By Robyn Moreno
According to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the type of diet plan you choose (South Beach, The Zone, cabbage soup) has less to do with weight loss than the act of sticking to your chosen diet. While this may seem like a no-brainer, many of us who start January zealously committed to getting fit only to crash hard in February (Valentine’s Day chocolates, anyone?) know it’s much easier said than done.
To help break us out of this oh-so-vicious cycle, life coaches Meredith Haberfield and Lauren Zander of Handel Group Private Coaching show us effective ways to overcome common diet pitfalls so we can keep our goals and look great this summer.
Remember you’re in charge
“Losing weight isn’t about cheesecake,” says Haberfield. “It’s about feeling like you can control your body and your life.” According to Haberfield, many people use food as an “I deserve this” treat, but then feel worse later when they can’t fit into their clothes. “Most people are used to feeling bad about themselves because they gained weight or didn’t keep their goal,” says Haberfield. “But you don’t have to feel bad anymore. You dictate what goes in your mouth. You have the power to change.”
Get good support
We all have those “bad influence” friends who tell us we look fine just as we are, then coax us into splitting a dessert that we didn’t even want! It’s imperative, says Zander, to surround yourself with people who respect your goal. Support groups like Overeaters Anonymous and Weight Watchers are great places to turn, says Zander, because they give you a loudspeaker to voice all your thoughts and frustrations. She also suggests getting a diet buddy. “She’ll help balance you out and help keep you in line,” says Zander.
Set a goal
“Once you have a set goal,” says Haberfield, “it’s easier to create a plan and strategy to achieve that goal.” So, if you want to lose 10 pounds, you can base your meals around that goal accordingly. “And be specific with your goal,” continues Haberfield. “Come up with a number that makes you feel great and confident.” Haberfield recommends visualizing yourself at this ideal weight in detail: what it feels like, the clothes you’ll get to wear. “It’s great incentive when you can see how great you’ll look.”
Want to increase you fruit and veggie intake and cut out all junk food? Don’t try to go cold turkey. “Set a few new rules each week,” says Zander. “Create a list of ‘No’s.’” For the first week, for example, you might limit bread and desserts to no more than twice a week. For the next week you might eliminate them completely and add in more fruits and vegetables. Throughout, keep a list of what you are eating. This will make you more mindful about your choices and help you spot potential problem areas.
Get over your excuses
“If you knew you’d get $50,000 for sticking to your diet for one day, wouldn’t you do it?” asks Zander. With the exception of those who have medical conditions, most people could stick to their diets with a little planning and perseverance. So, if you know you have a big work dinner, try to get the menu ahead so you’ll know your healthy options, and be resolved to pass on wine when everyone else having a grand old time. Staying the course now, says Zander, is going to help you feel great later.
Make yourself accountable
So you slipped and ate half a box of cookies. What now? “When you break a promise, confess it to someone else,” says Haberfield, “it keeps you honest.” By verbalizing it you make it real, says Haberfield, and harder to sweep under the rug. She also suggests creating fun but annoying consequences for your behavior, like washing dishes even if you have a dishwasher or hitting the gym twice in one day. Makes that cookie seem a little less desirable, doesn’t it?
No feeling bad
“If you have fallen off track, don’t waste time feeling bad about it,” says Zander. “It’s just a diversion to keep you unmotivated and off target.” Feeling guilty can make you depressed, which can then make you crave comfort, and that’s where the Chunky Monkey ice cream comes in. Instead, acknowledge you went astray, then get back on the wagon. This is much more empowering and much less dramatic.
Know it’s not about dieting, but about keeping promises to yourself
“Making promises to yourself and keeping them is the foundation for having what you want in every area of your life,” says Haberfield. “Improving your health energizes your confidence and understanding that you can do well for yourself. Once that is in motion, it carries over to the other areas of your life.” And that self-confidence is worth all the Krispy Kremes in the world.