If not dieting, then what?
I lived for the majority of my life either on a diet, or out of control.
There was no middle ground. It was like driving with both the accelerator and brake on at the same time, I made no headway, and all I seemed to do was wear down my tyres (my energy reserves).
The idea of never dieting again was exciting (and scary), and I had a LOT of questions…
What do I eat? How much? When do I eat? What sort of exercise do I do? How often? How many calories should I burn? What’s the heart rate I’m aiming for? And so on and so forth! The list of questions was overwhelming. (No wonder so many of us run right back to dieting!)
As hard as dieting is, it seems easy in comparison to being faced with these questions, because you don’t have to think. You outsource all of these decisions to an external authority, the diet plan, and based on your stats you will be given a list of foods and times and amounts to eat. Many diets also include a list of exercises. You don’t need to think. It seems easy. But it doesn’t teach you the skills you need to be able to sustain the behaviour long term.
So, decision: What now?
Now that I no longer diet, before I start anything new, the very first question I ask myself is:
“Is it sustainable?”
Because for me, what is the point of achieving something if I can’t sustain it?
In the past, I have joined many a 12-week challenge (or variation of) and have had massive success DURING the challenge. But as soon as the challenge is over, so are my results (in fact I usually backpedal SO fast that before long I am worse off than I was before I had even started)!
There is a massive difference between achieving something and sustaining it!
I think this is where a lot of us lifelong dieters come unstuck. We start something because it’s achievable, but we don’t have a future focus, we don’t stop to ask ourselves can we do this forever?
Some of my very good friends told me a story about how they were driving through a national park in South Africa (I gather it’s like an open-plain zoo where the safari animals can come RIGHT up to your car). They had an issue with their car, it was leaking petrol, and so they stop-gapped the fuel tank with a piece of chewing gum! It got them out of the park, and the danger of wild animals. But as soon as possible they got the car to a mechanic and had it fixed, because it was NOT a sustainable long term solution!
The reason I use this as an example is because if you are sick of your weight, if you are just DONE, you might be tempted to sign up to one of these ‘quick fix diets’ – you might think to yourself “I could drink shakes instead of eating meals” or “I could get up at 5am to exercise for 12 weeks” and yes these things are achievable, and you WILL see results. But what happens when you STOP? The results stop as well.
We know this deep down inside. But in the moment when we are making the decision (when we are leaking petrol all over the ground and we just want to ‘fix’ the immediate problem), the chewing gum solution does work as it stops our immediate problem. The issue is that chewing gum just isn’t going to cut it forever.
So my question for you this week is where in your life have you been using chewing gum as a solution to your problems?
Can you see a more sustainable way of achieving your goals?
I know the sustainable way often doesn’t have the bells and whistles or the instant results of the ‘quick fix’ – but the results last!
Another thing to consider is that a sustainable solution requires little effort (after a time) because it becomes part of your routine, it becomes your ‘new normal’ so to speak. Take brushing your teeth for example, do you even think about brushing your teeth anymore? Or is it just something that you do, it’s part of your normal routine right? It wasn’t always that way. Trust me I know, as the mother to 2 young children I feel like a broken record some days when I ask yet again “Have you brushed your teeth yet?” I am sure there was a time when this happened for all of us, just ask our parents! But now it’s just something that we do, like clockwork, it’s part of our normal routine.
The thing is that whatever habit you are working on can become that for you, with time and practise.
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