Why Diets Don’t Work
Have you ever tried a new diet like keto, and when you were able to stick to it you saw awesome results? Say maybe you lost 20 pounds over a 3 month period.
But then you weren’t able to stick to it and end up gaining all your weight back?
Well, this is a common issue that anyone who diets will run into. What gives?
No matter what diet you do they all have one thing in common: they’re restrictive. This means that you have to avoid certain foods whether it’s carbs, “unhealthy” foods, or you must restrict other factors such as eating at certain times.
That’s your problem. Whenever you are removing things from your diet it’s usually the stuff you love. So, you become torn between looking good and the foods that you enjoy. That’s also why we fail these diets in the first place because how long are you going to be able to avoid those things?
It’s like breaking up and your ex becomes a crazy stalker, or the food becomes a ghost and haunts you. Wherever you go it always finds a way to sneak into your life, whether you’d like it or not.
Think, if you had to avoid the other things you love in life, like sex or your favorite tv show, how long would you be able to make it?
So, in order for things to work for you, then you can’t avoid the things you love. You have to do something else.
Infatuation vs Love
Instead of getting rid of it, you have to find a balance of being able to eat the foods you love. However, not letting getting that so out of control that you’re laying down on the couch, with your belt unbuckled, in a food coma.
It’s the same advice you hear when you first start dating, you have to tell the difference between infatuation and love. With infatuation, you drown in something (in my case, it was junk food). The things you are infatuated with become a part of your habits and identity. In my family, I was synonymous with Pepsi and Doritos, if you weren’t sure what to get me for Christmas you couldn’t go wrong with those!
On the other hand, think of what you know about relationships that rely on infatuation. They’re flimsy, and you don’t want your diet to be flimsy, do you?
But, when you’re in love with something you can enjoy and appreciate it without that object consuming you. You can eat a small bag of Doritos and be content not needing to dust off an entire family size by yourself.
The relationship that relies on true love always perseveres, and you want your diet to be like that, unrelenting. This is due to the inherent fact that dieting is hard.
So, in order for you to be able to stick to your diet, you have to be able to love your food not be infatuated by it. The allure is sweet, but the results are bitter.
Instead, you should try the 80/20 Diet.
What Is the 80/20 Diet?
The 80/20 principle is a modern solution for a modern problem. Our early ancestors had to worry about the scarcity of food. However, in today’s world food is abundant and incorporated into every facet of our lives. Therefore, we needed to find some sort of rule to help guide us. 80/20 is a fairly clear principle, wherein, you try to eat mainly whole foods. The rule is simple 80% of your foods should be “healthier”, and the other 20% of foods can be considered “cheat foods.”
As a personal trainer, I encourage this type of dieting in my clients because I’ve always believed that in order for a diet to work you have to be able to stick to it long term. To me, that means keeping the foods you love in your diet, just in moderation.
So for example, say you eat 3 meals a day, then that would mean you eat 21 meals a week. That’s a cheat meal every 5 meals.
That’s a cheat meal, not a cheat day. For you, that means whenever you have a cheat meal it’s just that, one meal. That doesn’t mean you can have one meal, then go eat doughnuts, and another meal in a short period of time and call that your cheat meal. That’s what is called a cheat day. Cheat days happen when you are infatuated with food and you lose all control.
Instead, when you have your cheat meal you can eat a meal and have a dessert in moderation. Instead of eating a bunch of doughnuts you just have 1 or 2 along with your meal.
Calories are Still King
Even when following a diet like 80/20 you still have to be aware of your calories. For a diet to work you must be in a caloric deficit. That applies to all diets.
So, on whatever day you decide to have your cheat meal you still need to hit your target calories for that day. If your target calories are 1800, then your cheat meal will have to fit into that 1800 along with the 2 normal meals you’ll have that day. If you ever go over on those days you will either slow your fat loss or even worse, bring it to a halt altogether.
This is a common mistake that everyone makes, since they have a cheat meal, they think it is a get out of jail free card. When in fact, you still have to abide by the dieting part, it’s just more enjoyable and sustainable. This is how you can have a good relationship with food.
Why You Should Be Doing it
My favorite thing about the 80/20 diet is that it embraces “unhealthy” eating. In today’s society, unhealthy foods are more than just a meal, they represent time with loved ones or celebrating a special occasion.
These are all things that make life enjoyable.
When I first started dieting I had a chronic fear of unhealthy foods, because I was obese for so long I was terrified to go back. It’s an eating disorder called orthorexia and it causes you to obsess about eating healthy. I thought any cheat on my diet was going to put me back in my husky pants.
Due to this type of mentality for years I didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, birthdays, or other special occasions. I missed out on the experience that comes with eating unhealthy foods.
If I had known more about balance in my dieting, such as 80/20, I wouldn’t have missed out on special moments I can’t get back. What I want to stress is this: the essential key to every lasting diet is sustainability.
Making a new lifestyle is something that works long-term. You don’t start a new diet and lose 20 pounds overnight. Instead, it’s supposed to be slow and steady. So, if you want to get results, then you need to make sure you can sustain it over a period of time.
That’s the benefit of 80/20, you can learn how to have a healthy body while also having a healthy balance so you can enjoy life. You can spend time with the people who matter most to you, while also making yourself a priority.
At the end of the day, we only have one life, therefore it shouldn’t be spent torturing ourselves. Instead, losing weight is an attempt to enjoy our life in the one body we are given.
Besides, creating balance in the 80/20 diet also helps fight cravings. Whenever we go on those restrictive diets we start craving whatever we are restricting from ourselves. The heart wants what it can’t have.
By still being able to eat those less healthy foods you’ll be able to curb your cravings for them. Thinking about how you only have to wait a day or two helps you fight off the cravings.
It makes dieting a lot easier because you can learn to eat healthier without giving up the foods you love!
Case Study: My First Client, Reno
Before becoming certified as a personal trainer I wanted to help my Fiance lose 60 pounds. Like what happens to all of us, her weight slowly crept up over time. She became depressed and uncomfortable about how she looked and felt. So, she came to me for help knowing I had an interest in working out and dieting.
So, one of the first things I was sure to teach her was the 80/20 principle. I wanted her to avoid the pitfall I fell into thinking that you have to eat only healthy foods in order to lose weight.
She was one of those who never grew up fat and has no problem eating whatever she wants without gaining weight. So the 80/20 diet was especially helpful for her because it helped fight the cravings she had for food she was used to eating.
Between her hard work of sticking to her diet and making sure she maintained balance in her life she was able to lose over 60 pounds, and she created the body of her dreams!
You Can Too
If you can implement the 80/20 diet, 80% of your food is “healthy” and 20% is “unhealthy”, then you can get the results you want. The key to a diet that lasts is having balance. Instead of losing and gaining all the time, you can lose the weight, and keep it off.
For more on all things, health and fitness check out our blog!