I was listening to a podcast the other day and heard a surprising statistic – On average, women will start 4 new diets every single year. At first, I was shocked and a little skeptical about this. But, as I started to think about my own history with diets and “food experimentation”, I realized it wasn’t too far off from up until about 2 years ago.
As someone who works with people on a daily basis around creating a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and mindset, I have made it a point to find out what someone has tried before we start to even talk about the future. The reality is, the diets people have tried and the reasons why they didn’t work are all pretty much the same. It boils down to a matter of sustainability and lifestyle. In other words, the changes they were making were causing them to alter their current life so much that it wasn’t realistic to stick to such a program.
When it comes to finding a food routine that works for you, it’s so much more to think about than the recipes you’re going to make. In today’s world, there are a million diets and food programs, so knowing which one would work for you is overwhelming. The truth is, there is no “one size fits all” program that will be exactly what you need. You’re a unique person with specific needs and goals that are personal to you, so whatever changes you make need to reflect those things. And although some adjustments to your routine will need to happen to get results, you can make a big impact in weight loss, having more energy, toning up, and just feeling good in your body again with less changes than most plans require.
So, if you’re thinking about making some healthier changes but the range of diets and programs out there are leaving your feeling completely overwhelmed. Here are four guidelines to follow when deciding on a diet or food program that will work best for you. If you’re thinking of starting a new plan that doesn’t fit these guidelines, you may want to consider other options:
- It fits within your current living patterns (to some extent):
This is a little dependent on what your current lifestyle looks like, but for the most part, you shouldn’t have to cut out living your life on Sundays because you have to spend the whole day food prepping. Diets and food programs like this aren’t sustainable. What mom out there can give up a whole day for food prep?! Any kind of program you look into needs to have an element of convenience, otherwise you’ll be likely to go back to old ways of fast food runs and candy bars when the kids are throwing a tantrum and you just need to eat.
- It focuses more on health, wellness, and how you feel over drastic weight loss:
If I only had a nickel for every time someone told me, “I did xyz diet, and it worked pretty well, but I gained all the weight back and more once I stopped.” Sadly, we live in a society that wants instant results and gratification. So, rapid results like weight loss become a tactic to go after, and it works, but not well or for an extended amount of time. If a program is telling you that you could lose a large amount of weight in a short period of time, that’s more of a red flag than a sign you should try it out.
- It incorporates other environmental factors into the issue:
Have you ever heard of the idea of “holistic wellness”? When looking at the reasons why people struggle to lose weight or have enough energy in the day, most of the time, it’s not just their diet that is causing the issue. Other factors, like stress, have an impact on a person’s ability to achieve these goals as well. A program that is focused on your overall health and wellness, and not just what you eat, will ensure you get the best, and healthiest, results.
- It allows you to ramp up:
Have you ever tried running a half marathon without really training for it? I have- and it isn’t fun. It leaves your knees feeling like they are going to fall off and you can pretty much forget about walking the next day. Diets and lifestyle changes are exactly the same. You can’t expect to make a 100 changes in your life on a Monday morning and stick to them long term. Look for a program that offers the ability to start with a few changes and allows you to add in additional elements, like exercise, when you’re ready.
- You don’t have to be “perfect”:
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of “cheat days”, because it eliminates the whole idea of “holistic wellness” (see #3). But, if you have a weak moment or you get caught in a situation where you have limited food choices for lunch, you shouldn’t need to quit your program or start all over again. Forgiveness and giving yourself some grace is key when it comes to a long lasting program. Admit you struggled, decide how you’re going to overcome it next time, and move on.
- It includes accountability and support:
Everything you do in life includes accountability and support, so why should your diet be any different? When you go to school, you have a teacher who holds you accountable to doing your homework. When you are in sports, you have a coach that supports you and gives you feedback on improving at your game. When you get a job, you have a boss that helps you overcome roadblocks. Don’t put yourself through the torture of going through a diet without someone who can support you and hold you accountable to staying on track, plain and simple. Whether it’s a coach, or an accountability buddy, you’ll be more likely to be successful if you have a community of people who can keep you accountable and motivated.
- It includes a focus on healthy mindset:
Having a strong understanding in “why” you’re doing the program and that you are deserving of feeling your best self is just as big of a hurdle as the goal itself. Moms are definitely not the exception when everyone and everything else comes first. It’s also why so many people are emotional eaters. But, instead of self-sabotaging and diving into a tub of donuts, find a program that focuses on “why” this happens and how to overcome it so you are a step ahead of your own mind’s tricks when it comes to achieving your goals.
- It’s not a diet at all, it’s actually a lifestyle:
One of my favorite sayings is, “It shouldn’t feel like a life sentence, it should feel like a lifestyle”. Whatever healthy food program you decide to start, make sure it’s something that you could see yourself continuing forever. And if you find yourself feeling like you’re punishing yourself or restricting yourself because of the changes, that’s where you should take a long hard look at #6 and #7. You should be going into this program with a mindset that you are making a few changes to improve the quality of your life, which will result and having more energy to play with you kids, or feeling happier and less stressed so you aren’t blowing up at your partner. If you’re thinking, “I’ll just tough it out until I lose 10 lbs.” and you’re crabby and unhappy the whole time, I promise there is a better solution out there for you.
At the end of the day, there may not be a pre-created program that works for you, and that’s completely okay. If you know you’re ready to make some healthier changes, but all the options out there are making you feel overwhelmed and stuck, let’s hop on a quick 15-minute call and I can see if and how I can help you take that first step to finding a plan that will help you reach those goals you’re after.