I'm stepping off the diet merry-go-round - anyone want to join me for small sustainable changes?

(181 Posts)
becsbornunderadancingstar Mon 16-Sep-13 09:08:43

This is going to be long. Because I've done 'em all. Rosemary Conley, Weight Watchers, Primal/Paleo, Low Carb, South Beach, the Zone, Atkins, French Women don't get fat (they do, actually, I was on holiday in France this summer and French women are definitely getting fatter than they used to be), Slimming World, raw diets, ... Oh, lots and lots of different diets and 'ways of eating' etc. I did Paul McKenna 'I can make you thin' but unfortunately he couldn't. I've read every book on weight loss and diet and overeating etc.

I always stick to them 100% for at least three weeks and lose a lot of weight. Some I've stuck to for longer - up to a year... But after being on a diet for 32 years (I'm 40) I am overweight - and I was a skinny child.

I was talking to my lovely DH about this at the weekend, feeling really fed up about it and having a little cry. He pointed out that I'm always 'on a diet', or 'off the diet'. He suggested that I take my 'off the diet' eating pattern, which seems to be what I 'snap back' to, and just change one small thing about it, and stick with that change until it's a habit.

This goes against all of my instincts, I'm an all-or-nothing person - but I realise that this is the whole problem and that he's absolutely right. I know I'm going to find it really hard though. I normally go all-out on a diet. Just making one small change which won't result in lots of weight coming off at once is against my nature. It would be nice to find some others who want to do the same thing.

Here are my rules - just for me, you don't have to have the same ones as me...

- my first small change is to stop eating between meals. I'm not going to change my meals or stop eating dessert or anything. Just stop snacking. I'll eat three meals a day. I won't restrict portions for those meals and I'll eat what I would eat when 'off the diet'.
- because I think snacking for me fills an emotional need rather than a real hunger, I'm going to do something every day to fill those emotional needs in another way e.g. call a friend, paint my nails, declutter a drawer, make a gratitude list...(I've got a list of these in a notebook so I can refer to them and choose one a day.) Part of making 'no snacking' a habit I think is to replace the habit with other things that fill the same needs.

I'm not going to add any other rules until I'm sure that the 'no snacking' habit is established and I'm comfortable with it. After that I'll add another small change.

Would anyone like to join me on this one? - I could really do with some 'accountability buddies'!

bunjies Mon 16-Sep-13 09:45:35

I would love to join you although the thought terrifies the hell out of me.

Like you I've been on loads of different diets but my problem is I hit a plateau & lose motivation. I'm just so fed up of food being the biggest issue in my life. I am currently on the 5:2 diet & whilst I'm not actually losing any weight at least stops me from putting weight on. My biggest problem is portion size & I think if I can suss this out then it will be a big help. So this needs to be my 'small' change but it's so ingrained in me to pile my plate.

becsbornunderadancingstar Mon 16-Sep-13 10:26:11

I'm terrified too bunjies! It's strange that I'd throw myself happily into an extreme diet without being scared, more exhilarated really 'all my problems will be fixed by this'... But the idea of not being 'on a diet' and not making huge changes all at once actually feels really vulnerable - especially as I probably won't lose much weight to begin with and I'm used to doing those diets where pounds drop off really quickly in the first few weeks. But I'm so sick of dieting! I want to make peace with food and stop obsessing over it.

I tried 5:2... for literally one week! Then I fainted on a fast day and DH said 'WTF, you've only eaten WHAT?' It just wasn't sustainable for me, although I know it suits others really well. I'm too prone to taking things to extremes.

Portion size is a good one. I'm not going to look at my portion sizes until I'm comfortable with not snacking, but it will be something I look at later on for sure - I find it very hard to stop eating before I'm over-full.

Maybe you could start by just controlling your portions at dinner time? If you're used to big portions it might be too big a change to control them for every single meal and I think it's important not to make the change so big that it triggers a 'snap back'... Maybe just measure your portions for your evening meal - make them a normal portion size, not over-small, and leave everything else as it would usually be. Then when you're comfortable with it you could start measuring your lunch portions more etc.? How does that sound?

Thanks for joining me - <extends hand> - it's a bit scary not being 'on a diet'...

duckyfuzz Mon 16-Sep-13 13:54:51

I lost 2 stones over the course of about 6 months 4 years ago just by making small changes - no snacking, no alcohol on a 'school night', low carb Mon - Fri. I have kept the weight off (give or take holiday/Christmas gains which I have managed to lose again quickly through the same method). I'm keen to lose another stone now to drop a dress size by Christmas so would love to join you!

