You suspect that there is a problem with dieting but you’re not quite sure what it is. You know you need diet help but diets aren’t helping. In this post, you’ll learn why food rules and plans have failed you and what you can do to find success that lasts.
I receive dozens of emails each week from women just like you– women who have tried more than their share of diets only to end up feeling worse than when they started. They feel overwhelmed by conflicting diet rules, they’re afraid to fail again, and many feel without hope.
And, I share with them the same thing that I am going to tell you. But, first, let me start from the beginning.
You have not made it here by accident. If you are one of the millions of dieters worldwide, you came here looking for diet help. Maybe you’re seeking answers to why diets have not worked for you in the past, and maybe you are looking for where to go from here.
In this post, I will give you a brief overview of why diets have failed you (not the other way around) and how you can start to move forward in a way that will leave you both healthy AND happy.
The Diet Cycle
Would you like to lose weight and feel more in control around food, but you don’t know where to start?
If you are Miss Average Dieter, you’ve done a dozen (or more) different plans. You start with the best of intentions but each time ends with what feels like another giant failure.
The dieting cycle goes like this:
The hope of a new plan.
The crumble of our reality.
The crush of defeat.
It’s painful but it’s not pointless. In fact, each and every time you try something new that flops like Baywatch, the movie, you gather some really helpful information– Now you know what doesn’t work.
For every new chip flavor they try at the chip factory, only one in a thousand becomes a Cool Ranch. Finding your Cool Ranch isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
Let’s talk about what didn’t work.
From my experience, I can tell you what most diets have in common- radical change. It’s like going from Dana Donut to Susie Spinach overnight. Aside from a true sent-from-above miracle, we don’t change all that fast. Maybe you’ve noticed.
We need “diet help done differently.”
But the Infomercial Says…
I do have to admit that there is something very appealing in the draw of the diet. We purchase the newest best-selling book and excitedly flip through the pages. If you are anything like I was, you head straight to the “can” and “can’t” eat food lists. (after all, I’ll need to eat what I can’t have tomorrow, today).
We are hopeful and excited to start this new adventure. It’s like a Cinderella story and the prince is a stoic meal plan. How handsome.
But there’s a catch. While it may seem like a simple resolution– just following a new plan– there are numerous habits that need to change that are living beneath the surface.
In order to implement “Plan Prince Charming” you would need to:
- Make time for grocery shopping twice a week.
- Prep food for the week.
- Cook every breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Stop eating so many treats.
- Drink more water.
- Stop eating out so much.
- Eat less than you usually eat.
- Stop snacking between meals.
- Experience more hunger than you are currently used to.
- Try new recipes and foods.
- Exercise 5 days a week.
- And so on…
In this hypothetical plan, there is A LOT that needs to change in order to make it happen.
No wonder diets tend to slowly (or quickly) unravel. The time and energy required to acquire these new skills listed above is a part-time job. Do you have time for a part-time gig? I didn’t think so!
I hope that realization offers you some comfort in why you may not have been successful with diets in the past. It’s not you, it’s “him.”
You Can Do It, You Just Need Practice
Think of something that you are good at. Maybe it’s sewing, writing, playing an instrument, or hula-hooping. How did you get to a place of being good at this skill?
Did you start out pretty bad, learn some foundational principles, practice, make mistakes, keep going, get better, not give up? Yeah, me too. That is how this whole “eating better” quest works too.
To get better, we kinda have to be not-better to start. And to get from not-better to better, we need to acknowledge that it’s going to require some practice. If we can adopt the outlook that it’s ok to be pretty bad at some things, even when it comes to our nutrition, we can then give ourselves permission to practice and naturally improve.
So how does this process translate into nutrition, practically speaking?
It takes seeing where you want to go on one end of the spectrum and noticing where you currently are on the other end (no judgment allowed). Then it involves taking ONE step towards your desired outcome.
Once you decide on that one step, you take some time to work on this new skill and its supporting practices. Then, when it feels comfortable, you add another step.
Where Do I Start?
The best place to start is one of these two places:
1. Start with an easy win.
What is one area you’d like to improve in your health and fitness that feels pretty easy to conquer? You know you can nail it but it may not be all that exciting to you. The purpose of the challenge isn’t so much about a physical transformation but in building your confidence to move forward.
Because, once you get a few new healthy habits under your belt, you’ll be ready to move on to bigger changes.
2. Start with the greatest impact.
Identify your biggest challenge when it comes to living a healthy life and losing weight. Then, stop worrying about everything else and focus on that first.
