Motivation to Lose Weight & Exercise, Part 4: Diet Strategies

Before I introduce the easiest way (ever!) to start a diet and stay on it, I want to make something very clear. Your success in sticking to a diet to lose weight depends on how easy it is to keep yourself eating more healthy foods than unhealthy foods. That’s common sense, right? But inevitably, you’re going to face weak moments where you could give in to temptation and eat something you shouldn’t. But why does this happen?

The path of least resistance

Imagine a river that’s near the epicenter of an earthquake. Boulders, dirt, and debris shift and completely fill up a section of the river. With the river blocked, the water can’t follow its normal path and is diverted in a different direction. The water naturally follows the contours of the earth that have the fewest obstructions. When faced with the decision to eat healthy or eat junk food, we often give in and eat the junk food. We follow the path of least resistance and eat the foods we’re most used to eating. We have the least resistance to foods that are familiar to us. Likewise, we have the most resistance to any sudden changes in our normal eating patterns.

Now, imagine that the river represents our normal habit of eating unhealthy foods. When you suddenly start a diet to lose weight, you instantly change how you’re eating. This appears as the boulders that obstruct the normal and natural flow of the river. The water (your normal eating habits) finds a way around the obstacles (new eating habits) by following the path of least resistance, which means you avoid the healthy foods and return to your natural and normal diet of unhealthy foods.

Staying motivated

It’s important to realize that motivation is your normal and natural state. If you aren’t motivated, there’s something getting in your way, some kind of mental or physical obstacle causing internal resistance. Motivation is not always some kind of over-the-top, outrageous explosion of energy that causes you to get everything done all at once. Sometimes it’s the strong, silent type but you know it’s there because when you decide to do something, you just do it without hesitation.

When you lose your motivation while trying to stay on a diet, you really haven’t LOST your motivation at all, but rather, you have encountered an obstacle which causes resistance that stops the natural flow of motivation and enthusiasm for sticking to your diet. My goal is to keep you motivated long enough to establish a solid new habit of healthy eating. My goal is to get you past the Day-3 crash that ends your diet. The only way to do this is to totally remove the resistance you feel when starting a new diet so that sticking to your new, healthier diet is so easy that it’s a non-issue. So without further delays, let me introduce you the diet that will accomplish all of this.

The easiest way (ever!) to start a diet and stay on it!

This is a radical new approach to dieting. I created this diet strategy through careful observation of successful and unsuccessful dieters and through personal experience over many years. I’ve paid particular attention to the people who were NOT able to stick to their diets so I could analyze what went wrong and try to identify the obstacles they encountered that caused them to lose motivation and quit.

I guarantee that if you approach your new, healthy eating the way that I’m about to suggest, you won’t crash on day 3! In fact, the only way you would ever crash on day 3 is if you decide you don’t want to eat healthy. So here is my radical new approach to starting a healthy diet.

The No-Resistance Diet Strategy

Week 1

  • Replace all AM snacks with fruit, vegetables, or other diet-worthy foods such as nuts and seeds

Week 2

  • Replace all PM snacks with fruit, vegetables, etc.

Week 3 & 4

  • Replace your regular breakfast with a healthy, nutritious breakfast

Week 5

  • Begin drinking two (minimum) 8-ounce glasses of water in the AM, and 2 in the PM

Week 6 & 7

  • Replace your regular lunch with a healthy, nutritious lunch

Week 8

  • Replace your regular dinner with a healthy, nutritious dinner

If your main goal is to lose weight, the same schedule would be repeated at week 9, but the second time through, you would implement a calorie limit for the food corresponding to the week you are on and you would increase your water intake. For example, on week 9, you would adjust your AM snack of healthy food so that you’re consuming under a certain number of calories according to what’s appropriate for your weight loss needs. On week 10, adjust the calorie limit of your PM snacks. Week 11 & 12, adjust your breakfast calories. Week 13, increase your water intake to 3 glasses in the AM and 3 in the PM, etc.

