by a guest blogger who wishes to remain anonymous.
I have been on a diet for most of my adult life and controlling my weight has always been a constant battle. I’ve never been massively overweight but my weight, what I’m eating, how much I’m eating, when I’m next eating etc are all thoughts that had constantly consumed my head until recently. I think I’ve finally worked it out and found something that works for me. I’ll attempt to explain what changed for me and how I think I managed to finally Get out of the diet trap.
Firstly it is important to note that this is only what I think. What has worked for me may not work for others. I am not a dietician, psychologist or qualified in any way. I hope my experience can just give you a little insight in to how one stuck in the diet trap thinks, feels and acts.
Many psychologists think overeating, food obsessions, unhealthy relationships with food (whatever) develop in childhood or in adolescence. What I find interesting is when I was growing up I was never allowed to eat my dinner until I had finished my chores and I would quite often not eat until 10/11pm by which time I would be starving…. So it felt like I was always hungry. Also from an early age I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until I finished everything on my plate and now I find it difficult to leave anything, even if I am full. I’m not saying this is the reason I’ve found it difficult to diet but I think it may have contributed or been the start of my unhealthy relationship with food.
Growing up I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted, in what quantity I wanted without gaining a pound! I was literally the smallest girl in my school year. I thought I had a big appetite but in all probability I was unable to recognise when I was full. Things changed at the age of about 18 when I started gaining weight, at my heaviest I was about 12.5 stone and then the dieting cycle started. I can’t actually remember the first diet I tried but over the years I’ve probably tried all of them including some of the most extreme. The lemonade diet, the grapefruit diet, the cabbage soup diet, slim fast, diet pills, you name it, I’ve done it! I was getting myself into the boom or bust cycle which (no matter which diet I was on) would consist of:
- Start on a Monday – I always had to start on a Monday so if I’d made the decision to start a new diet on the Wednesday I’d have to eat as much as possible until the next Monday because after Monday I’d be ‘on the diet for real’ this time.
- I would then strictly follow the diet and I wouldn’t allow myself to have anything else. They were all pretty ridiculous diets where not much food was permitted – I’d always feel starving and feel deprived.
- I’d normally follow the diet for 3 weeks (at best) and then I’d break by having something like a chocolate bar.
- Then feel like I’ve ruined the diet, I’d beat myself up and then eat a shit load of crap food until I’d decided to re-start …..‘next Monday’
- Then I’d eat a shed load of more shit food until the diet re-started
- Feelings of guilt, failure.
You wouldn’t believe how many people experience the same dieting cycle and feeling out of control. It is horrible cycle to be in and most good diet websites talk of trying to get out of the boom or bust cycle. This is where mindset (for me) needed to change. If I’d allowed myself to have the chocolate bar in the first place I wouldn’t have felt like I’d ruined the diet. The chocolate bar wasn’t what made me put on weight… it was all the crap after. My point here is I needed to realised no foods should be off limit. A healthy eating plan needs to build around the foods you like (Of course within reason) so if a person really likes rice then they need to find a healthy eating plan where she can eat rice.
I also found writing down everything I ate really helpful because I could see exactly how much I was eating in one week and it was quite powerful. You’ve seen on the television programme super sized versus super skinny they actually show the person the amount of food they eat in a week all together and even big eaters are shocked by how much they are eating. I also wrote down what I was doing & how I was feeling every time I ate ….When I made bad choices I was either drunk, home alone & couldn’t be bothered to cook for just myself or hung-over. By identifying these areas made it easier to manage. I’d make sure I had healthy snacks and food for healthy breakfast after a night out and would make the effort to cook for myself when I was home alone…. You get the idea.
