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Why Your Last Diet Failed

DietsIf you’re like 78% of Americans (according to a survey I made up for this article), you “failed” on your last diet. For objective purposes, we’ll label “failure” as not reaching the desired weight/body composition that you determined as your goal at the onset of the diet. You probably pushed hard for two weeks, found that your navel was still buried under the mezzanine and decided to call it quits, determining that you’re destined to be fat forever. To paraphrase the not-so-subtle Ron White, there’s sure a lot of quit in you. Well good news, Chubs, I’ve got some tips for you to stick to a diet and see the pounds (slowly, methodically) drip away.

Before we get into these tips, we must understand why diets last as long as a virgin’s first time. Most diets fail for one of three reasons: lack of quick success, uncontrollable cravings or difficulty following the guidelines of the diet. The first two will come down to your own willpower and the help of some in-house controls, while the last can be fixed by choosing the proper diet. Although willpower is primarily your responsibility, we can take some of the pressure off with placing supporting functions around you.

Let me preface this next section by stating that I’m NOT a dietitian, so any advice should be taken at face value, not as written law from a doctor. Please consult with a physician to find out your specific dietary needs. With that said, let’s move on.

  • Don’t adopt a diet – This seems counter-intuitive, but hear me out. Instead of “starting a diet,” change the way you eat. A diet has a limited duration implicitly-stated with it. For example, if your buddy came up and says, “Great news, I’m taking a diet from smoking and drinking,” aside from thinking “why the hell did he phrase it like that?” you’d instantly think that a short time in the future, they’re going to be back doing both of those activities. So instead of taking on a diet, change your food lifestyle. The new mindset alone will add longevity to your venture.
  • Allow yourself cheats – If you’ve come accustomed to sweet, sugary or fatty foods during your life, quitting them cold turkey will make you crankier than if you were the illegitimate son of the Grinch and Ebeneezer Scrooge. The cravings will make you unbearable to be around and you’ll either revert to old habits or alienate all your friends, likely resulting in you taking solace in food, creating a vicious cycle. To help counter this, ween yourself off the items that you crave, or find healthier alternatives. There’s a plethora of recipes online featuring ingredients such as sweet potatoes and dates instead of your traditional fattening fare. If only the real stuff will do, limit yourself to a couple desserts a week, eventually lessening the frequency. This will help keep you on the wagon while satiating your beast-like cravings.
  • Stick to the outside of the grocery store – This is probably the simplest piece of info you can give to would-be dieters. Along the outside of the grocery store you’ll find all the fresh produce, meats and cheeses. Staying away from processed grains, sugar and other foods high in the glycemic index will not only help you drop the pounds faster but will also help you feel healthier.
  • Know what to eat – I constantly get asked, “Should I eat this? Is this ok? I heard to avoid this, is that true? Are these bad for you?” Luckily, someone much smarter than me came up with a handy little axiom that says it all. “Meats and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar.” Like the last bullet point, these foods have shown to be low on the glycemic index, helping avoid the Diseases of Civilization while also providing you with more energy and fewer crashes.
  • Have realistic expectations – Most people tend to believe that a new nutrition plan is going to give them that beach body they desire in ninety days (thanks Tony Orton!) or less. The truth is, unless you’re morbidly obese, as in Southwest charges you for two seats on their planes, expecting to lose more than three pounds a week is unrealistic and unhealthy. Slow, hard-fought gains are the ones that are most likely to last, because your body has adapted to its new lifestyle. Purging yourself with super-low calorie diets and fasts will have a short success duration with longer-lasting side effects.
  • Get an “accountabili-buddy” – Having someone there to not only push you, but to be able to empathize and enjoy misery with you will help your success exponentially. Quitting becomes that much harder when you know that you’re letting someone down. Plus, it always helps to have someone to help cook meals with. So grab your spouse, your best friend or that guy next to you on the treadmill (just kidding. Don’t do that, that’s weird) and convert to a healthier lifestyle together. You’ll both be thankful. And for those of you saying “What if I don’t have any friends?” Well, that’s all the more reason to stick to the game plan (oh, he’s got jokes!).

Changing your eating habits from that of a Cheetos-eating gamer to one of a healthy person can be a strenuous process with lot of ups and down. There’s no magic trick out there that’s going to get you thin for bikini season other than staying motivated in your diet and having a steady workout plan. Miracle diets, ab belts, weight loss pills, they’re all short-term fixes to a long-term problem. It’s like using a hand-pump on a tire with a hole, it may get you a mile down the road, but by then you’re likely to be worse off than you were before. The ONLY thing that will lead to long-term success is to live a healthy lifestyle, no if’s, and’s or BIG butt’s allowed.

One final note, if you felt offended or attacked in this article, don’t take it personally, I make fun of everybody. Also, I apologize for that last pun. I had to do it. (Example #1 of how you embarrass yourself with lack of willpower).

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