How Many Times Have You Started A Diet?

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Health Doesn't WeightWe’ve all seen the statistics on weight regain after dieting… or even while dieting for that matter. For most of my adult years, I was on some kind of diet – low fat, low carb, paleo, sugar free, clean eating. I finally figured out how to lose weight, but I still had that diet mentality burned into my brain.

I moved into contest prep a few years ago and focused on calorie burn, heart rate monitors, being in the gym 6 days a week, eating specific portions of clean foods at each meal, boring no taste meals. I didn’t stop cardio until my heart rate monitor hit a specific number. If you diet long enough, you completely unlearn how to recognize basic signals that your body gives you.

I forgot how to recognize being hungry because I was always hungry and I taught myself to ignore it. I forced myself to the gym or to do cardio almost daily whether I was exhausted or not or if it made me happy or not. I stressed over menus that had things that I couldn’t eat, or if I didn’t stress I felt weird being the one who was left out. I choked down meals that I hated because it was good for me. Then some days I swung to the other extreme and jumped off the wagon with both feet at the first taste of something good.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? 
Most weight loss programs and diets measure success solely in terms of weight lost. They don’t take into account the quality of the process used to get there or the likelihood that it can be maintained. They don’t focus on how happy you are during the process, or even what yo-yoing might be doing. That old “suck it up buttercup” mentality. Can you do what you’re doing now for the rest of your life? If the answer is no, how can you expect to maintain it?

Then when you don’t maintain it, you may feel like you’ve failed or that there’s something wrong with you. In reality, maybe there’s something wrong with the process or the success factors you’re looking at. Are you healthy under your skin? How do you feel physically and mentally, and are you enjoying life? Mantras are everywhere telling you that the scale doesn’t matter. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.

That’s all well and good, but what the heck does that mean?
It’s not enough to say these things and not give you the tools you need to implement them. It’s like telling you to meet me somewhere but not giving you a map or GPS. Pretty much useless, huh? The past couple years of my life have been completely different. I got certified as a personal trainer and then in fitness nutrition. I focused on learning as much as I could and then set about fitting it into my life instead of the other way around.

Not only have I lived through the dieting extremes and then book learned, I experienced finding that balance in life and living it. My last contest prep was entirely different. I relearned recognizing hunger. I focused on workouts that I enjoyed and didn’t spend hours in the gym. I ate incredible meals full of flavor. I even ate with The Kid at restaurants right up until contest. I listened to my body and my brain and actually heard what was being said.

The end result was huge. I got to contest and didn’t have that “thank God this is done” moment. I didn’t get to the end, rush off the stage and into a pile of cookies, pizza and sweets like many do after a diet ends. I didn’t stress over that dreaded rebound you hear about post diet or post contest. I hadn’t really given anything up along the way so there wasn’t anything that I had to have.

No guilt, no binge, no failure – just a celebration of the goal being met and a sense of accomplishment of everything I’d done and put in.

What if you focused more on being healthy, than on weight?
So what’s the end goal if it’s not weight loss? The goal is to build healthier, maintainable habits and level off the diet up and down swings, and many times weight loss is a part of that. Imagine eating nourishing foods when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full throughout the day, as opposed to skipping breakfast and lunch and then completely face planting in a buffet at dinner.

Do that consistently and your body trends towards what it’s supposed to be, instead of what you want it to be in your mind… and that’s a pretty great thing. Focus on the numbers in the gym on the barbell and dumbbells going up, and the scale might start to fall into place. You might notice that you feel better, want to eat better, move more just to keep that feeling going.

If you’re interested in workouts or nutritional programming personalized for you, you can read about my programs which are customized for you and your life right now. Not for the life you hope to have. Eating right and working out is a part of being healthy, it just doesn’t have to take a lot of time or rule your life. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram by hitting those buttons over on the right.

I spent years being clinically obese with cholesterol off the charts while being within my weight range. Just like a normal weight doesn’t mean that you’re healthy, health doesn’t have to wait until you are a lower weight. If you’re a serial dieter like me and looking for more balance, focus on the little changes you can do right now and work to do them consistently. You might surprise yourself at how simple it is.

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