If I were to ask you to say the first thing that comes to mind when I asked “what is the hardest part of dieting, and then maintaining that weight loss?”, I would bet good money that almost everyone would answer with something like, cravings, self-control, discipline, or any number of similar descriptions of the same thing.
Sticking to a plan is hard. Really hard. Telling ourselves “no” to something that is easily accessible and feels fantastic in the moment can be almost impossible at times. Hell, that’s why the proverbial you is in this mess to begin with. Eating a pan of brownies after a long, stressful day feels fucking amazing. Putting on Netflix and ordering Papa Johns on a Friday night is a perfect way to start a much needed weekend. Clearly I don’t get out much anymore…
But what about the diet? Be it a current program, or the need to keep those hard lost pounds off for good, either way, you have to be strong. Think of the children.
Sure, you know that a calorie is just a calorie, and that pizza isn’t going to make you fat again simply because it’s pizza. But you already had dinner. You don’t have any calories left. What’s the point of counting, and lifting, and running, and sweating, and taking selfies, if you are just going to dive headfirst into every craving that comes along? Well, you can’t. You can’t give in to EVERY craving. But you can give into some. In fact, you should.
The main factor that determines rather or not you are going to be successful short term with a diet, and successful long term with maintenance, is “livability”. If you can’t stick with whatever method you have decided to adopt, well, there is no way to achieve long term success with it.
This means that it is not only important, but in fact, imperative to allow yourself unplanned deviations. Even “cheat days” (which I despise) won’t necessarily fill this need, because they are still a “hard” part of the plan.
Long term success is about long term “mental health”, for lack of a better term. Your diet shouldn’t be agonizing. Not all of the time. It will be difficult, don’t get me wrong. And to achieve any great change you are going to have to suffer for it. But you have to know when to hit that release valve and give yourself a little breathing room.
Not allowing yourself to have those extra calories that start taking us to the point of desperation is why we crash. It’s what brings us to our breaking points. And instead of just having that one pizza, we have the pizza, and two pints of ice cream, and a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos (I don’t even like Cool Ranch that much, I just felt like it flowed better).
Then, the next day, your diet is already ruined. Or, you look and feel like you already gained that 25lbs back, so fuck it. It’s time to go wild. And then three weeks later, as you sit at your desk feeling your belly once again pressing oh so gently against it, it’s all you can do to fight off your tears of shame and regret. And now it’s too late. The damage has been done. Now, you have to start all over, again.
So, the next time that you feel that bag of Chex Mix, or that entire box of Snowballs calling your name, and you have been “good” all week, or even most of the week. You haven’t had any major hiccups lately. You and your diet have been living together for some time now, and you think things are starting to get really serious. Well, don’t fight that salty goodness off. Don’t slam your pantry door and run to the coffee pot in hopes that a caffeinated distraction will be enough to fight off this demon. Just give in. You are only human, and it’s ok. We all want to just let loose from time to time. And if your “plan” requires you to spend your entire life fighting against your basal instincts, well… Good luck.
Before I leave you, let me just say one last thing. If you have a legitimate eating disorder, this advice very well may not apply to you. I am no medical professional, and just like I would never tell a diabetic that it’s cool to give my ice cream diet a shot, I wouldn’t flippantly tell you to follow my general dietary methodology either.
- Eat dirty my friends