If your approach to dieting is standing between you and weight-loss success, there are steps you can take. Start with a critical assessment of what you think diet savvy is, and then tweak it with advice from our experts.
There are many things that can keep you from reaching your weight-loss goals, but the most surprising of all is you. Without realizing it, your diet personality could be sabotaging your own efforts.
The way you approach dieting could very well set the stage for failure even before you begin. However, if you take an objective look at the way you’ve been approaching weight loss, you can turn your pattern around. That’s the first step toward meeting your goal.
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If you’ve tried diets before and failed, you need to understand what you may be doing wrong before you can hope to be successful. Here are some of the most common diet personality flaws. Learn what they are and how to overcome them.
- Ms. Quick Fix.“There’s the quick-fix mentality that you have to get there really quickly for it to be successful,” says Martin Binks, PhD, director of behavioral health research at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center and assistant professor at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. “You might think you have to lose a lot of weight in a hurry, you have to do everything perfectly, you have to do everything structured,” which often leads to a diet derailment, says Dr. Binks.
- “The ‘it’s a process mentality’ can be much more helpful for a lot of people,” says Binks.
- Mr. I Don’t Need to Exercise.“One of the things that really trips people up is the ‘I can do it with diet and not exercise’ mentality,” says Binks, adding that this is a pretty common diet type that just won’t be successful in the long run. “That is one of the biggest contributors to people’s short-term success and long-term failure with dieting. They don’t adopt a sense of being an active person.”
- Binks suggests simply making moderate activity a part of your life. No ifs, ands, or buts. “It requires being active to make the diet work over the long term. It also helps moderate hunger and boredom, and helps people stick with it.”
- The Biggest Loser.“The flip side is the biggest loser mentality — people who start off the first day and exercise to the point of collapse,” says Binks, who explains that behavior is just as damaging to a diet. These dieters over-restrict their calories and then over-exercise, and wind up experiencing burnout.
- “You need good balance in exercise and good balance in nutrition,” Binks suggests.
- Miss Emotional Eater.This is the person who eats instead of dealing with her feelings. “We’re so afraid as a society to feel our feelings. But we need to feel them, rather than turn to all the things that we turn to,” says Anne Wolf, RD, registered dietitian and researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. When people avoid dealing with emotions, they turn to drugs, alcohol, smoking — and food, says Wolf. Emotional eaters abuse food instead of other substances when they’re experiencing emotions they don’t know how to deal with.
- It’s important for people to understand their feelings, and separate them from hunger, says Wolf. Once you can recognize sadness, anger, or happiness, what you thought was hunger becomes something else, and you won’t need to eat to appease the emotion any more.
- Sir I’m Just Hungry All the Time.Sometimes, people just love to eat, and they truly feel hungry all the time. “People will have different hunger levels. Physiologically, they will have different hormonal responses,” says Wolf. It’s hard to diet when you’re constantly hungry, so you need to learn the right way to eat.
- “The person who always feels really hungry needs to
fill up on foods
- that aren’t as caloric, that have more water in them. That means having a salad or clear broth before dinner, and eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, and other foods with a high fiber content and bulk to get full without too many calories,” says Wolf.
- Mr. I Don’t Have Time to Diet.Some people just feel like they don’t have the time to eat healthy food or exercise. And many people truly don’t — which is why they have to make time to do it.
Personality adjustment: “During my early professional career I was motivated to move up the ladder quickly and succeed,” says John of Fairfax, Va. “The long hours resulted in many late night drive-through stops on the way home.” The fast food, the booze, the lack of exercise all added up to a significant weight gain over time. John found the motivation (and time) to not just diet but make lifestyle changes. “Losing weight is simple, but not easy. I took in fewer calories than I burned. I did that by eating a low-calorie diet and exercising daily.”
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Do any of these diet personalities sound familiar to you? If you recognize your pattern in any of them, take a step back, read about how to correct your approach, then start fresh on your new diet lifestyle. Once you adopt a broader view of losing and keeping weightoff, you’ll easily say goodbye to the old you.