Diet Failure, Meet Your Diet Demons
What demons doom most diets to failure? Let’s enumerate:
Diet Failure ~ Greed
The demon of greed. If you expect to shed 10 pounds from a 110- pound frame that is already fairly lean, odds are you will find your goal difficult to achieve and almost impossible to maintain.
Ten pounds for you is a reduction of more than 9 percent of your total body weight. To lose that much weight over a 10-week time span (you had figured on a minimum of 10 weeks, hadn’t you?) by dieting alone, you’d need to slash your food consumption by 500 calories per day.
Unless you’re overeating by a wide margin now, that’s too much to cut without shorting yourself nutritionally. Remember that 500 calories represents nearly a quarter of the 2,200 daily calories required by the average teenage woman.
Diet Failure ~ Speed
The demon of speed. "We want it all, we want it now” could be the mantra of the modern American woman. Unfortunately, what our bodies want most is stability and predictability. You know, that whole "homeostasis” thing from biology class?
Short, intense diets run counter to your body’s biological urge for equilibrium, and therefore place an incredible degree of stress on your system. What’s more, your body can’t easily be fooled.
It will quickly recognize that it’s getting less fuel, and then slow down your metabolism to make more efficient use of the reduced number of available calories. Any weight loss attained in this manner is thus a cinch to be both short-lived and unhealthy.
Diet Failure ~ Self-Denial
The demon of self-denial. A diet that you view as a form of abstinence or self-denial is highly unlikely to succeed in producing lasting weight loss or a long-term modification of your eating habits.
Suffering, while it may seem noble, is actually a very poor motivator, and taste is still the primary reason most of us choose one food over another, despite all the high-sounding talk you hear about nutrition.
Consequently, it’s naive to think that you will stick to a diet composed of foods you consider bland, tasteless, or downright disagreeable, no matter how badly you may wish to lose weight.
To effect a real change, you’ll need to go into your new program with a positive outlook and a genuine desire to eat the foods that make up your meals.
We’ve already touched on two relatively easy cures for this common problem:(1) Continue to eat at least some, if not many, of the things you’ve always enjoyed, but keep the portions modest and be careful to avoid adding extra calories or fat through "hidden” sources like sauces and toppings; and (2) replace the worst of your old favorites with similar tasting but more nutritionally sound substitutes.
Diet Failure ~ Laziness
The demon of laziness. A healthful, low-cal diet, in and of itself, is at best only half the solution to controlling your weight, improving your figure, and optimizing your health. The other half, of course, is exercise.
Diet and exercise together form a much more powerful weight-control mechanism than either could on its own, and for this simple reason: When you combine them wisely, you not only enjoy the benefits of taking in fewer calories, but also burn the calories you ingest more quickly and efficiently.
Your body, over time, becomes a lean machine that makes the most of every bit of fuel it gets and, as a perk, converts that fuel into firm, shapely muscles and useful energy, Not a bad deal, to our way of thinking.