For most of my life, I was able to maintain my weight by exercising no matter how I ate. If I overate at a meal I could easily increase my physical activity and keep my weight stable with no change in my eating behavior. As I got older, however, I started to gain weight because my eating behaviors and episodes of overeating continued despite my decrease in physical activity. I knew I had to either eat less or increase my physical activity to lose the weight. Multiple times I joined Weight Watchers to help lose weight and keep me accountable. I had success as I always lost weight on the program. Over time, I would stop utilizing the behaviors I had learned and regain some of the weight I had worked so hard to lose.
Many of us look back on diets with shame that we did not continue the very behavior that helped us lose weight in the first place.
When we make the decision to try the weight loss thing again we go full steam ahead without ever taking the time to look back at our old behaviors. But doing so will provide invaluable information to you. This reflection provides knowledge about what worked and what did not work in the past, patterns of eating behaviors, and how you dealt when feeling overburdened, stressed, or bored.
When I did this exercise, I realized that I would plan ahead and pack my meals religiously. But I noticed that I would go looking for a high calorie mid afternoon snack and mindlessly eat goldfish while driving home from work. I would not be able to modify this behavior if I first did not recognize this behavior existed. I would not be able to lose or maintain my weight if I did not modify this behavior. No matter how hard I tried to lose weight, if I continued to do the same behaviors I would not be able to keep the weight off for good. The behaviors are what matter in the weight loss journey, not the diet or meal plan utilized.
I challenge you to reflect on what diets you have tried in the past. Write them down.
What behaviors worked to help you lose the weight? (did you pack your meals, minimize your snacking, sit down to eat your meals, plan meals the night before)
What behaviors did not work to help you lose weight? (mindless, emotional, or stress eating, not planning meals beforehand and then overeating)
Recognize these behaviors.
No matter what diet or meal plan you follow, if you do not know what works and what is harder for you, it will be difficult to maintain success over the long term.