1. Don’t diet. Don’t try to make changes that you can’t sustain. This is why fad diets rarely work. They are usually extreme. If they are even valid, they are typically very restrictive and most only allow you to lose water weight. By focusing on lifestyle change rather than a diet, you create healthy habits that are more lasting.
2. Don’t deprive yourself. Any diet that forces you to cut out food groups is bad news. We need variety. We crave variety. We need nutrients in a number of different foods. Deprivation in most cases only leads to binge eating. I call it Oppositional Diet Syndrome. When you tell an oppositional kid no, what do they say? Watch me! We are the same way with food. The more you tell yourself you can’t have something, the more you want it.
3. Don’t fall in to the all or nothing trap. How many times have you started a diet only to give up after day 1? Too often people decide to make changes, but get discouraged and throw in the towel as soon as it gets hard and they aren’t perfect. Each meal is an opportunity to make a different decision. Change is hard. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do something perfectly.
4. Don’t change everything at once. Have you ever met someone who makes a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking, lose weight and be more financially responsible? Wow! Talk about turning over a new leaf! Instead of trying to change everything, focus on one change at a time. Even small shifts can create lasting change and the effects will add up over time.
5. Don’t use food as a reward or punishment. Break this relationship pattern with food. Withholding food from yourself because you didn’t do something you should or using food as a reward can keep you stuck in an unhealthy relationship pattern. Instead, don’t punish yourself for mistakes, but learn from them and find other rewards for your success.
6. Don’t focus on a number. Step away from the scale! When we live and die by the number on the scale, we set ourselves up for pain. Our body weight can fluctuate several pounds every day based on water weight. The best measurement of success will be how your clothes fit and how your body feels.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others. Our bodies are different, just because someone you know has lost more weight, that does not diminish yours. Don’t measure your success against that of someone else. It just sets you up for disappointment and makes you forget your accomplishments.
8. Don’t obsess. If diets and weight loss fill your consciousness, you will drive yourself crazy! Balance is the key to happiness. Allow yourself to live your life without it being overshadowed by constant internal chatter about what you should or can’t eat.
9. Don’t forget that weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. You didn’t gain weight overnight and you won’t lose it that quickly either. Slow weight loss is much better for lasting success. Losing weight at a more moderate pace allows your body to re-calibrate your hormones. Severe calorie deprivation can be incredibly stressful for your body and can lead you to hold on to weight because your body thinks it is starving and slows your metabolism to conserve energy.