There’s lots of misinformation out there, but often the greatest diet and weight loss lies are the ones we tell ourselves.
The Food I’m Craving Will Taste Awesome.
Maybe so. For the first three bites, anyway. But then, if you really pay attention, most foods offer significantly diminishing returns.
As you navigate the world and encounter foods you feel tempted by, make sure to tell yourself the whole story about them. When you have a craving, and all you can hear is your activated brain telling you how awesome a certain food is going to taste, be honest and tell yourself the full truth about a food, not just how it might taste for the next 30 seconds.
Yes, a few bites may taste good, but also? They will leave you ravenously hungry and give you a stomachache. Or maybe cause a blood sugar spike, a migraine or eczema. Have you ever been able to limit these foods before, or do they usually lead down a rabbit hole of continued poor food choices and a days long binge?
In the face of changing eating habits, I’ve heard many people describe themselves as foodies, “I just really enjoy food.” And while this may be true, when I have broken down my own eating history, and taken a cold, hard look at the times I have eaten in ways that don’t align with my stated goals, what I’ve found is startling: overeating and binge eating is rarely about food enjoyment, in fact it is usually the exact opposite. I’m barely even tasting the food (beyond the first few bites). When you enjoy something, you savor it, you celebrate it. You don’t sneak, hide or feel ashamed about it, and it certainly doesn’t feel like a chore you will combust from if not completed.
Tell yourself the complete story about the foods you eat, not just what the immediate gratification will offer.
Every Meal Should Be A Party.
Spend any time on low carb and ketogenic blogs and you might believe that everyone is eating super high fat meals three times a day, along with snacks of nuts, cheese and pepperoni. While this strategy may be helpful while transitioning away from carbs, the truth is that most people who have lasting success on a low carb diet, eventually pare down their fat to just enough: enough that food tastes good and is enjoyable, enough that you feel physically satiated and can go long periods of time without needing to eat, but not so much that it derails your health and weight goals.
Food should be enjoyable but beware of the ways in which turning every eating experience into a party only serves to make you want to keep eating and eating. Sometimes food will be functional and generally speaking, a little plainer.
The more time you spend with food, the more time you spend with food.
Weight Loss is Linear.
No, it’s not.
Steady weight loss is a rarity. Usually, weight is lost in fits and starts as the body adjusts and heals and we adapt to a new lifestyle. Very few people see a straight line down on the scale. It’s normal for there to be periods where you are doing everything right and yet the scale does not move or even jumps up for a little while.
Well-curated and dramatic before-and-after photos on Facebook don’t show all the disappointments and struggles on the road to meaningful weight loss. There will be times when you have made all the right decisions, and the results on the scale will be frustrating. Do your best to not let it break your spirit into tiny pieces or drive you straight into the “F-its” where you throw in the towel.
The good news? The 3-5 pounds you gained overnight are not real. They are likely water weight.
The bad news? The 3-5 pounds you lost overnight aren’t real either.
Real fat loss is about a 4–6-week lag from your current eating regimen. The scale’s trajectory over time is what you are after, not the day-to-day snapshots.
Making decisions about your diet based on daily changes on the scale would be like cashing out your retirement account based on the hourly fluctuations of the stock market. You may change strategy slightly, but it’s highly unlikely you would wake up one morning, see your account balance is up or down a little bit, cash out your account and blow your life savings in favor of starting over next Monday.
This may be surprising to hear, but we really don’t have much control over the scale, at least not day-to-day. This is why it is so important to focus on the small, daily habits that create a consistently healthy lifestyle. Those habits are the only things we can truly control.
Hold tight and remember why you started this journey in the first place. Was it really to achieve a number on the scale or was it to live a fuller life?
Stay the course and ignore the scale. Focus on the things you can control, like food prep and moving your body, like eating foods that satiate and nourish.
Live your life more fully. That’s what you really wanted in the first place, right? Go forth and do that. The scale will catch up.
I have given two eulogies and performed one wedding ceremony, and never once thought to mention anyone’s weight loss, macros or that they kept their carbs low.
Losing weight is not the purpose of life, it’s a means to living a longer, healthier, and fuller one.
Everything Will Be Perfect When I Lose Weight.
If your weight is causing great physical or emotional discomfort, reducing your body size and being less pained by a difficult relationship with food can change your life, but nothing magical happens when you hit a certain number on the scale.
I used to think that when I lost weight for good, that I’d be done with it. That my life would be perfect, and my worries would be over.
