How to Lose Weight Without a Diet
I am the rare woman over 50 who was able to lose weight and keep it off. To do this I had to ditch the diet mentality and discover how to lose weight without a diet.
As a professional mindset coach, I work with women in all areas of their life including but not limited to weight loss. I know first hand how frustrating it can be to weigh more than you want.
Through most of my forties and my very early fifties, I was about a size 14. I accepted that was my natural weight and size and that the best I could do was to not gain weight.
But when I was 53, I lost some weight and became a size 8. The last time I had seen that size was about 40 years before when I was in high school!
Today, at age 61, I still maintain a weight and size where I am comfortable.
From about age 54 until now I have written at least 40 posts on how I did this and how I maintain that loss.
The most important part of what I share is that when weight loss is the only goal, then losing weight is more difficult and it is almost impossible to maintain long-term.
Why Diets Don’t Work for Women After Menopause
We women, romanticize about a life after we lose weight. That life as a thinner person is happier, more satisfying, and everyone loves us.
This is a HUGE problem!
For women who believe that their happiness can only happen if they lose weight, life can be pretty miserable if they aren’t.
So, a big part of everything I do, is to help women create a life that can be happy, even before they lose a pound.
Along the way, we explore everything around food and their relationship with their bodies, so that they CAN lose weight.
It is scary to think about living without the next diet coming up, without that in your mind. Even though it doesn’t work and hasn’t for years; it is still has an almost irresistible pull on you.
Today, I’ve been thinking about all the women who were planning to start a diet on Monday. They don’t know how to lose weight without dieting–yet.
Statistically, going on a diet has about zero chance of working.
Diets do not work for long-term results. I know, back in 1997 (Weight Watchers, Adkins, South Beach, etc.), you went on a diet and lost weight, felt great, and were sure you could do it forever.
Surely, fitting into your smaller size clothes would be enough incentive?
As you, and millions of women found out, your adorable new size was only temporary. It started slowly, but it started. You began putting the weight on.
And ever since, you’ve been sure, if you just had enough willpower, you could do this again.
But it seems like you misplaced your willpower, along with your happiness, and the weight has mostly stayed put.
Why You Need to Learn How to Lose Weight Without Dieting
However, I am going to give you some hope that there is another way, and you don’t have to stay stuck.
But dieting, my friend, is not the way to go.
As a mindset coach, I know firsthand how difficult it is to believe that dieting is not the way to go. You have been reading about diets since you were a young teen.
I can remember reading every diet article in every magazine that came my way. My mom’s Ladies Home Journal was my favorite. I also read Teen and Seventeen magazines.
You know what sells magazines??? How to lose weight. I still see the headlines in the grocery store lines.
It is all a big fat lie.
Here’s the thing. You are a human being and your innate survival DNA will always override diets. Your brain also has some sophisticated programming going on.
You know the THREE things your brain cares about? Feeling good, avoiding pain, and doing this as efficiently as possible.
If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t keep yourself from eating a whole package of cookies, when you KNOW better, it’s because your brain thinks cookies are a great solution. It’s fast, easy, and for a moment, it is exquisite pleasure.
These types of foods are also often considered comfort foods. There is a reason for that–they actually do feel like they are providing comfort in the moment.
No amount of beating yourself up the next morning will counter THAT.
There’s another lie you are dealing with. It’s the lie your brain tells you that another day will be better to start your diet or eating better.
Is Monday the Best Day to Start a Diet?
I recently found an article saying that Monday is the best day to start a diet. The rationale is that Monday is a fresh start.
The idea of a fresh start is so appealing. So enticing. So rational.
However, it is also the reason that no one ever really makes the changes they need and want to make!
How many Mondays have you given yourself for a fresh start???? How many of you were done by Monday evening?
My clients often begin changing on other days of the week. We never ever wait to start on a Monday to make changes.
Monday is not a magic day
Monday is just a day of the week. However it comes after “The Weekend” and most women want to have a last day to eat everything they can on the weekend before they begin their diet.
It only allows us to put off eating like a normal person for a few more days while we blaze through the weekend.
Usually, women eat more in the days before they start a diet than they usually do. You know how it is. You eat everything you can because, come Monday, you are going To Be On a Diet.
But if you aren’t going on a diet; then it doesn’t matter what day of the week when you get started.
