Diets That Work To Reach Goals And Expectations
Characteristics of Diets That Work
How is it that a small percentage of diets succeed long term while most others fail? Offhand, you might think that the willpower of the dieter is a critical factor. Frankly, we don’t buy it. In fact, we believe that diets that require willpower to be maintained are flawed from the start.
Again, it’s not just OK, but positively essential, that you enjoy your food and look forward to your meals. If you find yourself dreading lunch, something has gone wrong! That said, successful diets tend to share some common characteristics. As a rule, such diets are.
Diet Plans That Work Are Based On Realistic Goals And Expectations
No mystery here, is there? We all know people who, though nicely proportioned or even thin, diet incessantly because they’re never quite content with their present weight. Or conversely, we probably also know people who are very overweight, yet get caught in a cycle of on-again, off-again dieting because they seldom persist longer than a few days before relapsing into their old eating habits.
In situations like these, the culprit is often an overly ambitious goal. When the target weight is set too low, as in our first example, hunger will generally intervene in a major way and spark a binge of hearty eating that not only effectively ends the current diet but also brings on feelings of failure and guilt.
When, as in our second example, the target weight is accurate—but so far removed from present reality as to seem unattainable—the dieter’s resolve often crumbles due to the difficulty of the task at hand.
Here also, remorse and self-loathing are likely to follow the aborted attempt, and often lead the discouraged dieter right back to the fridge for a dose of that ever-present source of reassurance and comfort called food. Thus the vicious cycle of dieting and overeating perpetuates itself.
So how do you give your weight loss goals a reality check and have diets that work? First, by listening to those around you. If everyone you bump into says you look great or expresses surprise that you’re considering a diet, they probably mean every word.
Sure, people like to be nice. But they’re not that nice. Further, if you’re catching lots of comments that you seem too thin or look as though you’re not eating enough, that’s also probably true. For some reason, suggesting to someone that she is overweight is pretty much taboo in our society, but the politeness doesn’t apply in reverse.
So if friends and relatives are telling you—if not directly, then in so many words—that you don’t need to diet, it’s likely that they’re right on the money.
Our second reality check is perhaps the simplest of all: Look in the mirror before you look at the scale. Numbers that sound big to you may look just fine on your frame, especially if you are tall, or broad through the shoulders and hips. Last, if you have lots of weight to lose, don’t intimidate yourself with double-digit goals. Take it a step at a time by establishing very small, achievable, short-term goals.
Even if you ultimately hope to slim down by 50 pounds or more, you’ll probably get there more surely, less stressfully, and (surprise, surprise!) faster by working a pound or two at a time than by trying to do it all at once. Setbacks are time-consuming and emotionally draining, so don’t set yourself up for them. Instead, proceed slowly—then never look back!
Diets That Work Are Gradual
As we observed earlier, trying to lose too much, too fast can leave you lacking in important nutrients and the energy they provide.
As a result, health experts almost universally recommend that you keep your calorie count up to a reasonable level by spreading your desired weight loss over an extended period of time. In practice, that usually means framing your weight loss goals in terms of months, not days or weeks.
In the case of a truly obese person, the final weight goal may even be 3, 4, or 5 years distant, with several short-term goals (as we’ve suggested) along the way to help measure progress and sustain the dieter’s motivation. While the "slow but sure” approach admittedly requires some patience, study after study has shown that pounds shed gradually are much more likely to stay off than pounds shed through short, intense bouts of dieting.
It’s also a more healthful approach, since your system can adapt to the new regimen at a leisurely pace and is spared the shock of a sudden, dramatic plunge in calories. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t attempt to lose more than a pound or two per week, no matter how much weight you eventually hope to drop.
Diets That Work Are Sustainable
This ties in to a pair of points we’ve already mentioned for diets that work. First, that you should find foods for your diet that appeal to you; and second, that your diet should be substantial enough to keep you healthy and energetic.
Hint: If you experience sharp hunger pangs between meals or late at night, you ought to reassess your diet to make sure that it provides a sufficient number of calories and isn’t skewed too heavily toward quick-burning carbohydrates.
While carbohydrates are great for your overall health and should account for a healthy percentage of your total caloric intake, you cannot and should not let them dominate your diet. When that occurs, the dieter often finds that she never feels quite full, and develops an abnormally strong desire for fats and sweets. Not good!
In the end, diets that work are composed of mostly healthful foods that you enjoy eating—in quantities sufficient to keep your health robust and your appetite satisfied—is the only safe, sane, and lasting solution to any weight control problems you may have and for diets that work. If you can do that, plus keep your portions to a reasonable size, you will have done about as much as you humanly can to regulate your weight through food alone.