Eat perfectly all week long and then have a cheat day on the weekend.
That was my philosophy towards weight loss about 10 years ago. It was nice having that reward at the end of the rainbow. Something to look forward to. Something to make all my dieting efforts seem worth it.
And like any diet that utilizes a calorie deficit, it worked. I lost weight, but the problem was I would never keep it off.
That’s because there always came a day during the week where the circumstances made it very difficult to eat perfectly. Maybe it was a birthday party. Or maybe it was lunch or dinner with friends.
Whatever the reason, it made me feel like a failure for messing up. So when the planned weekend cheat day came I felt guilty for having it. And those feelings of guilt would set off a feedback loop that would eventually lead me back to old habits and gaining weight back.
The #1 Rule When Making Changes to Your Diet
What I learned was that there were a lot of different things you could do to lose weight. But the only things that truly worked, and by worked I mean lose weight AND keep it off, were the habits I planned to keep around forever.
So I have a rule now: Never make changes to your diet you don’t intend to keep.
That means if I’m going to decide to cut out carbs from my diet (hypothetical, I don’t recommend it) I better be prepared to live with that forever. Because if I’m not committed to that I’m just going to gain all the weight back once I give up that new habit.
That means if I’m going to go gluten free I better be prepared for a lifetime without gluten. Because once I break that habit I will likely gain any weight I lost as a direct result of that behavior change.
The Difference Between Dieting and Changing Habits
Any time you make a temporary change to your eating behaviors you are essentially dieting. And any time you commit to changing your eating habits for good you are agreeing to change your lifestyle.
And that’s what the rule for making changes does – it screens your choices to make sure the decisions you’re making are lifestyle oriented instead of coming from a dieting mindset.
So you have to ask yourself if the change you’re about to make is going to be a lifelong commitment. And what you’ll find is that the decisions that stick around tend to be health oriented – not weight loss focused.
That means whether or not the specific choice you made resulted in weight loss doesn’t matter. You’re not going to change it back to the way it was simply because you didn’t lose any weight.
You’re going to keep it in your life because it makes you a healthier person. And when you accumulate enough of these healthy habits good things happen to your body and mind.
Ask Yourself Two Questions
Before you make a change to your eating, ask yourself two questions:
- Is the decision I’m about to make going to make me healthier and happier in the long run?
- Is the decision I’m about to make going to be around for the rest of my life?
If you can answer “yes” to both of those questions you know you’re onto something great. And if you can then follow through with your commitment and keep accumulating these kinds of habits, you’re going to end up a completely different person.
What are these habits? There are dozens of them to collect over your lifetime. But I’ve identified 5 you can start implementing right now. Click here to get your bonus checklist of my top 5 healthy habits.