My mom was always thin and healthy looking. Despite having two kids she looked great in a bikini through her 40’s. She had to work at it and was never quite 100% happy with where she was. I remember her saying “nothing tastes as good as thin feels” and “a moment on the lips and a lifetime on the hips.” She said it was important to keep your tummy tight at all times, sit up straight, and she would even do tummy rolls sometimes while she watched TV. Yes, even by those standards, dieting sucks.
Dieting Then and Now
My mom was a successful dieter and came from an era when people accepted that “diet” was a four-letter word that meant hard work, denial, deprivation, and discomfort. She believed reaching her goal weight mattered more to her than the temporary discomfort of dieting. She believed that feeling a bit hungry during the day meant it was working. Pushing away desserts and second helpings was the means that enabled her to reach her goal.
She believed that feeling full while dieting meant she overdid it, she embraced the dieting discomforts as signs of success and small markers she was doing something right. She actually somewhat enjoyed the feeling of hunger since it signaled success to her.
Would she have preferred to drink beer, eat chips, and watch TV with a full belly? Yes! She is a normal person, just like the rest of us. Her perception of “going on a diet” was about the same as how most people perceive going to work, cleaning our bathrooms, or pulling weeds. If we want to pay our bills, have a home that isn’t scary, or a yard that doesn’t look like a haunted house, then we must do these simple yet annoying things. If we want to be lean and healthy, then yes, we need to change our diet. Dieting sucks – at least in the beginning.
It’s a different time. It’s an era we are becoming more and more obese. We want a quick fix. We want to lose 5, 10, and even 50 pounds without feeling hungry, changing our eating habits, or working harder. So we compromise thinking that maybe we could drop 30 pounds in a month on a super restrictive eating plan, aka “crash diet”, and have the weight loss motivate us to keep going even when it sucks. We change everything in a moment and go onto a diet that not only probably isn’t healthy, but also isn’t conducive to doing the things we love.
After a few days, weeks, or months we give up. We don’t want to deny our momentary pleasures. We overindulge everything we missed and end up 5-10 pounds heavier than when we started. Then we wonder why diets fail us. We wonder why we are gaining weight instead of losing it. We accept where we are for a while. Then we start the cycle all over again.
This happens because we’ve lost sight of how our body works. To lose weight means feeling a little hungry, but not starving. You shouldn’t feel like you will pass out if you don’t eat. It’s just a nagging hunger. It’s just the sound of your fat cells shrinking.
Finding a Balance
Your fat cells will fight to survive and to stay full, therefore, to empty them means hearing their protest. This is a hormonal response. No diet in the world stops them from telling your brain that they are getting smaller. Pharmaceutical companies have tried to no avail. Currently there is no override switch. The best way I’ve seen people overcome it is through sheer dedication. Intense focus and belief in what they are doing, believing it’s in their best interest, wanting to keep it up for ever, and sick and freaking tired of where they are at.
In time, often six weeks to six months, they quiet down. You will notice a difference in a few weeks. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you will have a longer journey and a greater amount of time to hear their cries of being emptied. But you also have greater successes on the scale providing larger and larger amounts of motivation as you go.
For people with lower amounts of weight to lose, they acclimate to their new size in about the same timeframe your stomach gets used to small portions. You get used to skipping your full sugar/full fat latte, and second portions no longer call your name. Your body basically resets its signals for your new lower weight.
To really be successful at dieting we have to go back to where we were before. We need to see dieting as just another chore we have to work at. Be prepared to feel some hunger, be prepared to work harder, be prepared to give up some of your comfort foods.
If you aren’t ready for that commitment, that’s okay too. It’s okay to be happy with yourself as you are. When the discomfort of the extra weight is less than the discomfort of the nagging hunger and passing up the extra foods, you will be ready to diet. Until then, most attempts at dieting will go into the “fail” bin.
But if you are ready to put in some work, feel a little discomfort, and ready to make some changes to how you view and consume foods, then now is the time to start. You don’t need to do everything at once. Pick one thing to change this week, then add in another change next week, or even wait until you stop losing weight from the first change. It is a lifelong journey. Work on something sustainable. Work on building a forever plan.
I’ve talked to thousands of people about their food intake and weight over the years. Weight loss really is a simple concept once you embrace the four-letter component of dieting. After a week or so into a balanced, healthy eating plan, everyone hits the same realization of “this isn’t so bad”. Junk foods don’t taste nearly as good, and you start to notice how poorly you feel when you eat them.
Use the information on this site or go back to your favorite diet. Once you accept what it takes to be successful and are ready to be a little uncomfortable, any diet will get you smaller. Some are healthier than others… but that is an article for a different time. If you are ready to try something new today, something easy, check out this simple guide to How to Start a Weight Loss Journey. You are already on your way!