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Help! I dont know how to NOT DIET!!

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Old 06-05-2011, 10:11 PM   #1
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Default Help! I dont know how to NOT DIET!!

Im so sick of being on a diet not being able to stick with it, binge for a week or two then find a new diet to be on and thus the cycle repeats itself...
My problem is it seems that I dont know how to just eat healthier without over doing it or completely messing up. Ive always been on some kind of diet so when I hear people whove just made lifestyle changes without dieting it blows my mind because I dont know how to even begin to do that BUT I want to learn. Please if someone could give me any thoughts on this id appreciate it
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Old 06-05-2011, 10:18 PM   #2
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I read a book called "The End of Overeating" by David Kessler which really helped me get my mind around the idea of not needing to be on a particular diet. The author is a very reputable doctor and former FDA commissioner who struggled with his own weight, and it's a fairly easy (but thorough) read. It's a must-read!
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Old 06-05-2011, 10:28 PM   #3
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For me one of the biggest factors in staying on track is perseverance.

Accept that at some point I'll make a mistake. Accept that I can forgive myself for that mistake immediately, and then move on at the very next choice. If I weren't able to accept this, then any change I made would be moot, because I wouldn't stick with it when I mess up. I'd just say "To heck with it! I'm not perfect so I'll never get this done!" And that's so unfair to myself.

Following accepting that I'm not perfect, and can still make healthy changes was step one.

Step two was deciding on something I knew I could change. I set myself up to succeed. I knew that starting exercise was healthy, but I couldn't ever imagine stepping up on my treadmill for an hour. That seemed so impossible! If I couldn't do an hour I might as well do nothing, right? Wrong.

I knew that I could do 5 minutes. 5 measly minutes a day. So, for one WHOLE month... I walked 5 minutes a day. I even messed THAT up and missed two days. But, I got up the next day and got back on the treadmill for my five minutes. Once again, I had to accept, forgive, and move forward.

At my second month I upped the ante. I made my minimum 10 minutes. I'm doing 10 minutes of movement each day.

As I started to exercise, I wanted to make healthy choices regarding food. I didn't start big. My whole first week I continued to eat as I usually do... the ONLY change I made was to track what I ate. If I wanted a box of Cheez-its...well... that was fine and dandy, but I had to calculate how much that was and write it down. Didn't matter about calories or anything, but I had to start being vigilant.

The second week I realized that I could handle another change. I could start portioning. I wanted those Cheez-its...that's nice, but I had to measure out one serving and write it down. I started naturally aiming towards more fruits and veggies.

I made a huge shopping list. I went food shopping sticking to healthier choices. Making dinner was easier when I had the ingredients on hand.

Lastly, I personally made sticking to my new habits my goal instead of weight loss. Oh, believe me, I want to lose weight. I do. But, eating better, moving more, CONTINUING to follow my plans... the weight will come off eventually. These habits have to continue to be my priority regardless of what the scale says.

It's a reason why I made a little On Plan challenge. I want to focus on how many days I can stick to my plan. Not the scale. If I can make the whole 99 days, awesome for me. If I mess up a couple of times, won't matter....because I know I'll STILL be here after 99 days. And even a couple mistakes don't negate healthy choices.

One small change. Make it a habit. Build it up.

You can do this.
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Old 06-05-2011, 10:39 PM   #4
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I had always associated "diet" with "deprivation" and assumed that if I wasn't miserable, then it just wasn't enough effort. I would cut ruthlessly at whatever the "bad" foods were--fats, carbs, white stuff, processed stuff, high-calorie stuff--without ever thinking about how I would replace them.

This time, I've taken the exact opposite approach because the old approach clearly didn't work. Anyone who's dieted a lot has learned a lot of really valuable information about what works for her--and about what doesn't. Using that information, I created my own plan:

- Instead of depriving myself of "bad" foods, I've declared all foods morally, emotionally, and dietetically neutral; they can be more or less calorie-dense, more or less nutritive, more or less processed, more or less full of fiber or carbs or fat or vitamins, but they are not bad. They are not forbidden. I must account for them in my calorie count, but I can have anything I want in amounts that fit my budget.

- I try to look for ways to add stuff. Diets focus too much on what you can't have; I find that it works better for me to look at what I CAN have, what I'm getting as a bonus. My plate is full of extras--extra vegetables, extra flavors, extra textures, extra variety--compared to the monolithic and monochromatic servings I used to eat. I'm not losing a cupcake, I'm gaining a spinach pie.

- I don't make any changes I can't live with in the long term. I can live on 1500 calories (my maintenance level at my desired weight given my activity and age), but I'd struggle with 1200 over the long haul. I also can't cut out or drastically pare down entire families of macronutrients because as soon as I do, I crave the very thing I can't have.

