The Problem with Diets- what success looks like
All diets work, or no diets work, depending on whom you ask, and depending on your health goals.
For example, the most popular weight loss programs are based on restriction of pleasurable food components (salt, sugar, fat, carbs, etc.) and are therefore unsustainable. They are self defeating because the dieter inevitably “fails”, feels defeated and then “gives up”, and goes back to former unhealthy habits, taking them even farther from their goals. Sadly, self- loathing sometimes occurs with lifestyle “failures”.
So what can you do? First pick a health goal - is it to improve your overall health (best)? Is is to look better and revise your wardrobe? (ok, but possibly less healthy) Is it to prevent heart disease, cancer, hypertension, diabetes? (noble goals for sure!) And don’t forget your primary food goals - maybe you’d like to improve your professional life or your relationships. Maybe your goal for health is to establish an improved spiritual focus or better financial security. Goals are individual and based on people’s personal stories. Of course, no two life stories are alike.
Once you’ve set your goals, your health coach and you will work together to pick a lifestyle program that works for you. Then make a contract with yourself to follow your program as closely as possible, recognizing that you are human, will face “challenges” because of holidays, travel, family needs, etc. Try to not feel you’ve “failed” if your life makes your lifestyle practice difficult. I suggest that you celebrate yourself if you follow it at least 90% of the time. (what I call the 90/10 health program) and try to not punish yourself for the 10%!
How do you measure success? Depending on your program, there can be objective measures of success - like waist size or blood sugar level. But don’t be obsessed with these. These changes will take time, and may be too gradual to discern over short periods. The best measure of success of any healthy lifestyle program is, precisely, how you feel! If you are able, within a week or two of making healthy lifestyle changes, to honestly say that you wake up with energy and optimism and are ready to face the day, that is success!. Also, when you go to bed at the end of the day, you feel content, grateful and even joyful, you have begun to achieve success in making a lifestyle change that works for you and your best health.
Dr. John Monaco