How many times have you started a diet? How many times have you quit before you reached your goal?
People who go on diets deprive themselves. They eat too few calories. They cut out foods they love. Maybe they have an exercise regimen that is too ambitious.
For a few weeks, they’re all excited about their diet, and maybe they lose a few pounds. But this unnatural way of eating and living gets really old fast. Soon, they feel miserable. Then they “mess up,” and jump on that as an excuse to go off the diet. They can’t wait to quit that diet because they feel wretched.
When you make permanent, sustainable changes to the way you eat, you don't have to go on diets or off diets.
You change your eating habits. Forever. Then the work is done.
When you do this, the only way you can fail is if you quit before your new practices become habits.
I teach my clients to listen to their bodies and give their bodies food that their bodies want, but only when they are hungry. When their bodies have had enough food, they stop eating. That means they don't need to unbutton their jeans to feel comfortable.
This is the natural balance of your body. Eating what your body wants and the amount it needs. If you do this, you will lose weight and keep it off. You don’t have to count calories, carbs, points or anything.
So many people have a diet mentality drilled into their heads, though. Part of that mentality is thinking that if they mess up, they might as well just quit.
That means they expect to be perfect. What? Nobody is perfect. No one can adhere perfectly to any regimen. No one can change a habit they’ve had for years without making some mistakes along the way.
So I teach my clients to do their best, but to expect to mess up. Plan for it.
After all, it’s what you do after you mess up that matters the most.
When I was working with my weight coach years ago, I lost four pounds in the first month. I was very conscientious about eating only when I was hungry and stopping before I felt full. I was doing great and felt wonderful. Eating what I wanted and not overeating was freedom!
Then I went to Chicago for four days. Chicago is an amazing food city. But I was determined to stick to my new habits. I left delicious food on plates in restaurants when my body was satisfied. I passed up the pastries at Southport Grocery when I stopped in to pick up my morning chai. I ate much less than on previous trips. I ate and enjoyed delicious food without overeating.
Then I got home and got on the scale. My weight was two pounds higher than when I left. I felt so downhearted! What do I do now? Why did I gain weight? I was being so good! What went wrong? I felt like quitting! This was not going to work for me.
Then I got on a coaching call with Brooke Castillo, my weight coach. I told her my quandary. Her response was a turning point for me that I will never forget. A seminal moment.
“So what are you going to do now? Go back to eating the way you used to? Because you know what results you’ll get.”
I knew at that moment that I had only one option. That was to stay on track. Continuing to eat the way she had taught me to eat. Having had a taste of the freedom of eating in response to my body’s needs, and not my emotions, I didn’t want to turn back. I also knew that if I gave up, I’d gain back the weight and keep gaining, gaining, gaining. Those were the results I’d gotten every time I’d quit in the past and went back to my old habits.
Winston Churchill said, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” On the path to succeeding, we experience a lot of little failures. Sometimes big failures. To reach our goals, we have to persevere without losing our enthusiasm.
Instead of quitting, successful people learn from their failures. Now, if I overeat, I look at what went wrong and think about how to avoid making the same mistake again.
I’m not afraid of failure. It’s a part of the learning process. It helps us grow.
When you want to make permanent changes in your life, like losing weight and keeping it off, you have to keep going until your new way of eating becomes your habit. Then it becomes easy.
If you really want to reach your goal, you have to keep going, despite mess-ups and failures along the way,
The only way you can fail is by giving up.