Some of what I’m about to tell you may seem obvious or sound like nothing more than common sense — and to some it may be both. But I’ve found that, for almost all my clients, understanding how to create a livable diet is not common sense — it may make sense, but it’s not common sense. There is a world of difference.
So what is a livable diet? Simply put, it’s a diet you can live with for the rest of your life. Still not sure? Let me ask you a quick question: How long can you hold your breath? If you’re good, maybe 30 or 40 seconds. So, yes, you can do it, but only for a very short period of time. Well, that’s how most people diet — they can do it for a bit, but they can’t keep holding their breath forever. Here are a few tips and revelations that will help you create your own livable diet.
Most Diets Work. Yes, that’s correct; most diets do work in the short run. Every diet, whether from a book or a commercial program, provides a plausible reason why it is different from any other diet. You buy in to the rationale and then follow the instructions. And no matter what diet you’re on, you’ll be lowering your overall caloric intake. As a result, you’ll lose weight. You can do Atkins, South Beach, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers — but is the one you’ve chosen really “right” for you? It might be right, but you need to make sure. There have been points in my career as a health advocate when I’ve criticized certain diets, but the reality is that it’s not the diet that’s the problem (unless it’s clearly unhealthy and puts the individual at health risk); it’s the individual following the dieting. People are picking diets that, in the long run, are not “livable.” So again, it’s not necessarily the diet, but figuring out what works for you long term. In fact, Consumer Reports did a diet survey and found that 4,000 of the 32,000 respondents were able to lose an average of 37 pounds and maintain the loss for five or more years by using “self-directed lifestyle changes.” In fact, 83 percent of successful losers did it on their own — with no specific commercial weight-loss program or book. The key to long-term success is to come up with a plan that works for you — that is, to individualize your eating and exercise program.
Why Diets Do Not Work. There are so many reasons why your diet may not work, but it’s usually for one of the following reasons.
Diet Detective Tip: To get a general idea of how many calories you should be consuming: Women typically need 1,800 calories or fewer per day, while men need about 2,200. A quick rule of thumb to calculate your calorie needs is 10 calories per pound of your current weight for weight loss or 14 calories per pound for weight maintenance.
Diet Detective Tip: Try coming up with lists of what you can eat that’s healthy and tasty instead of thinking about what you can’t.
Diet Detective Tip: Look for Calorie Bargains, foods that taste great but are healthier and lower in calories than what you normally eat (and that you won’t end up eating too much of — which would negate the Calorie Bargain effect). To help you find Calorie Bargains, start by purchasing a few cookbooks or going online. You should certainly get a copy of Lisa Lillian’s new book: Hungry Girl 1-2-3. Also, take a look at the Eatingwell.com Web site and their line of books. Then there are magazines such as Cooking Light. If you’re eating out, today most restaurants will accommodate your taste preferences and cook things in a healthy way. Learn a few “healthier” phrases such as: “Can I have that prepared without oil?”; “Please bake that, instead of frying”; and “Prepare it plain, but use lots of garlic and spices.” Make sure to call restaurants before you go to see how foods are prepared. Also, decide what you’re going to order ahead of time. Don’t wing it.