The following is a quote from a blog-site diary. I have omitted the names of the diets mentioned by the author.
“Today I officially start the [name of diet omitted] diet. Good luck to me. Over the past several months I have been struggling with my weight. I did really well and lost 80 pounds on [the writer mentioned a specific calorie counting diet], but I have slowly gained about half of that back. Which is incredibly frustrating. Every day I would start out saying that today was the day I would get back on track. I would last through lunch then I would be starving and upset that I couldn’t stick to it. Then the weekend would come and I would go out and eat dinner, order something I shouldn’t, and be completely miserable once I finished eating. For some reason I have always had an issue with food. When I get frustrated, I eat. When I am anxious, I eat. [The writer mentions a new diet plan] I thought maybe I should try that. Seems simple. I didn’t run out to buy the book because I’ve done that before and I have a huge stack of diet books I’ll never use again. Waste! Then this week I decided maybe I should seriously consider this [new diet plan]. I hate the way I feel and this could help me get back to where I want.”
I have heard this story repeated so often.
To be successful, all diets need to have two parts. The first part is losing the weight, the second part is keeping it off.
Studies show that diets that depend on willpower fail – the research is conclusive. Successful diets are the ones where you have formed new habits to replace old habits. This is what is meant by changing your lifestyle. Habits are not dependent upon willpower.
An essential part of forming new habits is to keep a journal. Without keeping a journal, you will be right back into the position of depending upon willpower to get you through difficult times – the times you are tempted to go off your diet and binge.
Willpower is the conscious effort at self-regulation. Willpower is required when you rely upon a conscious effort to choose a long-term goal over a short-term temptation. Habits, on the other hand, are responding subconsciously to a predetermined situation. A situation arises that you have anticipated and have prepared how to respond ahead of time. Your response is subconscious – a habit. An inspiring example of this is how Michael Phelps won one of his gold medals at the Olympics in Beijing. I have attached an excerpt of this story from The Power of Habit by Charles DuHigg. Click here to read this inspiring excerpt.
There are six steps in forming a new habit.
Step 1 – define your motive.
If you have decided to lose weight there must be a reason. What is that reason?
For example, perhaps you’ve just found out you are going to be the mother of the bride. You have wanted to lose weight for a long time, and this is your motivation to start now. Or perhaps, your doctor has given you some alarming news, a life threatening wake-up call. You must start to lose weight now.
Whatever your reason, it is important that you write down the specific reasons. Make a list of all the reasons that losing weight is important to you. Remember keeping a journal is essential.
Step 2 – define your goal.
What is your goal? Write it down. Success is defined as the ultimate realization of a predetermined goal. How many pounds do you want to lose? Write it down. Specifically, what is your target weight?
Then, rewrite your goal in terms of size. State your current size and then write down the size you would like to achieve.
Step 3 – make a decision.
How do you plan to lose weight? There are many diet plans. Why did you choose that particular plant? As always, write down your reasons. Follow the old adage, plan your work and work your plan.
Step 4 – determine the rules.
How clearly are the rules defined in the weight loss plan you have chosen to follow? Is your diet plan going to require willpower or discipline? Write down in your journal the rules that you are following.
Step 5 –use discipline.
Discipline is following predetermined rules until they become ingrained as a habit. Discipline requires prior planning – you have made the decision to respond to a particular situation without having to think about it. How you intend to respond has been predetermined.
For example, when a sugary treat is offered, you have predetermined and pictured yourself saying “Thank you, not right now.” Then after you say that you have pictured in your mind the long-term reward (a picture of a healthy fit and trim you – as if you are looking at an actual picture of yourself).
Step 6 – continue the habit.
Psychologists say three to six weeks are required to develop a new habit. Once you have formed the habit it becomes stronger as you continue to perform it. If you don’t continue, then old habits will return to replace it. This is the problem that the writer at the start of this post experienced. She was on a calorie counting diet. She lost 80 pounds, but after she met her target weight, she reverted back to old habits, the weight came piling back on. This is an often repeated story of yo-yo diets that are not sustainable.