Why Monday Diets Go Wrong
Despite our good intentions, when we get going on our Monday, we usually do not feel like dieting.
The funny thing is, no matter how many times this happens, we are absolutely surprised that when Monday rolls around, we don’t actually want to diet.
Over the weekend, we are SURE we will be ready. Often, we overeat, just to make sure that we’ll feel bad enough that we will be compelled to diet.
It’s a cruel kind of joke. It just never works that way.
Here’s the thing. No one really wants to diet. We just want to be thinner, and we think that a diet is the only way. We don’t even question the belief that we should be thinner.
We believe we need to be thinner to be happy and we believe dieting is the way to do that.
But when Monday rolls around, we really do not want to diet. And 9 times out of 10 we give up before the day is over.
So, we go ahead and snack, figuring we’ll start again tomorrow or maybe next week.
Why Is It So Hard to Start a Diet?
Maybe you have even gotten rid of all the danger foods in the house? And then you find yourself at the store buying more.
I remember last year, most of my new clients were buying their second round of Halloween candy to give out by the second week of October.
Why do you think that happens?
Most women think it is because there is something wrong with them!
They believe that it is a fundamental flaw in they, themselves, that causes them to not be able to stop eating things that they believe they shouldn’t be eating. (big bags of M&Ms, sleeves of Ritz, large portions of popcorn or chips, and of course whatever Halloween candy is laying around.)
You might even think that you lack willpower or discipline in this one area, even though you are killing it in most other ways.
None of that is true!
Here is why your good intentions to limit your eating don’t work.
- At 50 or 60, your body and soul just don’t give a damn about another diet.
- Diets are about deprivation, and your soul has been deprived enough.
- You don’t eat enough satisfying foods as it is, and a diet is not the answer.
- You haven’t learned to nourish yourself in other ways, except for food.
- Food is serving a purpose! It provides the illusion of comfort, safety, and love.
- You actually need comfort, safety, and love.
Neither a diet or binging on certain foods will provide TRUE comfort, safety, and love.
The only way to find peace and control with food is to address the ROOT CAUSES of why you overeat.
Instead of depriving yourself more, you need to learn to care for yourself deeply and with true loving action towards yourself.
What Does Work Instead of a Diet?
My process for women addresses all the root causes. We uncover them week by week as well as working on finding the right way of eating for you.
Sometimes we don’t even talk about food that much. Some of my clients just start losing weight. Others may take months for their weight to change.
Either way, my clients are nourishing their spirits and their bodies in the process. They are learning to eat in a way that they can do forever.
My clients begin to feel cared for, loved, safe, and trusted. They begin to finally trust themselves around food.
I’m going to share with you what some of this looks like. Women are all different, so I’m going to focus on some of the general things that my clients experience.
I’m also going to focus on what you can do right now, today, instead of dieting. I know you probably believe if you don’t diet or don’t beat yourself up, you’ll gain even more weight.
My goal is to give you some mindset tools so that won’t happen. I want you to experience some peace with food.
Instead of Dieting, Do These Things
What DO You Do Instead of Dieting? Here are my top five things to do instead of dieting.
Your brain will say this can’t work or that it’s too simple. This small list IS what my successful clients do. And once I became clear on this list–all my clients who follow this are successful.
- Become aware of your mindset
- Give yourself unlimited time to do all of this
- Write down what you eat
- Eat enough at your meals
- Pay attention to hunger
These are the general steps that I take clients through. Everyone is different, so the process can be a little different for each person.
The great thing about this list is that it doesn’t matter where you are, what the event is, or who you are with.
Holidays and family gatherings are not a problem. Food you see in the store is not a problem. Having a bad day is not a problem. You won’t worry or obsess about food anymore. This is real freedom I’m taling about.
Pay Attention to Your Thoughts
To get started, let’s see what your thoughts are right now about why you need to diet.
Write down everything you are saying to yourself about why you should diet. This is a great way to capture your current thoughts. Here are some prompts.
- What do you say in the mirror?
- What do you say to yourself as you are in bed waiting to fall asleep?
- What do you say to yourself when you are looking at the clothes in your closet?
- What are you saying to yourself as you reach for another piece of cake or another piece of candy?
- What do you say to yourself as you think about going to an event?
If most of those statements are mean or negative, it’s time to start being nice to yourself!
