Make it a LIFESTYLE not a DIET if you want real success! Part 1

When it comes to fat loss, quick fix diets may sound more attractive than long-term strategies because they promote immediate results. The problem with diets is that the fast results are not sustainable long term. Diets don’t work, if you want to lose fat and keep it off you have to make a lifestyle change. Diets are temporary but lifestyle changes are for life. If you’re looking to lose a few pounds for a holiday or event, quick fixes may get you there for that specific event but once the event is over you will more than likely switch back to your old habits as you saw the dieting strategy as a temporary fix meaning the weight will creep back on and possibly adding even more weight on. However if you want to look and feel good year round you need to make a lifestyle change that will reflect that.

What does a lifestyle change look or feel like? How do you know you’ve made a change? Do you get some sort of magical wisdom when you “make the change”? Does this mean that you will finally stop craving chocolate and start loving broccoli?

A matter of perspective is the difference between a diet mentality and lifestyle mentality. Broccoli doesn't taste better than chocolate because you are in the right frame of mind but it can make the difference when it comes to achieving your goals, and keeping your goals in mind over the long term. If you think you’re going to fail at eating healthy then you will fail, simple as. If you want to make the change from a diet mentality to a lifestyle mentality you have to believe that you can do it.

Here are the main differences between diets and a lifestyle:

1. Diets are all about numbers – the number on the scales, the number of calories you eat, the number of calories you burn. These numbers and how well you stick to these numbers define your success during a diet.

Lifestyle changes are about you. It is about making your eating and physical activity match up to your real goals and desires. Success is defined by how you make these changes and how they make you feel.

2. Diets are temporary and once you reach a certain number on the scales you will magically be happy and it will solve all your problems - wrong! This is why not reaching a certain calorie target or going over on one day can be so distressing, it means you’ve messed it all up. Dieting can be hard but at least it is not permanent – this kind of attitude makes slipping back into old habits inevitable.

A lifestyle is just that - for LIFE - this means you need to focus on a number of different things rather than just the number on the scales or the calories you’ve burnt. This approach looks at why you have excess fat rather than just the fact that you have it. Having excess fat is usually the result of other problems and not the cause of the problems.

3. A diet involves a temporary change in eating patterns. You start to count, weigh and measure everything you eat, you stop eating certain foods based on the rules of the diet plan you are following and add in foods you don't even enjoy just because the plan tells you to. You think it will be the technique or tool that produces the results and not you. Diets can only change your appearance, they can't change what is inside you; it is your mindset and your emotions will remain the same, yet it is these that need to change in order for you to make a lifestyle change. You will assume that once you reach your goal weight you will not need to eat this way any more – you will go back to your previous way of eating and things will just go back to “normal” meaning so does you weight, it starts to gradually creep back up to what it was before with maybe even more weight put on. All the problems you hoped losing the weight would solve are now back and still there.

Lifestyle changes involve both an internal and external change. It involves changing your relationship with food, nutrition and exercise. The problem isn’t what you eat or how much of it you it, but it is how and why you eat this food. What really needs to change is the pattern of eating mindlessly and impulsively without even realising, and using food to manage stress, emotions and to distract yourself from your thoughts. You need to learn to look after yourself both in body and in mind so that you don’t feel the need to eat to fill your emotions, and solve your problems with food.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to control what you eat or how much you eat – these things are still vital but the real issue is fitting these into your life and your goals. The key to any lifestyle change is to feel satisfied and happy with yourself and that you can take responsibility for your own happiness and what you can control.

If you focus too specifically on the numbers or what you see in the mirror you are letting your happiness depend on these things and often you can’t control these things. This just sets you up for a lifetime of being worried, stressed and uncomfortable and you will more than likely have problems with emotional eating in the future. Learning to be happy with the body you have and the body you are working for is important, learning to love yourself is a big part in making a lifestyle change.

If you often find yourself losing motivation or feeling like you can’t do any more to control your behaviour, it is most likely because you are counting on the tools to do the work for you. Only you can change your attitude and perspective to match your reality.