Why You Should Ditch the Diet Deadline

When we set goals it’s very easy to use important dates and deadlines as motivation.  That high school reunion, beach vacation, or looming wedding date are just some of the most common reasons people try to drop several pounds quickly.  Even less obvious events such as the end of the year, your birthday, or other seemingly insignificant deadlines can serve as the main motivation for one choosing to “diet”.

First let’s look at the two definitions of diet that are out there. The common and currently accepted definition is something along the lines of “temporarily changing what one eats in order to lose weight”. Contrast that with the original meaning which is more along the lines of “what one eats regularly”, and we have an interesting topic.

The number one observation I find when comparing these definitions is the time frame.  We often think of a diet as a quick fix. Something that will get us where we need to go, and once we’re there, we will magically know how to eat healthy in order to maintain our results. The problem with this definition of dieting is that it’s a lie. It’s easy to think that if we could just lose the weight, we could definitely work hard enough to keep it off. But, do you actually want to work hard to keep it off? I sure don’t.

On the other hand, if we think of our diet as what we eat regularly, then it becomes less exciting. We may not reach our goal weight in time for our class reunion.  So, what’s the point? This is where finding a no-deadline approach to motivation steps in.  I want to play with my grandkids one day.  Well, that doesn’t really have a deadline, does it?  In order to be active when I’m older I don’t need to go on a 21-day detox.  I need to learn to enjoy veggies, figure out how to incorporate chocolate (cause I’m not giving that up, ok???), and find an exercise program that makes me feel great.

I’ve witnessed far too many friends (and watched myself), go crazy overboard with “off-limit” foods after a restrictive period.  “After day 30 I’m going to have wine and brownies, and pizza.”  With extreme deadline-driven diets you CAN lose weight.  And to be quite honest, you probably will.  The question though, is if it’s truly successful.  Is your goal to continually have to go on restrictive diets before an important date?  Or would you rather once and for all reach a healthy lifestyle that you don’t have to limit?

Let’s go ahead and decide to ditch the diet deadline.  When we impose deadlines, we’re telling ourselves that this is a quick fix, a temporary trial, not a healthy habit we want to adopt.

One of my “mantras” for this area is to “behave like you want to behave when you reach your goal.”

What does that look like for you?  Envision yourself in a healthy happy lifestyle.  What do you do?  How do you eat?  Whatever that looks like, that my friends is the recipe for how you’ll get there.  Your method should match your maintenance.

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Adrienne is a Certified Exercise Physiologist and holds a masters degree in Exercise Science. Her passion is to help people find a healthy balance between #IIFYM and #YOLO.

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