It starts with allowing something small

People call it falling off the wagon. Others call it failing a diet. I call it going off-plan. That moment when people give up on a diet.

The reasons for people giving up are many, but include:

  • Not seeing the results they wanted in the time they expected
  • The diet being too restrictive
  • Always feeling hungry
  • The plan/powders/pills/patches/products are too expensive to continue indefinitely
  • …and many more

I’ll address these individually.

Not seeing the results they wanted in the time they expected. Everyone wants to lose a lot of weight quickly and with little effort. This is the billion-dollar question: how can I lose 100 lbs in 10 days with no effort? The short answer is you can’t. The long answer begins with the fact that you didn’t pack on the weight quickly; losing it will take some serious effort. Now, that effort doesn’t have to mean exercise for hours a day, weeks and months on-end. I lost 110 lbs in 12 months with no exercise at all. It’s doable with diet alone. You just have to be patient and trust the process. Did I wish I could lose more than 10 lbs a month after the first five months? Yes! But when I realized that 10 lbs a month is pretty solid progress, I was happy to see the scale showing me smaller number after smaller number, and before I knew it, I was 150 lighter than I was when I started.

The diet being too restrictive. This is something I’m asked about a lot when people find out I ascribe to the Paleo Diet. They ask about the restrictions, ask me how can I live without bread, pizza and pasta, and wonder aloud if they could ever undertake something “So restrictive.” The truth is that the Paleo Diet includes many foods people already enjoy and eat as part of their normal diet and only removes foods with added sugar, grains, soy, beans, and dairy. Sure, that’s a lot of food, but if you really look at what foods containing those items are, they are mostly filler or additions to meals that consist of meat and vegetables. That’s because meat and vegetables are what we need to survive. All the other stuff? Not so much. The Paleo Diet is not restrictive of good food. Meat and vegetables and fruits are allowed, and I no longer miss any of the filler foods. There’s simply too many good foods that I have to choose from.

Always feeling hungry. This is something people who count calories, points, or are on restrictive diets have to deal with. I don’t count calories, so I eat until I’m full. I don’t eat until I’m gorged or stuffed, but until I’m satisfied. The body does a good job of letting us know when we’ve had enough. The hard part is learning to listen to the body and to stop eating when you reach that point. I don’t feel hungry unless I didn’t eat enough at a previous meal, or it’s time for my next meal. It’s so liberating to be free of cravings!

The plan/powders/pills/patches/products are too expensive to continue indefinitely. I’m not a fan of products designed to help you lose weight. I don’t believe in their efficacy, and to be honest, I see them as disingenuous and taking advantage of a group of people who desperately cling to anything they can to try to get healthy and lose weight. The fact of the matter is that all you need to do to be healthy and lose weight is to eat right and get some exercise. People who do lots of exercise but don’t eat right remain heavier. People who eat right and don’t exercise tend to be thinner. See a correlation there? I certainly do, and I lived it. In my first year of losing weight, I did no exercise at all and lost 110 lbs. Since starting running, I’ve only lost an additional 40 lbs. I’m now maintaining, and due to injuries, not running, but my weight is holding steady. All I’m doing is eating right.

Falling off the wagon or going off-plan starts small when someone makes the decision to allow non-compliant foods into a meal. That turns into making justifications like, “Well, it’s just this one time,” or, “I’ve been good all day or all week.” The problem is that once you make these allowances, it becomes easier and easier to make them. I was so successful in the beginning of my journey because I allowed no non-compliant foods into my meal plans at all. It wasn’t until I was almost two years in that I allowed them every now and then. Now, I see how I am more easily able to justify non-Paleo foods, and it’s something I wrestle with as I work to rein in my eating habits out of fear of letting it get out of control.

Do yourself a favor and stick to your guns. Respect your decision to eat right, respect yourself and don’t cheat or sabotage your progress, and respect the process and allow it to work without sabotage. Failure starts when a single link in a chain breaks. Don’t break that first link.

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