You’ve no doubt heard the ominous statistic: Two thirds of people who lose weight gain even more back within four or five years. That in itself is enough to discourage even the most determined among us. What’s the answer? What is the secret to not only losing weight but keeping it off? The good news is that you do not have to be one of the statistics. You can be in the minority—part of that group who successfully masters their weight for life. And it’s all about how you view your journey. You see, what makes the difference is whether you are trying to change your lifestyle or whether you are just on a diet. The two are worlds apart.
Understanding the Difference Between Diet and Lifestyle
By its very nature, a diet is temporary. Usually, people view diets as short term with a conceivable end in sight. The whole nature of “diet” is to persevere to the end—to hold out just a little longer until it is finally over and you can get back to your normal life. This teeth-gritting exercise, however, makes the diet feel like a punishment. It’s uncomfortable. It’s unpleasant. And the expected end result is that once the diet has been endured for the prescribed period of time, the weight will come right back on. A person on a “diet” views a food temptation and talks to herself like this: “That looks so delicious. I can’t have it now because I am on a diet. But after a few more weeks, I will be able to finally eat that again! I just have to be strong for a little longer.” A lifestyle, however, is permanent. When you decide to lose weight by changing your lifestyle, there is no end in sight. A lifestyle change, as its name suggests, is for life. You are not constantly thinking of escaping, as though you are serving a prison sentence. Rather, you are in it for good. The result is that you begin truly adapting your life and behaviors to match your new lifestyle. Instead of toughing it out and pining away for taboo treats, you find healthier alternatives. You create ways to enjoy your food and figure out how to adjust every area of your life to your new habits. Rather than being unpleasant, your day-to-day life becomes agreeable and comfortable. A person who is changing her lifestyle views a tempting food and talks to herself this way: “That looks so delicious! But if I ate it, it would throw me off track from the life that I am creating. It would taste good, but it would make me feel horrible. That food is no longer an option for me. I am going to find something to eat that moves me closer to my goals.” When you achieve this mindset shift, you will not only lose weight, but you will keep it off, because this kind of weight loss is sustainable over the long term.
What about You?
Think about how you view your personal weight loss efforts. Are you trying to tough it out so that you can finally get back to your normal patterns of eating? Or are you designing a lifestyle that makes keeping weight off not only possible but also probable?