As we head into the holiday season, more and more of us will be thinking about the toll the festivities take on our waistline. It's not enough that we are faced with "goodies" when we attend parties and holiday gatherings. In addition, we seem to "run into" fattening hors doerves and desserts in places that don't usually involve food! I'm referring to hair salons, offices, schools, stores, car shops, etc.
I want to begin by making clear that I don't believe in assigning judgement to ourselves or others when we decide for whatever reason, that we in fact don't want to "work on" a particular issue. We all have our reasons for not needing to achieve perfection, and it's called being human! There's no virtue in driving ourselves crazy to meet expectations others have for us. Nor should we aspire to a tombstone that says, "She weighted 110 lbs. for most of her adult life".
I do,however, want to address the readers' dilemmas, above. The two questions are both from readers who are attempting to DIET. And herein lies my answer. DIETS DON'T WORK! (I've tried them myself, just to make sure!) Diets are about deprivation. The first reader deprives themselves for 3 weeks. The second reader deprives themselves everyday all-day, until evening.
The notion of being on a diet implies that someday you will be off.
So you may wonder, "How do I stay on my diet?" And I must answer by asking you another, more appropriate question:
What do you really want?
We are all capable of doing behavior we really don't want to do, but think we should do, for varying lengths of time. Depending on the person, you can engage in adverse behavior for a week, maybe two, three, perhaps for a month, and for others maybe much longer. So too with "staying on a diet". However, there comes a point when everyone wants to go back to their "normal" behavior, ie the behavior you're really comfortable with, the behavior that makes you you. Sooner or later, it becomes harder and harder to be someone else, whose behavior isn't really consistent with what you ultimately want.
So simply put, ultimately, we all end up doing what we really want. Therefore, in order to change your eating habits, you don't need to go on a diet. You don't need to starve yourself. You don't need deprivation. You don't need willpower. Instead, you just need ONE important ingredient:
You need to really and truly want to change your eating and exercise habits (so you can be healthier/look different/ improve your overall fitness.) When one eats to live (instead of living to eat), the entire function of eating changes from excessive compulsive behavior to instead, fueling your body like you fill up your car with gas. The goals become different.
Your behavior changes because your purpose for eating changes. When you want to eat in accordance with healthy living, there is no struggle, since you're doing what you want.
No amount of "willpower" lasts forever. The word implies attempting to gain "power" over your thoughts, actions, (your will). You don't need to "overtake your will" when what you want is to eat healthily. In addition, since eating healthily is not about deprivation, you don't need to assign words like "good or "bad" to any particular food. Quantities become more appropriate (less compulsive) as well.
There are many weight loss programs as well as private nutritionists who can teach you about healthy eating. Like any other subject, professionals in the field can coach you on what might be the best eating and exercise plan for you.The key is recognizing it's up to you to take responsibility for what you truly want.
If you're interested in further discussion about my own weight loss, I wrote an article (Thinking to Thin) which was published in Rochester Magazine, January-February 2011 issue.