Right here. Right now. I am going to reveal the secret to the question that drives people to try every eating plan under the sun, spend billions of dollars every year, and endure endless suffering in pursuit of its answer. The answer to the question – what is the secret to lasting weight loss? – is not as complicated as many make it.
I have watched many people as they move toward the answer. Many start out thinking that they just need to know what to eat. “Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it! Tell me EXACTLY what to eat and when, and I’m good to go.” Some remain stuck here for a long time, moving from one diet to the next, waiting for “the one,” the magic plan that will be discovered any day now. In fact, each plan provides new hope, but little else.
Others think the answer is having something or someone control them, to save them from their out-of-control tendencies. A task master who penalizes lack of results is what they think will help. Fear of not following orders drives them to comply to avoid shame and disappointment. This usually works for a while, but when results are not as expected, derailment usually happens, along with plenty of feelings of failure.
Supplements and formula diets appeal to many dieters, especially when magical claims are made. Advertising can make it sound like the secret has finally been discovered in the form of a pill or powder. “Melt fat instantly. Lose inches and pounds in days.” Don’t get too excited. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
So what is the secret? Well, it’s not quick, or easy, or sexy, but it is real, lasting, and bound to improve the way you look at your entire life. When I notice a client has stopped panicking and fighting with themselves, and is moving toward a more self-compassionate acceptance of their abilities at this time, I know they will succeed at healthier eating that will become a part of their lives.
When this happens, I hear things like, “I don’t know when it happened, but the healthier habits are just what I do now. I don’t think about it, and it isn’t hard. I’m not perfect, and I allow myself to have what I want, but what I want has changed.”
Asking “What is the best I can do for my health today” is a good practice. Do the best you can at any moment. If today seems hard, just know that not every day is the same. Ride the waves. Be kind – yes, to others, but mostly to yourself. Feel good about what you can accomplish, and move on when your eating is disappointing. This is a life-long process, because we are always changing.
When every eating experience feels like your choice, and when the choices feel kind most of the time, that’s as good as it gets. But that is certainly good enough!