I’m not going to be the first person to say that diets do work. I am among one of many, many people that have lost the weight and kept it off.  When I got off the beaten path, I reeled myself back in, and post-baby (and post C-section), I knew exactly what I had to do.  Exercise was part of my success, but without attention to what I was putting in my mouth, I would not have succeeded.  Lots of people will tell you diets don’t work, and that’s because after we taste our first bit of success and hit maintenance mode, we go back to engaging in the same behavior that was making us fat in the first place.  I’ve tried them too in the past, Atkins, Zone, South Beach, whatever, and none of them stuck for me.  I had to find the appropriate plan that worked for my body, my life, my schedule, and my tastes.  The key is to find the right plan for you, that you can adopt as a lifestyle change. So start thinking permanent and long-term if you want to take that weight off and keep it off. The right mental attitude is a key component of your success in the kitchen (and in the gym!)

If simple, basic weight loss is the goal, any number of diets will “work” just fine, just take your pick. What most popular diets fail to do is to give people the knowledge and the tools to go beyond the instant results to achieve their full potential for leanness and fitness in the long term. Learn the tools and use them if you want permanent weight loss.  For me, the key was eating 5-6 meals a day. I prepare all my meals during the weekend, and dedicate at least 2 hours to get the job done.  My husband likes to joke that I look like a mad scientist in the kitchen when it’s prep time: microwave’s ticking away, chicken/fish/sweet potatoes baking in the oven, stove top bubbling with brown rice, quinoa, or veggies, containers and measuring cups tossed everywhere. But for me, it works. I cook everything by myself, flavor the food how I like it, and nothing comes prepackaged out of a box.  And I like it that way.
Working moms always ask me, when do you find the time?  When Shaila is napping (and thank goodness she’s still young enough to still nap for at least 2 hours) and I’m home during the weekends. I’ve never been the type to “nap when the baby naps” anyway, so this lifestyle, which I picked, suits me just fine.  I have no family close by to help watch her while I go train or cook, I work 1.5 jobs, I have the constraints of daycare pickup and drop-offs just like everyone else. I’m not superhuman, but I figured out how to make it work, and you can too.  Here are my strategies that I use to succeed with my diet:
1) Cook your own food and measure it.  It sounds anal as all get out, but the more practice you have the better you get (and understand) proper portion sizes.
2) Drink water.  I fill up a gallon jug and deal with it. I probably get more than a gallon.
3) Don’t shop hungry. Ever. I always stick to my list too.  I hate shopping and wasting time, and the groceries task becomes even more of a headache when Shaila decides she’s done with sitting in the shopping cart and that standing in it or racing down the halls of the store is a good idea. You can imagine my laser-like focus when getting in and out. I’ve saved lots of money being quick about it.
4) KNOW that you have options other than an apple, a chicken breast, or a plain green salad.  Educate yourself on what is a lean, clean protein source, a low glycemic carbohydrate, a healthy fat, a high-fiber vegetable, etc etc. Body Building Revealed and Fat Loss Revealed are both excellent and simple to understand. Spice your food and flavor it to your tastes. I can’t imagine why you’d want to eat bland food, and there are a wealth of dry rubs, herbs, spices, vinegars (and lemons and limes) that make cooking and eating enjoyable.
5) Surround yourself with a support network: a close friend, a workout buddy, your spouse, or like-minded athletes like the ones I found on the BBR Forum. Yeah, you can be tough and go it on your own, but you don’t have to.
6) Treat yourself every once in a while. It can be a mental break and a chance to have whatever you might feel you’ve been missing.  I’ll have a treat meal once a week, and some people can get away with more.  For me, eating out is expensive for a family of three, and I always find that the excess sodium and sugar in restaurant food doesn’t suit me well, so I always return to eating clean with renewed enthusiasm.
So, those are my strategies for permanent weight loss.  The task of cooking may sound daunting to you, but I encourage you to take baby steps to whatever approach you choose, and stick to it.  Nobody wants to hear that this is a PERMENENT lifestyle change, but at the end of the day it is.  The diet books and the internet are full of “sneaky weight loss tips” to help you get there.  Educate yourself on what works best for your life and your budget and stick to it!   Acknowledge too, that there will be bumps along on the way (family, job changes, etc) and even saboteurs who don’t want to see you succeed. Bottom line: there are no short cuts, no quick fixes, and only a commitment to a lifestyle change is going to keep the fat off long term. I realize that’s not what most people want to hear, but it’s the truth.