I frequently have clients ask me for diet help in their day-to-day food choices such as “should I eat non-fat or low-fat yogurt?” Meanwhile, this individual is struggling with overeating (a lot) at night.
I would be an irresponsible coach if I heaped stress upon my client asking them to only eat a particular kind of yogurt to save 30 calories. Rather, I focus their efforts on finding new ways to manage their evenings without food.
I know it can be scary to let go of the peripheral, but honing in on the area that will deliver the greatest impact is a smart choice to make.
But make sure!
No matter where you choose to begin, make sure that you feel confident and comfortable with your decision. If your first focus feels like too much, pare it down until you feel 90-100% confident that you can nail your first focus.
Still Need Diet Help?
Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing about four habits that I highly recommend for anyone looking for a healthy lifestyle change and/or weight loss. These are simple habits that are sustainable and super-effective.
Read the summary below and then click the link to the specific posts that detail how you can start with these habits today.
1. MAKE A PLAN
If it’s not there– you can’t eat it. This idea works both for and against our goals. When there is no tasty, nutritious food at home, a drive-thru will look super appealing. By simply taking 10 minutes once a week to jot down some ideas, you can head to the store with a mission in min
2. EAT ONLY FROM A PLATE
Are you a grazer? Do you grab a bit of food here and there, walking through the kitchen, or picking at leftovers from your child’s plate? By focusing on eating only from a plate, you will automatically cut out food that isn’t adding to your overall meal enjoyment.
3. EAT MORE SLOWLY
Eating fast diminishes our ability to sense our fullness signals and crushes meal enjoyment. By eating more slowly, you will allow yourself to feel mentally and physically more satisfied with less food.
4. EAT MORE WHOLE FOODS
Whole foods, foods closest to their natural state, are not only good for our bodies, they make “eating less” easier. Fruits and veggies are low in calories, contain lots of water, and are high in fiber. This means they are super-filling for fewer calories, giving you the most chewing bang for your buck.
These are just a few ideas that can help you build confidence and change. Remember, it’s ok to try something new and NOT be good at it. In fact, it’s pretty darn normal.
Stepping Into Change
If you have struggled with sticking to diets in the past, chances are that you were trying to do more than you could manage all at once. Just like any other skill, eating healthfully requires practice.
If you haven’t noticed yet, there is a learning curve! From planning to shopping to learning how to cook whole foods you will enjoy. To breaking habits such as eating on the go or inhaling your food. The transformation won’t happen overnight.
It takes time. There will be successes but there will also be failures. Don’t take your challenges personally.
But, by choosing a focused habit that feels 100% doable, you can increase your self-confidence and healthy habits!
Where will YOU begin? Comment below and share and I can help you tweak your plan, if necessary.
See All The Posts In This Series:
- The Biggest Problem With Diets and How to Solve It
- How to Create a Healthy Menu Plan from Scratch
- Are You Missing this Surprisingly Simple Diet Tip?
- How to Start Eating Slowly in 3 Easy Steps
- How to Eat Better Without Making Yourself Crazy
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Amazon #1 Best Selling Author, Homeschool Mom, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.
Wonderful as always, Brandice. I always look forward to your words of wisdom and loving encouragement. You are a blessing.
Thank you, Heidi! Your support means so much to me!
Wow! I wish I had read this many many years ago! Simple and profound.
Thankfully you’ve still got plenty of years of practice ahead of you! It’s cool to think that the “title” things really do matter and then we are more apt to do lots of little things. Let me know if I can be of any help!
I can testify to the small, sustainable changes that you teach us. I have lost 18 pounds so far and do not feel “deprived” as I would with a “diet.” The simple changes are not so scary! And they are leading to better choices of what I eat and how much I eat. Thank you!!
So cool how that works and… works!
Dose this mean I have to put my chocolate on a plate before I eat it then ? Or do you mean me to only eat what’s normally served on a plate (meals) , you came to my attention just as I was stopping slimming world, I only had a couple of stones to lose and I lost 1 but then I stalled I got so fed up thinking of things as “sin” it seems wrong that if I’d eaten within my goal that if I fancied an ice lolly I had to sin it! Limiting myself to a very small portion of say porridge and no Saltanas as there a sin was beyond my brain lol and having to live with it for life ………nope I’m done !
So glad I found a lady who understands what a true sin is to make sense of it all ???
Hi Jan! I agree- only God can determine of our food choices are sinful or not. It’s not the FOOD, it’s the HEART. The idea of eating only from a plate is just meant as a tool for awareness, to help us see how often we may eat and not even be aware of it! But, we need to be careful that we don’t turn that idea into just another rule. You certainly don’t have to put your chocolate on a plate. However, if you were someone who found yourself eating chocolate mindlessly, then it could be a helpful practice. Does that make sense?
