New Year New You?
Now is a great time to check in on all those “New Year, New Me” resolutions everyone made this year! Yes, I know we are only a week or so in, but in my opinion, this is the time that can make or break some of those well intended resolutions. Mainly, that new “diet” you started on Jan 2nd (no one starts a diet on January 1st so let’s not begin the new year with a lie :))
(If you’re unsure of why the word “diet” is in quotations or what my philosophy is on dieting in general, you can get caught up HERE)
So here we are rounding out the first week of January, and I’m sure you are looking for a cheer leader to get you through the next week, but you’re not going to find that here! I believe in tough love (ask my kids-they hate it). I wouldn’t be doing you any favors if I did that. I’d rather trouble shoot with you and teach you how to develop a plan of attack instead of cheering you on in a failed attempt. So this is as good as any time to discuss some of the reasons why diets fail, and figure out some work arounds!
Diets most often fail because people rarely commit fully. Most of the time, you enter into a new fad diet with the best of intentions, but they are called “fad diets” for a reason. They are not designed to be sustainable, yet they are marketed, packaged, and sold to the public as a permanent solution to your weight gain issues. These fad diets are nothing more than a test of ones personal will power. You never fully commit, because instinctively, you already know that fad diets are not sustainable, thus you don’t ever push the commit switch in your head. You can’t. Your instincts, though buried deep and mostly forgotten, are protecting you from harming your body. Will power does most of the initial work of starting any fad diet, and 9 times out of 10 your will power burners go on, blaze hot, and then sputter out. The rocket never leaves the ground because even though the pilot wants to go to the moon, mission control knows you’d never make it, so your access panel is turned off. You hurl towards the moon, but wind up coasting on fumes into a long beautiful arch over the earth’s horizon and plummet down somewhere in the ocean to be rescued later! (nice visual huh!)
The short of it, fad diets don’t work. PERIOD. But, you can always learn something from a fad diet. There’s usually one take away that you can make into a habit and add to your daily routine. Eventually those little bits make up the foundation of a sustainable healthy lifestyle.
So, don’t get discouraged. Even if you haven’t hit the marks in the first few weeks of January, use it as a learning experience. Take what worked and leave the rest!
Have you ever asked your self prior to starting a new diet, “why” you even want to? Most of my clients come from numerous failed attempts at diets or adapting a healthy lifestyle, and when I pose this question and ask them why they started it’s usually one of a handful of answers:
Because I wanted to lose some weight.
Because my girlfriend so and so needed a buddy, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
Because it’s a New Year and I wanted to start it off on the right foot.
Because I need to detox my body.
What I don’t hear very often when I first ask this question is any kind of emotional connection to the answer. The truth is, we are emotional beings at our core, and taking on something like a lifestyle change is a BFD! If you can’t connect your “why” with a deep emotion, you are less likely to stick with it. As you’ve already learned, will power only gets you so far. Do the work and dig deep! You need to get to layers of whys. I suggest making a list. Start with “why” and then keep asking. Here’s an example:
“Self, why do you want to start this diet?”
“Because I want to lose some weight.”
“Because my clothes don’t fit and I don’t feel comfortable in them.”
Because I’ve been too busy to even get to the gym, let alone care about what I’m eating.”
“because the holidays were a little over whelming and I just couldn’t find the time.”
“Because when I get busy I use it as an excuse to get lazy, and my health is the first thing I don’t prioritize.”
“because I feel like no matter what I do I don’t see the results I want fast enough, and I lose interest.
“Because it’s really hard to not eat sugar, and carbs, and beer, and gluten, and sometimes I crave that stuff”…why?
…..yadda yadda yadda, you see what I’m getting at. You have to dig deep, and really have an honest conversation with yourself. Do you want to fail at yet another diet, or do you want to make changes that you will stick with? The answer to your whys will be different than mine, or anyone else’s, but they need to be REAL. There’s no right or wrong answer, and no test at the end, but if you are truly honest with your self in your answers you’ll begin to see the pattern and uncover what is lying underneath your failed attempts at fixing your health. When you understand where you are, it’s easier to begin. You can throw all the money in the world at a health professional, but you’ll never be able to make them want it for you! Don’t waste your time or money, until you’ve figured out the real reason why you want it.
