You’d rather not run at all because your goal is 5, and you can’t do it?  Madness.

So even if your goals include eating nothing but chicken and vegetables so you can get shredded, don’t jump right to that.  Change from steak to chicken, but keep your dinner roll and mashed potatoes.  Then switch to sweet potatoes.  Then swap out your dinner roll for veggies.  Then drop the sweet potato and add more veggies.  This might take you a year (or longer!) from start to finish.  That’s okay! The point is- make small changes and make one change at a time. Don’t try and make lots of big changes at once- that’s a diet and it won’t last but for a month or two. 

Better to get to your destination in a year than not at all.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on change.  It’s not easy, but it’s possible.  Leave a comment below!

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