Lol you just described me ,mindlessly eating ? maybe on will use a plate ?
It’s worth trying!
Stefani Roach says
This was so helpful. I needed the reminder. I lost 60lbs a few years ago and know all this but as life got more hectic and stressful I’ve packed on 20 of those 60 in a year! Been struggling with getting ‘back to it’ and finding something sustainable in a busier season of life than I was sued to before. So for me, I think my life would so much easier, healthier, and might actually lose the weight if I could cut out processed sugar. So for the rest of this week that’s my commitment to change. No sugar unless it’s fruit, honey, or pure maple. Candy, cookie, desserts seem so appealing so if I’m craving on of those I’ll reach for natural sugar instead.
Hi Stefani! I am glad you found it helpful. Stress and busyness can certainly make balanced food choices more difficult. I think it’s great that you are looking at this week as a short commitment. That will give you some feedback about how this way of eating works for you– we don’t know until we try. Just keep an eye out for any self-talk that turns this healthy choice you are making (with self-care in mind) into a diet. For example, “I can’t eat that” will make you feel restricted and backfire. Rather, embrace that you are making a decision to take a break, for your own good. I hope that helps!
Hi Brandice! I think this is only the second or third blog I’ve ever read from you but I have to tell you I find this soooo helpful! I love the idea of getting rid of either being “on” a diet and losing a little weight and then being “off” my diet and gaining it all back! Since cutting out soda completely is my Greatest Impact but sounds way too scary I’m committing to not drinking soda at home. I’m excited about making a positive change that will help me go in the right direction! Thank you!
Are you sure that you’ve only read a few posts, Kandi? This is a brilliant way to modify your soda consumption. I think this post by my friend Becky may help too. She was a big time soda drinker. Let me know how it goes!
I’ve been on a diet since the 3rd grade 🙁 My parents were not mean, they really did want to help me but in the end, I have an awful thought life of myself and have never really liked me. No diet has stuck. I’ve lost weight with them and then stalled out, gotten frustrated, and honestly, didn’t believe I could actually get to a healthy weight. I’ve battled such low self esteem that it has hindered my progress. I’m now 40 and wishing so badly I would have seen the attacks of Satan for what they really were on my mind. I want a new perspective on losing weight – I’m very much over weight- and I want it tied to my growing identity in Jesus. I want to know who I am with Him and take care of me as a result of it. I think my first place to start is to guard my mind fiercely in this area and replace the old with the new. That will be a task. A huge undertaking. Then I’d like to start eating only what’s on a plate. I really like that. It’s small and I can do that. I’m so completely over writing everything I eat down and worrying about it. I’d love to write something else in my day planner 🙂 Still trying to think of what I could there. Something positive each day would be better 🙂 I’m so happy I accidentally saw this while looking for graphics for the armor of God! I’ll count this as the Holy Spirit doing some divine arranging 🙂
After years of dieting- since the 3rd grade to be exact- I’ve gotten such a bad image of myself. My parents truly were trying to help me but in the end, it only hindered me. I’ve believed I was never enough and have never like who I was. I have believed the lies of Satan regarding myself and dieting. I’m now 40, over weight still, and finally seeing how I have believed the lies for way too long. I want to first begin to replace those lies with the Truth daily and work on knowing who I am in Jesus. Then I’d like to begin with only eating what’s on a plate. That’s something super doable. I’m over it with writing everything down that I eat and what macros it breaks down into. I stress about it and obsess over it, only to have very little weight lost and frustration and low self concept in the end. I’d like to write something else in my planner each day 🙂 Something that makes me happy to look at 🙂
I’m so grateful that I saw this when looking on Pinterest for armor of God graphics. I’m pretty sure it was a God thing 🙂 He’s always doing what we call random. It’s not random to Him 🙂
Hi Kim! Thank you for sharing a bit of your story. Hindsight is 20/20. I look back in my own life, seeing that young teen going on her first diet and a cringe. BUT GOD has used this body image and food struggle to refine me in ways I never thought possible. You are doing this with God, working arm in arm together. I’d imagine that’s exactly what He’d hoped for in allowing this challenge to come into your life.
The plate is a great place to start. Just keep an eye out for turning it into just another diet where you’re “off” or “on” (i.e. you snack mid-day and then throw in the towel). Rather, use it as a tool to help you find peace. And when it gets tough (and you will have those days) it’s a cue to turn to God.
I am so glad you “stumbled” across my blog 🙂 Welcome!