The diet industry is a $66 billion dollar business.
Think about that for a sec.
If it was so successful would they even need a business?
Take the Polio vaccine for example. It was invented in 1952 and since then, Polio has almost been wiped off the Earth.
This was a very successful solution and also a shitty business to get into.
However, our obesity level is rising.
Which means the diet industry is broken. But, let’s bring it closer to home.
Have any of the last 10 times you’ve tried a diet worked? My guess is no since you’re reading this article.
And why are there so many diets out there? How come one day fat is the enemy, the next day dropping sticks of butter in your coffee is somehow a fuckin’ “health food”?
Should you eat like a caveman or should you be using a point system to track your food?
Is skipping breakfast the trick to weight loss?
I mean with all these options losing weight seems pretty simple and straightforward, right?
But the people behind these diets will have you think it’s not them, it’s you that’s the problem. And I agree.
Paleo does work.
Intermittent Fasting does work.
Keto does work.
But don’t be fooled, these diet gurus aren’t completely innocent in this.
So what’s the deal? Do you just suck at dieting? Are you destined to have a beer belly for the rest of your life?
Or was it the approach you and billions of other people take that is the issue.
So you need to sit back and ask yourself,
“Why does this shit keep happening?”
“Why is it so hard to lose weight?”
“Why do I start off so motivated and excited at the future possibilities, yet quickly lose our dedication as soon as I hit a bump?”
Because you are designed to.
The diet industry is built around restriction.
In Paleo you can’t eat anything a cave man wouldn’t recognize.
In Keto, you can’t eat carbs.
In The Grapefruit Diet, all you can eat is grapefruit.
Diets like these create a bad vs good food list. The good foods are amazing and fill your body with amazing nutrients while the bad foods stamp your passport directly to hell.
This requires willpower up the wazoo and discipline. Two skills that need to (and can) be grown but most people aren’t accustomed to when it comes to eating.
Let’s recap for a sec. The $66 billion diet industry is feeding you restrictive diets where most of the food you love and grew up eating is worse than cocaine and they aren’t giving you the tools (READ: willpower and discipline) to succeed.
This is a great business model. It all but ensures repeat customers.
It seems to me, that you need a new strategy. Luckily, I know a guy that has a really insightful quote on the subject.
“Your body is a reflection of what you do consistently.”
~ Dave Bonollo
Yes, I just quoted myself. It’s also the highlight of my life.
RESTRICTION IS FUTILE
But Dave, I know Keto works. My cousin’s friend lost like 50 lbs doing it.
There are some people that do well with restriction, but like I said you need discipline and willpower. Let’s do a quick exercise.
For 30 seconds think about white bears.
I’m serious, do it. I’ll wait.
OK, now for the next 30 seconds, don’t think about white bears.
You thought about white bears didn’t you?
That’s restriction and it’s cousin, temptation.
When you tell yourself I won’t eat sweets. I’ll only eat healthy foods or I won’t drink every night, your brain is basically saying “Screw that, I’m thinking about that.”
Temptation increases until you eventually give in and you’re right back in the same spot you are now.
Fuckin’ restriction diets, right?
Now let’s solve this problem once and for all.
WHAT MAKES YOU, YOU
Let’s assume for a sec that you’re a lawyer. (I really have no idea what you do for a living but if you aren’t one, pretend. Long hours, tons of reading, putting documents together that make zero sense to anyone outside your profession. Congrats, it’s a respected career.) Trust me this will make sense in a minute.
So how did you become a lawyer? Did you wake up one day and **POOF** you’re a lawyer?
I doubt it. You needed years of schooling and training to develop a certain way of thinking and habits that will help you become successful.
Sure some people might be born with them, but most are not. These habits, at first, are tedious and in themselves don’t really net you the big OJ Simpson type case. But they do allow you to build your other skills to land that huge case.
These habits are the foundation of everything you do going forward. Without them, you’re swimming upstream. We need to swim downstream – soooo much easier.
Let’s circle back to my amazing quote and tie everything together.
Did you wake up one day and gain 20+ lbs since high school? Sure you might not have stepped on a scale in a few years, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took time.
Over the course of time you built certain habits that lead you to where you are now.
Mindlessly eating the snacks you hide in your desk.
Grabbing breakfast at the drive thru.
Erasing a bad day with some drinks and appetizers because “you deserve it after this crappy week”.
