How do you Eat an Elephant?
The process of getting to a place you want to be at, slim with healthy eating habits, to where you are now – overweight with a diet that needs some work, is a monumental task.
A lot of diet failure can be attributed to people trying to get to the end too quickly, meaning they bite off more than they can chew and the whole experience ends up being difficult and overwhelming. Not long after, people find something they don’t like about their new diet and quit.
The answer to the above question is, “One bite at a time,” which implies that success in dieting means accepting a long term, time frame and then being satisfied with incremental change from week to week.
It also means that you MAKE SMALL CHANGES and incorporate them into your daily routine bit by bit.
The hardest part about that is the fact that you find your weight or body intolerable NOW, and so not being able to stand it, you go full out to eating and acting the same way an athlete or skinny model would, and that’s doomed to fail spectacularly.
Your willpower can only hang on so long before your body craves what it is used to, and pulls you back to the way you used to eat, so you can end the intense and ever-present feeling of deprivation.
Accept the Task
Knowing this, the first bit of work that needs to be done is to accept the time frame as is. Talk to yourself and become resolute in finding a way to tolerate the slow and gradual change, because that’s the hardest part.
Start by asking yourself if you believe that drastic measures and quick fixes will actually work, and whether or not they are worth the hassle. Then see the consequences of trying some of them out which tend to be pain, hunger, stress and at the end, a waste of time. Time that could have been spent doing it properly. Oh, and don’t forget the tiny hit to your self esteem as you fail in the attempt.
Once you can clearly see that that path is not good for you in any way, the alternative long term strategy, becomes more attractive. At this point you still have the problem of tolerating your present, undesirable condition for such a long period of time.
The way around that is to again ask yourself about consequences again. Ask yourself what will happen if you DON’T start and stick to it. You’ll find that it will mean that you will stay where you are, or worse, get even further away from your goal, AND, that you’ll just have to start doing things the right way at a later time.
Then you’re left with one path to choose that’s good for you, the proper one, but only because everything else doesn’t look that appealing which is okay but not very inspiring. So we need to add a motivating factor to this process.
For this once again you’re going to use questions, and this time you’ll ask about benefits instead of consequences. Ask yourself what achieving your goal will feel like once you do. Then ask about all of the other benefits that come with losing weight; more stamina, better health etc., and what that will mean for the quality of your life. The sky’s the limit here and it can be rather exciting. Take this part seriously by devoting the time necessary to really allow yourself to see the possibilities of what a newer, better you could be like, in more ways than just losing weight or by having a healthier body.
The Easy Diet Success Part
Dieting HAS TO BE EASY or else the chances of success are very slim. The way to make it easy is to make sure you don’t feel too much pain, hunger or deprivation and the way to do that is to make small adjustments over time.
To get started you’ll need to take inventory of what you generally eat throughout the week. It doesn’t have to be detailed or exact but does need to be representative of what a typical week is in terms of your food intake. Writing it down is best but you can do this mentally as well.
You’ll take into account all your meals, snacks and desserts.
With all of that in mind, ask yourself WHAT YOU CAN DO WITHOUT, that will cause you the least amount of angst. You want to find out what you can take away from your weekly diet, that will have you feeling an acceptable level of discomfort.
It’s got to be easy!
You want to be able to feel like whatever you’re taking away is a, “piece of cake” in terms of the effort needed to tolerate the loss. Make sure that it really is EASY or else it won’t work and you’ll have to start over feeling frustrated at the loss of time and effort you put into this thus far.
Here are a few examples of how this can be done.
Eat everything you normally would in a typical week but take away:
1- One snack or one dessert per week.
2- Make one meal, or a few meals, slightly or moderately smaller than they usually would be.
3- One meal per week.
4- One snack/dessert and make one meal smaller
5- A combination of any of the above
Pick one to start with that you feel isn’t that hard to do and be consistent with it every week.
At this point your weekly diet is now slightly less than it used to be and it isn’t all that bad in terms of difficulty handling it.
The next important step is to make sure you become USED TO IT, and that what you are eating weekly now feels like the NEW NORMAL. It could take a week or a month to feel this way, but take whatever time is necessary to feel like this is what you would normally eat in a week without depriving yourself, outside of your routine diet you are accustomed to.
Once you have a new normal, and again that means feeling no pain or discomfort, you’ll repeat the 2 steps above which are decreasing your weekly food intake slightly, and then giving yourself time to adjust. Then repeat again and again until you reach your goal or, until any further decrease becomes difficult. (Remember too from the insulin post that you’ll be releasing less and will reap the benefits of that too).
I am a firm believer that the body likes stability and wants to return to whatever state it is used to, so by not giving it any reason (i.e. pain or hunger) to try to keep you where you are, you can work with it instead of against it.
Time flies, and although it might seem like forever until you reach your goal, once you do, it will seem like it was just yesterday that you got started.
Incremental change makes dieting much easier.