I have always been curvy. Sometimes I got fatter, sometimes thinner. I always tried different diets and my body always have had good days and bad days.
After trying Keto for 6 weeks and getting great results this year, I realized low carb diets are the best for me. Quick fat loss and delicious food. Plus, you don’t get hungry. Of course, there were side effects such as leg cramps, bad breath and hair loss. But the purpose of this blog is actually different than explaining Keto diet, which I will do in the future in detail. But it is more about why we fail the diets. Meaning, why do we gain the weight we lost after we finish dieting?
It is all in your head: your psychology. In other words, your thought process and your habits.
After we finish our diet with success, we are so happy and we gave ourselves a promise that, now, we will eat healthy, we will keep exercising, and we won’t make the same mistakes. But then what happens? 85% of all dieters regain their weight. Some of them even gain more than before!
It seems easy for some people to stay healthy and everyone seems to have an opinion:
“Oh, just stay away from flour, sugar and salt, you will lose weight, you don’t need a diet”
“My friend of a friend of a friend became vegan and now she looks so healthy”
“You should try gluten free”
“Just don’t eat that second slice of pizza!”
“I run every morning for an hour and I eat everything I want, just start running!”
“It is just calorie intake. Lower it, then you will lose weight! That’s it”
Well, That is not it.
I tried everything (except being vegan, against my nature): I tried fasting, I tried lowering my calorie intake and increasing exercise, I tried cutting flour, sugar and salt, I tried low fat, I tried low carb. Trust me, I tried EVERYTHING. Only diet seems to be working on me was Keto (A kind of low carb diet) and I got great results. However, afterwards, I slowly started to gain the weight back. While I was going through this process, I assessed my psychological swings. There were so many ups and downs. This blog is the story of the feelings I had and the battles I won and I lost with my consciousness.
Before I go through these dangerous psychological battles, I have a few pieces of advice about dieting:
- Timing is important: If your birthday or anniversary is coming up, if holiday season is at the door, don’t even bother start dieting. There is a 99% chance that you will fail. Also, if you are changing your routine, let’s say you are moving somewhere or changing jobs, getting a divorce, etc. it is not the best time to do a diet, either.
- Absolutely no alcohol during the weight loss process: Trust me on this. It slows down your weight loss process so much that it is a huge demotivator and it is not worth it.
- Who you hang out with is important: Peer pressure is real. When your friends are celebrating they want you to drink alcohol or eat shitty food with them. If you don’t, they start to make fun of you or they judge you” ‘Oh, eat today, you can diet again tomorrow! haha” (As if it is really funny? No, I already started, thank you!) “You are not drinking? C’mon! This is why we came here!” (So are you saying that I have no business being here? So you accept me because I repeat what you do? Well, thanks, good to know!) “You are being boring” (Thanks for the motivation. If I say “I’m diabetic” or “I’ve food allergy” or “I’m pregnant” you would be so understanding though, and suddenly, I wouldn’t be boring, would I??)
- Exercise: It can be 30 min walk every day, you don’t have to run. Or you can do aerobics, you can do slow-medium speed biking. Or you can choose to do weight lifting. Just whatever you choose, light or intense, please ‘move’ your body. Some people don’t exercise thinking that light exercise doesn’t make a change. IT REALLY DOES. But, when you do it consistently. Consistency is the key.
- Count your calories and macros: Most people hate counting nutritional values. But in order to have a successful diet, you have to. At least you have to calculate and add your daily calorie intake. Afterall, you don’t want to fall below your daily calorie limit, either. Because then your body will think that you are starving and it will start storing fat.There are many apps that can help you count your calories and macros, such as MyMacros and Fitnesspal. But you can simply look at the nutrition label of your meal ingredients and calculate it yourself. Trust me, it is not rocket science 🙂
- Try to find delicous and relatively healthy recipes!: Cauliflower pizza, zucchini enchiladas, oven baked parmesan garlic broccoli, stew, salad with feta cheese, arugula, cherry tomatoes, avacado and pomegranate sauce. These were my favorite healthy recipes on Keto and my mouth was watering each time I made them.
- Now I want pizza, beer and wings and fries! I deserved it!
This is the first thought you will have after ending your diet. Although you can have these and you definitely deserved the food you missed, you need to be logical. Plan ahead: In the same week, are you going to eat out again? Celebrate something? Is there a possibility that you will have a happy hour after work? If one of these is the case, maybe you should delay your feast to one of these days. Don’t cross the line (meaning take more unhealthy calories than normally you burn) more than once a week. If you have a deficit of 3500 calories in 1 week, you will lose 1 pound (~0.45 kg) but the reverse is also true. Those fries, beers and burgers can become the fat on your hips after the week ends.
