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This guest post is by an amazing writer and health coach, Brandice Lardner of Grace Filled Plate. She explains why diets don’t work, but also gives you the grace and hope to succeed at making sustainable goals. I asked her to share with you today because I’ve long admired her grace soaked message to those of us who struggle with eating well, exercising, and body image.
I have to admit, I am a sucker for infomercials. Nothing like a quick fix for “5 easy payments” to get me excited! No doubt, I am not alone. Fairytale promises sweep many consumers off their feet. So much so that there are entire television channels dedicated to selling to us on these products. But, in reality, how many people are still making payments on these “miracle” must-haves long after they are gathering dust in their garage or kitchen cabinet?
Why Diets Don’t Work
It is a well-known statistic that 95% of diets fail. 95%! This means if you started out enthusiastically on a new healthy eating and/or exercise plan only to end up back to your old ways just a few short weeks later, you aren’t a “failure, you are simply “normal”. Diets don’t work because diets miss the fact that drastic changes don’t stick around for the long term.
Let’s take a look at an average American implementing an average “healthy eating and exercise plan”. This individual would need to:
- Learn about new, healthy ingredients.
- Learn how to menu plan with unfamiliar foods.
- Start grocery shopping for an entire week.
- Make time to prep food for the week.
- Stop eating out (the average Amercian eats out 4.2 times per week).
- Navigate food cravings and tempting eating situations.
- Discover how to feed their family in a way that makes everyone happy.
- Learn about how to perform new exercises.
- Make time to exercise at least 3 times per week.
- Manage body fatigue, headaches, and soreness that comes from dramatic diet and exercise changes.
Can you believe how extensive that list is? I bet you never thought about all that goes into what seems like the simple act of following a new plan. I hope this list offers you some comfort in understanding WHY you may have struggled with diets in the past.
You are NOT a failure for not sticking with a new plan, you are “normal”. Because the diet model is a broken one, we will do ourselves a favor by looking at another route to our reach healthy living goals. By embracing the way we naturally change, we can excel each step along the way and end up further along than we ever anticipated!
How to Make Changes That Stick
So, what is this better way? Let’s take a moment and think about how you parent (and how God parents you).
The time has come in your child’s life where it is age-appropriate for them to learn a new skill. Maybe they are interested in a particular sport or a musical instrument; both big endeavors that can take years of practice to obtain excellence. Do you simply plop your 5-year-old in front of a baby grand piano with a sheet of music composed by Beethoven and wait for them to blow your socks off? Doubtful.
My guess is that you enroll your precious little one into piano lessons where a patient and skilled instructor graciously leads them through the most basic skills. Your child will need to spend time each day throughout the week practicing the seemingly mundane tasks they were assigned until they are mastered. When fluidity comes, so do new assignments that will build upon that solid foundation.
In the same way, by breaking BIG changes into SMALL, SUSTAINABLE habits we are able to develop mastery and confidence in the basics before moving on. It makes a lot of sense when we look at the skills needed for healthy eating and regular exercise through different eyes, doesn’t it?
Break It Down
The key is finding a breakdown of your big goal that works within your available time and builds upon your current skill level. We can do this by contrasting where we are with where we want to go. What does your end result look like and where are you now? If we picture those two scenarios on far ends of a continuum, what is ONE step that you could take to get you from point A to point B?
Understand that no one change is too small. In fact, the smaller the change, the more likely you are to quickly adopt this new habit into your permanent lifestyle. When this habit becomes easy-peasy, then you add another, and another, and another.
Image this: you add one small change to your life every week for the next 3 months. This means that in 3 months you will have adopted approximately 12 new habits! We all know how fast time flies. If we had done the “popular diet of the moment” it is likely that we would have been gung-ho for a week or two and then dropped back into our old habits. 3 months later, we’d probably still be groveling in our old “failure”.
By breaking down our habits we can find our healthy AND our happy!
You Are NOT A Failure!
So there you go- you are NOT a failure for not being able to stick to a diet plan, you are “normal”. Because the diet model is a broken one, we will do ourselves a favor by looking at another route to our healthy living goals. By embracing our natural way to habit change, we can excel each step along the way and end up further along than we ever anticipated!