Longer than 31 days

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The diet site I use  – http://caloriecount.about.com/ – always has these new dieters giving advice on how simple it will be for them to adopt their new lifestyle change by adopting these new good habits, because they read some article that says that if you do something consistently for 7, 15, 30, 31 days it will become a habit. 

As someone who over the last 8 years, and the 22 weeks, has had several periods of 7, 15, 30 and 31 days where I have maintained good healthy habits all I can really say is that it takes longer than 31 days. I don’t know how much longer, but if I ever find out I’ll let you know. I does however take much less than 31 days to break a good habit. 

I’m back to beating myself in to submission to this new lifestyle change. I ate breakfast today and went to the gym. I feel good, but I’m still nervous about the amount of willpower it’s going to take to get back into this routine that up until about 1.5 weeks ago was clipping along quite well. 

You might notice I said “lifestyle change” instead of diet. I used to laugh, nay, sneer at that term. Yuppie, psycho-drama, buzz word crap. I’m on a diet. 

It’s only taken me 8 years to realize two things:

  1. Diet’s don’t work
  2. Lifestyle & Diet are not mutually exclusive.
Diet’s don’t work because they are psychologically temporary. They are a process of self-denial where if we have the willpower to deny ourselves something we will be successful. The vast majority of us do not have that willpower. Those who do by some spectacular obstinance manage to loose the weight then gain it back (and then some) once they are off the diet because having succeeded they can now reward themselves by going off diet and embracing those things they denied themselves for so long. 


I tried that for a long time, never any brand name diets, I didn’t want to appear that desperate.


Homemade diets do however have the same effect. I suppose the one thing I can congratulate myself on is not throwing away thousands of dollars on something that would not have had long term results anyways. 


So a lifestyle choice is that slow painful realization that I can no longer eat crap and expect my body to look fit and act fit. I can’t down pizza, fries etc… and expect that everything will be okay. I think I came to terms with that probably about 6 years ago. But there is more. Apparently eating all the avocado sushi I want, double servings of vegetable tempura, and yes even those tasty vegan cookies and that delicious whole wheat pasta …. although healthy…. still will pack on the weight. If I want to loose I have to look at the hard reality that I really do eat too much. Much too much. That I will for the rest of my life need to eat less. Need to give up instant food gratification and make tasty treats just that…. treats.


It also means that coming to terms with eating less and eating well is also coming to terms with what I do want. If I can’t give up chocolate, then I can’t give up chocolate, I need to find a way to live with chocolate in moderation and responsibly. 


Now I have to admit I was doing pretty well fitting in all that I wanted to eat and some treats at 2000 calories per day. The good news is that is roughly where I will be when I want to maintain once I have lost the weight I want to loose. So this is where diet comes in. I do need to take a temporary denial of full calories for a period of time sufficient to loose weight. This will not involve any “I cannot have ______” all it will mean is that if I want ________ then I need to find a way to fit ________ into a 1500 calorie day. 
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