Hey Angels & Alphas,
Today, we’re here to talk about one of the most (if not the most) essential concepts in all of fitness and training – the focus on long-term results.
I’ve talked about this on social media a few times, but I feel like I can’t stress it enough.
In the world we live in nowadays, everybody is looking for quick results. And that’s okay. That’s how the brain works, and that’s how we usually operate as people. On top of that, society is always bombarding us with more and more information, and more and more marketers are using the “quick fix” or the “just do this” narrative to attract people.
However, it’s not effective from a personal health and fitness progress point of view. Have you, yourself, dieted in order to achieve a weight loss result? If yes, you’re not alone.
The statistics speak. Over 40 million people in the United States alone go on a diet each year. Dozens of billions of dollars are spent on weight-loss. That being said, why is it that so many people still struggle with weight management?
Is this about our diet, or is this an issue of how we approach dieting?
Let’s break down the differences between the fitness “dieting” and fitness “lifestyle” mind frames. This way, you’ll hopefully get a clear picture of where you have to bring your awareness to, and the steps you have to take to achieve your results.
And it’s not just about weight loss; this applies to everything we do in life – from our fitness to our health, to our career, everywhere.
Let’s dive in.
What’s Dieting, and Does It Even Work?
When you look at diets in the traditional, modern sense, there are a handful of characteristics that are present in all of them.
- You categorize foods as “good” and “bad” for you.
- You restrict your calorie consumption.
- Your progress is number-dependent, not result-dependent. In other words, reaching a number on a scale becomes your goal.
- Diets have an end date.
In their nature, diets are temporary. Usually, when you get on a diet, you have a specific result you want to achieve – be it weight loss, weight gain, or handling some internal body issue. But when you frame your eating habits as a diet, you put a conceivable end in sight.
When you’re on a diet, your goal isn’t to improve your life. It’s to “survive” until the diet ends. In reality, your diet should not be a process of perseverance. You’re not supposed to just hold on a little longer until you finally get to see the result you’re after. Diets are looked at as something abstract from your normal life, something you have to do to get somewhere. That’s just not a good way to look at things.
Let’s face it – dieting ultimately fails when it comes to long-term weight management. It just does!
Here’s a research analysis published back in 2007 in the “American Psychologist” journal. They analyzed clinical data from over 30 studies and concluded that dieting does not work. Diets help you love an average of 5 to 10 percent of your body weight – in the short term. Nevertheless, it’s implausible that you’ll maintain that weight loss effect.
The research shows that over 70 percent of everyone who went on diets later regained the weight they lost. Not only that, but they added more weight on top! So not only is dieting ineffective, but it’s actually counter-productive.
On top of that, intense exercise regimes made dieters feel horrible. Once they achieved the weight loss result, they reported feeling that they needed to endure their workouts for their prescribed period.
Only to have all that weight come back, and then some.
Imagine being on a diet and getting a wonderful, sweet, chocolatey gift from someone. You might say, “Hey, I can’t eat that right now. I’m dieting. But in a couple of months, when my diet ends, I’ll finally be able to enjoy food again!”
And when you look at it from a long-term respective, that’s just uncomfortable and punishing. Your diet isn’t something you should have to endure.
Have you ever dieted for weight loss?
Most of us have. At some point. Especially when you’ve got a summer trip or an important event in the near to mid future. In this case, a diet feels like the “quick fix” solution to looking good on a trip or drawing eyes at that event.
But I’m here to tell you that diets are only there to bring you short-term results, and in most cases, will end up doing more harm than good.
If you really want to achieve results that will stick around…
If you believe that success comes from enjoying the journey, not rushing to the destination…
And if you feel like your eating habits are not something that you should be persevering through…
Then you don’t need a diet. You need a change of habits.
A lifestyle change.
What’s the Difference Between A Diet and A Lifestyle Change?
People fear the word change. They don’t like the fact that they’ll have to do something unpleasant for a little while. Which is ironic, because that’s what diets are for the most part.
When you focus on long-term lifestyle changes instead of short-term dieting, you’ll quickly discover a few things.
You’ll be less likely to experience cravings. There will be no food deprivation. No weakness and exhaustion. No mental stress. No harm to your body.
Lifestyle changes are much more about listening to what your body is telling you.
It’s not about achieving a short-term goal that disappears after a while. It’s about creating and sustaining a permanent result.
How Do We Make a Lifestyle Change?
In their very nature, they’re permanent. The most common goal for people on diets is weight loss, but when you make a lifestyle change, you’ll discover that your results will not disappear. That’s because lifestyle changes have no end in sight.
You won’t constantly be thinking about how to survive another day without your favorite sweets. When you’re in it, you’re in it for good. And you feel completely okay with that.
When you start adapting your life and behavior to match your new lifestyle goal, things change at a slower but more secure pace. Instead of throwing away all your sweets & treats, you might decide to save them for specific days of the week and look for healthier alternatives.
You start enjoying your food more by adapting your life to this new habit.
Your diet isn’t a chore anymore. It’s your day-to-day healthy living reality.
Lifestyle changes are about developing new habits that will, in the long-term, bring you closer and closer to the life you want to live.
While the focus of your diet is to make a short-term change in order to get a result, a lifestyle change is about creating habits that let you live your life without the need to make any changes.
As a counterpart to the study we talked about earlier, check out this one. Researches here concluded that lifestyle changes contributed to the dieters’ ability to keep weight off.
While diets focus on limiting foods and calories, lifestyle changes include things like eating breakfast regularly, exercising daily, tracking your weight management progress, and so on.
When you create this mindset shift within yourself, you don’t limit your result to weight loss. You’ll become healthier and more disciplined, you’ll sustain your progress, and you’ll do it without the need to persevere through it like a prisoner serving a sentence.
Lifestyle changes are about being mindful of yourself, your needs, and your goals. They’re about sticking for the long haul, not satisfying yourself with a short-term result.
Naturally, this means:
- Focusing on moderation, not restriction.
- Exercising regularly, not just for a short period until you get a result.
- Listening to your body’s needs instead of ignoring them.
- Losing weight at a slower, but healthier, pace.
- Not attaching your progress to numbers.
To conclude, I can honestly say that if you’re on a weight-loss journey, dieting is not what you need. If you’re still jumping from diet to diet, it’s time you recognize the fact that there’s a long road ahead.
While losing a lot of weight in a short amount of time with a diet is tempting, it’s also bad for your health and will result in regaining your weight.
What you should do is aim for lifestyle changes, developing new habits, and truly focusing on your health and wellness instead of the number on the scale.
I promise you, if you choose to follow this path, you won’t regret it.