Tips to Make Your Diet Your Own

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Isn't it interesting how two people can eat the same way but get very different results? For example,  my grandparents enjoyed the same breakfast every day – two eggs over easy, two slices of bacon, half a grapefruit and coffee. My grandfather lived to be 92 and enjoyed low cholesterol levels while my grandmother passed away at 73 from heart disease and a massive heart attack. Several years ago, my parents decided to change the composition of their diet by slightly altering their macronutrient distribution. My father lost 25 pounds and my mother's weight stayed the same.
As Coach Nancy likes to say, "We are all an experiment of one" and because of that, what works for one may or may not work for another. Very few people share the same exact genetics, body composition,  lifestyle, or eating preferences. Approaching weight loss with a "one size fits all" eating routine can result in frustration and loss of motivation when our results don't match those of another. The best diet plan is the one that allows you to learn new eating habits and re-shapes your lifestyle in a way that allows you to meet and maintain the healthy weight you desire. If you are trying an eating approach that has worked for a friend or family member but leaves you frustrated by a lack of results, take a look at these tips to help you make your diet your own.

Determine your desired eating pattern. Some people find it difficult to eat a large breakfast and make that a smaller meal in their day. Another person might find that eating several smaller meals and snacks throughout the day works better for them.  Both can be effective tools in weight management but it is important to know what eating plan is most desirable to you and your preferences. Once you determine your desired eating schedule, divide your calories and macronutrients up with that plan in mind.
Decide how much time and interest you can devote to meal preparation. For people that have the time and love to cook, an eating plan that includes a meal delivery service probably doesn't make much sense. For those that have hectic schedules and little interest in cooking that causes them to hit a fast food drive-thru frequently, it might be the missing link to meeting their goals. Consider if batch cooking and pre-portioning is an option or if crock pot/slow cooking meals or creating your own frozen dinners are options you haven't considered but that might help you balance your time and your budget.
Have a plan to receive support, encouragement, and accountability.  Supporters and cheerleaders increase the energy surrounding an activity. Knowing how much support and encouragement you need to keep your motivation up will help you know if regular face-to-face meetings are necessary or if online support will do the trick. Another aspect to consider is whether you offend easily. Virtual "friends" and accountability partners are wonderful but also require some interpretation and trust when it comes to finding the intent and tone of their written support and advice. What may be intended as a truthful "tough love" question or observation can come across as a put down when it wasn't intended as such. For those that get their feathers ruffled more easily, you may need to meet with people in the flesh where tone and reading body language and facial expression are easier instead of relying solely on an online support system.
Be realistic about social gatherings and dining out. For those that say they will never eat away from home again because they are on a diet or committed to healthy eating -- I say, I don't believe you and you are setting yourself up for failure. Life is full of social opportunities and what a shame it would be if you robbed yourself of the chance to enjoy the company of others away from home. Whether it is a potluck or sit-down dinner party, life celebration with family or simply a case of being short on time, eating away from home will and should happen. Be prepared with information and tools to help you make smart choices. No food is off limits but portion control and nutrient wise selections are necessary in any healthy lifestyle to reach and maintain weight goals, especially when eating away from home.
Know your diet weaknesses so you can incorporate them into your plan. Whether you love chocolate, French fries or pizza, trying to avoid those favorite foods can actually make you want them more. Develop a plan to include favorites as part of your healthy eating in the form of a reward for other healthy habits or choices. For example, I struggle with drinking water so I reward myself with my morning coffee AFTER I have had three cups of water. I also decided to make it part of my plan to select diet soda as a treat only AFTER I have met my eight glasses of water for the day. Of course, portion control is necessary even with this approach but it motivates me to do what I need to do before I do what I want to do. How about you, are their favorites you can build into your healthy living plan that can motivate you forward? Take an inventory of what those are and develop a healthy plan that makes them occasional treats that follow a newly developed healthy habit.
Set reasonable goals especially related to exercise. Regular exercise that includes cardio and strength training is important for good health as well as weight management. If you haven't worked out for years, jumping in to an intense 30 day program at the level of a military boot camp probably isn't a choice that will lead to long term success. Setting that plan as a long-term goal that you will attempt down the road makes sense but set up a plan of small steps that prepares you for it. The only program that is guaranteed to help you reach your weight goals is the one you will do consistently. The program that your friend or co-worker loves and completes regularly may not be right for you. Take a quick review of the types of exercise you enjoy and those you don't and build you plan around those that excite you and they will be guaranteed to work for you.
There is no magic eating plan, program, or product that is guaranteed to help you lose weight and keep it off. I know many of us want to believe there is but unfortunately that is nothing more than marketing hype. Trying to follow a plan or program that has worked for someone else through a one-size-fits-all approach is a path doomed to fail if it isn't something that fits into your lifestyle and preferences. Instead of giving in to the marketing campaigns or even the success stories of others and following a plan that doesn't fit your preferences and lifestyle, take a little time to make a plan that does. You may use a variety of tools, tips, and programs to build your individual program. When you do, and put your likes and preferences at the center, you are more likely to own that plan and make it work to reach and maintain your goals in ways you never have before.
How many weight loss plans have you started because they worked for someone else? What made you decide to try something else? 

