Weight loss diets. There are hundreds of them. You might have even tried more diet programs than you care to remember. But 99% of people fail to lose weight and keep it off because of one very important concept.
Too much too soon.
Weight loss is a billion dollar industry, which is why there are new products and plans being marketing on TV and on the internet every time you turn around. As long as we keep buying them, companies will keep creating them.
To be honest, many weight loss diets work, but how many work long term? How many people reach their weight loss goals and actually maintain them? How many of us are healthier for our efforts?
Not many, unfortunately. And therein lies the problem. We aren’t any healthier for the changes we make.
The reasons for wanting to lose weight are many. Some people are tired of feeling terrible all the time. Some are trying to prevent or reverse disease so they can live longer. Others want a better quality of life. Then there is vanity, of course, and there isn’t anything wrong with wanting to feel better about the way you look in a bathing suit.
The motivation really doesn’t matter, though.
The Problem With Weight Loss Diets
The problem with weight loss diets is that the goal is weight loss. The idea of losing 20 pounds in 20 days is enticing, and shady companies are happy to use our desperation to separate us from our money.
But crash diets don’t work, at least not for long, because they almost always involve some kind of extreme deprivation, a drastic change in eating habits, or a financially burdensome product you’re required to buy.
But we want results fast. We want to get on the scale and see that number go down every morning. We want to see our abs showing up a little more each day. We’re willing to do just about anything to fit into those jeans we haven’t been able to button in years!
The #1 Mistake People Make In Keeping The Weight Off
The #1 mistake people make is trying to overhaul their entire lives overnight.
They try to go from 0 to 100 in a day and that’s simply unsustainable for most of us. It’s the most common reason people fail to lose weight and keep it off in my experience. Your body will simply rebel and resist you, even cause you pain, if you go too fast.
With any lifestyle change you want to make, whether it’s to eat better, workout more, get more fun time, or whatever, the best way to ensure the changes stick is by making them in small, almost unnoticeable ways.
If you can change your life 1% at a time, you won’t even realize that you’re doing things differently, and that 1% over the coarse of a year or two becomes a complete lifestyle transformation.
I try to get people to live what I call a 90-10 lifestyle. That is, 90% of the food you eat is real, fresh, whole food made from the Earth, and the other 10% is whatever you want. But going from the Standard American Diet (SAD, literally) to a 90-10 lifestyle overnight is unreasonable.
Likewise, if you’re a very sedentary person, deciding to go to the gym for 90 minutes, 5 times per week is also unreasonable.
A Weight Loss Approach That Works
So how does my approach look exactly? Let’s start with a practical timeline first of all. If you want to lose 25 pounds, give yourself 6 months to do it. If your goal is 50 pounds, make it a year. There will be many slips and missteps along the way, so plan for them, and be ready to forgive yourself and keep moving forward.
Rather than a weight loss diet, try a “get healthy” diet instead. The goal then isn’t just losing weight, but to get healthy as well, by altering your lifestyle a little at a time so the achievements are sustainable for the rest of your life.
Simple Step #1
If you’re trying to lose weight or just eat better in general, the first step should never be to deprive yourself of the foods you enjoy. That’s a recipe for failure. The first step should be to simply add more healthy food to your day whenever you can. Remember, the key to success and keeping the weight off is to make changes to your life that are mostly unnoticeable.
Begin by adding 2 servings of fruits or vegetables each day. That’s enough for anyone to get the ball rolling, and it’s not something that is going to cause so much discomfort and misery that you’ll give up. Get the idea?
Getting your body used to more fruits and vegetables and providing some much needed nutrition is more important in the beginning than cutting out the foods you find pleasurable.
If you don’t eat any fruits or vegetables right now, add a banana or apple to your breakfast and a small salad at dinner. If you already do this, add 2 more servings. You might even find that adding these good foods to your day reduces the amount of unhealthy food you consume.
Boss Level: Nothing from a can. It has to be fresh and raw if possible.
Simple Step #2
If you’re not exercising, go for a 15 minute walk every night, dance around your living room with your kids or grand-kids, or do a 10 minute yoga session before bed. (YouTube is a great resource for short yoga routines.)
These are activities your body will love and accept rather than joining a boot-camp-type exercise class at the gym and trying to perform jump-squats until you pass out.
Simple Step #3
Another option is to revamp one meal a day. If that’s most easily breakfast for you, then revamp breakfast. Get rid of the breakfast bar or bowl of cereal and replace it with fresh fruit and a handful of nuts, or pasture-raised eggs.
If lunch is easier, revamp lunch, and do it with real food that you like. Don’t try to choke down a bowl of twigs and grass that’ll make you hate life and dread mealtime. The idea is to get you thinking and making some simple changes.
About 10 years ago my diet was already really good, but I decided to go 90-10 one day, and it took me the better part of a year to succeed. So be patient with yourself, forgive your slips (we all have them), and start implementing small, small changes.
They’ll eventually become a natural part of your life.