2. I lost weight once, I can lose again.
So, I will eat now whatever I want. Rachel Berman, R.D. says “It’s encouraging to see results fast and a restrictive diet may lead to more rapid weight loss,” she explains. “However, being on too much of a restrictive diet and losing weight quickly impacts your hunger hormones.” So, the second time you do the diet, you might not get the same results. Also, think about this: Where is this cycle going to end? Will continue forever? You can do better than this. Once this thought appears, just tell yourself that you want something stable and permanent. You don’t have the energy to go through the same diet again.
3. She is skinny/He is fit and they are eating all those mac and cheese and burgers! Therefore, so can I.
This is your amygdala speaking, the pleasure and reward center of your brain wants that cheesy bread or chocolate cake in your mouth. The scientists suggest the high-sugar and fat diet was actually impairing the ability of the brain to block food cravings. You need to silence that thought immediately.
You don’t know that skinny girl or the fit guy. Her situation might be genetic. Her metabolism might be working faster. I knew this skinny colleague of mine, eating Burger King everyday and she never gained a pound over the years. But I don’t know how her liver or cardiovascular system looks like now of course. Also that fit man might be exercising 2-3 hours a day. Are you? If your answer is no, then you need to forget this thought, as well.
4. I will eat those hot dogs now, I will eat healthy tomorrow and exercise
Well, what if you can’t? It is true that moderation and balancing things out is important. If you ate more than your daily calories today, it makes sense to fall below the next day to balance. So it is important that when you really say this, you actually mean it and do it the next day. If you are not sure, then, don’t trust your own word. Try not to go overboard.
5. I have already eaten a lot of bad food. Now there is no turning back.
Well, there is. Right at this very moment. Go back to healthier eating habits and you will be fine. Unfortunately, our psychology is weird in the sense that once we pass the treshold on something, we feel like we can’t stop. But it is all in our heads. You can stop doing anything, anytime you want. You need to take control of your brain, you shouldn’t run it on automatic and let it take control of you.
6. These people in movies are drinking alcohol and eating bar food all the time and they look fabulous.
In the movies, yes. Not in real life. Jennifer Anniston chugging down the beer in ‘Friends’ but in real life she exercises twice a day and she is on a secret diet. Show business is her job, she needs to stay healthy, this is what she is paid for. James Bond drinks his whisky daily, but he has the best body! Miracle, right? Winchester brothers in Supernatural literally feed on fast food and beer everyday in episodes. And yet their bodies have zero fat (I have attention to detail, that’s all). Magic! Well, not really guys… What I’m saying is, all American TV shows and movies are full of scenes with diners, bars, parties and fit guys and girls. In real life, if you eat like them, you won’t look like them. Your brain is tricking you by making an association between how they look and how they live. Even though you know that this is not real life.
- Daily calorie limit: Have a target and stay at that target. Here you can calculate the daily calorie intake you need: https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html
- Nutrition balance: Make sure that you are getting enough protein, carbs and fat. Also make sure you are getting the vitamins and electrolites that your body needs.
- Emergency plan (travelling, moving, etc. change of routine): How are you going to eat healthy during this change period? Are there any restaurants that you can order from that serve relatively healthy food?
- Cheat meals: Which day of the week do you want to allow yourself to eat the cheat meal? What is it going to include?
- Exercise: 3-5 days of the week, what kind of exercises can you do?
- Be careful about offerings: I work at a school. Everyday students offer me food or snacks. Every staff meeting there are donuts and pizzas. It is already hard to say no to food, when it is free, it is almost impossible. Well, try your best to say no. Because you are gaining extra calories for a pleasure that will not last more than 5 minutes and it will cost you 30 minutes of running. It is like the question you ask to yourself when you are shopping on a short budget: “Do I really need this? or do I just want it?” If you can’t afford it, leave it.
- Do not confuse hunger with thirst: Do you sometimes feel hungry just a couple of hours after eating? It might be just that you are thirsty. Our brain confuses hunger with thirst sometimes. Drink a glass of water and see if that will get rid of the craving.
- When you go out, try to be reasonable: As a social person, it is my big problem that I found myself hanging out a lot. I tried to find ways to be more reasonable. For example, instead of 2 beers, I order 1 glass of red wine. Because I drink it more slowly. I usually drink 2 beers in 1 hour, it takes the same amount of time for me to finish 1 glass of wine. Less calories. If I ate bar food that night, I try chips or fries instead of full meal. And next day, I eat salad for lunch and soup for dinner, etc.
I’m going on a diet again on January 2nd. I know that once I’m done with it I will feel and look great. I want to keep that though, that’s why I will try to follow my own advice here. It is all about how we look at the food, how we approach feeding and how we fight with our brain’s reward system. We don’t have to deprive ourselves from everything, or starve ourselves, diet shouldn’t mean suffering. But we need to learn moderation and how to take control of our eating habits. I will keep you updated on my adventure!