Rules Mon 16-Sep-13 14:05:52

Hi OP. That is what Paul McKenna or mindful eating does for you anyway. It takes you completely off the diet mentality and you eat what you want when your hungry and stop as soon as your satisfied. Its eating like a slim person who has no hangups. Paul McKenna has made it big but the mindful eating method has been around for ages. To be fair its not that this woe fails its that we fail to keep to it. I don't mean that in a nasty way so hope it doesn't come across like it. Diets make you binge in the end but mindful eating means that you think before you eat.

becsbornunderadancingstar Mon 16-Sep-13 14:24:37

Welcome duckyfuzz - yes please do join me! Do you know what your next 'small change' will be? I am on my first day of 'no snacking' and I'm so glad to have you to keep me company as it feels very weird. It's great that you've already done the small changes thing - and so successfully! You can be my role model smile What was the first change you made - was it 'no snacking'? How long do you think it took you to establish that as a habit.

I get what you mean Rules. I did love seeing Paul McKenna at one of his events, and enjoyed his book. I stuck with it for a while, lost a stone (and regained a stone and a half when I stopped doing it, but of course!). Mindful eating is interesting and I've had phases of trying it. Unfortunately it just didn't fit me, or I didn't fit it... I don't regret doing it though, I definitely learned a lot. And for lots of people it seems to work brilliantly which is great. But it's not the final answer for me.

bunjies Mon 16-Sep-13 14:54:05

I know what you mean about being disciplined on a diet. I am such a goody two shoes when I first start out but when the weight loss stops I lose the motivation. It's kind of what has happened to me now except this time the weight never came off in the first place! I've been back on low carb for about 3 months and haven't lost a pound this time sad.
I will carry on with the 5:2 as I find it easy to stick to, plus we started it (dh does it too) for the health benefits so I don't want to lose them.

It's a fasting day for me today so no problem with portion sizes grin but my problem will be tomorrow. Tuesdays are the first day of my working week & I find it very easy to overeat during the day. I think I am going to try the "breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince & dinner like a pauper" thing as I'm not too fussed about eating much in the evenings, especially when I'm tired from being at work, but end up having more than I need. I do have a sweet tooth as well so I want to be able to have stuff like homemade brownies etc but not go mental.

One trigger I've noticed is popping into Sainsburys on my way to work and getting their 2 pastries for £1.20 deal. Why???? I don't need 2 but the mere fact it's on offer makes me buy it. So then I end up eating both at once blush. I must stop going in there as it is not a good place for me when I'm feeling weak.

duckyfuzz Mon 16-Sep-13 15:10:23

I went from 'constant snacking' to 'healthy snacking' - fruit, toasted seeds, nuts as a transistion. It worked quite well and got me out of the biscuit and crisps habit. This time I'm going to try not to eat later than 7pm and am shredding nearly every day too.

Rules Mon 16-Sep-13 16:39:22

I understand. I have found that if I eat when I'm truly hungry and stop when I'm satisfied and eat any and all types of food I desire then I don't overeat. It's when I deprive myself in any way shape or form that it messes with my mind. It's good to hear that you lost a stone eating the no diet way of pm. Shame you stopped the principles though.

alphablock Mon 16-Sep-13 21:11:02

I have struggled with my weight most of my life. I have lost weight before, but always put it back on plus more. 3 months ago I decided to start making a few small changes to my eating habits. I am definitely not on a diet, but have lost 22lbs! My approach has been quite random. I have not cut out any foods, I have simply asked myself if I am hungry and thought about what food I really want/need.

I have probably broken every diet rule in the process. I am not a big fan of breakfast, so sometimes I have skipped it or just had a late morning brunch, and some of my meals have been a bit odd, e.g. 2 hot cross buns for lunch because I really fancied them (in the past I would have had lunch + buns, so my logic is just buns is better). I do like a big evening meal, so I think at least half my food intake has been late in the day, but I do make sure this includes plenty of vegetables/fruit. I did not initially drastically reduce portion sizes but as the weight has come off it has encouraged me to cut down further and my appetite has also reduced. I think I am probably eating about 1700-1800 calories most days, but I am not weighing anything or counting.

The great thing is, I am not on a diet and I am eating in a way that feels sustainable. I have been out to restaurants regularly during the last 3 months, and just had a main course (and very little other food on those days). I even lost 4.5 lbs during a 3 week holiday in America using this approach!

