The honeymoon phase of dieting. It is great while it lasts but like the honeymoon phase of dating and marriage eventually, the novelty and excitement wear off. Then the hard part begins as our prefrontal cortex comes back online and is no longer blinded by an influx of dopamine, oxytocin and other hormones.
Is this diet (or relationship) going to be something that I can actually sustain?
Obviously, not all relationships are toxic messes and can certainly become something very beautiful. However, if you ask anyone that has been in a successful partnership long-term, it takes a hella lot of work. Not everything is fun. Some quirks are downright annoying.
However, if we are able to see past them and we are willing to put in the work it can be successful. Similar to a particular diet – while I often hate on keto and fasting because I get a kick out of the angry keto and carnivore die-hards that blow up my comment sections – these are all strategies that can work for a small majority of people long term who truly believe cauliflower pizza is better than a real pizza. Yes, they do exist.
Does it matter if I try an extreme or balanced diet?
Now very few people find the more extreme diet strategies sustainable. A majority of people do quite well with a balanced approach that isn’t too restrictive. Regardless of where you fall I want to talk about how you can find the most sustainable approach for yourself and actually keep the weight off long term. For this, I am going to provide my anecdotal/clinical experience and factors that we have taken from long-term weight-loss maintainers from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR).
No matter which camp you fall into, the first thing that leads to any dietary plan/strategy failure is the fact that people are using the wrong metric for success. We are hyper-obsessed with the scale. Something that is entirely out of our control – go ahead weigh yourself every day for a week and see how the scale fluctuates.
Why do I love and hate my scale?
Because biology, and sometimes the wind blows. Your body loses and gains weight at predetermined rates based on your genetics, aka the genes that your mom and dad gave to you. While there is some fascinating stuff happening in terms of gene editing research we are a hell of a long way off from being able to alter our genetic code.
So when it comes to that number on the scale you can do f*ck all about it. When we put all of our eggs in a basket that we cannot control, it is going to be pretty demoralizing when the Easter bunny decides to keep them all for themselves no matter how hard we try.
I have had clients come to me who are practically running marathons, have had massive strength gains in the gym, and are feeling great, almost giving it all up because the number on the scale just won’t budge. Think about how ridiculous that sounds and just how much power you are giving to an inanimate object!?
The first thing we need to do is change our metric of success from something we can’t control to something we can control. Did you go for a walk today? You went for 3 walks this week? Amazing; that is success! Whether you go for a walk or not is 100% in your control.
Similarly, if you decide to start using a salad plate instead of a dinner plate at dinner – 100% in your control. Do you see what I am saying? These are things you can track and control. You either do them or you don’t. You are not relying on magic and wishes.
But I want to lose weight!!
Great. You are allowed to do that. Do you think using a salad plate and walking more will help with that? Absolutely. You can still weigh yourself and it can be used as a marker to tell you if you are progressing towards weight-loss. The problem arises when what you do lives or dies based on a scale. If the scale is not going down we need to re-evaluate the things we can control. Let’s try more protein? Maybe start weight-lifting?
The scale does not decide our worth – it is a tool and nothing more. It can help guide the actions that are in our control but we need to look at the bigger picture of why we are doing and what we are doing, which should be focused on health, strength, being able to travel, etc. Big picture sh*t! Kapeesh? (Say yes.)
Are you sure the scale isn’t the end all be all of weight-loss?
As I said, keto and fasting might work for a small number of people and that is great that it does. However, the majority need more of a balance and that is where the NWCR comes in.
The NWCR is a database that was established in 1994 and has been tracking individuals who have lost a significant amount of weight, on average 66lbs (the range has been between 30 and 300lbs), and have kept it off for more than 5.5 years.
What are these individuals doing?!
- Eating breakfast daily.
- Weighing themselves once per week.
- Watching less than 10 hours of TV per week.
- Exercising on average for 60 mins per day.
Seems pretty simple right? I have seen similar findings in practice with the addition of eating more protein, eating ENOUGH calories, and eating constantly throughout the day. These are things that work for the majority and are certainly some things we can strive towards. However, we also need to find what works for you.
Ok – listen to my body and don’t stare at the scale.
Life is all about solving problems. Generally, when you solve one problem in your life it subsequently creates more problems. Albeit hopefully better problems. I’ve always liked the saying, a homeless guy and Warren Buffet both have money problems. Warren Buffet just has better money problems.’
There are no quick fixes or simple solutions. You must try and fail. Try and fail. Eventually, you will find the methods and strategies that work for you. It is a process and it is one we must learn to fall in love with. Kinda like your partner’s annoying quirks. Am I right? Man, I love when an analogy works so well.
Shift your focus away from the scale, focus on the bigger picture of life, and start to make some small changes that are in your control; they may or may not include the above. If something doesn’t work – well that is f*cking awesome. It means we can try something different!
Until next time my friends. Always remember small tweaks lead to massive peaks.