Flexible dieting for weight loss success
Google searches like 'fastest way to lose belly fat', or 'rapid weight loss', or 'best fat burner', and 'best diet to lose weight' are an advertisers dream and there's a reason why they pay so much for them.
'Quick-fixes', particularly in regards to weight loss and exercises have become monstrously popular in the social media age.
But, at what cost to your long-term success?
If there's one thing that I've learnt through the years of helping people reach their health and fitness goals, it's that everyone has one thing in common.
And that is that everybody wants to look good naked.
No matter what your personal view of somebody is, we all have our own self-image and that usually involves not like an aspect of our own body.
Take the search for a 'quick-fix' and add in the never-ending pursuit to look good naked and you have the perfect combination for long-term failure.
It's very common to see people trying to lose weight whilst sticking to an unbreakable set of dieting rules.
Granted, it's important to follow a plan with established guidelines but it's vital to understand that ...
Successful dieting does not go hand in hand with being a perfect dieter.
Rigid dieting for most people is no fun whatsoever.
In fact, dieting in such a way that it goes against your personal preferences is likely to hinder rather than help you achieve your long-term goals.
Being fixated on what you eat 24/7 with no flexibility can lead to feelings of anxiety, guilt, shame and obsessive behaviour.
Chances are your last diet failed because:
You adopted a diet you didn't enjoy ... You felt restricted and missed eating your favourite foods.
You overreacted when you 'fell off the wagon' ... You 'gave in' and went off your diet, got mad and told yourself that you had failed.
You didn't adopt sustainable behaviours ... You went for the 'quick fix' but quickly found out that it doesn't exist without long-term behavioural change.
Does that sound familiar?
You're not alone.
Rigid dieting is not setting you up for success.
There is a better way to diet
We know that if you set up a diet that you can't maintain, it doesn't matter how you do in the short-term, you won't keep the weight off and will likely regain it when you abandon the rigid diet.
Studies have shown that 'Longer-term weight maintenance solutions and programs that offer a degree of structuring of the personal food environment, while retaining flexibility in choices, therefore, may be particularly beneficial in weight management.'
What is flexible dieting?
Flexible dieting (or flexible eating) means allowing yourself to eat whatever you like in moderation without any accompanying negative feelings.
It provides freedom in your choices, which over time can help create a healthy relationship with food and weight management.
Ultimately, it allows you to see consistent long-term results without restricting your favourite foods or isolating yourself from social events.
Think of it as a lifestyle diet.
A flexible diet plan that fits into your individual circumstances and not one that forces you to fit in with it.
It enables you to take back control, meaning no set meal plans or guilt feelings when you 'sin'.
Imagine a diet, where no food is off-limits and is easy to stick to whether you're at home or away - a flexible foods plan.
How to flexible diet
To begin flexible dieting you must be aware of what you're eating when you're trying to lose weight and what changes you can make to ensure the process is as efficient and fast as possible.
Tracking your calories opens your eyes and forces your buried head from the sand.
The number of people that tell me they undereat but can't lose weight or fat is truly remarkable, and then after two weeks of calorie counting suddenly see why that is.
We all under report what we eat, seeing it in black and white gives you the evidence you need to make changes.
Fat loss is only achieved through a calorie deficit, so take the guesswork out of it and begin logging your food without much effort.
Being aware of how many calories you are consuming daily gives you flexibility in what you can eat and how much of it.
This way of eating provides you with freedom in your food choices, which may help keep weight off over time and create a positive and healthy relationship with food.
Calorie counting is a short term measure to achieve long term success.
I certainly don't advocate tracking every morsel of food you eat for the rest of your life but I do recommend tracking it for the next few months.
This will enable you to understand just how much food you do need to eat daily for weight management without cutting out the foods you enjoy.
To sum up
Whilst I get that flexible dieting may provide some people with a little too much flexibility, for most of us it's a way of dieting that does not force you to miss out on the things you love.
Moderation is key.
Give some people an inch and all that...
But imagine dieting with a smile on your face and not worrying about what to have for dessert at Friday night's work get together?
And I don't know about you, but how many current happy dieters do you know?
For more information on calorie counting and how it gives you freedom in your diet, plus practical tips on getting started, read this.
Ben Yates is a personal trainer based at Places Gym Hinckley and Hinckley Leisure Centre in Leicestershire.
To book your free personal training consultation click here