I lost X kilos on a diet

You went on a diet in January. And you ended up losing 6 kilos. Woohoo! And then over the past 6 months, you've put on those 6 kilos. You've been gearing up to go on a diet again.

Looks like you went on a diet last January as well. Oh, you lost 8 kilos then. Brilliant. And how much did you put on over the year? All of it. And then some. And you tried a diet later in the year as well but it was just mentally exhausting.

I understand. I've been there. And more relevant, I've seen a lot of my students go through this and I think I understand a pattern. And we are all just pattern machines.

diets are the way to lose weight, right?

The news articles you read report how some random person lost a gazillion kilos doing some new diet. Or how they lifted weights and everything just flipped. And blah blah blah. While these stories are great, what do we actually learn from them? Besides the fact that you have to put in work to get results?

And can you really argue with the fact that the more sensible and grounded the work is, the better it is for you?

Diets are a common part of our thinking. When in doubt, there's a diet to do what you want. And there are 27 people around you with their specialist advice on how to go about it, what you should do, what diet you should not follow, and what special tweak you need to do to a diet.

As much as you might hate to go on a diet, you've reconciled with the fact that they are necessary.

Except that's not a fact.

you are used to it

The larger pattern is you know exactly what happens in a diet. Sure, the diet might change. But here's the pattern.

Photo by Alice Butenko / Unsplash
  1. You are unhappy with your body - your weight, your waist, how a dress fits, or whatever.
  2. You decide to go on a diet because this one time long, long ago in a land far, far away, you did a diet and you got into pretty darn good shape.
  3. You happily ignore the fact that it was unsustainable, you hated a lot of it, and you ended up putting the weight back on over a few months.
  4. You've done this multiple times.

Here's the kicker. This process of going on a diet, losing some weight, feeling sorta good, and then realising it is not unsustainable, and putting it back on is familiar territory. You've been there. You know exactly how it plays out.

It is your comfort zone.

As much as you might bitch and whine about how it sucks to be on a diet, you are on familiar ground when you do it. And you are on familiar ground after. And after the after as well. You've covered this ground multiple times.

To fool yourself, you might keep changing the actual specifics of the diet. But c'mon, who are you fooling?

habits and intuition

The long-term and sustainable way out is having better eating habits, a healthier relationship with food and a sustainable way of living. But what the heck does all that even mean?

Which is the problem. Because while I can tell you to eat more vegetables, drink more water, and generally increase your activity, you need to figure out the specifics of it for you. Maybe you need to do menu planning. Maybe you need to snack better. Or maybe you need to strength train. Or learn to cook. Or a bunch of things that are uniquely applicable to you.

You need to figure out the solution in your context. In your life.

And that is hard. That is not your comfort zone. That requires you to introspect, analyse, go through a process of trial and error. And you might not see any results - results you know you will see if you clamp your nose and go on a diet and not over-think. And so you refuse to get out of your comfort zone.

do the same thing. expect the same results.

There's no magical diet that's going to fix things for you. Unless the issue was one of, say, inflammation or allergy. Or unless you rectify a bad habit along the way, and the diet was just the conduit - the channel where the learning stuck for you.

That is you getting out of your comfort zone. Because you realised something, and you applied it, and you changed your habits for the longer term.

You cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome. A different diet does not qualify. I am talking about this pattern of unsustainable behaviour that you go through - lose weight, feel happy, hate the strictness, put on weight, moan about it. Repeat.

Get out of your comfort zone. Have a longer-term outlook. Rather than try to lose weight over the next 2 months via a magical diet, give yourself 6 months. Try to apply one thing at a time.

Or if you are gonna persist and do a diet, that's fine. But see which tool in that diet is something that clicks, and continue it after the diet.

As you already know, getting out of your comfort zone is magic. So, let's do it!