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How to Get Started on Permanent Weight Loss Program
Why We Start Diets on Monday
The biggest problem with any attempt at change is where to begin? There are so many things to think about, so many distractions, so many reasons why it won't work. Have you ever noticed everyone seems to start a new eating plan on Monday? Why not start on Wednesday afternoon, or Friday morning for that matter?
We've grown up counting the days, weeks, and years off like worry beads. Birthdays mark one year older and wiser, New Year's Eve marks a new beginning, the first day of the month and first day of the week; they all mark a new beginning. There is no reason you can't simply decide to begin right here, right now. So, let's start now. Really, I'm not kidding. You can decide to start at any time. You don't need to wait until Monday. "But, I always start a new diet on Monday!" Ah, but this isn't a diet, this is a lifestyle change. A lifestyle change isn't about being ON or OFF a program, you are just living, and this is about beginning from this day forward, whether today is Tuesday or Saturday doesn't matter.
That's why lifestyle changes work best for long-term weight loss. It may seem like it takes longer to lose weight by changing your usual habits, but it doesn't. Think about all the diets you've been on, all the days, weeks, months you've wasted dieting, that have added up to a big fat nothing, except maybe more weight. That to me seems like taking a very long time, in fact, the chances are you'll never truly succeed with any ON again, OFF again program. They don't work over the long-term because as soon as you go back to your usual habits, your usual weight comes right back. How could it be otherwise? In contrast, a lifestyle change may take a month to see much difference, but once you do notice a difference, once you've lost that 10 pounds, it's gone for good (unless of course you run right back to your old lifestyle).
Practice makes perfect. Since there is no way to be perfect, it's far better to decide you'll do your best and then proceed about doing it. Eating something "off plan" is not a lapse, it's a life, it happens. We all have treats at birthdays and too much to drink New Year's Eve but we don't continue that pattern the next day, so why think you must eat perfectly from now on? It won't work if you set yourself up to fail by expecting perfection. Better to work on making one small change at a time.
Choose to Make One Small Change, Then Another
Fad weight loss diets work over the short-term because you are drastically changing your habits, but drastic changes rarely stick. Who wants to live a life of deprivation? Not me. Instead, decide right now to make one small change. Choose something in your lifestyle that could be improved on and improve it. This is an ongoing process. As you lose some weight, you'll need to decide again and again whether you want to make any additional changes.
I lost 80 pounds in nine months over 17 years ago. Over the years since then as my diet and daily habits shifted so did my weight. A few times I noticed I had put back on 10 or 20 pounds. That's when I'd begin to notice my clothes don't fit well and I either must buy bigger clothes or make some changes. I'd rather make changes in what I'm eating.
My diet had shifted from a very healthy one to a pre-sweetened cereal for breakfast, cookies for lunch and grab what I can find for dinner lifestyle. Slowly the weight came back and despite thinking I wasn't eating that many calories, I actually was eating far more than I realized, plus the nutrition was poor quality. Your body needs quality food. Without it, you'll continue having hunger pangs despite having just eaten. Until you get some real nutrition you can expect to continue feeling hungry. The nutrition I was eating was poor and my body reflected that, plus I had stopped exercising completely.
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I turned it around by returning to regular, consistent exercise (No. 1 best way to lose weight and keep it off is to exercise consistently), and I switched from pre-sweetened cereal to Grapenuts, oatmeal or other whole grain cereals. I still like cereal and eat it most mornings. I started to snack on fruits and vegetables instead of store bought cookies, and I started to eat quality protein with vegetables and salads for dinner.
I still eat dessert most every night but now it's one-third the quantity it was when I had let my weight creep up. Small changes, but basically I'm still eating and living the same lifestyle. My choices are slightly different but that doesn't mean I wouldn't ever eat pre-sweetened cereal again. It does mean I know if I do eat Corn Pops (one of my favorites) I'll likely be hungry for something sugary sweet by 10 AM and keep that preference all day. It's also very likely if I eat sugary foods (highly processed like chips, pastries) for three or four days in a row, then it's going to be tougher to switch back to a healthier lifestyle. Consequently, I make an effort to not let the worse eating become a habit by nipping it in the bud.
I still order a giant double-cheese burger with a family pack fry if I go to Dairy Queen but it's about twice a year instead of once a week. I tried to order a smaller burger and it didn't satisfy me, but cutting back the frequency was painless. Switching from eating at Dairy Queen once a week to more like twice a year makes a big difference. Another change I made was the Thursday night Chinese food take-out habit. No big deal except I'd buy enough for three days, so I was eating Chinese again, far too often. This is store bought, highly sugared Chinese food not clean healthy Chinese fare as you might cook yourself or get in a better quality restaurant. In fact, Chinese food is very healthy if it's not Americanized but I was eating breaded and sweetened things like Orange Chicken (you won't find that in any Asian country) and deep fried shrimp with that red sauce (tomato candy).
Examine your usual eating habits and see where you might make small changes. Keep a notepad handy and jot down everything you eat for one week. It's not easy to do, but it's so valuable to really discover what you usually eat, and then make small changes either in frequency or quantity of those things. If you always eat french fries, then maybe once a week you could instead have an orange. Not the same I know, I'm just tossing out ideas. It's up to you to decide what you'll have instead.
Remember, it's not about simply stopping your usual routine but switching to a new routine. No matter what you decide, start now. You aren't going to be eating perfectly, you're just going to work on eating a bit better, so get started.
~~ Kathryn Martyn, Master NLP Practitioner, EFT counselor, author of Changing Beliefs, Your First Step to Permanent Weight Loss, and owner of OneMoreBite-Weightloss.com lost 80 pounds over 17 years ago. She maintains her weight using the techniques she teaches in her 8-week Ending Emotional Eating online weight loss program, private coaching practice and her popular workshops.
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