Best Body Series - Six Habits that will Kill Your Diet
Best Body Series - Six Habits that will Kill Your Diet
Best Body Series
The well-bantered “fact” that 95% of those attempting to lose weight fail, leads many frustrated career-dieters to my office looking for answers. A new twist emerged last year when a study concluded that most diets could lead to weight loss but those that were successful in keeping it off had one leading commonality. Regardless which diet was followed, those that tracked their food achieved the greatest success. I am not exaggerating when I say that of the thousands of would-be weight-loss champions that have been through my consulting program, this is an absolute. The single biggest reason I ask clients to log their food and let me see it is so that they drill quantitative food information into their brains. They need to know a bagel has 50 grams of carbs, they need to know a double-cheeseburger has 35 grams of fat…and if they never have to write gram totals down, they never look it up. Once you create a database of information like that in your memory, you can’t make a poor decision “on accident.” If you have a goal, even if you’re accountable only to yourself, you will pass on more “bad” foods and you’ll even plan your days better. Not tracking your food intake makes following any nutrition plan impossible; it is the bad habit that will undermine all progress.
A logical second behavior that will prevent consistent fat loss is simply having a food intake that is too high, regardless of the plan you intend to follow. Many well-intentioned type-A dieters plan, track and consistently eat high-quality food, but too much of it. It can be difficult to create the right starting point for yourself since everyone’s genetic metabolism is different. I recommend working with a proven nutritionist that has much experience and some formal education. Would you let an amateur work on your car? Spend the money on yourself – this is too important.
Now we move into specific habits with food that can pull the rug out from under accomplishment with little warning. A client once told me she created a “rule” for herself that she couldn’t eat standing up. She noticed that when she walked into the kitchen and reached into a bag of chips or dipped a spoon into the ice cream, it was almost a secretive, looking-over-her-shoulder practice of trying to “get away with something.” Haven’t we all done this? If no one sees us, do the calories count? (If you are actually contemplating that question, quit reading this and try not to do anything mentally more strenuous than watching Friends reruns.) Many compulsive quirks like this deflect the real issue: just whom are you dieting for? If your spouse doesn’t see you eat that candy bar miniature, does it matter less to you? The third habit that will cause dietary mayhem is not planning meals and snacks to prevent hunger, leaving you unprepared and famished. Stay ahead of hunger. Plan those meals and stick to them, don’t get caught with your hand in the cookie jar.
The fourth habit that brings even the strongest-willed to his or her knees is taking that first bite of a “trigger food.” Sweet foods or salty snacks, especially when in a calorie deficit, suddenly turn into a binge. Though a recognized eating disorder (Binge Eating Disorder), you don’t have to end up on a psychiatrist’s couch to know how powerful these urges can be. Once unleashed, an unwanted, unplanned eating frenzy can lead to guilt, purging (through harsher dieting or exercise) and a resulting slowing of your metabolism. A vicious cycle indeed – all started with one bite. You can’t eat just one. It can be easier to avoid certain foods when dieting seriously until you know you can be flexible, accountable and in control.
Sloppiness (wasn’t he one of the Seven Dwarves?) is a major deterrent to progress. Is it really a tablespoon of peanut butter or was it a heaping tablespoon? (The answer could double your fat intake for the day.) Being objective is a task I wish I didn’t have to assign adamantly. Life would be more fun for all of us if this weren’t a universal truth. “Officer, but I was going CLOSE to the speed limit….” “I just took my eyes off the toddler for ONE SECOND…” “Was that four pills twice a day for a week or two pills a day for four weeks…” “Scalpel, please. I think the gall bladder is somewhere under here…” Some things simply require precision or you don’t get results. Weight loss can actually be consistent and predictable if you match the right plan with your body, and implement it accurately.
The final habit that will doom your diet to an early grave is lack of patience. If you start on a program and you don’t start losing as fast as you want, it may not indicate it’s a poor approach, it may just need worked on – tweaked – or given more time. It may be that you’re not quite 100% locked in and a little more understanding or practice and you’ll skyrocket with lifelong results. Hang in there. Learn. Work. Be diligent. And don’t forget, that first bite will get you every time!
Dr. Joe is the founder of The Diet Doc and has written in the fitness industry for over a decade. His newest book (www.thedietdocs.com) is taking aim at permanent weight loss while he continues to work with clients every day via his unique online programs (www.thedietdoc.com) and fitness, figure, and bodybuilding competitors of all levels (www.perfectpeaking.com).