January is diet season.
But if you've already fallen off the wagon on this year's diet, don't feel too bad.
I'm going to tell you something that you probably already knew was true:
Dieting is doomed.
There is no way that watching what you eat for a couple of weeks is going to change your life.
It might make you feel good that you're doing something about your weight, but it's never going to lead to achieving a long-term healthy weight.
The reason is that most diets are about the short-term.
The usual diet
Think about what happens on a regular diet. You stop eating the foods you normally eat (and love).
You follow the diet plan, which involves completely changing what you eat.
Maybe it's cutting out carbs.
Maybe it's eating packaged meals.
Maybe it's fasting for a day or two a week.
Whatever it is, you will usually find two things:
1. It's unpleasant
2. It's not convenient. Life soon gets in the way.
One of the biggest complaints about diets is that you end up missing out on life.
When your family orders a pizza for dinner, you're left panicking about what to do.
And it's not unusual for people to refuse dinner invitations when they're trying to lose weight.
Are you really going to live like this for the rest of your life?
This is why most people don't want to diet for more than a few weeks at a time.
But as soon as you stop the diet, you'll start gaining the weight back.
And this is why dieting like this is not a solution to being overweight.
Being in a hurry
The mistake most people make with trying to lose weight, is that they're in too much of a hurry.
They want a quick fix, and then end up doing things that are unsustainable.
If you want to succeed at losing weight and keeping it off, you're going to have to do something different to what most people do.
It means throwing away the quick fix. I'm sure on some level you've already realised that the quick fixes were getting you nowhere.
And you probably just stuck with them, because there didn't seem to be any other alternative.
But there is an alternative.
You know this will work
Instead of thinking about losing weight in a couple of weeks, start thinking of the long-term.
Think about how you could make changes that would result in you being slim for life.
As soon as you start thinking about being slim for life, you have to do things differently.
1. You have to figure out how to be allowed to eat foods you love, without going overboard.
2. You have to work out how to go out for dinner and still manage your weight.
3. You have to know how to go on holiday and come back the same weight.
This means thinking about how you can change your eating habits in a way that lasts.
It all comes down to habits.
When you make a new behaviour a habit, it becomes second nature. It becomes easy to do.
The habits you need are not the ones you think
But the kind of new habits I'm talking about are not "diet-y" habits like eating boiled vegetables for dinner every night.
The habits I want you to develop are sustainable ones.
I want you to change your relationship with food, so that you can eat less without feeling deprived.
1. Changing your environment. You make things much harder for yourself if you're constantly surrounded by food.
The fact is, if food is in front of you, you're much more likely to eat it.
2. When you make a food forbidden, it increases your cravings for it. You have to allow yourself some opportunities to indulge. When you allow yourself to indulge (under set conditions), you will be shocked to find the food you thought you couldn't resist, loses it's hold on you.
3. Over time, it's natural for portion sizes to increase. But you'll be surprised to know that slowly cutting them back, doesn't really affect your satisfaction levels.
4. Some people eat or drink more than they want because they feel pressured to by others. Getting better at resisting pressure, can result in having fewer calories without any loss of enjoyment.
5. Some people's eating is affected strongly by their work or family schedule and they end up eating the wrong things at the wrong time. Finding the right daily eating rhythm can mean you end up eating less and enjoying more.
When you make changes like these, you don't have to go for drastic diets. There is more to managing your weight than just being told what NOT to eat.
Turn your back on the crowd (they're going in the wrong direction)
Hopefully I've made enough of a case for you to be convinced that you have to focus on changing habits, rather than dieting.
And the habits you need to develop are not ones that make you feel deprived, but ones that result in you eating less, without missing out on life.
When you turn your back on what everyone else is doing (knowing that it doesn't work and only makes you miserable), you open up the possibility of being and slim and healthy for life, without dieting.
For more about a behavioural approach to losing weight click here.