Restricting foods and entire food groups long term doesn’t work! Now don’t get me wrong. I’m of the mindset that ALL diets have some kind of knowledge to offer, but diets that completely eliminate a food group with the idea of never eating them again are not sustainable long term unless the effect of that elimination is better than having it. Meaning; if every time you drink milk you are in the bathroom for 3 hours with stomach pain and gas, it’s not hard for you to not have that milk over a long period, if ever. BUT, if you love milk, and grew up with milk, then completely eliminating milk (and dairy) isn’t going to be sustainable for you forever. Admittedly dairy is a touchy subject amongst wellness professionals, dietitians, and nutritionists, and while I don’t believe that scientifically dairy offers much value to a healthy diet, completely eliminating it forever isn’t necessarily the perfect solution. Mentally you start to focus on what you CANT have instead of what you can have, and that will power that you’ve been relying on heavily starts to weaken with every passing cheese tray (or insert whatever food here).
Instead, just limit some of the foods that you instinctively know aren’t great for you. You know the ones. You feel heavy or bloated after you eat them. Your system gets sluggish, or you crash from a sugar high and get a killer headache around 3pm every day. Your body is telling you what to eat and what to limit, you just need to listen.
Elimination diets aren’t great for long term, BUT again-take what you can get. Elimination diets are great for short term solutions and to detox your system. Basically, a good old fashion reset. So if you really want to do an elimination diet, do it, BUT, do it for a limited amount of time. Get the crappy side effects of over indulging in rich flavors out of your life, and use it as a spring board for your overall health, but don’t unpack and live there!
Laziness and lack of investment:
People are lazy. There, I said it. A lot of people don’t commit to changing their unhealthy habits because they are just plain lazy. They don’t want to do the work, they just want the results….and they want them NOW! It’s much easier to try the get thin quick gimmicks instead of actually investing your resources. Now I have to say, this isn’t entirely all your fault. It is in human nature to take the path of least resistance in EVERYTHING. However, if you’ve tried this approach a million times, why are you expecting a different outcome this time? Your health just isn’t a place where less is more! The truth is, you need to INVEST in your health. Invest time to educate yourself and develop a plan that will work for you. Invest money in the proper support system that will work for you, be it a gym, a personal trainer, or a health coach. Invest in relationships that will support your goals and hold you accountable.
If it seems too good to be true, it is. There is no short cut to sustainable health and there is no cookie cutter diet that is going to save you. If you truly want results and to make changes to your health you’ll need to do something you never have before; commit and invest in your self.
People often see their health through rose colored glasses. What I mean is, you see Suzie Q at the gym and want to look just like her, but you’re not seeing the whole picture. There are so many factors that go into Suzy Q’s routine. How long she’s been doing what she’s doing, how often she’s at the gym, what training she does, what she eats, and most importantly-her DNA, are all factors in her results. Don’t get me wrong. The human body is AMAZING! Believe it or not, with the right system, you can undo years of bad habits and the effects they have on your body, but you have to be realistic about your expectations. Most likely Suzie Q has been at it for a long time and she doesn’t look like that because of a fad diet. Or, it could be the later…Suzie Q might have fantastic DNA and just naturally have an amazing physic that she works very little at maintaining. Either way, you have to be realistic about your expectations. Many factors go into seeing results. Your effort unfortunately is not the biggest one. You need to understand your body, and what you need to best fuel it for the results you want. It’s natural to want to have the most extreme results in the least amount of time with the least amount of effort, but again-that’s just not realistic! Instead of jumping on board with a program that promises you’ll lose 20 pounds in the first month, try losing fat and building muscle slowly over time. Consistency over time is the only sure way to see the results you want!
Alright, I hope I haven’t crushed all hope, but maybe gave you some mindset shifts to help you refocus on the results you want, and decide where best to put forth your efforts!
Remember the goal is always #ProgressNotPerfection. Do better today than you did yesterday and tomorrow you’ll be that much closer to your goal!!!