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
See more: weight loss tips diet


MUSICNUT 6/21/2020
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
DEE107 2/25/2020
thanks Report
Thanks for the article. I've observed this in my own family - different responses to diet and exercise as no one is the same. The article is still timely and helpful. Report
PATRICIA-CR 1/24/2020
Absolutely great! Report
LOSER05 9/12/2019
thanks Report
Absolutely great Report
I eat a small dark chocolate bar with 150 calories every single day. Sometimes 2! It has been key to my success of losing 12 pounds in 3 months. (Right, not record settting, but I have not had cravings.) Report
Some good suggestions Report
Excellent! Report
Great blog. Thanks so much. Very well written. Report
this was a great article!! Thanks for the info! Report
I agree with BENDIED. I find if I deprive myself I cannot stay within my calorie range. I just make sure I count everything . Report
Eat healthier! Report
That is why I don't diet and eat healthy Report
Very helpful ideas. Report
This: "Approaching weight loss with a "one size fits all" eating routine can result in frustration and loss of motivation when our results don't match those of another. " so why does it seem everything on spark focuses on the ca loris in/calories out rather than a true representation of each person being individual? Report
Absolutely Report
This was right on point., What works for everyone else doesn’t work for me because of my health issues. But I have managed to create a nutritional plan that keeps me healthy and allows me to lose weight. Slowly but it does come off. Report
This was always a huge problem in my house! My dad thinks about losing weight and drops 5 pounds, and my mom drops pant sizes with every 10 pounds lost, but my sister and I struggle and struggle, and because our parents never had to try so hard, they didn't understand what made it so difficult for us. I had to learn to judge my weight loss by how I felt, what I was capable of doing physically, rather than expecting the visual results I saw mom and dad getting from their "diets". Report
This is one of the biggest things I want to always tell people. DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU! I can tell you what has worked for me, and you can feel free to try it, but in the end you have to do what works for you and your body! :) Report
I appreciate this article on focusing what works for us, as an individual. I have known this, but at times felt like a minor rebel for doing what works for me and disregarding the rest. I ignore all "help" about soda, for example. I have less than 6 of them a YEAR, so I approach them with the same mentality that I approach other rare things like birthdays and Thanksgiving. Yet I must take information about the importance of eating breakfast, even a small one, to heart as I struggle to develop that habit.

In this journey, it really IS all about me, at least all about what works for me in order to give me the best chances at long term health and fitness. Report
Good going as your body type is yours alone and you usually know what you need to do to lose, the exercising you need to do and the cutting back that needs to happen. Make it personal! Thanx for bringing it again, to light! Report
EXCELLENT! I'm sharing it on my Facebook page!!!

I have a plan for drinking water - here's my secret:

1. For every ounce of soda (*) I drink, there has to be at least an equal amount of water in the form of ice cubes. For each 12-oz can of diet soda, I use one tray of ice, which equals 12 oz water. For my 32-ounce drink container, I first put in 20 to 22 ice cubes (that's about 18 oz), and then I pour in the soda. If I pour in more soda,
I must add more ice. Since I LOVE my drinks REALLY cold, it's not a hardship to me.

2. In addition to the water in my ice cubes, I keep a second 32-ounce container strictly for water. I either fill up at the tap, or from our Brita filter pitcher. I take it with me everywhere, in the house and out. It's a bright pink, 20-year-old "Insulator" from AM-PM. I even put it on my nightstand at night, so I can sip if I wake up. My rule is: one water 32-ouncer for each non-water 32-ouncer (soda or milk, for example).

[* Note about drinking soda: YES, I drink soda; it's all diet and caffeine-free, except for about 24 oz with caffeine in the morning. Please do not judge me. I do not welcome admonishments or warnings (yes I know about the brain cancer and rotted teeth). Thank you!]

So true - we are an experiment of one. Love that...can only speak for your own experience...not simply do what others do as we all have different body chemistries. Report
Great article! After many years, I've found a plan that works for me. I've also learned to adapt to "our few fav restaurants" without gorging or feeling deprived. I'm sticking to an 80/20 plan, and maintaining my weight. I don't like cooking much, and I don't want to exercise for hours a day, but I've found Balance for once in my life. Report
I have always found it interesting how 2 ppl can do the same thing and have such different results. Good column! Report
What a great common sense approach to developing a plan and increasing your chances of sticking with it. All or nothing rarely works for anything else...why would be think it will with losing weight? Thanks for the comments and insight! Report
Very good advice! In the past, I'd try a trendy diet and not lose any weight, and then I'd feel like a failure. But I'm not a failure, it just means that that particular plan wasn't right for me. I'm loving sparkpeople so much, because it's teaching me to build my own plan; one that I can fit into my life, and that I can stick with! Report
WOW perhalps not as many as others...but I've definately tried a good share! lol Report
This was really good information. I'm a horribly picky eater(i'll only let about half a dozen types of freggies pass my lips) and found it sooo hard to change my diet...i have done little bits here and there but really been slowly upping my exercise so that's my balance: slight diet modifying and lots of exercising(mostly just from walking i have dropped about 20 pounds in the last 6 months!) Report
I agree! An all-or-nothing approach has put me in the point in my life that I am now. I have learned there are no forbidden foods, just foods I have to work into my food plan in moderation. I have the hardest time staying motivated to exercise enough, so I follow how I feel, as long as it is 3 days a week. May not be the best plan, but it works for me and I am exercising more than I did last month. Report
Right on the money! My goal is to build habits around nutrition and fitness that will carry me through the rest of my life. So that's what I'm working on. So far, 65 lbs down in one yr without feeling like I'm on a "diet" (ewwww....four letter word!) Report
This is the very best column on losing weight that I have read. I don't think it is possible to stick to a diet plan that deprives you of the food you love. I found what works for me -- and by doing so, I did not have to rely on will power to lose weight--Which is good, since I have little will power.

Oh, yes -- I lost ~48 lbs over the last year :) Report