October is honestly one of my favorite months. The leaves are changing, it's starting to get cooler, and every day of the month is laden with just a little more anticipation for October's culminating event...Halloween. When I was a kid, and even as an adult, Halloween was something I started looking forward to and thinking about constantly from about mid-September. What was I going to "be"? How was I going to dress? What special and exciting things was I going to do to my hair and makeup? I put so much effort and energy into my costumes every year, and then Halloween would come...and it would pass...and the next day every big change I had made, every new hair trick or make-up tip, or the extra effort I put into planning and preparing my outfit fell completely to the wayside and I returned to my comfortable and familiar standby outfits.
The same type of mentality runs rampant in the diet community.
Every time the subject of dieting comes up in conversation, every participant nearby can contribute to the litany of past experiences. "Oh, yeah, I lost 50 pounds on diet XYZ..." or "I dropped three dress sizes in a month by juicing for 30 days." Everyone has some mini-success story or temporary diet that worked for them in the past, but once that culminating event has passed--be it a wedding or vacation or simply the end of your 14-day power cleanse--we immediately regress back to our comfortable and familiar ways of feeding our bodies. More often than not, the weight that we lost during one of these phases comes creeping right back, and can even bring more weight along with it. These diets all have two things in common: they involve BIG changes and they only last a short period of time.
But at the same time, everyone also knows "that" person. You know, the one who lost 50, 60, 70 pounds ten years ago and still looks as fabulous today as they did the day they reached their weight loss goal. What gives? What's their secret? What makes their diet results last longer than yours?
It's really no secret at all.
Long-lasting weight loss comes from long-lasting change. Your body gives back what you put into it. Crash diets, fad diets, extreme restrictive diets are all temporary, so why should the results they produce be any different?
Permanent weight-loss requires permanent change! This is a long, slow and difficult process. But once you've made those changes, your body, your health and your waistline will all thank you.
Don't panic, though!
Not all of these changes need to happen at the same time. Take every day, every meal, as it comes. Focus on one change at a time until it becomes a habit. For instance, instead of depriving your body of all carbs for three months, try making smaller, more manageable changes, like avoiding refined carbohydrates (like rice and white bread) after 7 p.m., or only consuming refined carbs with two meals per day.
Instead of depriving yourself of all of your favorite beverages because you have to drink over a gallon of water every day, try only allowing yourself one of your favorite beverages after you've had a glass of water first.
Can't quite bring yourself to let go of mayo? Try measuring out one serving size and limiting how much you put on your sandwich at lunch. When you're ready, try switching from mayonnaise to plain Greek yogurt. Small, healthy swaps like this will make your healthy lifestyle much more manageable, much more long term and your weight-loss endeavors much more successful.
How are you going to feel about the choices you make today, a year from now? Although the results of these little changes may not be as noticeable as the results of a crash diet, they're going to add up. This time next year, as you're once again planning out how you're going to rock the office Halloween party, you'll be more than a little thankful for each of those little changes that have made your lifestyle more than just a little healthy.
Dani Russell is a freelance health and fitness lifestyle writer living in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is currently working to complete a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology and is a practicing student therapist. In her free time she can be found playing in the ocean, hiking and weightlifting. You can keep up with her daily quest to balance multiple jobs, fitness and graduate school via her tumblr.