We all have a similar story: the struggle with weight and the yo-yo dieting. Most of us have been on a dozen or two fad diets in an attempt to reach our weight loss goals. And most of us end up right back where we started. We lose some weight only to gain it all back when we return to eating normally. On and on this cycle goes.
For many years I was stuck in what I call the diet loop. My being a chronic procrastinator didn’t help the situation. I was always starting tomorrow or Monday. “I’m going to eat this cheeseburger now but I’ll start a diet tomorrow.”
I wanted to share with you some realizations and tips that helped me make progress towards my weight loss goals. Sometimes a paradigm shift is needed in order to make positive changes last.
The Magic of Mondays
Mondays are known for being the best day to start a new goal. For most people, they mark the beginning of a new week and because of this, they signal the start of a new and distinct time period. They give you the feeling of a fresh start.
In many cases, Mondays are perfect for starting a new goal. According to five studies done by the University of Pennsylvania and others, we are more motivated to follow our goals on dates that stand out as being more meaningful like Mondays, New Years Day, or the beginning of the month. These significant days make it easier to mentally separate from our past failures, giving us a more positive outlook.
The Problem with Starting a Weight Loss Journey on Mondays
Simply put: you risk getting stuck in a loop of your own making.
I don’t know how many times I’ve told myself that I’m going to start eating healthy tomorrow or on Monday. One of my favorite times to decide to start a diet is just before a greasy and fast-foody meal.
Psychologically, this mentality gives me the green light to eat anything I want at the moment. After all, this is my last delicious meal.
A Familiar Story
The story goes like this: It’s Friday night and your speeding out of the office like you’re running from a cougar. The ice cream cake in your freezer promises a sweet reward after busting your butt all week long. Your hard work has earned you the right to do and eat as you please.
Before you know it, you’re pulling up the postmates app and ordering a pizza with some chicken wings on the side. But once your belly is full, the guilt of the greasy monstrosity you just devoured inspires a vow to start dieting on Monday.
On Monday morning you feel nauseous, constipated, and fat. You might even have a pimple or two. All this is enough to remind you of your new mantra “thou must not eat.”
You start the week off great. You are a determined woman turning down donuts and cafecito breaks at every turn. But by Thursday afternoon, you’re starving, and the 3 o’clock pastries win out.
You feel guilty because you ate something you weren’t supposed to so after work you wave a white flag and order take out. After all, you’ve already screwed up your diet.
Once the guilt of your three-day-binge hits you on Sunday night, you promise yourself once more that you will start your diet tomorrow.
Are You a Victim of the Vicious Diet Loop?
How many of us have been stuck in the diet loop? I know I have. I didn’t start losing any weight until I changed the way I thought about health and weight loss.
To lose weight, I first had to understand that it wasn’t about dieting but about adopting sustainable healthy behaviors.
A Better Approach to Reaching Your Weight Loss Goals
Getting healthier is achieved through the small choices you make on a day to day basis. Health and weight loss goals are more than just starting a new diet. Creating lasting change takes time and effort and there are no shortcuts.
For example, if you eat a donut at work, don’t beat yourself up for it. Enjoy the donut and then have a salad for lunch. Even if you make a bad choice now, you can still make a better choice the next time you eat.
I am a bit of a perfectionist, so for me realizing this was a real light bulb moment.
I recommend watching the BBC documentary, The Truth About Slim People, where they follow around two people who have no idea why they are slim. The documentary seeks to discover what they both have in common that keeps them thin. Do they have skinny genes? Or is it their everyday behaviors.
What they ultimately find is that both managed to stay slim through a combination of behaviors. While they ate some high-calorie meals, they ate less at other times. This way of autoregulating their food intake resulted in an overall reduction of calories. They didn’t eat more than they needed in the span of a week.
Along with this self-regulation of overall food intake, they also ate plant foods with regularity, had healthy gut microbes, and got enough exercise and sleep.
Change Your Perspective
It’s not about starting a new diet but about becoming healthier. After you lose weight you’ll have to maintain it to stay slim. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache by making gradual and sustainable changes instead of viewing your diet as something you’ll follow on a temporary basis.
It’s important to learn to eat healthier and allow your taste buds to become accustomed to eating fruits, vegetables, and less processed foods.
Start Right Now
When it comes to making changes for your health and reaching your weight loss goals, start immediately. Start at your next meal. And if you eat too much or too rich a meal, then have a lighter dish at the following meal. It sounds simple because it is.
Your health is a lifetime commitment. Learning to nourish your body ensures that you will have lasting success. Making sustainable changes is more important than how many calories you’re eating.
Make a lifetime commitment to take care of yourself. After all, you deserve it.