I would still like to lose another 3-4 stone, but I am trying to keep calm and not allow my excitement at my progress to lead me to cut back too far and end up back on the diet treadmill.

Rules Mon 16-Sep-13 21:30:28

Alpha you are doing mindful eating!! This is what Paul McKenna has done his hypno cds on. Well done to you for losing the weight. That is what im doing. Eating when im truly hungry, stopping when Im satisfied which is sometimes just a few mouthfuls. I also dont bother with breakfast and tend to just eat when im hungry. This is also a way to me that is truly sustainable for life. Its just a case of always being completely present when eating (if you know what I mean). The OP seems to have done this woe herself and lost weight but then lost momentum and went back to eating without thinking . I think she is on the right track now and its lovely that her hubby is onboard.

becsbornunderadancingstar Tue 17-Sep-13 10:57:04

Hello alphablock great that you've achieved so much by making small changes! Rules is right that your thinking about whether you're really hungry or not is very close to the Paul McKenna thing. I so identify with what you say about not letting the excitement pull you into cutting back too far - that has happened to me so many times.

So yesterday I did day 1 of 'no snacking' - yay! Three healthy meals and nothing in between. I think I need to eat a bigger lunch and eat it later in the day - it's hard for me to remember that I'm ONLY doing 'no snacking', not trying to change my portion sizes just yet as I'm so used to going 'all out'. I spoke to my GP - I was there anyway but thought it would be good to get some advice. He was really helpful and kind. I have one and a half stones to lose.

bunjies good on you for spotting that 'trigger' with the pastries! I have one of those too. Mine is stopping in the corner shop to buy DS an after school treat, and then buying myself something as well as otherwise I'm jealous of his wink. I've decided to start bringing his after school treat from home, so that it's something healthier for him too (although since he is supposed to be eating extra calories due to a sleep disorder it still needs to be something calorific for him - I think today it will be peanut butter and banana sandwich on wholemeal bread for him.).

But I think I also need to create something else that deals with that 'I need a treat' feeling for me... Not sure what that could be. What about you bunjies - do you think you could buy yourself a nice piece of fruit instead of the pastries? I heard something really helpful on this - that when we feel 'I need a treat' the one thing we can do without spending any time on ourselves is to grab something sugary/fatty to eat. But we still haven't given ourselves any time, we haven't really 'treated' ourselves at all, we're still spending all of our time and energy on other people, and just grabbing something quickly for ourselves, cramming our own 'treat' into as tiny an amount of time as possible. So the feeling comes back. That really rang bells for me...

Rules Tue 17-Sep-13 12:00:30

Becs that's a very interesting point on grabbing a piece of food as a "me time" treat. Its more a case of using food as an emotional soother isn't it. Could the treat not be a magazine which you would look forward to reading later or a lipstick or maybe you could think of it that you wont buy anything for yourself each day but will build up the treats points and buy yourself an item of clothing or makeup or bubble bath product each weekend?

bunjies Tue 17-Sep-13 12:58:13

Problem is I love food. It's almost like a hobby. dh & I really like cooking together at the weekends and trying new recipes. And I love sweet/cakey things especially. If I was to have a treat then this is what I would choose. Although I do admit that eating an almond croisaant from Sainsburys isn't exactly rewarding as I usually just hoover it down.

WynkenBlynkenandNod Tue 17-Sep-13 13:03:31

Can I join please ? I realised I need to stop the on/off diet thing earlier this year. Unfortunately I'm having a very stressful year and struggling with it but maybe joining a thread can keep me more focused.

Mintyy Tue 17-Sep-13 13:07:24

Hi becs. I will join you. I had already drawn up a list of eating habits I need to change, and now I want to implement them, one at time, slowly but surely, while increasing my physical activity in a measurable way, and see where that takes me. I have to go out now but will come back later and post more!

I can't tell you how exciting it is for me to see someone who basically wants to try the same approach as me, even if the particular habits we want to change are going to be different!

<excited>

And, yes, you are quite right, when you "give something up" you must find something else to fill the void! When I gave up smoking I taught myself Sudoku. But nowadays I am rather into Lego and my ds has loads and loads of unfinished sets scattered around the house ...

becsbornunderadancingstar Tue 17-Sep-13 13:12:54

Yes, it's definitely that, Rules - an emotional soother. Those are all lovely ideas.