Your habits are what you do consistently. And like the wise man once said “Your body is a reflection of what you do consistently”.
So if you work on your habits, everything else (READ: fat loss, muscle gain) will happen on its own.
That means no more restrictive diets.
No more “bad foods”.
No more feeling like you’re stuck in your current body.
This is HABIT BASED DIETING.
WHAT’S YOUR VERSION OF HEALTHY?
Before we get into the diet itself, you should define what healthy eating looks like for you.
Is it plant based?
Is it copious amounts of protein?
Or is it just not eating out as much?
Whatever it is, you should really define it beforehand. It’s like picking a destination before you go to the airport. Ideally, you know where you are flying to.
Kick it old school and write it down. I’m serious. Pen. Paper.
Think ahead to the future healthy you eating the way you think you should.
What does breakfast look like? Lunch? Dinner?
What do you drink?
Do you drink alcohol? How often?
How often do you hit up the drive thru?
Do you participate in the timelines art of #mealprepsunday?
Now you might not have all the information now, but it’s good to get the wheels turning and have a general direction to where you want to be.
Once you have a destination, you can now board the plane.
HOW DO YOU START?
One of the biggest complaints with years of unsuccessful dieting is “why can’t I just eat normal?”
Normal is very subjective. What’s normal for you, is not normal for me. For instance, a lot of people in India are vegetarian. (This is not a stereotype, this is based on people that reach out to me. Out of the 10 people from India that reach out to me 9.5 are vegetarian. One person might eat eggs) Their normal is veggies for days.
While me on the other hand, I’m a meat-a-saurus. I can eat meals of just ground beef and be perfectly fine. That is my normal. The trick with Habit Based Dieting is redefining your “normal” to make your version of healthy sustainable.
So with that, you have to measure your “normal” and get a baseline.
That baseline is how you’re eating now. At this point you might want to switch everything or eat “healthy” but it’s important to just go about your daily life like you would normally.
So for 3-5 days, record everything you eat. Free work lunches, the trip to Chik-fil-a, the 20 Hershey kisses you took walking by your co-workers cube all day.
Amounts aren’t really critical here, WHAT you eat is. There’s no need for a food scale or accurately count calories. If it goes in your mouth, record it. (I contemplated that last statement for a while. I know where my mind went right away. If your mind went sideways, we’ll be great friends.)
At the end of this 3-5 days, take a little time and look back at everything.
Do you notice any patterns? Are you grabbing a sugar fix around the 3pm slump? Are you snacking a lot when you get home? If you start your day with a good breakfast, does it carry through the rest of the day?
Patterns or specific things tend to pop out when you record things. Don’t notice anything? Not a big deal, as you move through the process things will jump out at you.
Now let’s look at your version of “healthy” eating and your baseline. Where can you make a little bit of a better decision?
Let’s take breakfast as an example. Odds are it’s the easiest to rework and has a lot of carryover benefits.
Starting your day off on the right foot is usually a good indicator that better decision will be made throughout the day. Starting off like shit makes it easier for you to say “Ehh, one meal is already in the toilet, might as well start again tomorrow” or worse, waiting until Monday.
Looking at your baseline you recorded, let’s say your breakfast is a Starbuck Iced Mocha Dick Latte and a croissant egg sandwich. (I honestly don’t know if an Iced Mocha Dick Latte is a drink. But if it isn’t, I’m licensing it.) You don’t have time to prep a nutritious breakfast because of traffic and the kids.
A simple tweak to make is to swap out the Iced Mocha Dick Latte for a Grande Iced Coffee with milk and sugar and bringing a Greek Yogurt you can eat in traffic with you. You’ll save hundreds of calories each day without spending a second longer on it.
This is a great place to be. This change is sustainable and it gives you a springboard to make better decision in the future. Your next step can maybe be getting up 5 minutes earlier and scrambling some eggs instead of having the greek yogurt.
You don’t have to start with breakfast. Maybe your breakfast is on point. Maybe your snacking is increasing your waistline. Whatever you see as a place of improvement, start there and ask yourself, “How can I make a better decision here?”
The trick to Habit Based Dieting is making small changes over time. This means tackling one area at a time.
Stick to the new change for 2-3 weeks or whenever it becomes second nature. When the new habit becomes your new norm, then and only then, try implementing something new based on your baseline.
Rinse and repeat.
I’ll be the first to tell you there won’t be an initial 10 lb drop in the beginning that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. The weight loss will be slow. But like Jocko Willink says “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast”.