- I enjoy the "during" instead of wringing my hands about the "before" or pining for the "after." Even losing 40 pounds feels fantastic, so I focus on that and not the fact that I'm still not quite halfway there.

- I accept a slower loss as the price I must pay to get permanent, enjoyable, sustainable weight loss. There is no time limit on this, no finish line, no boss-kill cut-scene. When I reach my goal weight, I won't celebrate by sighing with relief and eating a 3000-calorie meal because reaching goal weight doesn't mean it's over. It just means that if I planned everything right, I can keep living exactly as I am and stay put at my desired weight.
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Old 06-05-2011, 11:17 PM   #5
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proudmommy, thank you for posting this question because all these wise responses have really helped me, too. At the risk of being cliche, I feel your pain! One thing I've learned to accept is that I am not a "normal" eater, so I am going to stop pretending that I am. My husband has never had a weight problem. He eats what he wants, but he is not focused on food as I am. So, he always gives me advice like this: "Just eat less" or "Eat half of what you always ate, and you'll lose weight" and so on. I would try his advice for a while until I realized that I need more structure than that because my outlook about food is so screwed up (mainly because of years and years of dieting). So, right now, I'm calorie counting. If I get sick of that, I'll do something else. I'm not aiming for perfection; I'm aiming for longevity. I feel different this time around because I seem to have accepted my limitations. Cliche warning again: I feel as if I finally know who I am, and I am hoping that that makes the difference because, after all, the root problem with weight issues like mine are more mental than physical.

Good luck to you!
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Old 06-06-2011, 11:31 AM   #6
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It sounds to me like you don't have a normal to work from. Defining that might be a place to start. Try not dieting for a week. Eat what you want. (Yeah, you might not eat well, you might gain weight, but looking at the long-term picture, learning about your eating habits now will help you down the road. But right everything down. Seeing what it is you eat, how much it is, will give you ideas on where the improvements can come.

Then after a week, start SLOWLY. You said you tried a bunch of diets. Were you able to stick to one longer than others? Instead of jumping in with both feet, make one change at a time, and try to get it to stick before making the next change. You won't lose weight quickly this way. But you might keep it up for longer, which is the problem you have.

I also have a tendency to overdo things, although my diet/binge cycle is much longer than yours, and perhaps not so extreme. And every diet cycle I told myself was a lifestyle change, and it was until I gave it up 3 months later. So I'm really trying to do change things more slowly this time. Usually the exercise and eating well came together. This time, I'm just not focusing on exercise. I'm trying to get some here and there, but it's not a big deal if I don't. All that matters right now is that I write down what I eat. I'm approaching that scary 3 month mark where I traditionally lose heart, so I'm nervous, but just one week shy I'm still going. Maybe not going strong, but still going, and that's what matters.
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Old 06-06-2011, 01:07 PM   #7
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I've been on a diet for most of my life...

I've done absolutely every type of diet. Many times, I've done the same diet over and over again (low carb, low cal, even the master cleanse a few times).

Reading that just depresses me. My advice to you is going to probably be different than the already excellent suggestions you've received thus far, but here's what worked for me: keep doing it. Keep trying.

I never had that a-ha moment where everything made sense. Last year, I focussed heavily on eating low-calorie. Lost some weight, then plateaued.

Everyone was telling me how good I looked. I could have stayed at that weight (124 lbs), and been fine. But I'm not in this to look "fine". I only get this one life!!!

My New Years resolution was made. I would spend all of 2011 doing the hard work. The stuff I had REALLY not wanted to do, namely: eat a more regimented diet of smaller meals throughout the day, and exercise seriously. Not passively. Not "elliptical 3-4 times a week". I'm talking Bootcamp every morning 5 days a week, and cardio 5-6 times a week. So yep, most days I work out twice a day, and I work 12 hour shifts.

I treat this like a job. This is not a joke to me. I refuse to spend this life unhappy with my body. I REFUSE. I will never allow myself to "accept" anything less than amazing, because that is what I want to be.

You can do this too. Even with my schedule, I have a good social life, and I get things done. My body's transformation these past 5 months has been pretty insane, because for the first time in my life, I'm doing this the hard way. I'm paying my dues-no shortcuts or excuses here. No pills, no starving myself, and no making any damn excuses (had a hard week, stress, lack of sleep, blah blah blah). Nope, not this time.

So I had maintained a loss from 150 lbs to 124 lbs for over a year. I could have stayed there. But I weighed myself this week, and I'm hovering around 114-115lbs now. I'm getting to a weight that I haven't been since elementary school. And don't even get me started on my muscles...they are awesome!

