If you type “weight loss program” into Google, you’ll get 1,120 billion results. If you type in “how to lose weight” you’ll get 1,190 billion results.
That’s a lot of results to sort through to find a weight loss program that will lead to long-lasting, permanent weight loss! And of course, amongst them all are the paid ads promoting a plethora of diets and quick-fixes, which we know just don’t work.
The problem with diets
Despite their popularity and despite what diet culture will tell you, diets don’t work when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off. Scientific evidence has even shown that as many as 98% of people end up gaining all the weight they lose (and more) within 5 years. Yet, the diet industry continues to push them, re-invent them and re-package them as the solution to your weight problem.
One of the reasons diets don’t work is because they lower your metabolism. Studies show that low-calorie diets can reduce your metabolism by as much as 23%! And of course, the slower your metabolism, the harder it is to lose weight.
Diets also compromise your physical health by increasing the likelihood of you engaging in binge eating and emotional eating, contributing to digestive problems, and causing fatigue and burnout. They can also negatively impact your hormones, compromise your reproductive health, and weaken your immune system.
Diets also severely compromise your mental health. How bad do you feel when you break your diet or fall off the wagon? That’s because they promote the belief that you need to be perfect to lose weight. If you’re not — and realistically, who can be perfect? — they make you feel that there’s something wrong with you. This leads to a drop in confidence and self-esteem and dramatically increases the likelihood that you’ll compare yourself and your results with someone else. All of which makes it harder to lose weight.
If that’s not enough, diets also isolate you from your family and friends, cause to you find your worth on the scales or in a clothing size, promote negative body image, waste countless hours of your time, and cost you a whole heap of money.
Yet, despite the damage they cause, diet culture continues to push diets, fads and quick-fixes as the weight loss solution you’ve been looking for.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to ensure that your weight loss program IS NOT a diet.
Is your weight loss program a diet?
Diets come in many disguises. While some are more obvious to pick out as a diet, other weight loss plans that are actually diets, may be dressed up as lifestyle programs, wellness programs, or programs that promote healthy, clean eating.
Even programs that might be backed by science (and let’s be honest, sometimes that science is a little dodgy), won’t work for you, if they’re still based in diet culture.
So how do you know if your program is a diet? If you can say ‘yes’ to any of the points below, the weight loss program you’ve chosen IS a diet, and we can guarantee that it won’t work for you long term.
- your weight loss program has a specific beginning and end
- it promotes rapid weight loss
- it focuses on what you look like, not taking into consideration how you feel or how your body functions
- you count calories, kilojoules or ‘points’
- your daily calorie allowance is low
- you need to follow rigid rules around food
- you limit or restrict certain food groups (e.g. carbohydrates)
- you overemphasise certain foods (e.g. protein and fat)
- you restrict the amount of food you eat
- you spend some time during the day or week, fasting
- your meals are pre-made and delivered to your door each week
- you measure or weigh your food
- you find it hard to ‘stay on track’
- you fall off the wagon a lot
- you feel ashamed or guilty about eating some foods
- you avoid certain foods (e.g. carbs, sugar, fat) at all costs
- you feel in control when you control your food
- you eat small portions of food
- you replace solid food with shakes, bars or soups
- you’re required to buy special supplements, meal replacements or diet products (e.g. shakes, bars, soups)
- your weight loss plan promises quick results if you stick to it
- your plan claims that eating certain foods can change the body’s chemistry or pH levels
- your plan promotes ‘magic’ foods or combinations of foods
- there is no plan to keep the weight off for the long term
- you feel overwhelmed about all the things you need to do to follow it
- your plan claims you can lose a certain number of kilos in a certain amount of time
- your plan doesn’t focus on habit change
- you often feel hungry
- your binges have increased
- you are obsessed with food, calories, or the nutrition content of food
- your weight loss plan claims you can get amazing results without exercising
- your program promotes excessive amounts of exercise
- the plan lasts for a certain number of weeks
- you’re required to follow a pre-designed meal plan
- you’re encouraged to weigh yourself regularly
- the program relies on testimonials and anecdotes instead of scientific evidence
- you can’t enjoy your favourite foods
- some foods are demonised as ‘bad’ while others are promoted as ‘good’
- the focus is purely on weight loss
- you can’t go out to social events without worrying about what you’re going to eat
- it’s promoted as a wellness program or a lifestyle program but still requires you to follow rules
- your weight loss plan takes a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach
- it doesn’t take into consideration your lifestyle, current health or even food preferences
- it seems difficult or complicated to follow
- you can’t wait to ‘come off it’
- you find yourself factoring in ‘cheat meals’ or ‘cheat days’
- a celebrity advertises and endorse the program
- the plan is extremely low in fat
- your plan promotes detoxes and cleanses
- it glorifies clean eating, or eating foods that are organic, ‘raw’ or ‘low-carb’
- you feel you need to follow the plan perfectly
- you feel fatigued or weak while following it
- you have digestive problems, including constipation or diarrhoea that you didn’t have prior to starting your plan
- you can’t enjoy a wide variety of foods
- you need to eat at, or limit eating to certain times of the day
- you feel deprived most of the time
- every weight loss plan feels harder than the last.
If not dieting, then what?
The honest truth that the diet industry won’t tell you, is that its products won’t work — for you, or anyone else — if long-term weight loss is what you’re looking for. It doesn’t matter how these programs are wrapped, re-invented or marketed, if they meet any of the points listed above, they fall into the category of a diet.
There are many habits that prevent us from losing weight. While poor sleep, stress, eating too much or drinking may be contributing to your weight problems, these behaviours are symptoms of larger habits called keystone habits. These habits are powerful because they lead to many other habits and influence so much of your life. Some of the most common keystone habits that impact weight, include:
- Comparing yourself with other people
- Lack of confidence
- Living in fear.
The main difference between all the quick-fix, diet programs and what we do at Imani Tribe Transformations is that we focus on long-term weight loss that addresses the key reasons (habits) that you became overweight in the first place. Because once you change your habits and develop ones that help you lose weight and keep it off, you’ll never struggle with your weight again.
Of course, we help you develop healthy habits around nutrition and exercise, because what you eat, and how you move does influence your weight. However, the majority of habits that influence your weight are not related to food or exercise — they’re the ones listed above.
In order to help you change your habits, we help you become aware of what they are and how they impact you, by tracking data. Once we have this data, we then develop a personalised action plan, that will help you work on replacing these habits with new ones that will help you to lose weight. In order that you don’t become overwhelmed, we work on one habit at a time, because we know this approach is sustainable and can lead to enormous changes in mindset and body weight.
Yes, this process takes longer than the average diet. In fact, we recommend a minimum of 12 months for a body and lifestyle transformation. But it’s the only way you’ll be able to lose weight and keep it off.
You might be thinking that this process is just going to take too long. But how many years have you spent dieting? 5, 10, 20 or more? How much money have you spent on diets? And how successful have you been? Wouldn’t it be great to know that this time next year, you’ll be in a much better place than you are right now?
Get off the diet roundabout
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to lose weight, but ending up going around in circles, never making progress. We have many clients who have spent years of their life, even decades, doing one diet after the other, and not getting results. So the problem isn’t you — it’s the diets!
However, through our online coaching program, we can help you break free of the diets and develop habit and mindsets that will help you lose weight and keep it off for life — just as we have with our clients.