Did your 2020 New Year’s resolution include going on a diet?
If so, you’re not alone. A 2018 study done by INSIDER found that 43% of people wanted to diet or eat healthier going into 2019.
But if we’ve learned anything about these annual resolutions, it’s that most of them don’t last. In fact, most of them don’t even stay alive for three weeks! Sadly, some research shows that most people throw in the towel as soon as January 12th.
Even if you’ve already given up on trying to change your lifestyle in 2020, it’s not too late to start again. We are only a handful of days into the new year. You haven’t ruined your year. Get rid of that all-or-nothing mentality.
So let’s talk about just how simple longterm lifestyle change can be.
All Diets Are Good… And Also Bad
All diets are good if you’re looking to achieve some form of weight loss. Most people will lose weight if they lower their caloric intake, and that’s exactly what most diets accomplish for you.
But diets are not good if they are not sustainable — and almost none of them are.
Think of all the diets you’ve tried, read about, or heard of. It’s probably a large number, right? Many of my clients have given up looking for nutrition advice on the internet because there is so much chatter out there, it’s impossible to determine what’s useful.
Let’s chart the life cycle of a typical diet:
- You replace one (or two) meals every day with a protein shake.
- You’re down seven pounds in the first week. Great! This is the secret!
- Friday night rolls around and you “cheat” on your diet with a stuffed-crust from Pizza Hut, vowing to get back on it tomorrow.
- Your AM weigh-in clocks you’re five pounds heavier than you were yesterday (which, by the way, is mostly water weight caused by an increase in sodium).
- Breakfast becomes a bagel-binge because you’re depressed about the weight gain.
- You manage to get back on track later in the day, but man, those shakes are starting to look and taste very bland.
- One week later: you stop buying the shakes. Even a salad sounds better than that chalky liquid because you just want to chew something.
- Two weeks later, the scale says you’re heavier than you were when you began.
And on it goes.
It bears repeating: most diets will make the scale read lower in the short term. And because of this, it’s pretty easy for any diet to gain traction. All it has to do is guarantee quick results and/or minimal action, and suddenly it’s amassing huge followings, celebrity endorsements, and news coverage. And then, just as abruptly, it’s out of fashion. Something else has replaced it.
Most of us have given up on finding a longterm solution. And can we be blamed?
But hold it, just for one second.
The Easiest “Diet” You’ll Ever Try
You won’t transform your body — or your health — overnight. You’ve heard it said before (probably accompanied by a little condescension): “Your body didn’t gain all that weight in a month; it won’t lose it in a month, either.”
While there is truth to that statement, it shouldn’t matter, except for the fact we’re impatient. If you can create healthy habits that you can maintain throughout the months and years ahead, your body will change on its own without your constant flagellation.
That being said, here are the top three things I’ve used to help my clients break up with dieting forever:
1. Use the Plate Method
This graphic by Precision Nutrition shows the easiest way to keep tabs on your intake without counting calories. You can read their full post by clicking here.
- ½ Non-Starchy Veggies: Non-starchy vegetables are things like artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, and sugar snap peas. Click here to get the most comprehensive list of non-starchy vegetables you’ll ever need.
- ¼ Protein: Even red meat is allowed!
- ⅛ Starches: Potatoes (both sweet and not sweet), whole grains, rice, and quinoa all fall into this corner.
- ⅛ Fats: If you cook with oil, take that into account here! Otherwise, add avocado, nuts, seeds, or other natural kinds of butter.
Have you had any water today? Remember, part of being an adult is remembering to hydrate.
If you’re feeling hungry, drink a glass of water first, and wait 20 minutes. Then, if you still want a snack, go for it. (Our bodies sometimes mistake thirst for hunger, so quenching your thirst may satisfy you.)
Hydration is also a key component of weight loss and body recomposition. Without enough water, your body won’t function well, and you won’t feel well, either. So aim to drink at least 80 ounces of water every day, and more during the summer.
Sounds too simple. But you’d be surprised at how important this step is.
3. Be Consistent
Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? Its premise is that you only have to change 20% of your lifestyle to see an 80% improvement in your health.
Read that again. You don’t have to be perfect. All you have to do is create small habits that can be easily adhered to every day.
But you have to stick with it. Even if you forget your habit one day, never miss two days in a row.
Where Will You Be in 2021?
Changing only one or two things at a time might seem too slow. You may think it won’t be challenging enough, or not effective enough. But I can guarantee you something — it’s the only way you’ll keep those habits around longer than a few months.
Trying the Plate Method at one meal today — or guzzling an extra bottle of water — that’s about as easy as it gets. Why don’t you choose one (or both) of them as your 2020 diet?