Avoid the “Diet Mentality” and Lose Weight Now!

By: Craig Valency, CSCS

The weekend is upon you and temptation is all around. Parties, barbecues, restaurants, wine and beer are all calling your name. With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner you brace for the carb onslaught. This is when you are really tested; you have to balance your reluctance to undo all the hard work you did throughout the week with the realization that weekends and holidays are different for a reason. This is a time to decompress, reconnect with loved ones, or go out on the town; it only makes sense that you would eat differently on weekends and special days. Trying to eat the same way that you do the rest of the week is simply not realistic, nor should it be! Does that mean you should have four slices of pizza, a pitcher of beer and a hot fudge sundae every weekend? No! Nonetheless, you should not beat yourself up over a glass of wine or a slice of apple pie once in a while.

Lifestyle change rather, than a short-term diet, is the key. Naturally, everyone needs to restrict somewhat in order to get their weight under control.  However, these changes should be sustainable. Eat less sugar, more protein, and more fruits and veggies. Your grandparents were right all along! The key is in the compromise. Rather than downing half a bottle of red wine and five slices of sourdough bread with butter, opt for a single glass and one delicious slice of bread (dipped in olive oil of course!). There is no need to throw in the towel just because you ate a little treat, but just don’t order every treat on the menu! The key is balance. Change from a negative “diet mentality” to a positive “healthy lifestyle mentality”. Keep in mind that if you make exceptions and over indulge every weekend, holiday, office birthday, midnight snack and family get together, the exceptions start to become the rule!

One of my most successful weight loss clients, Susan, did not make a change in her lifestyle for the first year we trained together. She was resistant to giving up things that were ingrained in her lifestyle. She loved her Dr. Pepper, ice cream, and beer on the weekends. And there was no way she was going to do any extracurricular cardio! When it came time to renew her training sessions with me I, asked her to think about why she was going to spend more money and not make a change. Susan finally had the epiphany. She made trade-offs without going into an extreme diet. She gave up the diet Dr. Pepper and kept on eating the ice cream, but not as frequently. She still drank some beer, but did an hour interval walk-run by the beach after work. She lost 30 pounds. Four years later, she has not gained back a pound.

Should you find yourself really cheating, resist the urge to have an “all-or-nothing” mindset. All hope is not lost. Remember that the minute you begin eating right again, you are back on track. If you happen to overeat a little do some extra cardio to ease your guilty conscience, and burn a few more calories. Avoid the diet mentality. Do not obsess over restricting yourself; think of adding good things rather than just removing bad things. It is also imperative that if you do cheat, you do it with gusto! Enjoy your sneaky little secret. Don’t hide it. Do not feel guilty and do not avoid the frosting (it’s the best part)! I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but this is the only way to avoid that vicious and restrictive dieting cycle. (Besides, after cutting out much of the sugar from your food, you will feel so much better that you won’t even want to eat a lot of the bad stuff—and you won’t feel good when you do) Remember that if you feel too restricted, you will always be susceptible to the “rebound effect” with the ultimate consequence—a lifetime of yo-yo dieting.

Unfortunately, most people do need to alter their eating habits to obtain optimal health. If you really miss something, think about how you can re-create it with similar, healthier alternatives. If you love to eat a chocolate dessert after dinner you don’t have to go for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. You can opt for the ricotta dessert recipes made popular by the South Beach Diet. (Mocha Ricotta Crème: 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 packet sugar substitute {Stevia}, Dash espresso powder and 5 mini chocolate chips. Just mix it, serve it & eat it!)

This will satisfy your cravings and you’ll end up feeling less bloated and guilty. If you love mashed potatoes, try steaming cauliflower and mashing or blending it with a little butter, sour cream, and garlic. You get the same mouth feel and flavors without all those carbs and calories. If you love rice reach for the basmati brown rice, quinoa, or pearl barley—all of which have a lower glycemic load than their white cousin. Another, more novel idea, is to have your salad at the end of your meal. It’s not a dessert, but it can be just as refreshing.

To be in a position to win, you need to have a game plan. Healthy eating is no exception. A useful analogy to illustrate this point is how I learned to win more consistently at tennis. Only when I learned how to develop a game plan in each tennis match did I begin to really win matches more frequently. I picked out my opponents 3-4 weaknesses and made that my plan. For your eating plan, an example would be: eat lean protein, avoid potatoes and bread, eat more veggies with every meal, and add fish oil daily. When I hit a shot into the net or long over the baseline, (having too much wine or a piece of chocolate cake) I did not stress. I knew that I had a game plan and that as long as I went consistently for those shots, I would win. I knew I would miss many shots throughout the match, which is only natural. but in the long run, I was clear about my mission and I was able to finally relax and not worry about losing individual points. I had a smile on my face for the whole match. In your fight for health, your opponents do not stand a chance. You will make more shots than you will miss, and in the end you will prevail.

Lifestyle changes are the key to lasting and satisfying success. The weekend is a time to relax, so don’t stress out over eating a few treats when you’re out to dinner with your friends. Make a healthy lifestyle the goal and you will make better decisions more times than not. Embrace new, healthier foods and activities. Once in a while you can reward yourself with some of your old favorites. If you “cheat,” it is important to avoid the “all-or-nothing” principle. Just enjoy it and go right back to your healthier ways of eating. To minimize cheating, make sure you eat healthy foods that satisfy your craving. Eating chocolate is as much about the creamy texture as the taste, so substitute a food with a similar feel and you will be satisfied. The most important thing is to be clear on how to eat a healthy diet this is your “game plan,” and if you stick to your game plan you can lose a few points along the way and still win the game. So just relax and realize that if you don’t overly obsess over hitting your target, you will likely hit that target more often and with greater ease.

Craig Valency is a Certified Personal Trainer and is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength & Conditioning Association (CSCS). He works at Fitness Quest 10, where he specializes in developing holistic training programs that promote lifestyle changes for permanent results in weight loss, athletic performance, & whole body functional strength & fitness. He earned a bachelors degree from UCLA, and has completed coursework in Kinesiology & Exercise Physiology at UC San Diego & Miramar College. He is currently pursuing his Masters Degree in Kinesiology at San Diego State University.

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About kylesands
Director of Marketing at Fitness Quest 10

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