A diet is a short term strategy to lose weight. Long term weight loss is the result of an alteration in lifestyle. We are concerned with life long weight management, not quick fix weight loss here. I don’t like the term diet, as it represents a short term attempt to lose weight vs. a change in lifestyle. Want to lose a bunch of weight quickly? Heck, I will give you the information on how to do that here and now for no charge. Best Tips for Weight loss.
For the next 90 to 120 days eat 12 scrambled egg whites, one whole grapefruit, and a gallon of water twice a day. You will lose plenty of weight. Will it be healthy? Nope.
Will the weight stay off once you are done with this diet and are then forced to go back to your “normal” way of eating? Not a chance. Will the weight loss comes from fat or will it be muscle, water, bone, and (hopefully!) some fat? The point being, there are many diets out there that are perfectly capable of getting the weight off you, but when considering any eating plan designed to lose weight, you must ask yourself:
“Is this a way of eating I can follow long term?”
Which brings me to my test: I call it the “Can I eat that way for the rest of my life?” Test. I know, it does not exactly roll off your tongue, but it gets the point across.
The lesson here is: any nutritional plan you pick to lose weight must be part of a lifestyle change you will be able to follow – in one form or another – forever. That is, if it’s not a way of eating you can comply with indefinitely, even after you get to your target weight, then it’s worthless.
Thus, many fad diets you see out there are immediately eliminated, and you don’t have to worry about them. The question is not whether the diet is effective in the short term, but if the diet can be followed indefinitely as a lifelong way of eating. Going from “their” way of eating back to “your” way of eating after you reach your target weight is a recipe for disaster and the cause of the well established yo-yo dieting syndrome. Bottom line: there are no short cuts, there is no free lunch, and only a commitment to a lifestyle change is going to keep the fat off long term. I realize that’s not what most people want to hear, but it’s the truth, like it or not.
The statistics don’t lie: getting the weight off is not the hardest part, keeping the weight off is! If you take a close look at the many well known fad/commercial diets out there, and you are honest with yourself, and apply my test above, you will find most of them no longer appeal to you as they once did. It also brings me to an example that adds additional clarity:
If you have diet A that will cause the most weight loss in the shortest amount of time but is unbalanced and essentially impossible to follow long term vs. diet B, which will take the weight off at a slower pace, but is easier to follow, balanced, healthy, and something you can comply with year after year, which is superior?
If diet A gets 30 lbs off you in 30 days, but by next year you have gained back all 30 lbs, but diet B gets 20 lbs off you in the next 3 months with another 20 lbs 3 months after that and the weight stays off by the end of that year, which is the better diet?
If you don’t know the answer to those questions, you have totally missed the point of this article and the lesson it’s trying to teach you, and are set up for failure. Go back and read this section again…By default, diet B is superior.
Teach a man to Fish…
A well known Chinese Proverb is – Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
This expression fits perfectly with the next essential step in how to decide what eating plan you should follow to lose weight permanently. Will the diet plan you are considering teach you how to eat long term, or does it spoon-feed you information? Will the diet rely on special bars, shakes, supplements or pre-made foods they supply?
Let’s do another diet A vs. diet B comparison. Diet A is going to supply you with their foods, as well as their special drink or bars to eat, and tell you exactly when to eat them. You will lose – say – 30 lbs in two months. Diet B is going to attempt to help you learn which foods you should eat, how many calories you need to eat, why you need to eat them, and generally attempt to help teach you how to eat as part of a total lifestyle change that will allow you to make informed decisions about your nutrition. Diet B causes a slow steady weight loss of 8 -10 lbs per month for the next 6 months and the weight stays off because you now know how to eat properly.
Recall the Chinese proverb. Both diets will assist you to lose weight. Only one diet, however, will teach you how to be self-reliant after your experience is over. Diet A is easier, to be sure, and causes faster weight loss than diet B, and diet B takes longer and requires some thinking and learning on your part.
However, when diet A is over, you are right back where you started and have been given no skills to fish. Diet companies don’t make their profits by teaching you to fish, they make their money by handing you a fish so you must rely on them indefinitely or come back to them after you gain all the weight back.