I did this. It's worth it. It is NOT supposed to be easy. Little changes will make little results. Big changes...well, you get it. Again: this is NOT supposed to be easy!!! The best things in life never are

Go for it!!! Make this THE year!!!
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Old 06-06-2011, 05:17 PM   #8
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I've known for a very long time (3 decades at least, probably closer to 4) that extreme calorie restriction and other extreme weight loss methods tend to backfire, but I had a hard time turning that knowledge into action, because the allure of rapid weight loss is so great.

Yoyo dieting is addictive. There's almost a "high" involved when seeing rapid loss - but there's also a crash when the numbers slow (and the numbers ALWAYS slow).

I cringe when I see people talking about "needing" a quick-start for motivation, because I know there's an almost unavoidable rebound effect.

We think "I just need some big numbers to get me started, and then I'll switch to something more sensible" but that's rarely the reality.

Even so, the distinction between lifestyle and diet is often more a mental than a physical one. How do you get into the "forever" mindset?

That's tougher than it seems, because we're virtually conditioned from birth to see many healthy changes, especially diet-related changes as temporary. "Are you still dieting?" people ask.


For me, I had to learn to do what I call "dieting backwards." Instead of having a particluar set of goals in mind (and constantly beating myself up for not meeting those goals), I focused on the changes. I decided to make only the changes I was willing to commit to forever, whether or not they resulted in any weight loss at all (and at first they resulted in no weight loss at all, but I did see other health improvements that kept me going - such as having my sleep apnea disappear, my asthma improve, seeing improvements in strength and endurance...)

By not expecting it (or at least not viewing it as my measure of success), the weight loss then became the reward, and frustration virtually evaporated.

Without frustration, there's never a temptation to quit. And when I do want to quit (because old habits, even mental ones are hard to break), I ask myself "do you really want to go back. Back to being hooked up to a machine at night? Back to needing a shower chair and needing a combined shampoo/conditioner because I don't have the strength to rinse, repeat. Back to needing my husband's help to put on and tie my shoes.....

It is hard to unlearn habits, especially when they're culturally ingrained ones. We're taught to want rapid weight loss, to see frustration as inevitable, to be angry and upset with slow and irregular loss, to be angry, inpatient and even hateful to ourselves when we make the smallest mistakes.

I think most of my life I had difficulty because I saw weight loss as a problem of learning. I thought I had to learn more. I didn't realize until "this time" how much weight loss isn't a challenge of learning, it's a challenge of unlearning. Unlearning all the crap and nonsense we've been taught.

BTW, I also highly recommend David Kessler's Book, The End of Overeating

and also Barbara Berkeley's book, Refuse to Regain!: 12 Tough Rules to Maintain the Body You've Earned!

It's about weight loss maintenance, but I think it's awesome reading at any stage of weight loss. I think one of the biggest weaknesses of traditional dieting is not planning for maintenance. We don't even begin to give a single thought about keeping the weight off, thinking that's something to worry about only when we've got it all off.

Another difference of "this time" is that I decided that maintenance was more important than weight loss. I kept telling myself, "I may never lose another pound, but I can at least keep off what I've lost, and maybe lose one more."

This was key, because every day that I didn't lose, wasn't failure. If I didn't gain, I was 100% successful. If I did gain a little, it wasn't a huge catastrophe. I'd focus on relosing those pounds and then focus on "just one more."

When you see no-loss and slow loss as failure, it seems like you're always failing. When you're always failing, you tend to give up. It's entirely logical to give up. If there's a task you can't master, it makes sense to abandon the attempt and channel your energies into something you're good at.

When you seel no-loss as success (hey it's not gaining) then you get to be successful more often, and the more successful you are, the more motivated you are to keep going. "I can do this," replaces "I'll never get the hang of this."
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Old 06-09-2011, 12:53 PM   #9
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Let me tell ya, I know what you're saying! What changed things for me this time? FEAR! I went from diet to diet and never lost very much and/or put it right back on. I thought I was resigned to being heavy. I didn't think it was possible for me to get out of that rut.

Then, that all changed when the doctor handed me a death sentence. Pre-diabetes. Ugh! I watched my grandfather die of diabetes. I know what it does to a person. I've seen it first-hand. It lit a fire under me that no amount of wanting to "look better" or "feel better" ever could. I mean, yes, I look better. Yes, I feel better. Was that enough to make me give up my beloved sweets and treats? No. Fear of amputations, kidney failure, heart disease, losing eyesight, and ultimately dying -- that is what keeps me going. If it happens to me anyway, well, at least I did everything I could to hold it off.

I don't know what will be good enough for you. But let me tell you, poor health could be in your future, too. I'm not saying it will be, but are you willing to take that chance?
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