I’m a Dietitian and Here’s How I Lost 25 Pounds and Kept It Off
You may have heard the phrase “diets don’t work“ which emerged from recent research that many people who go on a diet and lose a significant amount of weight, are likely to regain what they lost — and sometimes more than what they originally lost. Some statistics find that even upwards of 70% of diets fail by the five year mark. Meaning, when researchers followed up with participants after five years of concluding the diet and losing weight, the majority of them had gained much of it back or more.
Often, people will point to one of two reasons that diets fail: the diet was too restrictive and thus, people cannot stick to it long term or people lack discipline and willpower to keep up with healthy habit changes. As a dietitian who has worked with thousands of women, I don’t think either of these perspectives tells the whole story. As somebody who lost 25 pounds and kept it off, here is exactly how I did it, and what I think really matters for long-term weight loss as a dietitian who has gone through a similar journey.
Most people can rattle off the most important changes they need to make to lose weight. Here are some basic habits you can implement that help you lose weight over time.
Important weight loss habits
- Reduce their calories
- Increase exercise
- Eat more fruits and veggies
- Incorporate lean proteins
- Reduce high fat, high sugar foods
- Limit sugar sweetened beverages and alcohol
However, in my opinion, the issue isn’t a lack of awareness about healthy habits. People generally know what they “should” do but find it challenging to consistently adopt and maintain these changes. Often, you will start a new habit, but fall off track, feel discouraged and have difficulty getting back on course.
While losing weight might come down to changing your eating habits and exercise routine, maintaining your progress in keeping it off has more to do with mindset changes and creating a lifestyle that is effortless for you to maintain. Here are the mindset changes I had to make to maintain my weight loss.
Breaking all-or-nothing thinking
Combating the all-or-nothing mentality was one of the most important things I did to maintain my weight loss. Even when I didn’t feel like I was making progress, I still kept up with the daily habits and behaviors that I knew would ultimately help me reach my goal. That meant if I had a workout scheduled on a day that the scale was up, I still carried on with my routine and didn’t let these trends deter me from being consistent.
Build habits that naturally fit into your lifestyle
One of the reasons that diets don’t work for many people is that they force themselves to adhere to a meal plan or routine that is a far-cry from their typical lifestyle. Inevitably, the amount of effort and energy it takes to keep up with a whole new set of habits when life gets stressful is overwhelming. As humans, we are wired to revert back to what is easy and preserves our brain power.
Rather than overhauling your lifestyle, focus on building small habits that naturally fit into your day. For me, this looked like walking my dog more often, cooking more homemade meals, and spending 30 minutes in the gym three times a week. I knew that if I committed to more than these bare minimum habits, I would risk feeling overwhelmed and ditching my efforts altogether.
Slow is sustainable
Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to weight loss that you can maintain long term. It took about a year to lose 25 pounds. If you do that math, it was less than a half a pound a week. For many weeks, there was seemingly no tangible progress on the scale. When you embrace that weight loss is going to take a long time, you will be more consistent and not feel as discouraged with the daily or weekly ups and downs.
Good food brings people together. So do good emails.