Hard truth? My life was certainly transformed by losing 225 pounds, but it is far from perfect, and I can state unequivocally that the same baggage I had when I was 410 pounds, is still hanging around. The same worries I had when I was heavier still linger.
My health is better, my joints ache less and my clothing is smaller. But I still need to exercise regularly, build strength, maintain my health with proper food choices, and manage my disordered relationship with food.
There is no there there.
I Should Be Able To Eat Every Thing.
Eat everything in moderation.
This appears to be a smart, sensible, and common-sense approach, but it does not account for our individual physiology, psychological barriers, diet history or taste preferences, and in fact, is a myth perpetuated by the processed food companies to get us to buy their junk food-like substances.
Every body can not eat every thing. Some people have food sensitivities. Some people’s bodies are insulin-resistant and are, in essence, allergic to carbs. Some people find it nearly impossible to moderate certain foods, so they are best served by avoiding them.
Individual mileage varies, so take your needs into account when making decisions about what to eat. If a food continually causes you harm, discomfort, or distress – that is all the information you need (from a solid, reliable source!) about whether you should continue to eat it.
Hunger Is Acceptable.
Occasional mild hunger is not going to kill any of us, but the truth is that frequently white knuckling it through hunger is not going to last.
Hunger always wins. Always. And expecting willpower to magically show up at our hungriest (and often most vulnerable) moments is somewhat like gambling at a casino – you may be able to win a few rounds, relying on your wits or good luck, but eventually you will be hitting the ATM at 3am looking for more cash.
Not being hungry is a superpower. Eating more satiating food now enables you to eat less later.
And the flip side of this: feeling comfortable and confident enough to not eat when you are not hungry is also a superpower, and like all muscles will be made stronger with experience as you move through the process of healing your relationship with food.
I Need A New Diet. I Just Need To Buckle-Down And Get Serious.
As a health coach, I always get a little nervous when I hear people say they just need to “buckle down and get focused.” In and of itself, this may be true, and the restart mentality is helpful, but it is not an actual plan. It is hope. And hope is not a plan.
Be detailed with what “buckling down” means. What led you astray last time and what steps are needed to help you get back on track? Be as specific as possible and think about the tiny things you can do to maintain your lifestyle.
Tangential to that, recognize that while low carb is a great way to lose weight it can be grossly manipulated by overeating, in the same way every other diet can be broken.
Low carb decreases hunger and cravings and metabolically speaking, stacks the deck in our favor, but no diet will cure a problematic relationship to food. New diet plans (Carnivore! Egg fasts! PSMF! High fat!) can be helpful as a short-term gimmick to help reset, but long-term they are often a distraction from what is really going on.
Most people would be best served by staying calm and consistently going back to basics: eat when hungry, stop when reasonably full. Limit carbs, get plenty of protein, and a little fat to make your food enjoyable. Regularly move your body and lift heavy things.
I’m More Messed Up Than Everyone Else.
Of the many blessings I’ve received in the transition from being a weight loss patient to becoming a health coach is the perspective of just how many of us there are out here who are/have struggled with food and weight. When I would ask Tro “When am I going to just not want to eat?” he would respond with some (much kinder) variation of “When you’re no longer human.” Inside, I would secretly think, “He has no idea how screwed up I really am.”
Now, after working with many people, I finally understand, it’s not just me! There are so many of us who are struggling, and there is great strength and comfort in sharing and understanding that we are not alone. We are only as sick as the secrets that hide in the shadows and thrive in isolation.
Shed light on your struggles and watch them immediately lessen. They won’t disappear, but they will stop feeling so burdensome. Share your pain and understand down to your core that you are not to blame.
It is not our fault that we are sick, but it is our responsibility to heal. And we don’t have to do it alone.
I’m Too Far Gone. I’m Broken. This Is Going To Fail Like All The Other Times.
Maybe so. But what if it doesn’t? What if you don’t stop? What if you didn’t give up on yourself this time? What if this process isn’t fast and isn’t perfect, but flawed and everlasting?
What if the golden ticket out of your struggles is actually a series of things you need to do? And what if you were guaranteed success if you did these things consistently? Would you still stop? Would you give up if you knew that success was assured?
Guess what? If you don’t give up, success is assured. Keep going. Even if this takes a long time, and you aren’t perfect. Even if this is hard. Because living in a body that hurts, that feels trapped is much harder.
Life is made considerably easier by making hard choices in the moment. Choose your hard and keep going.
It’s never too late.
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