I recently wrote about my ongoing success with the Cheat-To-Lose Diet. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why this time is successful and the others weren’t. The diet is effective and pretty easy to follow, but I think I’m successful on it for other reasons; those reasons are why I don’t think I’ll be regressing to my former heavy self. So here they are, the four things you need to be successful at dieting, no matter the diet.
Motivation to change
This is the most important aspect of transforming your body. There are thousands and thousands of articles, books, videos, and products of all other sorts all focused on how to lose weight, how to diet, how to exercise available everywhere you turn. So why does everyone obsess over losing weight? Why hasn’t everyone just done it already?
You have to be ready to change the way you do things, maybe everything: eating, drinking, sleeping, cooking, exercising, working, even socializing. Without that willingness, all the good intentions and all the advice won’t work on you.It could be anything to give you that little spark of motivation, it doesn’t matter what it is; for me, it was pictures of myself. You can’t hide from the lens of a camera; it sees everything, including your fat face and two chins — well, my fat face and my two chins. 🙂
Once I decided enough was enough, it’s time for a change, then dieting didn’t look so daunting; I was willing to try something new. I knew that whatever I had to go through to lose the weight was worth doing. From what I’ve read of others’ transformations, they had that same motivation. Think of it this way: everything you’ve ever done has gotten you exactly where you are. Are you happy with that?
This comes part and parcel with the first one. You need the motivation to start changing, and a little introspection to keep changing. Succeeding at diet is a challenge, and a transformative one: you won’t be the same person when you finish. The habits that got you where you are and the habits that will get you where you’re going have to be at the forefront of your mind. Modifying behaviour, if you’ve never done it before, requires a concerted effort.
How do you feel about food? What do you do when you’re hungry? Are you surprised by your hunger? My colleagues often go ’til 2pm before they realize they’re hungry, then eat less desirable food. Can you handle eating the same thing for long stretches or does every meal need to be an adventure? These are some of the questions that you have to know the answer to before any diet you go on will work.
Fostering self-awareness can be difficult when you have a lot going on. In the first few weeks, concentrating on the details of dieting will go a long way to success. If you’ve decided to do this with someone else, obsess over it in the first few weeks with each other. Talk to one another; try different strategies out, see how you feel after each one, and find the ones that’ll work for you. By yourself? Talk to yourself then. I’ll be talking about the habits that have helped me in future posts.
A specific, challenging goal
You want to lose weight? How much? Don’t know? Find out!If you’re interested in “losing weight”, or “toning up”, or “getting ripped”, you’re not going to get very far. How do you know when you made it? You need something specific to measure progress against. You also want a challenge; something that will take some effort to achieve. Don’t pick 5 pounds or 10 pounds, that’s too easy, and you can’t really see the difference. Go big: even if you don’t quite make it, you’ll still achieve a lot. Don’t sell yourself short.
It doesn’t have to be a number of pounds to lose (in fact, that’s not the best indicator, which is another blog post); it could be a body fat percentage, a waist measurement, or a pair of pants that you haven’t fit in for years, as long as you can measure your progress toward that goal and it’s challenging. Once you make it to the goal, make another goal! Why stop?
Confidence in the kitchen
This is the one that I was lacking the other few times I tried to lose weight. You often hear the complaint: “I really don’t like diet food. I’d totally diet if I didn’t have to eat boring chicken breasts.” You don’t. You just need to learn how to cook. Whether you feel the need to count calories or not; whether you’re on a low carb diet or low fat diet really doesn’t matter if you’re more comfortable heating a dinner from a box in the microwave than putting a pan on the stove and actually cooking. Do you think Stouffer’s really has your back with that low-fat Tuscan Pesto Chicken in Fettuccini Sauce? It’s loaded with sugar, corn and soy food products that you have no hope of ever pronouncing correctly. Think that’s good for you? It’s cheaper and healthier to cook your own, and it really doesn’t take that long after a couple weeks of practice.
Once you start mastering a few dishes, you’ll want to try more and more cooking methods, different ingredients; you’ll start planning your meals, food at chain restaurants won’t taste that good and neither will that microwave dinner. You’ll want to invite people over to share in the meals, and, let’s be honest, show off a little. And all the while, the fat is coming off your body because you are in charge of what goes in your body.
These four things aren’t the only things you’re going to need, but based on my experience, they’re the fundamental foundation for a successful physique transformation. If you work on these four things, you’re well on your way to the new you.