How many times have you heard ” Diets Don’t Work?” I have even use this as the title for another post. So I am devoting this post to a discussion regarding what makes a diet stick. (Yes, I want your comments on what has and has not worked for you).

First, let’s define weight loss success as you lose weight and keep off at least 80% for the rest of your life.  For example, if you lost 50 pounds and kept all but 40 pounds off permanently, I would qualify that as a success provided that you adopted and maintained healthier habits.

Second, any plan in which calories in are less than calories out will result in weight loss, although very low calorie diets may cause a reduction in your metabolic rate. This results in a need for fewer and fewer calories over time and a slowing of the weight loss.

5 Rules that translate into a successful diet or weight loss plan:

Rule # 1: If you keep off at least 80% of your original weight loss permanently then your approach was a success.

Rule # 2: The plan allows you to live a normal life. It allows  you to practice  and  learn how to manage situations that occur in daily life such as: eating out, traveling, holidays, vacations, special occasions and stress of a busy work and home-life.

Rule # 3: The plan improves your overall health AND well-being. For example, lower blood pressure and cholesterol resulting in your doctor lowering doses of some medications.  Additionally, you have plenty of energy to enjoy life without overly restrictive or excessive behavior. This usually translates to a reasonable, healthy diet and exercise regimen.

Rule # 4: You adopt new patterns and not only don’t feel deprived, you actually enjoy your new choices in food, exercise and stress management.

Rule # 5: It helps you identify and address the underlying issues and habits that have tripped you up in the past. You learn new ways to manage stress and other uncomfortable emotions without using food as your primary coping mechanism.

Let’s take a look at what to avoid when choosing a diet or weight loss plan:

1. Overly restrictive, e.g., eliminates or severely restricts a food group, so it becomes impossible to follow for a life-time and will set you up for nutrient deficiencies. Or requires the purchase of  special foods and/or supplements in order to achieve quoted results. This may be fine for a very short-term to jump-start your weight loss but be careful of programs or products that can lead to dehydration and and nutrient imbalances. (If you are not sure, consult a registered dietitian). Packaged meals and drinks may help but the program must allow enough flexibility that you can behave like a normal person in everyday life.

3. Quick fixes. Don’t waste your money! Anything that sounds too-good-to be-true, probably won’t work in the long run. They’re are just a band-aid approaches that rarely, if ever, give lasting results.

4. Program or product says you will achieve amazing results without exercise.

5. Program or product says you will achieve amazing results without changing your eating habits (and other similar nonsensical claims).

 5 keys to Successful, long-term weight loss maintenance:

Key # 1. Develop and stick with a strict monitoring plan.

  • This may include setting a 3-5 pound weight range, weighting yourself daily or twice weekly.
  • Keep a daily eating behavior and exercise journal and conduct a assessment and goal setting session each evening.

Key # 2. Start out the day with a healthy breakfast that contains protein and a little healthy fat and carbs from veggies, whole grain and/or fruit. In general, do not skip meals. Pre-planned snacks are fine.

Key # 3. Preplan and Be Prepared. This means making time to set goals, keeping track, planning your week, making time for grocery shopping and doing some meal preparation so you don’t leave things up for chance.

Key # 4. Exercise program includes cardio, strength and flexibility and that you do most days (5 or more) of the week.

Key # 5. You identify and deal with obstacles, such as situations and emotions, as they present themselves,  so you don’t veer too far off-tract before reigning yourself back in.

 I invite you to look at other articles in my blog that address these tips in more details.