If you’ve tried every “diet” out there to lose weight (only to gain it all back and then some), get in line: over ⅔ of American adults are overweight or obese, and it’s not because of a lack of “diet” solutions.
The reality is that most diets require their participants to follow a set of dietary strictures that don’t reflect the physiological or emotional needs of its followers.
While many popular diets to have some validity and benefit, long term success requires that those following the diet are provided with enough nutrition education and emotional support to grow as an individual.
And let’s face it, no thirty-day fix or challenge is going to do that.
While rule following will get you far in many areas of life (weight loss included), it’s vital that the rules you’re following are rooted in sound science and psychology. If you’re struggled with your weight for longer than you can remember, consider using the following five principles to begin the process of transforming your outlook on what it means to be well.
#1. Focus on Your Strengths.
Stubborn? Social? Adventurous? An adept planner? Excellent! All of these things can be used for your success.
We all have strengths that we can pull on to be successful in many areas of our lives. Write down a list of your strengths and brainstorm how you can use that strength in your weight loss journey.
Not sure what your strengths are? Ask your friends and family members: talk about an esteem booster!
#2. But Don’t Deny Your Challenges.
It’s natural to want to avoid areas of challenge: hyper-focusing on what we’re good at feels good.
While it’s tempting to sweep areas of challenge or defeat under the rug, we don’t learn from experience when we do that. Instead, we learn by reflecting on instances of challenge or failure.
When you inevitably mess up, don’t deny it! Own the mistakes or choice and commit to reflecting on what happened and how you will handle the situation differently in the future.
#3. Recognize Every Victory.
Behavioral change is challenging stuff! While it’s natural to want to celebrate scale-based victories, the behavioral victories that lead to those lost pounds are just as important: when you do the work, the results will follow!
Make yourself a chart recognizing behavioral victories. When you’ve accomplished a behavioral goal (not giving into the office candy jar, exercising x number of days), treat yourself to a nonfood reward.
#4. Set Firm (But Realistic) Boundaries.
Never having a slice of cake again? Not realistic. Setting the boundary of no cake in the house? Realistic!
Set boundaries in areas of challenge, and don’t be afraid to communicate those boundaries and your expectations for support to others. Ask your spouse or partner to not bring home certain challenging foods or explain to friends that you won’t be drinking at get togethers.
#5. Ask for Support.
While you can’t expect others to hold you accountable, asking for support is key in your journey.
Oftentimes, friends and family members want to support someone in their journey to health but aren’t sure how to do so without sounding like a nag or a critic. Express what is helpful to you and your expectations so that your crew can act accordingly.
Morgan Medeiros is a certified nutritionist, holding a both a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Morgan completed her undergraduate education at Central Washington University, and her graduate education at Northeastern University. During her time as a graduate student, Morgan focused her area of expertise in health education, weight management, and behavioral change. Morgan has experience working in areas of nutritional neuroscience and disease prevention, obesity prevention, and weight loss. Morgan also works in areas of nutritional analysis and menu labeling for restaurants, where she is able to creatively bridge her interest in food culture and health education. In her free time, Morgan enjoys traveling, reading, writing, running, and spending time with her family and friends (including- most importantly- her dog, Clyde).