photo provided
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It’s January, and surely a few reading this have made a declaration of healthful eating as an effort to reduce one’s waist size, improve health, and feel good. Commonly, these efforts are made when a tremendous amount of motivation is harnessed after a long holiday of indulgent pleasure-seeking.

Things often play out like this: We scroll the Internet haphazardly searching “weight-loss diet,” then follow the gospel of quick weight-loss gurus. This strategy shelves common sense, because in this brave new world we are taught that we can have things faster and better with a few “hacks.”

These hack jobs are a house of cards that blow over when the winds pick up and take away the relentless initial motivation. This is a false foundation for hope and change. Here are a few tips from the perspective of a professional who witnesses every year cycles of diet, ups and downs, no-this/no-that, and the constant struggles that follow.

Slow and steady wins the race.

We don’t gain 20 to 30 pounds of extra fat over eight weeks; the body slowly accumulates over time. An indulgence of 200 to 300 extra calories a few times per week over the course of a year will increase your weight around 11 pounds. That’s 52 weeks. Often, diets make a proclamation of dropping this amount the first month. Most nutrition experts agree that a one to one-and-a-half percent weight loss per week is all that should be done in order to keep the harmony of body chemistry. Once 10 percent weight loss is achieved, it’s thought that a break for maintenance needs to establish this new norm. For example, a 200-pound person can lose two to three pounds per week. Done over 10 weeks, this would give them a 20-pound weight loss. They can then take a break from restriction to calibrate their body into this new weight.

Do not restrict.

A person eats the things they do for a multitude of reasons — physiological hunger being one of the last on a list of hedonistic and subconscious drives. It’s really hard to walk by an open bowl of M&Ms without sticking a hand into the bowl. This behavior is automatic, and should be noticed. Abstention and restriction are heavy-duty warfare and can’t be done without ravaging effects on the psychosomatic drive. It’s a stressor to constantly say no, and a much better idea for diet success is to be deliberate and very limited in indulgences.

This is going to have to be forever.

In order to change physically, you have to change your persona into the slim and fit person you want to be. For some, this is a hard pill to swallow. They enjoy being out with a plate of nachos and a pitcher of beer. An old drinking buddy back in town or the indulgence of a vacation leads to bingeing with old diet habits. If you want to be more healthy and have a slim body, some things have to be let go of for good. This fitness- and health-conscious person cannot live a double life.

Now what?

Congratulations — you met your goal of a 20-pound weight loss. What’s the next step? Often reaching the goal seems like a means to an end, but what we ought to do is set our sights to the following months to keep craving binges — and added-back pounds — at bay. Meeting a goal is an amazing accomplishment, and it should be recognized, yet the time following can often be devoid of the same passion and motivation which drove us for the past few weeks to months.

Consider ways to continue maintenance and establish the core habits that will fortify your new body and mindset.

Well wishes go out to all those who are on the path to a fitter and healthier person in the new year. It is hoped that the above can provide someone with a better understanding at how to succeed. There are no quick tips, there are no “hacks” to getting this done for life. If this resonates, share with someone — it might help.