If you want to learn how to stop dieting and lose weight, you’ve come to the right place!
At the end of last summer, I went on a HUGE health kick. I made green smoothies every morning. I made sure all of my meals had the right balance of macronutrients. I gave up alcohol for 4 months. And I felt amazing.
But, as is always the case, life got busy and I eventually ran out of steam. Meal planning and prepping took a back seat, and I started opting for easier food options. I always eat a fairly healthy diet, but I struggle with portion sizes and ensuring my meals are properly balanced to keep my blood sugar stable so I don’t crash and binge.
I know I’m not alone in this seemingly endless cycle of eating really well for a period of time, and then slowly slipping back into bad habits, but as I get older, I find it harder to ignore how terrible I feel when I’m not on plan. My anxiety spikes, my productivity slips, my workouts suffer, and I just don’t feel good about myself all around. I’m also at an age where it’s a lot harder for me to lose weight, and small deviations from my healthy eating goals can set me back for weeks.
It’s really frustrating!
One of the best lessons I’ve learned this year is the importance of balance. While my body feels best when I feed it smoothies, lean proteins, healthy fats, and tons of veggies, I have learned time and time again that restricting myself from the foods I love does nothing but set me up for failure. The smallest slip can send me into a significant downward spiral, leading to feelings of defeat and self-loathing.
If you want to know how to stop dieting and lose weight once and for all, these tips and ideas will set you on the right path.
How to Stop Dieting and Lose Weight
1) Ditch the diet mentality
While there are a ton of fad diets out there that can successfully help you lose weight in a short amount of time, research – and experience – consistently proves that diets do not work long term. Restricting calories, removing entire food groups, and abstaining from the foods you love will inevitably set you up for a binge. Bingeing causes weight gain, and once we’ve come to the conclusion that we can’t stick to a particular diet, we invariably start searching for the next trend that promises better results.
Many of us go through this cycle over and over throughout the course of our lives because we’re looking for a quick fix to our weight loss woes. If you want to know how to stop dieting once and for all, the first thing you need to do is wrap your head around the fact that dieting doesn’t work. Full stop. Read the statistics, think back to your own experiences with dieting throughout your life, and give yourself permission to let go.
2) Dig deep
WHY do you want to lose weight? Is it because you think you need to be a certain size in order to be accepted by your family and friends, or is it because you want to be a positive role model for your children? Are you trying to lose weight because your doctor told you to, or because you want to be able to chase your children around outside? When you take the time to define your WHY and then set realistic goals you’re genuinely motivated to achieve, you will be more likely to make long-term changes versus searching for quick fixes that don’t last.
3) Commit to your health instead of your weight
This has been a difficult lesson for me to learn, but it’s probably had the biggest impact on me as I try to figure out how to stop dieting and still maintain all of my weight and fitness goals. I used to think the 2 ingredients for weight loss were diet and exercise, and failed to realize that timing my meals, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and hydrating my body were equally – if not more – important.
We get so caught up with the numbers on our bathroom scale each morning and will put ourselves and our bodies through anything to get that number to decrease. We under-eat, we over-train, and we’re constantly at war with ourselves. It’s a vicious cycle many of us can’t get ourselves out of, but I’m here to tell you that when you shift your mindset and focus on your health over your weight, the results will amaze you.
Nourishing your body with lean proteins, healthy fats, and tons of veggies, committing to 30 minutes of physical activity each day, prioritizing sleep, reducing stress, and hydrating your body are all key ingredients to weight loss. If you focus on those things instead of the number on your bathroom scale, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much easier it is to lose weight – and keep it off!
4) Stop restricting
The moment your mind thinks it can’t have something – chocolate, cheese, bread, etc. – it starts to crave those foods, which oftentimes leads to a binge and subsequent feelings of disgust and self-loathing. When you remove restriction, you are less likely to obsess over the foods you find particularly tempting, and while you may still indulge in those items a little too much from time to time, you are much less like to go on a full-blown binge.
5) Eat when you’re hungry
Another great tip for those who want to learn how to stop dieting without gaining weight is to honor your hunger cues. Diets often leave us feeling hungry all the time, which can cause us to overeat and even binge, but when we stay on top of our hunger and learn to balance our macronutrients, we give our bodies the fuel it needs to operate efficiently. This results in more energy and can have a positive impact on our waistline.
6) Develop an eating schedule
One of my favorite tips for those who want to learn how to stop dieting is to ensure you are eating frequently throughout the day. While the jury is still out on whether it’s better to eat 3 big meals, 5 smaller meals, or a mixture of meals and snacks, it seems everyone can agree on the fact that skipping meals is terrible for your metabolism. I’ve played around with all kinds of options to see what works for me, and I find my body responds best to 4 meals. I start the day with a green smoothie, have a fairly large lunch and dinner compromised of tons of veggies, lean protein, and healthy fats, and usually have 2 rice cakes with nut butter and berries about an hour before I go to bed. I find if I delay a meal or try to skip my evening snack, I get over hungry and inevitably end up reaching for something quick and unhealthy like chips or chocolate.
7) Practice mindful eating
There are tons of great articles you can read about mindful eating, and while some take this practice very seriously, I tend to focus on 3 main principals:
- Don’t wait until you’re starving to eat as this makes you more likely to make poor food choices and overeat
- Remove distractions while eating so you can enjoy your meal and pay attention to how the food you’re consuming makes you feel
- Stop eating before you’re stuffed
8) Learn to differentiate hunger from boredom/emotional needs
If you’re on a fairly consistent eating schedule and you’re balancing your macros efficiently, you really shouldn’t be feeling hungry in between your meals and snacks. If you do, take a moment to consider if you’re actually hungry, or if you’re just bored or trying to avoid dealing with your emotions. A good tip is to have a glass of water and busy yourself with something for 5-10 minutes to see if the feeling passes. If it does, you weren’t actually hungry.
9) Adopt the 80/20 rule
My last tip for those who want to learn how to stop dieting and lose weight is to focus on balance and moderation over perfection. When you allow yourself flexibility and remove restriction and rigidity, you are much more likely to keep up with your goals. Many people try to stick with their goals during the work week, and then indulge on the weekends, but you can structure this whichever way works best for you. Remember that the idea isn’t to completely fall off the rails and have a full-blown cheat day. The 80/20 principal is more about removing restriction so you’re less likely to binge.
I hope this collection of tips to teach you how to stop dieting proves useful to you. Remember to figure out the WHY behind your weight loss goals, ditch the dieting mentality, stop restricting calories and food groups, be mindful of your hunger cues, and allow yourself to indulge in the foods you love every one in a while. Strive for balance over perfection, and opt for long-term lifestyle changes over short-term fixes that won’t last.