Looking back over my 20+ years of yo-yo dieting, restricting, bingeing, rapid weight loss and compensatory weight gain, I think there is one thing that can sum up why I kept failing: the approaches I was trying weren’t sustainable.
There’s no question that I dropped weight super fast when I did the HCG diet. But the last day of the diet was the last day I’d ever eat that way – 2 apples and 2 pieces of fish for a total of less than 500 calories for the day. What did I expect to happen when it was over? I trained my body to operate on soooo little fuel. In order to survive, my metabolism slowed down. When I went back to what I thought was a healthy, moderate approach to maintaining the weight loss, I ballooned back to bigger than I was before – in record time.
I spent months on crash diets where all I ate was chicken broth and protein shakes. Same story. Is that sustainable? Good Lord no!!! Not even close.
Being the analytical type that I am, I spent a lot of time looking back over my failed diet attempts to find common themes. Was it me? Was I just too weak? Did I have no self control? Actually, I’d argue that with the severity of some of the diets I adhered to, I had pretty impressive self control! But I wasn’t adopting an approach that I could follow for the rest of my life.
That’s why I chose a Primal diet. It is now my lifestyle and honestly, it always will be. I was tired of traditional diets. I was tired of following someone else’s set of rules. I wanted a common sense approach to eating that would help me lose fat and get healthy but also something that I could easily maintain indefinitely. I didn’t want to sign on for anything that was going to result in compensatory weight gain. That would make all my efforts completely a waste of time and energy! No thanks! Been there, done that. 20 different pant sizes in my closet to prove it.
The Primal approach made sense to me. You eat foods in their natural form. You don’t eat processed junk. You eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. You choose foods that satisfy your hunger, increase your energy and minimize cravings. I won’t tell you that I made the transition overnight – I didn’t. I knew I needed to take a gradual approach. I didn’t rush myself. I just worked on it slowly. First I cut out processed foods every day except my one cheat day. Then I got rid of the cheat day but incorporated a few healthy-ish buffer foods (not Primal at this point) like protein bars and shakes. Then I cleaned up my buffer foods, only using shakes and bars when needed for convenience and travel.
I made these changes over a series of months. And in 18 months I had lost just under 140 lbs. I will eat this way for the rest of my life. I will continue to emphasize fat, protein and vegetables. I’ll avoid processed foods except for occasional indulgences. I’ll avoid wheat and grains. I’ll buy organic meat and produce to reduce my exposure to toxins. I’ll walk often. I’ll push my body through high intensity workouts and I’ll lift a few times each week.
Is what you’re doing sustainable? Have you tried unsustainable approaches? What happens when you go “off” the diet? It might be time to try a new approach…