You probably know smokers, or maybe you are one yourself, who, when they try to quit smoking, if they have “one little puff” of a cigarette, that’s it!
They are now full-fledged smokers again. That one little puff only tantalized them into buying a whole pack.
How is smoking similar to dieting?
Well, if you are dieting to lose weight, you probably are not going to have chocolate eclairs in your eating plan.
Sugary, fatty foods are no-nos for a while until you get the weight off.
It’s best to stick with the old reliables: low-fat foods, very little, if any, sugar, vegetables, fruits, whole grains.
Once you get going on this healthy eating plan, imagine you see a yummy pastry staring at you from the Starbucks display case.
“Oh, man,” you say to yourself, “I really want to taste that. I’ve been on this stupid diet for a whole week now, and I haven’t had anything I really like to eat! I need to reward myself.”
Faster than greased lightning, without thinking long and hard about it, as you should, you order the pastry and slink off into a corner and gobble it down.
Now lunchtime comes, and your tastebuds have been aroused — you want to taste all the goodies you’ve been missing for that entire week — plus your resolve to stick to this diet (at least for today, you tell yourself) has been shot.
The last thing you want to do is eat one more carrot.
You decide to binge eat for the rest of the day, much like the lapsed smoker who, after one little puff, is smoking cigarette after cigarette after cigarette.
You wake up the next day in a sugar fog, feeling sick to your stomach from all the food you had the day before, plus feeling demoralized because you went off the diet that was so important to you.
Your self-confidence is shot. You feel fat and, again, none of our clothes fit! Things couldn’t feel worse. All because of that “one little bite,” you allowed yourself.
But the consequences get even worse; it turns out. It seems you are unable to climb back up on the horse again and get going with the diet the next day and the next and the next.
Your resources are completely depleted, and you just don’t have what it takes to go on a diet again. This horrible state of affairs may continue on for several months — yes, months! — until you can get up the gumption to go on a diet again.
So what is the moral here? Like the smoker quitting smoking, where “one puff” spells disaster, to the dieter, “one little taste” also spells disaster.
Something about waking up the taste buds with a sugar donut, or whatever your fancy is, causes your resolve to weaken, and the temptation to eat more is just more than you can handle.
Here is my recommendation to dieters: Treat dieting as you would quitting smoking. Get in it for the long haul. If you want to get and stay small, you may not ever be able to enjoy donuts or fatty foods again in your lifetime.
Face it. It’s not so horrible after the first important week to 10 days.
In fact, if you make it that long without having any sugary or fatty goodies, chances are they will lose their appeal to you, and you will be able to look them dead in the “eye” and say, “No, thank you.” (Similar to the smoker, who, having not smoked for a couple of months, will not be that tempted at the sight of a cigarette.)
It gets easier and easier and easier with each passing day of abstinence.
The trick to dieting is to have a plan and stick to it. Before you even start, write out your list of benefits that you will get from losing weight: a whole new wardrobe, better sex life, you’ll feel better about yourself; you won’t feel ashamed anymore, lots of self-confidence.
Really spend time writing this list and make it meaningful to you and specific.
Next, write a letter to yourself describing how awful it was for you to be overweight, how you cried yourself to sleep every night, how you couldn’t fit into any good-looking clothes, how you wanted to die because you were so ashamed, etc.
Keep this list of benefits and the “Remember” letter close at hand to refer to often.
When you start your diet, the first week is the hardest
Try not to give in even once, because the minute you give in and eat a tempting goodie, it only makes it easier to do the next time, and it also makes it easier to walk into a binge that may last for several months.
When you have started your diet and you are faced with a temptation, relax completely.
Say to yourself, “Yes, I can eat that,” and imagine yourself picking up that sticky donut or whatever.
“I know if I do, I’ll feel terrible about myself and I’ll probably spend the rest of the day binging and gorging, and then I may go crazy with food, not just today but for weeks and months and I’ll gain 40 more pounds”.
(Make this part very graphic to you…)
“So, right now” (pick up your list of benefits) “I choose to enjoy this temporary discomfort” (and that’s all it is, is temporary) “and enjoy the benefits of being able to buy a whole new size seven wardrobe, feeling like a million bucks, maybe getting a boyfriend, never having to worry about this problem again,” pick your top benefits and really feel them as you say them to yourself.
Then wait, wait, wait, do nothing, and the desire, believe it or not, will pass, and you will feel so empowered.
It gets easier and easier and easier, and soon you will have lost that weight because you didn’t give in even once to temptation.