Diet – The Four-Letter Success Killer

From Chapter 2 of The Busy Girl’s HOT Body Plan:

Diet. If there’s one thing that will stop you from getting lasting permanent results it’s those four letters.

It’s a sneaky little word, because it almost leads you down the right path. As we mentioned before, it actually does address the root cause: the food we eat. The problem, though, is the way it addresses it. It’s like addressing a cold with paracetamol. It masks the symptoms for you so you can get on with your day, but the problem (the cold) is still there waiting to jump up and bite you on the arse once you stop taking it.

It’s temporary. So temporary in fact two thirds of people who go on a diet not only gain back everything they lost, but gain back more!

Plus there’s the negative connotations that come with the word. I surveyed people on my Facebook page and asked one simple question: What does the word “Diet” mean to you?

Here’s a few of the replies:

  •  “Deprivation”
  • “Depression”
  • “Being hungry”
  • “Feeling miserable”
  • “Boring”
  • “Restriction”

Seeing a pattern? This was my personal favourite:

  • “A fight for something I’ll never achieve.”

Now THAT’S depressing!

When you go on a diet, you’ve basically already made the decision that you’re going to fail. And like Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!”

What you think affects how you feel, and how you feel affects the actions you take. It’s a knock-on effect. And if you look at what you’re eating as deprivation, restriction, or any number of negative words you’re fighting a losing battle.

Having that negative attitude when making food choices just causes emotional frustration, and ultimately overeating. You can even start to resent healthy foods and reach for the unhealthy choices for comfort or even as an internal rebellion!

If you just change the way you look at it, you can approach your eating with empowering thoughts instead.

Reframe it

Instead of focusing on what you can’t eat or what you think you have to give up, think about all the things you can eat. Think about the new and exciting foods and recipes you can try.

Think about the positive results you’ll get because of what you’re eating. Think about your waistline tightening. Think about your hips shrinking. Think about slipping into that killer dress you used to absolutely rock, but now just push aside in your wardrobe in favour of the one that hides all your wobbly bits.

Think, “It’s not that I can’t eat that, I’m just making the healthier choice not to.”

Can’t is someone else dictating and restricting you. Choosing not to is empowerment.

Recently myself and my fiancée, Nic, were part of a conversation about being offered things by friends. Little things. That slice of cake because their daughter just turned two. That biscuit with your cuppa.

They’ll say things like, “Life’s too short, just have the biscuit”, or, “It’s all about balance”.

Then Nic said something that completely summed up the situation:

“Life might be too short when it’s that random one-off dessert in a flash restaurant on a special occasion. Less so when it’s a packet of hobnobs being passed round the office every day!”


So remember, “It’s not that I can’t eat that, I’m just making the healthier choice not to.”

Change Your Vocabulary

Stop using the word ‘diet’ and start using terms like, ‘healthy lifestyle’, because that’s what it is. It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle.

There’s another quote I love: “Athletes don’t diet and exercise, they eat and train.”

They’re not dieting, they’re just eating. Simple changes to the language you use when you speak and think can completely change your perception of what you’re doing.

Relearn How to Eat

In psychology there are four stages of competence and each of them relates to how we eat. Understanding them will mean we never have to diet again:

  • Unconscious Incompetence: In terms of your eating and nutrition, this is where most people are now. Our eating isn’t mindful. We eat because we’re hungry, because food was put in front of us, because somebody made a cup of tea, or because we happened to walk down the crisp aisle and remembered how much we like Frazzles. We don’t pay any real attention to what we eat past maybe the odd fleeting, “A minute on the lips” joke with the lady behind the counter at Puffy Pastries.
  • Conscious Incompetence: This is where we still have no idea what we’re doing, but know the problem exists. So this time we’ll make the joke, but inside we’ll know maybe we shouldn’t be buying our lunch at Puffy Pastries.
  • Conscious Competence: This is where you’ll be when you start applying the principles in this programme. You’ll now know what to do and be applying the information, but you’ll be very aware of it, and it will take thought and effort on your part. Like learning to drive a car. You have to concentrate on lifting your left foot at the same time as pushing your right down. You also know for sure now not to drive to Puffy Pastries.
  • Unconscious Competence: This is where you don’t need to think about what you’re eating, you just do it. Like when you’ve been driving a while, your hands and feet move automatically so you can freely belt out that awesome 80s power ballad you pretend you don’t like on the radio (and totally nail it… Obviously) and wave at the lady in Puffy Pastries while you drive past on the way to the gym.

How do you navigate your way through these 4 stages? Take the time to re-learn how to eat, then make it habit.

Be a bit neurotic about it early on if it helps. Set alarms to eat if you need to. Measure your portions. But whatever you do, don’t half-arse it.

Stick to the plan for just 21 days, which is enough time to start forming new habits so you never have to put any real thought into eating again.

And whatever you do, I want you to promise me one thing.

Never go on a diet again.

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