January is the month when most people go on a diet spurred on by new years resolutions to lose weight and regain a slimmer figure. Most of us will have put on weight over Christmas and sadly most will not lose it. The start of the new year is a great time to decide to, at the least, shift any new festive season weight, and maybe to shift a few extra pounds as well. But how do you decide what is the best diet for you? And how can you keep motivated when your diet becomes hard?
January is ‘diet month’:
Research suggests that 30 days is enough time for most of us to develop new habits. So if you tell yourself that January will be diet month this may help. 30 days is really not a long time to try something different as this brilliant (and short) talk on TED.com explains.
Decide which diet based on your habits and likes and dislikes:
We also know that people are more likely to diet successfully if you do one of the formalised diets, and especially if you have a group to go to or a way to check in with your diet and actual weight loss progress with someone else. But how do you decide from the plethora of diets out there? I am not aligned to any particular diet as I think different diets work for different people. But we all need impartial information, so, bearing that in mind here are some ideas to help you decide:
- Think about what you find hardest when dieting. If you can’t stand being hungry or find that when you are all you think about is fattening food then go for a diet which allows you to eat as much as you want of some foods – for example Slimming World, the Atkins or Dukan diets or maybe by following a diet based on watching GI or GL. Other popular diets include ones based on similar science to the Paleo Diet where you totally cut out wheat and grains and eat a diet similar to our historic ancestors. Remember that on any of these diets some foods and food groups will be restricted.
If you are the kind of person who needs to have a taste of lots of different foods and you can cope with eating just small amounts of foods you like then choose a diet which allows this in small portions, such as Weight Watchers or many of the calorie restricted diets you find in magazines.
And if you can cope with being hungry for short periods of time knowing that you can eat at other times then the 5:2 diet could be for you, eating just 500-600 calories and no carbs 2 days a week. Just remember not to over-eat on your non fasting days.
- Think about how much weight you want to lose and how long you want to lose it over. To lose a lot of weight quickly you’ll probably need to do what’s called a Very Low Calorie Diet (VCLD) such as Lighterlife, Cambridge Diet or Celebrity Slim. I’ve done and am currently doing a top up on Lighterlife. It’s brilliant for me because you get counselling as well but you do need to be really committed to not eat other food and you need to think about what you will do afterwards to not just put the weight back on afterwards. VCLDs where you have no food at all aren’t for everyone, but they do work if you keep to them.
- Think about what happens after the diet. Do you also need your diet to help you change your eating and activity habits after you finish the diet? If so think about what it is you need to change and choose a diet which will help you do this. Or it maybe you decide to mix diets – to choose a diet which is not too challenging at first to get that initial weight loss and then to change to one which will help you change your habits afterwards. You could also choose a diet which has a maintenance phase such as the South Beach Diet, or a Low Gi diet which is a lifelong eating plan.
- Get more active. Some diets, such as Rosemary Conley and Herbalife include exercise in the diet regime.
Don’t go it alone:
If you need support from others choose a diet that offers a group near you and at times that suit you. Most of the big diet companies have loads of local groups. It’s worth repeating – all the research shows you are more likely to succeed if you are part of a group or a structured programme, not just going it alone.
What’s right for you – not your mates or someone else you know:
Having said its much better to diet as part of a group I truly don’t go along with ‘my mate suggests’ or ‘its worked for them’ as the best or only way to decide a diet for you. The reality is that what works for one person doesn’t work for another. If you want to succeed you have to find what is right for you. The thing that worked for your mate, or your mum, or your brother or uncle might not be what works for you. Men and women lose weight differently – for example some research suggests the 5:2 diet works far better on men and may be trickier for women over 40. I find total abstinence on Lighterlife far easier than calorie counting which I could never do – but other people I know couldn’t do as I did in the run up to Christmas – going to Christmas parties or meals out and not eating. I don’t mind eating the same things day after day but other people go crazy without variety. So make it right for you. You can still be support to other people without doing the same diet. And if the same diet does work for you and your nearest and dearest how wonderful.
Lastly – don’t give up!
If you choose a diet and you find it’s not for you, don’t assume that you can’t diet and just give up. Instead, sit down and think about what you find hard and then look at other diets to see if they might be easier for you to stick with.
Remember everyone has bad days when dieting so don’t let a bad day be the end of yours. Don’t beat yourself up, accept you’ve had a bad day, smile and just tell yourself it will be better tomorrow.
Good luck and let us know on here how you get on!