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Diets Don’t Work: Why “How to Lose Weight Fast” Is the Wrong Question

Diets Don’t Work: Why “How to Lose Weight Fast” Is the Wrong Question

Searching the Internet for “how to lose weight fast” is just as absurd as falling for a get rich quick scam. Discover why diets don’t work (and what to do about it).

“Diets don’t work,” says science.

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” – Julia Child

An analysis by UCLA published in the journal American Psychologist discovered that dieting does not work. Researchers performed a comprehensive analysis of 31 diet studies to determine their long-term effectiveness. While most dieters typically lost 5-10% of their starting weight in the first 6 months, the results didn’t last; at least one-third to one-half of the dieters regained all of their weight (and then some) within 4-5 years. As UCLA researchers concluded in their analysis, “There is little support for the notion that diets lead to lasting weight loss or health benefits.”

Get Rid of Your “All or Nothing” Mentality

“Moderation in all things.” – Aristotle

Any diet that depends on eliminating entire food groups is destined for failure. Recall when you were a child: a parent or teacher might have told you something like “Do NOT touch anything in this store!” What did you then proceed to do? I bet you touched ALL of the things. It’s funny how it becomes more tempting to do something as soon as it becomes “forbidden.”

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Food works in the same way. The more you tell yourself you can’t have something, the more you’re going to want it. And besides, do you really want to live in a world where garlic toast, cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies are outlawed forevermore?

This isn’t to say you don’t have to make sacrifices if you want to get fit and healthy, but extremist “All or Nothing” diets aren’t the way to do it. Sure, you might lose weight fast, but that doesn’t mean the pounds will stay off. And if you don’t sustain it, what’s the point?

If you don’t heed this warning, here’s what’s gonna happen:

1. You’ll do great for the first few weeks (or months if you’re lucky) and lose a bit of weight.

2. You’ll start craving those delicious foods you’re depriving yourself of more and more with every passing day, until you lose your cool and go on a binge-eating rampage.

3. You’ll feel guilty, beat yourself up, decide you might as well give up, and find yourself right back where you started.

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Stop Demanding Perfection of Yourself

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life… And that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan

If Michael Jordan could win NBA championships while missing over 9,000 shots, I’m pretty sure you can successfully lose weight despite the occasional setback. Eating a few peanut butter cookies at a holiday party isn’t worth pushing the Panic Button over. Just like a single healthy meal won’t make you go down a waist-size, eating a single unhealthy meal won’t make you go up one. If you do make a mistake, don’t freak out. Take a deep breathe; count to 10; and ask yourself, “Why did this happen and how can I make better decisions in the future?”

While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about those “lazy days.”

There are always going to be those crappy days where you just don’t feel like doing anything (much less exercising), so you don’t. Let’s face it: I have them, too and I’m a trainer (why yes, I am human!). Show me a person who claims to be without fault or weakness and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

It’s 100% possible that your desire to have a “Walking Dead” marathon might trump your desire to be fit on occasion. This is okay, but it cannot become habit. Remind yourself that your long-term want (get fit and healthy) is more important than your short-term want (watch zombies eat brains).

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Here’s why this is so very important:

I’ve noticed a tendency in certain people. They make one little insignificant mistake and allow it to spiral out of control until it screws up their entire fitness plan. They break their diet once by eating a piece of cake, or they miss a couple of workouts in a row, or whatever the case may be. These people then proceed to agonize over their mistakes, beat themselves up for being so “stupid,” and call it quits.

Make a mistake? Learn from it and try again. Don’t wallow in guilt and regret, or you’re going to convince yourself you’re a failure, which is the furthest thing from the truth—you’re merely human. Nobody’s perfect. I promise.

Strive for Consistency (Not Perfection)

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.” – Jim Rohn

Yes, you have to make sacrifices if you want to become fit and healthy.

Yes, you must have focus and discipline to achieve your goal.

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No, that doesn’t mean you can’t have the occasional treat.

No, the world won’t end if you make a mistake.

You probably shouldn’t eat creme-filled doughnuts every day; but life is meant to be fun, and the occasional indulgence won’t hurt you as long as you make positive decisions most of the time.

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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