The “fast” approach of dropping carbs or jumping into the newest fad diet gives you short term results. But they never stick. I’m preaching to the choir here because if they did work you wouldn’t have read this far.
You need to look out further than tomorrow or next week. Where do you want to be this time next year? Do you still want to be struggling to lose weight or do you want to look back and say “Fuck me running I feel so much better now!”
Always opt for swearing in excitement at a later date.
HEALTHY SUGGESTIONS TO START
Now before we go any further, I wanted to give you some good places to start and why. These are usually where I start my clients. This will also give you a template of how to structure your changes.
Protein at Each Meal –
Protein is crucial to every process in the body, plus, it keeps you satiated. This is crucial if you are changing how you eat. A lot of people struggle missing out on that full feeling after they eat. Protein takes a while to digest so it can curb that feeling.
A Glass of Water Before Every Meal –
Portion control is a big issue just about everywhere. People tend to eat waaay too fast and waaay too much. This means by the time the “I’m full” cues from your brain hit you’re already too far past how much you should have eaten. That’s why having a glass of water before a meal helps with that. You your body knows your full by how much is in your stomach. It doesn’t know calories. So by starting the process early with a glass of water you help your body’s cues come faster and in turn, you eat less.
Veggies at Every Meal –
Unless your a vegetarian or vegan, vegetables are usually an afterthought. We all know veggies are nutritious and good for us, but they also can help you reduce calories and still have that full feeling. Since veggies are not calorie dense you can a lot more of them and not add to your waistline. Eating veggies at every meal helps reduce calories by taking up room in your stomach, which reduces calories and in turn weight. And you can get more vitamins and minerals we all seem to lack.
Put the Fork/Spoon Down After Every Bite –
This plays into the glass of water before a meal action. Putting your fork/spoon down between bites allows you to prolong the meal and gives your brain time to tell you that your done.
Notice the actions are specific. There’s always a what and when. This gives the action some concrete-ness. Saying “eat more veggies” is good but not really actionable. How do you measure “more”? Is that one more serving? Is it three more piece of broccoli?
Concrete-ness is actionable and easily measurable.
When coming up with new actions, get specific with a what and when.
ACCOUNTABILITY AND PROGRESS
Accountability and measuring progress are big things to incorporate if you want to be successful. We all need that little nudge when things get crazy. That’s where accountability comes in.
A good way to add accountability is by hiring a coach. Maybe someone that knows what they are doing and writes super awesome stuff like this. *Cough*,*cough* Look over here.
But another way to add accountability is to just print out a calendar and tape it to your fridge. Each day give yourself a check mark if you executed your new habit or an “X” if you didn’t. It’s simple, cheap, and oddly very effective. There’s a certain level of satisfaction that comes along with a check mark.
Progress is also something you should track. Weight is the normal go-to but it’s usually not a good indicator or progress.
Instead up your selfie game and take measurements.
Take Bathroom Selfies –
Taking one once a month and comparing it to the one when you first started. Wear as little clothing as you feel comfortable with having on your phone.
Take Measurements –
Since you see yourself every day you might not notice subtle differences in your body. You could be making really good progress but you’re blind to it. Taking measurements around the belly, over the chest and the shoulders are that objective view of how you are losing weight. If you are trying to lose weight, you can just opt for the belly measurement. If you are losing size here, you are losing fat.
Take these measurements with a flexible tape measure like tailors use.
Pick a day and a time to do this weekly along with weighing in. Write it down or keep it in the Notes section of your phone. Or if you’re nerdy like me, put it into excel and graph it.
Weekly Averages of Weight –
If you are going to completely ignore my suggestions and stick with just taking your weight, do yourself a favor and take your weight every day. At the end of the week average them out. Daily weight fluctuations are normal, real progress lies in the weekly average. If you are consistently losing weight based on weekly averages you’re doing good.
WRAP IT UP B
Going on diets you find on Dr. Oz or recommended by you friends are short term fixes. If you need to drop some inches before a vacation by all means jump into Intermittent Fasting, Keto or Paleo. They work.
But odds are, you are going to want to go elbow deep in a burger and some fries eventually. And work is going to be stressful. And your kids are going to be kids. In order to consistently lose weight or stay at a weight you enjoy you NEED to get better habits. There’s no if ands or buts about it.
Your body is a reflection of what you do consistently. Damn that’s a good line.