Monday, July 16, 2012

Help! My Diet is Boring.

I am a 28-year old woman about 20 pounds overweight. I have been trying to lose weight for about a year now. I know what to do, and I do pretty well for weeks in a row. Then I just get bored and find myself straying. So after a few months of losing successfully, it just creeps back on over the next few months. How can I stay on the diet long enough to get all the weight off?  Jenny R.

Hi Jenny,
Your problem is a very common one. It takes lots of focus and determination to stay on track until you've developed new eating habits that will become easy and routine. The key is to keep inserting some more fun and challenge into your plan, to keep your mind from telling you, "This is awful! I'm tired of feeling deprived. I'm tired of avoiding things I want to eat and dragging myself off to the gym".
Here are a few tips to change your mindset and keep yourself on track:

1) Change the focus from avoiding foods to adding foods to your diet:
Rather than keeping in mind what you can't have, plan to add one or two items to your diet plan each week to establish healthy new habits. Focus on including 8 glasses of water a day, a fruit with each meal, or 4 veggies a day. Aim for 25 grams of fiber a day, 2 or 3 dairy products, or more meatless meals. When you're trying to include more of something in your diet you move away from feeling deprived and into feeling like you're getting--well-- more

2) Keep a journal and make it fun:
People who keep a daily food log lose more weight and keep it off. But diet diaries can become a bore. Use one of the many websites that help you keep things interesting (Fit Day, The Daily Plate, Spark People or Lose It!) by letting you friend others, earn badges, and track your progress. Put a twist on it by tracking the calories you saved: When you almost give into that cookie in the mall, but keep walking, log your 230 saved calories and add these up during the week to see how many pounds you kept off!

3) Establish a Reward System:
I like to use little scrapbook stickers of smiley faces or flowers to stick each day in my calendar that I accomplish a goal like walking 10,000 steps or eating fewer than 1600 calories. I have a chart to show what each number of stickers are worth: save 10 and get a manicure, 20 for a pedicure or a new book and 30 for a massage or a new work-out top. This way, all the stickers are helping you work towards something. There are no penalties, but if you start slacking it takes much longer to get to your reward.

4) Games and Blogs:
If you like to write, this could be the answer for you. Starting a blog is free and easy on sites like BlogSpot. You can make your journal private so no one else can find it. Or make it public for more motivation! 
One blogger asked for a "sponsor" for each week of her diet during a year. Whoever was her support that week, she thought every day "I'm doing it for so-and-so this week" and that kept her going.
One journalist tweeted what she ate to give her accountability. She knew everyone could see her intake, and she also knew they were rooting for her. Sometimes she would tweet, "Help! Driving by DQ and craving a blizzard" and the comments would fly in from her cheerleaders: "you can do it--just keep driving!"
Check out the game I developed called the Healthy Eating Lineup. Played like bingo, you list a healthy habit in each square: drink 5 glasses of water today, go for a walk, make healthy choices at a restaurant, etc. Be sure to have a reward in mind for each time you complete a full row.

Strive to make healthy eating and activity more fun any way you can. It's the best way to keep going until these new actions become habits and you find you never have to go on a diet again!

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