Dieter’s Dilemma: So Many to Choose From, So Little Success

The Yomim Tovim are over, the leaves have turned from green to beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. There is a chill in the air, and in the morning there may even be a light frost on the windshield of your car. Everyone is back to their routines of school, work, carpools, meetings, doctors’ visits, etc. It is also the perfect time of year to dedicate some time to self-care.

You too may feel that this is the right time to rid yourself of a few extra pounds, join a gym, get to bed earlier and not stress the “small stuff.”  You wake up in the morning and get out of bed with the determination that today is the day that you will start your new health plan.  To start, you will eat a healthy breakfast, perhaps a cereal that is fortified – fortified sounds good, right? – with some skim milk; it tastes like water that is colored white, but the container says no-fat, so it must be good for you. To top it off, you decide to add a banana; you heard that bananas are high in potassium – you are not sure why you need potassium, but why not. Then off to start the rest of your day.

You stop by the gym on your way to work to find out about membership and classes. At 11:00, you look at your watch, but you cannot believe it is only 11:00 – you feel so hungry. Hang in there in another 90 minutes, then you can stop and eat lunch. You get a large cup of coffee to hold you over. Finally it is indeed lunch time; you are prepared with a salad that you made from home, a can of tuna in water, and a diet soda. Later, you have carrot sticks and popcorn for an afternoon snack. When you walk in the door at 5:30, you feel like you are starving; you are committed, though, so it’s broiled chicken, broccoli and a small sweet potato for dinner.

But you don’t feel quite satisfied. Your son did not finish his french-fries – you will only have a few; it would be a shame to waste them and you have barely eaten anything today anyhow. Your daughter didn’t finish her chicken, so you will eat the little bit that is left; chicken is a protein, and how bad can that be? You are cleaning up after dinner and a little voice in your head reminds you that you have some chocolate chip cookies in the freezer that are left over. You will eat only one; you deserve it after the stressful day you had at work and the aggravating phone call you received from your son’s teacher, and you are planning on exercising tomorrow morning. You don’t know how this happened, but instead of one cookie you ate the entire bag. You needed to finish them all because you don’t want to be tempted again tomorrow and if the cookies are gone you can’t eat them. Time for bed. You should watch that exercise video on YouTube that your friend sent you but you are so tired. A shower and bed sounds like a great idea, right after you quickly check a few emails and watch a funny video that your sister sent you. Where did the evening go? It is after midnight and you are still awake, what happened to your determination? A big sigh; you will try again tomorrow.

The above scenario is factious, however, many people can relate to it. Many of us start the day with the best intentions, however are not able to follow through. There are dozens of diet plans on the market and for many of us, we have tried most of them. After years of trying one diet after another, many of us are heavier now than were when we went on our first diet. Losing weight is one of the most important things that a person can do to improve their overall health so what diet or program should one choose? There are many ways to lose weight and improve health. I suggest evaluating your personal motivations for wanting to lose weight for instance, is it for an upcoming occasion, i.e. a bar/bat mitzvah or a wedding? Weight loss, motivated by an event, is rarely long lasting, once the event is over, there goes the motivation. Long lasting weight loss success, needs long lasting motivators like diabetes and cancer prevention, ability to run and play with children, and grandchildren. Secondly do an analysis on your own commitment to accomplish your goal. If you don’t feel ready to start a health/weight loss program, then don’t start one. Wait until you feel ready. Instead try making a small change in your eating program e.g. commit to eat breakfast every morning or increase your consumption of water. If you feel ready to get started on a health plan, spend some time exploring your options. Be wary of diets that promise miracles or excessive weight loss over a very short period of time. Many of the newer diet program concentrate on a metabolic plan and not on calorie counting. Become an educated consumer. If you have tried dieting on your own and have either not lost weight or gained it all back, you are not alone. Approximately 80% of all dieters will gain their weight back.  This sobering statistic has been studied and a number of clinical trials have shown that the most successful approach to weight loss combined both a health nutrition plan with counseling and support. Seek out programs that work with your lifestyle and budget. If you are short on time and don’t want to cook or prepare food then one of the pre-packaged food plans may work for you.  If you want to eat whole regular food, then seek out a program that will work with your personal likes and dislikes. Do not feel obligated to eat a green smoothie with flax seeds in the morning if you don’t enjoy it. There are many weight reducing health programs available to you – take time, find the right one for you, start it when you are ready to commit. Invest in yourself – you are worth it!

By Beth S. Taubes, RN, OCN, CBCN, Certified Health Coach