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Why a lifestyle change isn’t as difficult as it sounds

I blogged about this some time ago, but I’m revisiting it now because I am still saddened by the number of people opting for quick-fix (read “temporary fix”) diet plans rather than longer term changes which deliver permanent results, who then find themselves stuck in a depressing and damaging cycle of yo-yo dieting.

I accept that if you choose to embark on a quick-fix plan, and manage to stick with it, you will see results, but unless you stay on the plan, those results will be temporary. And since a quick-fix requires a certain amount of deprivation, most people have to put their lives on hold while they’re doing it. As you can’t put your life on hold forever, eventually it’s likely that you’ll drift back to your old eating habits – and your old weight. Then the whole cycle will start again when you embark on another quick fix….. Yo-yo dieting like this damages the metabolism, making weight loss harder every time, so why do so many people get stuck in such an ineffective cycle?

Well, although deep down we all know that permanent weight loss and good health can only be achieved through a permanent change in lifestyle, that can sound really daunting if you’ve always seen weight loss and healthy eating as a form of deprivation. If you’ve only ever reached your ideal weight by reducing the amount of food you eat or by cutting out the foods you love most, doing that forever more is never going to sound appealing.

But don’t be put off – a lifestyle change does not mean being on a permanent diet. If you choose the right foods, you shouldn’t need to reduce the quantity (in fact some of my clients have found that they’ve been able to increase the amount they eat). And if you get the basics right, there’ll be no need to cut out the occasional treat either.

Try to get lots of lean protein, good fats, vegetables and fruit and replace sugary, processed foods and refined, white carbs with healthier alternatives. Do this 80-85% of the time, and you can be indulgent with the remaining 15-20% – a couple of glasses of wine, a dessert when you’re eating out, an ice cream on a sunny day.

You should find that once you’re nourishing your body with lots of good food (rather than punishing it by starving it) it will reward you by giving you more energy and you’ll start to feel more positive, which in turn will make you want to continue with the healthy eating. It will all start making sense, feeling “right”, and feeling easier.

But it’s important that you approach it slowly. Make small changes, one at a time. One small change which you can maintain is going to be far more effective than a big change which you can’t maintain, or too many changes all at once. Then give yourself time – good habits take a while to form but bad habits take a while to lose too.

And don’t just cut out the bad habits – replace them with good ones so that you don’t leave a “hole” where a treat used to be. If you always have a couple of biscuits with your morning coffee, have a handful of nuts instead. Or if you’re used to having a side portion of fries when you eat out, don’t just cut them out but order a side portion of something healthier, so you’ve still got the same volume of food in front of you. Don’t be afraid to eat, but eat right.

I generally ask my clients to introduce just one small change each week. After six weeks, that’s six new healthy habits and they are well on the way to achieving their lifestyle change.

What small change could you introduce this week to get started on your own journey to a healthier body?

If you liked this blog you might like to read my blog on why paying for a diet plan might not be the answer here