By: Nutritionist S. Keith Klein IV CN CCN
Relapse Prevention: Lifestyle
By now, you should realize that giving up food groups, being deprived, and being on strict diets create more problems than they resolve. The goal here is to get focused on changes you know you can do for the rest of your life. When you do this, you take your mind off the idea that your eating is another diet and focus on solving the issues contributing to your weight. And when you think like this, it suddenly becomes clear what you need to fix to get what you say you want, “long-term weight loss.”
The best way to go about this shift is to admit that you are where you are because of your own choices and decisions. No one else did this to you but you. Therefore only you can fix it. You don’t need a diet pill, a guru, or another book telling you what to do because you already have the answers to fix your problem. At the fundamental root of all weight gain, there are reasons for its cause and solutions to correct it. One of the first things I want you to think about is to let go of setting up a time frame on when you’re supposed to be done losing all your weight. This goes against current goal-setting techniques, but weight loss differs in many ways from other goals. How? The desire for weight loss is entirely different from saving money, finishing college, or buying a house within a specific time frame because those goals are supposed to have an end date. If you understand the objective, the difference with losing weight is that losing weight involves lifestyle changes that don’t end. So you see, whatever you do to lose weight is what you must keep doing to keep it off.
When I look at what successful people do to keep their weight off over the long term, I noticed they don’t set a time limit on when they have to finish losing weight. Instead, they develop a plan they know they will do for the rest of their life, like brushing their teeth. What comes after most people reach their end date? Correct, they stop losing, begin to let go of the very behaviors responsible for losing it, and usually start gaining it all back. That’s why so many people relapse; they start thinking there’s an end to what they changed. Losing weight permanently is never about how fast you can do it; instead, it’s more about how permanently you can change the behaviors that got you in trouble. But it’s really about changing how you think about food and what you do with food. Saving to buy a house or a new car by a specific date works because once you have enough money, your goal is done, and you now buy what you want. It’s not that way with weight loss because the plan to exercise and eat right never ends. Instead, it becomes a part of who you are and what you do daily.
Therefore, there is no end date; your goal is to be able to change specific behaviors that caused your problem and keep doing those new behaviors until they are part of your identity. I like to tell clients, “just rinse and repeat.” While it’s fun and worthwhile to set up small goals like, “I’m going to lose 5 pounds, etc.,” what most people don’t realize is that by setting an end date like, you have to lose all your weight in 12 weeks, or six months, instantly sets you up for a negative, self-defeating experience. Think about how often you’ve set up a time frame within which you must be done and didn’t do it. How did that leave you feeling emotionally? You might feel Defeated, unable to believe in your abilities, or worse yet, like a failure. And this is where many negative experiences originate with dieting, and why self-doubt creeps in, which is why many people give up on their journey.
Also, when setting an end date, most people forget to factor in the many interruptions they encounter with daily life. And these interruptions, things like birthdays, holidays, celebrations, and vacations, ensure that you won’t reach the original date you set for yourself. Now, instead of the weight loss process being joyful or a good experience, it becomes another goal at which you failed. Which in turn contributes to less self-worth and deeper feelings of frustration. I realize this goes against everything you’ve ever been told about losing weight, but so does a lot of the things I’ve told you throughout my program….eat more, not less; you don’t have to eat perfectly all the time, bad choices are part of healthy weight loss, etc. I want you to think about your journey in a new way. It’s a lifelong journey that doesn’t ever end, and you don’t have to reach the finish line in six or twelve weeks.
You have to work on getting your attention off your body weight and focus where it matters…focus on changing, in a positive way, the things that created your problem. Once you fix those things, your weight will take care of itself. One of the best ways I know how to start this process is by making a list of what you think is holding you back from losing weight or the things you regularly do that cause your weight gain. To help you, I’ll list the most common things that tend to hold people back from losing;
1. eating out too much
2. not cooking & carrying food
3. overeating red meat
4. overeating fried and processed food
5. snacking too much during the day and/or at night
You should notice something; there is usually one thing on that list which, if they focused the most attention, changing that one thing would often change almost all the others. Can you spot the one thing that, if you changed, would change the rest? Hint: it’s the one thing most people fight and resist changing the most.
The biggest one to change is number 2, “not cooking & carrying food.” If you don’t cook, you have no food to carry. When it comes time to eat, you have to grab from a deli, vending machine or restaurant where the calories and amount of food is too much. No cooking also means you’ll eat out more, where foods like red meat, fried foods and desserts can slip in. In addition, not cooking means you’re more likely to end up hungry and snacking. Cooking and carrying food is the key to long-term success that will help you lose weight and keep it off. Setting a deadline for weight loss can be self-defeating because it puts an end date to a journey that requires lifelong change. A more successful approach may be to focus on making small changes to behaviors contributing to your problem areas and making those permanent.