Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why I'm trying the same approach despite "failing" 3 times

I often read on forums and hear people in real life saying things like, "Well I tried Atkins and it worked for awhile, but I couldn't stick with it." Or, "I tried giving up foods with refined sugars, but I gave up." They then conclude that there was something wrong with the diet. This may or may not be true.

There are a lot of ways to lose weight. Cabbage Soup diet, calorie restricting, exercising more, low carb, liquid diets, etc. Tons and tons of ways to do it. Some are fast track, some are slow. Some are dangerous and can lead to nutritional imbalances and fatigue and health issues, but most diet plans are fine - if it works for you to get the weight off and you can manage to stay on the diet long enough to get to your desired weight. Then there is maintenance - keeping the weight off. THIS is the hard part.

I "used" to think that you needed to take off the weight the "right" way. I thought there was really only one right way, but over the years and watching other people and noticing how I've changed my tactics too, I realize there are many ways and that's OK. The only thing that really needs to be learned is that you need to find a diet that can work for you for the long haul and then you need to learn how to keep the weight off in a healthy way once the weight loss is over. I used to think you needed to eat above a certain calorie limit. Or that some diet plans weren't great. I even poo-pooed weight loss surgery, but now I know better. That journey down isn't very important as long as you have the know how and have the ability to keep the mental struggle of sticking with the diet and then transition to maintenance eating.

That liquid diet of Oprah's where she melted all that weight? That diet would have been fine, if she ate for maintenance once coming off the liquid diet. That time she worked with Bob Greene and ate healthy and ran and exercised. That way of weight loss would have been fine if she continued eating for maintenance, but she, like most human beings struggled with that. The mental stamina a maintainer has to have is constant and it's probably nearly never, "easy". I don't expect it to be for me and I never have. THAT is the battle. It's easy to stay motivated to lose weight. It's very hard to stay motivated to keep that slow (or not so slow) creep back up in weight.

So, when people say, "That diet doesn't work."  and leap into another one I wonder, "Did it really not work? Or were you unprepared for the long, maintenance haul?"

Sometimes it's the first - I couldn't stick to a high carb, low calorie diet without being totally miserable and it would be very, very hard to not give into the carb cravings for long because I'm carb sensitive.  I probably couldn't faithfully follow the Atkins or Keto diet because I do use some carbs and don't have problems with some. Going too low carb would make me cranky and not like my food. So, I wouldn't want to lose that way. I probably couldn't stick to an all liquid diet either as I enjoy my food and would miss it! An all fish diet? I don't like fish enough for that, etc.

And I think sometimes people feel they can't tweak diets - like "sort of " Atkins, but with your own adaptations. Or, "sort of a liquid diet" but only for 2 meals a day and then a modest dinner or something.

But then sometimes it's the second problem. The diet worked. You managed to stay on the diet for the journey, but then gave up living in maintenance mode. Was that the diet not working for you? Or you not working with the diet?

For some of these diets, you would just quit them and transition back to normal foods. This is probably harder than finding a diet that works all the way down for the weight loss journey because you have so much more learning to do. Going from a liquid diet to a regular food diet would take a lot of trial and error in figuring out how much you can eat and maintain without being too hungry. People who find a system that works for them for the journey down that only needs to be slightly modified for maintenance should have an easier time - perhaps it's just moderately increase calories, or slightly less exercise (one hour a day versus two) or perhaps it's just changing the composition of foods to include more carbs.

Looking for a new diet to work this time is only half the story. It is for me. I have found a way to lose weight and I should be able to eat this way for the rest of my life - with diligence. I cannot blame my diet plan for my past failures. "I" stumbled with the diet, not that the diet failed me.

So, with that... I'll post this article that is resurfacing on some forums. Take it with a grain of salt. These "dieters" weren't given the tools to learn to stay on maintenance - the tricky part! The MENTAL part!!! The New York Times article from December 28, 2011: The Fat Trap by Tara Parker-Pope.


  1. Dr. Barbara Berkeley has a great book called Refuse to Regain that is entirely about HOW to maintain weight loss. Excellent read/book to have to refer back to.

    You nailed it here, too. :)

  2. Thanks for sharing, Melissa. I've tried every type of diet out there at least once - some more than once. For me, personally, the diets all worked at least to an extent when followed exactly. But I'd try to tweak them or just give up because I felt deprived or hungry. I'm convinced it's about BOTH finding an eating plan I can maintain the rest of my life AND having the right mental attitude about changing my health.