I hear this all the time from people. Sounds like a GREAT idea, right? WRONG!
It takes a lot of mental readjustment to lose weight without dieting. Because we forge deeply-etched neural pathways about our belief systems. Which keep us, no matter how much we try to shun them, forever lost in those neural trenches.
So you not only have to fill those trenches in, you have to create new, more positive ones. And, according to Rick Hanson in his book, Hardwiring Happiness, that’s a much harder proposition than reinforcing those old, negative belief systems. Because reinforcing negative belief systems is what doing diet-after-diet does. But moving away from dieting IS doable. It just takes a little work and some time.
Six Success Strategies for DietLess Weight Loss
Here’s what you have to do…
1. Ditch the diet mentality. Diets are so ingrained in us that even some of our thought-leaders have written books about diets where the first part is about positive ideas like mindful eating and the second is chock full of calories, portions, and everything else DIE-T.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s (yes, THAT mindful monk) Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life REALLY rankled me … and the two peer reviewers who agreed me even said “It is very concentrated on weight and calories. The nutrition part is outdated and sometimes lacking the scientific background. I didn’t expect this from the book about mindful eating” and “There’s an … emphasis on calories, calories, calories that I find disturbing”. So much for many of the supposedly revolutionary books about eating. Even thought leaders are brainwashed when it comes to diets.
Do this instead: Do some intense soul-searching about how diets haven’t served you. Root out your stinkin’ diet thinkin’. Grab your journal and favorite pen and ask yourself these questions … “How much weight have I lost on diets? How much have I gained back? What thoughts do I have when I say the word ‘diet’?” Write them out.
2. Go even further … Give up calories, portions, and other diet-like ideas. If you’re now feeling a little fearful about even entertaining this idea, that’s you grieving a hugely accepted mindset and fearful of forging on with one that you don’t know is or could be embraced by friends, family, and even globally. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is. And, even so, it’s you who’s doing this, not the world. So you have to make the ultimate decision to chuck all that.
Do this instead: Make a pact with yourself that you won’t talk about food, calories, and portions in the same sentence. Begin to redefine food choices as “what I like” and “what I want”. And find groups that embrace the non-diet concept … you can find many of them on social media … to align yourself with.
3. Understand that there is no “cheating”, just “eating”. It just makes me crazy when people tell me that they’ve “cheated” on their diet. And I have to tell you that the most-asked question I get from clients is … “Is this food good or bad to eat?”
If you’re restricting calories and portions, you’re also separating foods into “good” and “bad” camps. That sets up a whole battlefront around food. And makes it impossible to enjoy even well-loved foods when you feel bad about them. Not only that, feeling bad about some foods is a trigger for many of us to overeat on them.
Do this instead: Make all foods OK to eat. To do that, you have to figure out which foods you think are “bad”. When you do, then find ways to eat them in a safe way to desensitize you from their “badness”. For example, I told a client to break chips in half instead of mindlessly eating them one after another. When she did, she ate much less of them; eating them in a different way caused her to regard them more mindfully. Giving yourself permission to eat your formerly “bad” foods instead of feeling guilty about them wouldn’t hurt either.
4. Make up your own food rules. Doing someone else’s diet gives us an illusion of control. We also don’t trust ourselves with such an important task as creating a diet and leave it instead to an expert. Neither works. If it did, more than 5% of dieters would lose all the weight they wanted to and keep it off forever.
Do this instead: I had a client who tried many types of food plans and other strategies and never could lose weight. Perhaps because he was in Weight Watcher’s before the age of 12 and that diet mentality was etched deeply into his consciousness … no matter how much they say they’re not a diet. He also couldn’t give up garlic bread … FOR EIGHT YEARS!
One day, he came into session and announced he was going to do an earlier version of Paleo. Sans garlic bread. Because he chose his own rules, he was able to finally stick to a plan. He lost 80 pounds. And has kept it off to this day. I like Glenn Livingston’s idea of building your own plan around what you will “never” and “always” eat and choose “unrestricted” and “conditional” foods too. Check him out at neverbingeagain.com.
5. Get off the couch! Diets never seem to address the idea of exercise … both diet and exercise appear to us as discrete entities with separate experts and mindsets. And the experts that tout exercise are usually those who have muscle on muscles and/or teeny, tiny waists and tight butts. Normal people are supposed to be inspired by them? Get outa here! Not only that, most of the exercise they show us is incomprehensible for most “normal” people. As a result, we mostly stop trying.
Do this instead: You’ve gotta move, guys! You need exercise (I prefer to call it activity or, even better, movin’) to burn more calories (great for weight loss), build muscle (great to look better), and keep going into old age (I see too many incredibly overweight people with debilitating diseases who can’t move in my nursing homes). Did I mention it makes you feel good too? And have more energy?
My sister is 77 and walks all over New York in boots with heels; she wears me out … her younger sister. But she’s always liked moving her body. My advice … find something physical you really like to do. It will open the door to more movin’.
6. Embrace the idea of being as you are and happy with your size. We tend to compare ourselves to others … society almost demands it! As well as being bombarded with images of beautiful people that we’re supposed to emulate. Neither is productive. They lead to self-loathing and never being satisfied with what and who you are. You also tend to value your looks over your substance … especially if you’re a woman.
Do this instead: Carrie Fisher once said, “I was hot when most people were hot … when I was 19”. The reality is that the woman in fashion magazines are usually that age … or even younger. The documentary, “America the Beautiful” portrays a 12-year-old girl, the toast of Paris runways, who was washed-up at 13 because her developing hips were then too big for designers’ specifications.
So get over it! All our bodies change as we grow older. I’ve spent my entire life hating the way I looked. Looking back, it just held me back. And made me feel less-than. In reality, I was pretty (people still say I am) and very fit at one time (but I always hated my hips) way past my teens. You are much more than your size. And whatever size you are is OK.
Do yourself a favor … join groups like the Body Image Movement or Health at Any Size (HAES). And realize once and for all there are others like you who want to reclaim their lives and stop dieting once and for all!
Leave Your Comments about “I don’t want to diet but want to lose weight …” Below
What kind of dieting behavior are you willing to give up after reading this? What other kinds are you considering? If you’re not, what’s holding you back?