Where I've gone wrong in the past with plans like that is that when it came time to take the reward I wouldn't take it. I'd feel like I still didn't really deserve a treat that big. You can see that in my OP I did a list of things to reward myself with to fill the emotional need that snacking fills in me (that was just an excerpt, I've done a bigger list in my notebook). The really difficult thing for me will be to actually do it - to take the bubble bath, to read the magazine, to say 'I'm going into town to look at clothes'. That to me is the equivalent of someone else saying 'Right I'm off to climb Everest.' Being kind to myself does not come easily. I haven't done anything on that list yet, and I think that's the 'other part' of changing the snacking habit that I need to start addressing.

becsbornunderadancingstar Tue 17-Sep-13 13:26:59

Oooh! x-posted! Hello WykenBlynkenandNod and Mintyy! So happy to have you joining the thread!

WykenBlynkenandNod - it's hard when you're stressed. This thread is for any change you want to make, however tiny and however slowly you adopt it. Just pick one thing that you think won't be too difficult, that you're aware of being a problem - nothing too big though.

Mintyy - serendipity at work smile We must have been writing our list of habits to change at around about the same time! Can't wait to hear about your first small change. And really interesting about 'filling the void' just as I was posting that I haven't done enough of that yet. That has prodded me to go and look at my list, choose something and DO IT. So I have just put whitening strips on my teeth - a minor miracle because I bought the box of whitening strips three years ago and haven't made the time to use them at all until now - always too busy doing something for someone else... Bonus - can't eat anything while I've got them on my teeth grin!

alphablock Tue 17-Sep-13 17:40:26

Thanks Rules and Becs that's really useful to know my approach is similar to Paul McKenna as it means I can buy one of his CDs if I start to veer off track!

becsbornunderadancingstar Tue 17-Sep-13 20:59:50

You're welcome smile His CD and book are very good. I think Gillian Riley's book 'Eating Less' is also very good.

I've been thinking about what you said bunjies about loving food and cooking - I do too. I think any approach that doesn't allow for me to bake and cook and enjoy good food is doomed to failure because it's too enjoyable a part of my life. I'm hoping that if I cut out all snacks and increase my exercise and gradually reduce portion sizes I can still cook with DH and enjoy really good food while shifting this extra weight.

But I've been less addicted to sweets and cakes since watching Dr Robert Lustig's YouTube video 'Sugar - The Bitter Truth'. It's long and very science-y! As well as 'The Skinny On Obesity' which is a YouTube series. By the end of it the new knowledge I had helped me understand WHY I react to sugar like I do and sugar is less appealing now than it used to be. Now I just need someone to make a video entitled 'Cheese - The Bitter Truth'. And one called 'Eating Up All The Leftovers - The Bitter Truth' and... grin

This was Day 2 of 'no snacking' and it was good - I treated myself better this time and didn't feel the 'lack' so much. But I was on MN far too much which was probably a 'replacement' behaviour! I can't do that every day - I need to get work done too!

BsshBossh Wed 18-Sep-13 09:40:58

I've been no snacking for several months (in combination with 5:2) and it feels like second nature. I finally understand that phrase "don't spoil your appetite": I really appreciate, savour and am genuinely physically hungry for my main meals nowadays. Both my DH and 5yo DD have considerably reduced their snacking as a result and my DM and MIL both complain when they visit that we never have biscuits or crisps in the house anymore blush grin.

Two stones lost already on this No Snacking & 5:2 regime (a further three stones lost last year too but just doing bog-standard calorie counting then).

I found this No S website really interesting and its forum.

becsbornunderadancingstar Wed 18-Sep-13 10:44:47

BsshBosh - thanks so much for that link, had never heard of that and I love it. I'm going to start with 'No Snacking' and gradually work towards making other changes, but that's exactly the kind of thing I want to get to.

Rules Wed 18-Sep-13 12:19:31

I tried the 16:8. I lasted 12 hours over night then was desperately hungry ha ha. Felt ill and awful. Cause I eat what I want when I'm proper hungry, this way just didn't work for me. Also eating all my food within a certain time frame just brings on binge metallity.

becsbornunderadancingstar Wed 18-Sep-13 13:04:03

Yes Rules I'm pretty sure it would push my buttons too. I think that I'd take the fast days to extremes and then go way off the rails on a binge.

BsshBossh Wed 18-Sep-13 13:11:52

becs I think you're going about this the right way for you - keeping it simple by doing what makes most sense to and suits you. Keep us posted on the no snacking smile

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