Having worked with many people over the years looking to lose weight, I realise that one of the reasons they get into the cycle of yo-yo dieting is because they think they will see quick results. In fact, this may be true to some extent – crash diets may be able to show you visible weight loss in a short amount of time, however they are notoriously infamous for failing long-term. What's important is that the programs and healthy eating habits consist of key concepts like reducing sugar cravings, fat or salt in foods, and having real whole foods that are nutrient-dense rather than eating processed foods.
It's true – when we hear of a new diet that has worked miraculously, quickly and effortlessly for a friend or celebrity, we get excited thinking it might work for us. But after some time of either not seeing results fast enough or gaining back after a little bit of weight loss, we get bored or give up. At that point, it becomes easy to feel that it was the wrong kind of program, go back to old bad habits of unhealthy eating, or even jump to another so-called 'fad diet'.
To help you avoid dieting mistake and achieve your weight loss goals, here are 10 tips to help you create more sustainable healthy eating habits and stay on the straight and narrow.
How to avoid dieting mistakes and create healthy eating habits
1. Set yourself smart goals
Write a list of goals in as much detail as possible so that they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and have a timeline to them. I find many people dive into a new program without being clear on what they want to achieve.
2. Break your goals into short-term, medium-term and long-term goals
This kind of grouping system allows you to feel in control and not overwhelmed by what you want to achieve, and ensures you have a step-by-step plan.
3. Have more than one goal, instead of only focusing on your weight
This may be one of the more important rules – make sure that you combine your weight loss goal with another health benefit. For example, you may want to increase energy if you tend to have afternoon slumps where you find yourself relying on caffeine or sugar. Or, maybe you struggle with gut health and digestion from feeling bloated all the time. Another could be that you want to have better nutrition knowledge so you are able to make the best choices where ever you are.
4. Don’t compare yourself to anyone
This is because you do not know whether they are at the start of their health journey or midway through it and when you see their success or failure it isn’t fair comparison to yours. The results we see are affected by many factors like metabolism, lifestyle, diet, health conditions, etc.
5. Make changes one step at a time
If you do too much too quickly it becomes overwhelming. A simple example is exercise – I always recommend that my clients become familiar with small tasks like daily walks and then focus on structured exercise. Walking can be done anywhere and at any time so by starting small, they build up stamina and can then handle the gym or challenge themselves with other more intense exercises. Research conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have proved that most people actually overlook the small successes and dive straight into the deep end and set overwhelming goals – however it's exactly these small steps which can be your biggest supporter overall (1).
6. Be consistent with the changes you are making
Have a journal or notebook in which you can track how you are getting on. You could include what you are eating, drinking, how active you are and how you feel. Sometimes what we think we are doing is quite different to what we are actually doing. For instance, we may think we have desserts or wine just once or twice a week but in reality it may be more frequently. So begin to track how you are progressing and make just one or two changes at a time. Once you are comfortable and feel set, you can introduce a new change.
7. Focus on the changes rather than on the end goal
I tell my clients to remember the daily habits that will positively affect their goals, like to eat more vegetables, reduce sugar intake, become more active, stay hydrated, etc. If they were to only focus on the scales, they become fixated on checking their weight disregarding the joy from hard work.
8. Enjoy the journey
As this is a lifestyle rather than a diet itself, it’s one that you will be involved with for a long time, constantly learning and finding what works for you. Don’t think of this as a quick fix – after achieving your goal weight you should continue with the healthy habits as this allows you to maintain the weight loss.
9. Celebrate your success
Review where you are every few weeks or months to see what you have achieved and celebrate those milestones. Often we only focus on what we don’t have, so take some time to enjoy how far you've come.
10. Have a partner to hold you accountable, keep you motivated and to support you
When we know we are being held accountable, we are more likely to follow the program properly. However if we are not being held accountable, we may become complacent, having more days not following the program, intending to start at a later day. Your accountability partner could be a friend, a family member or a professional coach. Also, you benefit by getting support and guidance during your health journey and see results faster.
You may be doing some of these already but it’s when you begin to put them together that you begin to create healthier, more sustainable habits. Good luck!
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1. Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130117132931.htm