Before we start, you might want to refresh your mind on the definition of “diet.”
Pronunciation: \ˈdī-ət\ Function: noun Etymology: Middle English diete, from Anglo-French, from Latin diaeta, from Greek diaita, literally, manner of living, from diaitasthai to lead one’s life
While I don't have a degree in nutrition (although I majored briefly in kinesiology- more about movement), I think that my 20 years of dieting experience (yes, I started dieting at age eight) gives me a little insight into what works and doesn't work. Maybe you will read this list and think “uh, duh?” but sometimes when cravings kick in and our bodies feel like they're not our own, but some fat/carb/whatever craving monster, it's easy to forget these tips. Over the years I've lost and gained well over 500 pounds. Talk about depressing, and crazy.
Now that I am in clear mind and on the right track, here's a list of dieting tips from moi, self-proclaimed expert. These should apply whether or not you're like me and do a low-carb plan, or if you do something else like Weight Watchers or just a general low-fat or low-calorie lifestyle.
- You made the choice to eat this way- live it or forget it. I get so frustrated when people whine about not being able to have this or that. You know what whiners? You MADE the CHOICE to eat/live whatever way you're doing. Does it suck that you REALLY want a piece (or 3) of peanut butter cheesecake and your size 2 girlfriend can eat all of it she wants? Sure it sucks, but what are you going to do about it? Sabotage yourself over cheesecake and beat yourself up over it? Hell no. Every day our lives are full of CHOICES that we must live with. Embrace the choice you made and don't beat yourself up over things you have the CHOICE to not feel bad about.
- If it's too hard after 2 weeks, cut your losses and move on. I've posted about radical fad diets that I've undertaken, and how the outcome of all of them is depression and gaining more weight than I started with. If you make the CHOICE (back to good ‘ol #1 again!) to eat a certain way, and you find that after a couple weeks it's too hard to manage for whatever reason, re-evaluate your program. For example, I would never succeed at low-carb if I were a vegan. Also, I would never succeed at cabbage soup because it makes me want to vomit. I didn't succeed at “juice feasting” because I am too busy to spend time juicing for all my meals and snacks- can't get away from the office for that, plus the sugar made me loopy. Get it? The first week is always difficult as your body tries to figure out what the hell is wrong with it. Second week should get gradually easier and it shouldn't make you ticked off when you think about how many more weeks you need to get to your goal.
- Set yourself up for success. I've also ranted about self-sabotage and not recognizing little victories. Sometimes, the choices we make, even subconsciously, are contradictory to what is best for us. Take responsibility for your diet and set yourself up for success. If you have a family who doesn't eat what you eat, seperate their food from your food. Don't let the chips and soda stare you down every time you go to the kitchen. Before going to the grocery store, get in your mind of what you want to prepare for yourself that will be on your plan and fulfilling and make a grocery list. Don't go on auto-pilot to the grocery only realizing you only bought stuff your family can eat and leave you in a bind. I've fallen in this trap many times, even just shopping for myself. I go in the store, zone around the perimiter in my usual pattern (I don't really eat processed foods), grab a few things, then on the way home realize I have nothing to eat and end up eating out most of the meals for the week. I know it's cliche, but “fail to plan, plan to fail.”
- If you hit a speed bump, keep on' truckin'. Last week I ate a piece of what I thought was sugar free black cherry pie. Tasted different though than it normally does, but I ignored the warnings and kept eating. Peed on the ketostick (remind me I need to write a post on this!) and it didn't change even the slightest shade of pink. (Ketosticks measure the amount of ketones in your urine. For low-carbers, being in ketosis is when our bodies are burning fat versus carbs for fuel. Starts off beige, and then goes to shades of pink, ending in dark purple. The closer to purple, the higher amount of ketones in your urine. Lovely thought, I know.) I immedietly knew something was wrong, and that pie was the only thing that really was different from what I normally ate. Sure enough, I got that sugar-hangover feeling and immediatley had to decide to not let it get me down. I boycotted my weigh in for last week so I didn't see a bad number of the scale. I got extra-strict and minimized eating out and cut all alcohol out (sob…). Today, purple pee stick. The old Emmie would say “screw it” and have 1 day of “off-plan” eating, followed by another, and maybe another. I'd swell up like a wet roll of toilet paper and then kick myself for doing it. Lesson learned. If you're driving and hit a speed bump, what do you do immediatley after? Hit the gas! Do the same thing with your diet- you can't move forward if you hit the bump and just sit there.
- If you're not doing it for yourself, you won't be successful. There are so many reasons to want to lose weight. Appearence being the big daddy of them all. Maybe you think you'll have more friends or that more guys or gals will like you. Whatever. If you're not doing it for yourself, screw it. Chalk this rule up to the notion of personal accountability. If you are internally motivated by true selfish reasons, you will find your path to success paved with gravel instead of boulders. If you're motivated by some external force like the opposite sex or cute designer clothes, when times get hard, they're easy to dismiss and move back into your old habits. On the other hand, if your motivated by your true desire to feel better about yourself or to not be winded after hauling your ass up a flight of stairs- those things are ones that run deep, and you can remind yourself of them every day. You are numero uno, and if you don't want it for yourself, wait until you find it inside yourself to start.
I hope these didn't sound too much like a “self-help” book. They are just simple things that we all instinctively know, but don't think about. Feel free to share your tips in the comments- I'd love to hear them!