If you've ever tried to lose weight, you know it's not easy to make it last. In fact, there are a few key problems you should pay attention to before the diet even starts. Here are a few of the most common problems and ways you can avoid them.
1. The Problem: Gaining Weight Back
After losing those pounds you suddenly feel that, overnight, your body has changed, making you a charter member of the exclusive "fast-metabolism-I-can-eat-whatever-I want" club. Then one morning you wake up and the reflection in the mirror reveals a truth that cannot be denied. You were never in the club. Not only have you regained the weight you lost, you've actually added more pounds. When this happens, you probably feel frustrated, ashamed, powerless, and you're probably ready to throw up your hands in defeat.
To begin with, it ought to be obvious that once you lose weight, you need to keep the weight off by eating the same types of foods that helped you shed the pounds—not by going back to consuming whole boxes of cookies in front of the TV. But it is not obvious to most.
Most dieters are restricting foods, and not planning a livable diet. What is a livable diet? It's a diet you can live with for the rest of your life. So let me ask you a quick question: How long can you hold your breath? If you're good, maybe 30 or 40 seconds. So, yes, you can do it, but only for a very short period of time. Well, that's how most people diet—they can do it for a bit, but they can't keep holding their breath forever.
To come up with a livable diet you need to find foods you can eat that are healthy and tasty, instead of thinking about what you can't eat. Make sure to find foods that are not boring and bland. The most important factor to consider when you create a livable diet is accommodating your own individual food preferences. In fact, the Journal of Nutrition reports that taste is the single most important reason people choose the foods they do, and that this is also an important factor for regulating hunger, satiety and voluntary food intake.
Not sure how to choose the foods for your livable diet? Look for Calorie Bargains: foods that taste great but are healthier and lower in calories than what you normally eat (and that you won't end up eating too much of—which would negate the Calorie Bargain effect). To help you find Calorie Bargains, start by purchasing a few cookbooks or going online to take a look at Eatingwell.com and CookingLight.com. Get the Hungry Girl series of books to find some creative tips on low-calorie foods and snacks.
2. The Problem: Low Weight Loss
You've been on a diet and haven't lost as much weight as you'd wanted to. You're demoralized and have no desire to try again.
Connect to the past. Keep in mind that every time you diet you learn something. Whether or not you're successful, there is a lesson to be learned. Review your diet disasters and never be ashamed of your failures. Keep an open mind. Think of the strategies that didn't work when you tried to lose weight in the past. By looking at these failures you learn what not to repeat. Make sure to ask yourself: Why didn't these strategies work, and what have I learned from them?
For instance, you might have had the following situation: "All the dieting gurus told me, 'Don't deprive yourself.' Well, I didn't deprive myself. However, I went too far. Whenever I had a desire for cookies, I would eat them. I would try having just one, but I simply couldn't stop myself. I put on 10 pounds following the 'don't deprive yourself' diet."
Examine successes. One of the most important techniques associated with permanent weight loss is to review your past successes. For instance, from Atkins you might have learned you didn't need two slices of bread to feel satisfied by a sandwich. Just the meat and veggies wrapped in a lettuce leaf were satisfying on their own.
From South Beach you might have learned about good carbs versus bad carbs. Maybe Weight Watchers helped you realize that surrounding yourself with supportive people keeps you motivated. Or with Jenny Craig you might have learned portion control by eating the program's prepared foods.
Write down everything you've learned from your past successes. Then hold on to those facts, attitudes and behaviors to keep the weight off.