If you’re a serial dieter, you’ve probably dipped your toes into the latest fad or started new diets on a whim before. Don’t feel bad, it happens to us all.
The trouble is that going in unprepared sets you up for failure from the outset, no matter how enthusiastic you are. Losing weight and eating healthy are major lifestyle changes, and like anything else, you need to manage expectations if you want to be successful.
So let’s do that.
The wrong approach
Chances are you were raised to eat a fairly standard diet — probably something resembling that old bastion of good health, the Food Pyramid. Over the years you would have formed certain habits, preferences and beliefs about food, which became reinforced every time you repeated them.
By the time you even realise something is wrong, your eating behaviour is embedded to the point where it’s as natural as breathing or walking. Changing that behaviour is tantamount to fundamentally changing the way you live.
It’s no mean feat, and shouldn’t be treated as such.
Unfortunately, most people see dieting as a trick or tactic that can help them to get the body they want. A means to an end, like the bus that takes you to work or the pills that relieve your headache.
So they try Paleo (or whatever the flavour of the month happens to be), with the intention of following the rules until they’ve reached their goal and can get back to normal.
As you can imagine, they don’t get very far with this approach, and neither will you.
The alternative, and the approach that is most likely to succeed, is to go all-in and live your new healthy diet. Denise Keane (aka Irish Paleo Girl) pretty much hit the nail on the head:
“You need to view this as a long term goal, a journey for optimum health and well being. Part of a bigger picture. Until you view it that way you will never fully adopt the paleo way.”
Put simply, Paleo is not a “diet” in the traditional sense — it’s a way of life. If you’re looking for a strategy or gimmick to help you lose a certain amount of weight in a specific time, then you should probably look elsewhere.
But if your goal is to be healthy and you’re committed to doing whatever it takes to maintain and protect your body, then Paleo is definitely the way to go. In that case, you’ll need to remember a few things:
- Be clear on your reasons for wanting to change your lifestyle. You might be pumped now, but you could lose sight of that motivation over the coming weeks and months. Here’s a system to help you with this.
- Learn about the Paleo diet, how it works, and what makes it healthy. Otherwise, you’ll constantly doubt yourself and wonder whether you’re doing the right thing.
- Immerse yourself in the world of Paleo. Follow the popular blogs and websites, connect and hang out with other Paleo enthusiasts, get in touch and talk about it with me — whatever you need to do.
- Stick with it. You won’t get this 100 percent right first time, so you’ll need to be patient and be prepared to make a few mistakes. Like any new endeavour, you’ll have to follow the learning curve like everyone else.
When I stopped looking at healthy eating as a means to an end and decided it was an end in itself, I quickly became comfortable with my new diet and lifestyle. The pressure of having to get results on the scales at the end of the week completely lifted, and I began to crave healthy foods rather than resent having to eat them.
It won’t happen overnight, and it certainly won’t be easy. But grasp the Paleo lifestyle with both hands, and I promise you’ll never look back.