Holidays, events and parties were always another time where I’d pile on weight and another area when my mindset needed to change. I’d always assume that I’d be putting weight on at a party, event, or holiday anyway so I’d literally go for it like there was no tomorrow. In my head the ‘no tomorrow’ was always the start of the new diet. Again, if I’d thought about the things differently there would be no reason to lose control. I’ll take the weekend I went away with my family for an example normally I would have had a blow out on a weekend like this but instead I planned in advance what I was going to eat & drink. It helped because I was doing most of the cooking during the weekend but I planned the food so I could still drink and I still managed to lose 2lbs that week, I can honestly say I didn’t feel deprived. Planning ahead, staying in control helped me enjoy myself without the need for my good work to be lost. Christmas is another example of how planning helped me stay in control. I knew we’d have lots of meals out, parties etc but again I wasn’t prepared to throw all my hard work down the drain but at the same time I didn’t want to spend Christmas living like a monk…I decided to allow for 1lb per week gain over the Christmas and New Year period (2lbs in total). So again I planned my meals, food, drink and treats only put 2lbs on over Christmas & New Year….. I was so pleased not just because I’d managed to stay in control but it was finally sinking in…. I don’t have to starve myself to lose weight and I can still eat and drink nice food without putting stacks of weight on.
Planning my food for the week is something I enjoy doing every week. I sit down with my cook books and plan all my meals depending on my activities for that week. If I’m going out for a nice meal at the weekend I’ll make sure I’ve accounted for this in my menu planning. All this planning reduces the risk unhealthy choices, for example on a day where I’d have meetings all day I might have previously had a healthy breakfast and at lunch would turn down the buffet provided not wanting to make any bad choices but by the time I get out of work and to the nearest shop I’d be so hungry I couldn’t care less what I’d be eating… and I’d be back in boom or bust! Now I would take my lunch with me. I also try to never ever let myself get hungry and will always have healthy snacks close by.
Another mindset I needed to change was accepting results take time. When I finally stopped trying & thinking I could achieve beach body beautiful in 7 days the easier it was to stop booming and busting every other week! Not getting on the scales everyday also really helped with changing my mindset.
Going off track is inevitable but it can be easily managed with a positive thought process. For me previously going off track would be the end of the boom and the beginning of the bust but accepting that it is going to happen and not beating myself up when it does allows me to get straight back on it the next day. On New Years day I had a pretty bad day with booze & pub food but accepting and realising I can’t do that much damage in one day helped me get back on track with a big run the next day.
Exercise was also another really important aspect of losing weight and I found my personal trainer a godsend for helping me stay on track. Exercise really makes you feel good about yourself.
The 11 most important things that helped me lose weight:
- Understood my relationship with food – what are the bad habits? When did it start?
- Wrote down everything I ate for a week and how I felt after I’d ate it. Recognise the trigger so it can be managed.
- Get out of the boom or bust cycle.
- Found a sustainable healthy eating plan that worked for me
- Didn’t let myself get hungry!!
- Understood & accepted it was going take time.
- Allowed myself to have the foods I loved i.e. favourite chocolate bar every week. No foods off limits.
- Plan, plan, plan – If I had an event, party or holiday accepted I might gain a couple of pounds. Planed what I couldn’t live without and stuck to it. Also Planned my food menu for the week, shop for what is on the menu & stuck to it.
- Accepted there would be days when for whatever reason I’d go off track. Didn’t beat myself up about it and got straight back on it the next day.
- Weigh in day. Reward yourself for achievements and always look at the positives.
Over past few years almost everyone single one of my friends has been on a diet. From my experience and speaking to my friends we all seem feel bad when it comes allowing yourselves treats and I think (a bit of physiology now) this is because we have unrealistic expectations when it comes to our bodies and how we’re supposed to look so when we have something that will (in our mind) stop us from looking Kate Moss we then feel bad… too many thoughts like this could then trigger off unhealthy eating habits. There are of course many other reasons why unhealthy eating starts so this is just one reason and again it might not be same reason for others.
Finding the right eating plan is really important and if I were in a position where I was helping lots of different types of people lose weight I’d research all the eating plans out there so you can profile a person to a diet that suits them. We’ve spoke in the past how Your view is ‘everything in moderation’ which is fine and is probably the best approach but some people will need an eating plan that is more structured.
The points above all contributed to me achieving results & staying on track….I’ve still got a little way to go but even if don’t lose a single pound more I determined never fall back into bad habits. Days where I eat pizza and drink wine are fine odd days like that wont make me put weight on…. It’s the days where I eat pizza, drink wine, feel bad and self destruct that make me put weight on.