Sumi Singh is a Personal Trainer in Austin, TX and an online diet coach. Her website is www.shailafitness.com

  1. Guest 14 years ago

    Sumi, is right!! You can diet all you want but if you don't make a committed liffestyle change you're not going to see the results that you want (well, at least not for an extended period of time). I too did the diet of the season thing (Atkins, South Beach, Grapefruit, etc). However, it wasn't until I realized that getting fit and being healthy wasn't a short term project that I really put two and two together and made the decision to change my lifestyle that I started seeing the weight come off and not come back. It's a tough road (and for me a project that has lasted 9 years) but well worth it.

    • luigik 14 years ago

      except that all that refrigerated and microwaved food is NOT a healthy option.

  2. Arianna D 14 years ago

    Sumi, Tu articulo reciente es sorprendente, como tan facil uno puede llegar a su meta de perder peso, es verdad, uno tiene que inventarcelas para comer saludable lo mejor posible,hay veces que no se ve muy apetitoso, pero lo importante es el efecto positivo que tendra. Los dias sociales entre familia y amigos, comer fuera ademas de caro, contiene sodio y grasa,cuando como fuera, no me satisface, y en seguida llego a casa y me preparo mi pan de abena,o huevitos pollito etc.
    e invento que comer , amigos se rien de mi cuando llego a sus casas con mi propio alimento,que mas da!!que se rian.Me he acostumbrado a comer limpio y saludable gracias a tus recomendaciones.
    ~Arianna D.~

  3. anci 14 years ago

    The blog is very interesting, I like this blog.

  4. LuigiK 14 years ago

    refrigerating cooked food for a week and then microwaving everything is NOT the healthiest option. It might save time and might keep the weight off but the long-term effects need to be considered.

    • willbrink 14 years ago

      Such as? She looks pretty darn healthy to me.

  5. LuigiK 14 years ago

    I ralize the "intent" is admirable but appearances can be deceptive. Most body-builders "look" great but in fact are not all that "healthy".
    Do you really recommend a diet of frozen foods reheated in a microwave oven? I think you might need to do a little research on the effects that microwaves have on food (and even water, for that matter) particularly wrapped in glad wrap or stored and reheated in plastic containers.

    • willbrink 14 years ago

      She's not a bodybuilder, and is as healthy as she looks. A diet consisting of "chicken/fish/sweet potatoes baking in the oven, stove top bubbling with brown rice, quinoa, or veggies" is a very healthy diet, and her health and physique show that. There are some actual bodybuilders who look great, that are unhealthy, and it has nothing to do with their use of a microwave and everything to do with their drug use and other life style factors. I worked with pro bbers for a living, so I know a thing or two on that topic. Although any form of cooking can and will destroy some nutrients, microwave cooking is exceedingly safe, unless you are reading pseudo science scare tactic type web sites…
      Here are some things to keep in mind when using the microwave:
      * Most takeout containers, water bottles, and plastic tubs or jars made to hold margarine, yogurt, whipped topping, and foods such as cream cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard are not microwave-safe.
      * Microwavable takeout dinner trays are formulated for one-time use only and will say so on the package.
      * Don’t microwave plastic storage bags or plastic bags from the grocery store.
      * A recycle symbol does not mean a container is safe to use or reuse in the microwave oven. Only a microwave-safe icon or wording to that effect does.
      * Before microwaving food, be sure to vent the container: Leave the lid ajar, or lift the edge of the cover.
      * Don’t allow plastic wrap to touch food during microwaving because it may melt. Wax paper, kitchen parchment paper, or white paper towels are alternatives.
      * If you’re concerned about plastic wraps or containers in the microwave, transfer food to glass or ceramic containers labeled for microwave oven use.
      Above from Harvard Health Letter:

  6. Isagenix 14 years ago

    Nice! I’m waiting for your sharings thank you.

  7. Berniece Cavalli 14 years ago

    loved this article!

  8. perdida peso 14 years ago

    Fue mirando a su alrededor y encontr? un art?culo muy bueno en cuanto a calorias Dietas es dietas peso

  9. Lola Finnerty 14 years ago

    ohhh wonderful information

  10. Marivel Retterath 13 years ago

    Hey q8wtyi, very interesting post, it really got me thinking. Thank you. ke6rn

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