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?
More From SparkPeople