The same strategy works if you’re restricting carbohydrates rather than limiting calories. The No-Resistance Diet Strategy can be easily adapted for any particular dieting program. This strategy is probably the easiest way that I can conceive of to start a diet and stick with it. And there are several extremely important advantages to starting a diet this way:

  1. You avoid starting a diet “cold-turkey”
  2. People who lose weight slowly tend to keep it off far longer than those who lose weight quickly
  3. Losing weight slowly increases your chances of keeping the weight of for the rest of your life
  4. It takes approximately three weeks to implement a new habit–this diet takes 8 to 16 weeks to implement, thereby solidly establishing a new habit slowly
  5. You won’t feel deprived because you’re easing into eating healthy
  6. By easing into this method of dieting, you are able to slowly work through the obstacles that create resistance without feeling suddenly overwhelmed
  7. By easing into your diet slowly, you won’t be obsessed with food and won’t be thinking about it constantly
  8. You won’t feel the need to binge on junk food for 24 hours before starting this diet strategy
  9. You won’t feel the typical stress and pressure from starting a new diet
  10. You’ll avoid the “new-diet headache”
  11. You’ll feel more like you’re simply making small improvements to how you eat over time

More real-life strategies

I’ve never heard of an easier strategy for starting a diet. I’ve also never seen another diet plan that removes some of the biggest obstacles we face when starting a new diet. But inevitably, once you’ve fully implemented the No-Resistance Diet Strategy, you may, eventually, be tempted to eat foods that you should avoid. So I’m going to cover more strategies for how to handle specific situations so that you’re not caught off guard and can still make healthy eating choices.

Strategies to Help You Adjust Your Thinking About Dieting

Be flexible but not too much

Your routine will shape your decisions about how you will eat. If your day-to-day routine doesn’t vary that much, keep the same routine and don’t be too flexible with how you eat because you’re not as likely to find too many unexpected circumstances throwing your meals out of whack. But if you’re like most people, your routine can change in the blink of an eye. You’ve got to be prepared to change things up without going off your diet. But remember, any long-term diet should also include some foods you like (but you probably shouldn’t have) and snacks when you’re hungry.

Go off your diet

You can lie to yourself and say you’re never going to eat the bad stuff again, but that’s a recipe for failure. The point is to change the way you eat, not to suck all the joy out of life. The goal is to responsibly allow yourself a treat now and then. But put a calorie or serving size limit on it and don’t do it every day. Have a slice of chocolate cake at a friend’s birthday, but just have an average sized slice and that’s it! C’mon, if you can’t handle this, you’re in the wrong business.

One caveat to this is, if you’re not doing regular exercise, then the treats need to be spaced out more. But giving yourself permission to have a treat now and then removes the guilt and prevents you from giving up because you gave in and had a little slice of cake. How often you allow yourself a treat is entirely up to you. But here’s how you’ll know if you are doing it too often: GUILT! That’s right, you’ll get a twinge of guilt. Be very careful, for some people, this twinge of guilt opens the door to a down-and-out midnight food frolic the likes of which have never been seen on this planet. Don’t fall off the horse. But if you do, just get back on and next time, take an entirely different trail. Alright, Tex?

You can lead a dieter to the kitchen, but you can’t make her eat healthy.

Immerse yourself in fitness

Your environment makes a strategic difference like you wouldn’t believe! If you start off each day with a healthy breakfast while reading a magazine about healthy eating, you’re going to improve your chances of eating healthy foods all day. (Likewise, you’re more likely to exercise too.)

But don’t stop there. Find some good shows on TV that are all about healthy cooking. Periodically, throughout the day, consider listening to a few minutes of a podcast or watch videos on the Internet that teach about healthy foods and healthy eating.

You know that magazine you read while you ate breakfast? Well, carry it around with you to browse through during down times. Listen to an inspirational audiobook that’s related to health and fitness.

Spend a few minutes during breaks or downtime looking for healthy recipes and snacks to try. Browse around on health, diet, and fitness-related websites for tips and inspiration. Connect with people through dieting forums.

It’s called positive reinforcement, folks! If you’re constantly feeding your mind with positive reinforcement, you’ll leave less room in your noggin for weaker thoughts. Keep this type of material handy all day long and use it often. It’s especially important when you’re trying to make a life-long commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

The path of least resistance: Redux

All diet plans that I know of offer ways to keep you motivated, but without clearly identifying the sources of your resistance. Instead of helping you actually remove the obstacles that cause resistance and reduce your natural motivation, they try to motivate you to willpower your way through your obstacles which is why you usually end up hitting a wall, again and again. I’ve created a dieting strategy that I hope will forge a new path of least resistance. Only this time, the path of least resistance leads to eating healthy and dieting success.

Next up, more real-life dieting strategies and tips for common situations… I’m covering ALL the bases!

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