Five questions for successful dieters

While doing some dishes today I thought of starting a “meme” of sorts. How could I capture the reasons why I think I’ve been successful on the diet and help to encourage those who have not, or who have yet to start their diet. I’ve come up with these five questions, and hopefully my answers and the answers of those I toss this questionnaire to; you will find yourself or your situation and it will help to move you along to success as well.

What are the top five reasons you started to diet in the first place?

For me this is fairly easy to answer because I’ve literally cataloged every step of my journey from the very beginning. The very first time I wanted to diet was in September of 2005, right before my 25th birthday, and just after a vacation in Florida with family. What were my reasons then? To quote myself:

“I’m fat. I admit it. I’m telling you, not because you care, but I’m hoping it will motivate me to become unfat.” … “While on vacation, we’d go back to our condo and unload all of our pictures from our cameras onto our respective iBooks. Each and every time a picture of either of us with our shirts off would appear, we’d grimace in pain. Our eyes becoming watery at the unsightly bellies which have formed on the front of our abdomens.” — “The biggest loser” – September 25th, 2005.

That particular diet did not last very long (on and off for 3 weeks I believe). My attitude and reasons for doing the diet were all wrong, and I think it is one of the major reasons I did not succeed. I would say things like “I only lost roughly 2 pounds this week.”. Which would definitely effect my attitude. Little did I know at the time that losing 2 pounds per week was the best possible way to lose weight and keep it off.

My reasons for starting my second diet, and the one that worked, were the following:

  • Health
  • Age
  • Self
  • Eliza
  • Sports

Although there is no particular order in the above list, I did try to list them by what I felt was most important to me at the time of starting the diet.

My first reason for sure was my health. I was sick of feeling the way I did, and being overweight can definitely have a huge effect on your health. My back hurt, my self esteem was down, etc. etc. – and I really just needed to get out of the funk. Second was age I think. I really did not want to have to diet when I was older, as I know it would get harder and harder to lose the weight the older I got. Even at 25 you can do the things you could when you were 18, and I didn’t want to be saying that when I was 35, 45, or even 55. I figured “Today is the day to start, not tomorrow because tomorrow always turns into the next day“. Third was self, and I say self because I wanted to feel better about myself. Always hating the way clothes fit, the way I feel, the way my stomach would fly out of my shirt when I bent this or that way, or the way I felt I was being perceived was getting really, really old. So to not have this on the list would be lying – I definitely wanted to look better and in turn feel better about myself. Fourth was Eliza’s success on the diet. She had started her diet before I started on mine and she was incredibly successful on it, was looking great, feeling good, and it was a huge motivation for me to do likewise. I owe much of my success to her lead. Lastly, I really wanted to do better in sports. I love basketball and frisbee and the diet has really made my “game” much more enjoyable. No more chest pain! No more chest pain!

So, those are my main five reasons.

What was your biggest failure on the diet, and how did you overcome it?

Hands down: Obstruction of routine. I had a few small set backs during my diet the first being within the first two weeks of the diet. Obstruction of routine can come in many forms. In that first example we went away for the weekend, ended up eating whatever we wanted at a restaurant, going to a few bars, etc.

One of the largest obstructions to my routine was moving. Obviously it was the reason I stopped doing the diet for almost 8 weeks. It completely knocked my eating habits, posting habits, and weigh in process that I had come to rely on.

However, the way I overcome it is to not worry about those times, get back on track and move on. You can see evidence of this between week two, three, and four of my diet. I went from gaining 3 pounds to losing almost 3 and then almost 5 pounds.

Things come up. Things happen. Vacations are fun! Enjoy them. Going away for the weekend may not fit into your diet. Don’t worry about those times. If you gain a few pounds, that doesn’t mean that your diet is failing – it just means that you need to get yourself back on track to reverse those few pounds the following week or over several weeks. For me, I can still look back and say I’ve lost around 40 pounds overall – even though I had a few weeks that I gained. Routine, routine, routine.

Did blogging help or hinder your success?

For me it helped tremendously. I now have my own, personal and private, journal that I keep – which would have helped in a very similar fashion – but would have lacked the “social responsibility” I felt to keep weighing in. Being able to see my progress over time, and having people comment on my successes and failures – has helped me a lot. To give an example (and this ties in with the previous question as well and where I got my inspiration) was James Mathias saying “Continuing forward without dwelling is what makes the difference.” on one of my posts where I didn’t do so well. This really helped me to develop a similar outlook, and to continue.

What things did you do to help ensure your success?

Simple. I do what I find fun and don’t do the stuff I hate. I love playing basketball and as most of you know I played a heck of a lot of basketball during my diet. I ended up developing a love for Ultimate too, and so I also used that. If you hate walking on a treadmill (I do), then don’t do it. Get outside and walk. Walk at a mall and do some shopping. Whatever you do, get off the couch.

As for food, the same philosophy. Eliza and I really enjoy grilled chicken salads. And, they happen to be good for you! So, we’d often make them, along with other things that we enjoy. Tomato sandwiches for example.

Another note about food is to never deprive yourself of stuff you really really like, even if they are not good for you. The only thing you will do is make that longing for that food even harder on yourself and you might end up bingeing. An example of this is, in my case, Cheez-Its. I love cheez-its, and they are not very good for you. However, Eliza and I would buy 100 calorie bags of cheetos, cheez-its, and other little things – and this really helped us to combat the cravings while not going overboard and staying within our daily limits. These little bags were essential for us.

What is one recommendation you’d have for someone on Day 1 of their diet?

I have a few so I won’t be able to limit it to just one.

The first would be; have the right reasons to diet. You might be told that you need to diet, but unless you believe in the reasons for dieting you won’t actually want to do it.

The second would be; set small and large goals. I set incremental goals for myself as well as long term goals. That way I could always aim for the large goals wh
ile feeling good about hitting the small ones. And, if you miss a small one, you have time to correct your strategy to make the longer term ones. I liked having a goal of losing about 8 pounds per month, while keeping goals of 220, 215, 210, 200, and so forth, in sight as well.

The third would be; tell everyone you know that you are on a diet. Hiding the fact that you are on a diet only can lead to 1 thing – not being responsible for staying on it. The more people that know the more you’ll be motivated to live up to your word for being on a diet. Also, it will help notify those people of what to feed you, or that you may not want to be seduced by cake and ice cream all the time.

I really hope the above questions and answers can help everyone on their diets. However my perspective is definitely not the only one. I’m calling on Eliza (who has been a huge inspiration for the entire diet), Chris (who has had a ton of experience with dieting both “alone” and “socially”), James (who is the most consistent person I’ve run across and was a huge inspiration for me), and Scott (who has recently begun his journey and is making staggering progress). I hope they all answer this call, so that you might all be filled with their insight into this extremely rewarding struggle.

Update: If anyone else would like to answer these – please do so. Either email me or comment here or trackback this post with your answers – I’d love to read everyone’s perspective on this. I just singled out a few I’d really like to read – but I’d want to see whatever has to say about these five questions.

Update: James answered, Chris answered, Scott answered, and Eliza answered. Thanks everyone! If anyone else wants to answer these questions too, I’d love to read the answers.

[tags]eliza devroe, scott mcnulty, james mathias, chris fehnel, food, diet, the-diet, goals, excercise, sports, basketball, ultimate, frisbee, meme[/tags]