Beginning a diet can be exciting, but what many people often overlook is that it’s a lifelong journey. It’s not a diet, but more of a lifestyle change. It’s about finding the balance between life and your health goals. And the truth is that there will always be challenges, and they can be a bit overwhelming at times. It can be a quick downhill slope if you aren’t realistic about your goals, and you could find yourself back at square one. Here are some tips I’ve developed that can help you succeed with starting a diet…and sticking to it:
1. Set realistic goals
We all know that the weight didn’t come on overnight, so why do we try to lose it overnight? Break your goals down into smaller increments. If you want to lose 100 lbs, it might feel like eternity for you to get there. But if you say I want to lose 10 lbs a month for the next 10 months, you are more likely to stay motivated and be successful!
2. Have a support system
Ask a friend to join you in exercise or dieting or find someone you can talk to when things get tough.
3. Don’t try to change everything at once
Instead, make small, gradual changes. I recommend 1-2 small changes each week. For example, I will limit my soda to just 1 can per week (down from 3 cans). Ideally, you’ll slowly wean yourself off those “junk foods” or bad habits you’ve developed over the years. When you make small changes like these, you are more likely to stick with them long-term.
4. Reward yourself
Reward yourself when you reach each goal. After all, you deserve it! It’s better to reward yourself with things that don’t involve food. We want to break the association between food and pleasure. Instead, you could buy yourself a new piece of clothing or go on that trip you’ve always wanted to take.
5. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Nobody’s perfect and life happens! We all make mistakes or slip up once in a while. When they happen, don’t be too hard on yourself-just dust yourself off and get right back on track. Use this incident to reflect what happened and figure out what you will do next time. A healthy eating plan should include a balance; my suggestion is to do your best 80% of the time and
allow yourself 20% of freedom-go out to eat with friends-still have fun!
A Registered Dietitian can be a helpful resource in your journey and I strongly recommend you talk to one to help you reach your goals.
Stacey Bala, MS, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian with experience and success providing medical nutrition therapy and nutrition counseling to clients in person, over the phone, and via webcam. Her experience includes counseling clients for weight loss, diabetes, pre-diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, kidney disease, PCOS, IBS, celiac disease, food allergies/intolerances, transitioning to a vegetarian diet, etc. After graduating with her Master of Science in Nutrition from East Carolina University, Stacey began her career developing nutrition curriculum for elementary school children. She then transitioned to working with the adult population as a clinical dietitian, where she encountered a variety of health conditions and medical issues in the hospital setting. During this time, she found her true passion to counsel clients in order to prevent hospital admissions, and better improve the health and well-being of everyone she encounters.