In the beginning, it can be enough to be aware of what you are thinking and saying to yourself. It may even shock you.
This is key. Don’t try to push these thoughts away. Just acknowledge them. They are trying to help but it’s an outdated and not effective way of helping.
Most of us think that we have to be firm with ourselves or say mean things to get us to behave. This is just not true.
As you begin to see how you are thinking, you then have some room to create some new thoughts that are way more powerful than your self-criticism ever was.
My clients come up with their own new thoughts.
- I’m worth it!
- This is good for me.
- No matter what happens, I will treat myself great.
Instead of beating yourself up, you can be kind and gentle to yourself. You’ve been beating yourself up for enough years—you don’t need any more of that.
Write Down Everything You Eat
I always start with this. This part might surprise you, but many women do not eat enough.
I’ve learned to never assume someone is overeating when they say they want to lose weight.
Writing down everything, also allows both the client and I to see patterns. This is important.
Most women don’t overeat all day long. They might overeat at certain meals.
They might snack a lot at night. They might not eat during the day and then overeat at dinner. They might be eating way more bread and other processed food than they realized.
I don’t have women log their food as punishment! We use it strictly for information. The goal is not to create a diet. The goal is to understand a woman’s relationship to food.
For example, I have clients that don’t realize how much processed food they eat until they start writing it down.
I have had clients that were hardly eating and didn’t realize it until they saw it in their food log. Now they still track their food and are eating more than they did and finally losing weight.
Keeping track of your food is one of the most powerful things you can do.
Many women just start making changes. They find themselves skipping food they aren’t really hungry for because they don’t want to write it down.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Most women underestimate how long it will take to lose weight. Taking care of yourself is a lifetime process. There isn’t an end—you are creating lifetime habits.
It takes time to change your thoughts, tune into your hunger, and get your hormones working better.
Most women are thrilled to not binge or overeat. This creates self-confidence. Once food doesn’t feel out of control, they are able to experiment with their meals.
It takes time to see how different foods affect you. It takes time to see what works for you and you have to find your magic combination.
In general, most women I work with limit their processed carbohydrates such as pasta and bread. They still have their favorite foods at times but these kinds of food can cause weight gain even when you don’t overeat.
Another thing that is helpful is to eliminate snacks between meals. If you find yourself always hungry, work on increasing the amount and quality of your meals.
One of my favorite tips is to not eat at night. Give yourself at least 12 hours after dinner before you have your next meal.
Finally, don’t under-eat in an attempt to lose weight faster. Under-eating and depriving yourself will always backfire in the end.
Pay Attention to Hunger
Learning about your hunger is probably the most important thing you can do.
We’ve been trained that being hungry is somehow good. Yet, we also overeat until we are over full. Depriving yourself can often lead to overeating later.
The easiest way to think about this, is to not eat unless you are hungry. When you start eating when you are hungry, you can tell when you are full.
This is a process. It may take a few weeks to start feeling hunger and fullness.
Most of us are used to eating by the clock or when others are hungry. You might also be used to finishing your meal or cleaning your plate.
When you eat enough at meals, your hunger will build gradually and not feel uncomfortable. Then when you start feeling hungry, you know it’s time to eat.
If you have the urge to eat a treat or snack do this first. Check in with yourself. Ask yourself if you are hungry. If you aren’t, then ask yourself what it is your REALLY want.
If you are hungry, have a snack that won’t set off more cravings. I like hard boiled eggs, a piece or cheese or meat. A handful of nuts. (If nuts make you crave more, then don’t use them for a snack)
The next step below, will do a lot to help with snacking.
Eat Enough at Meals
Most women often don’t eat enough of the right kinds of things at their meals. The basic template is a protein, some vegetables, and healthy fats and oils.
Don’t panic! That combination is great for thousands of meals with infinite variety. I guarantee you, that you can find more variety than you are currently experiencing with your current meals.
If you are used to eating bread and pasta as a filler to your meals, it can take a while to adjust your tastebuds and your habits.
The idea at meals is to eat enough to keep you satisfied between lunch and dinner and to eat enough at dinner to hold you until the next day.
When you eat the right kinds of food; this is doable, and you won’t feel hungry.
My clients also plan ways to have their favorite foods some of the time. For example, one of my clients wanted a small decadent dessert twice a week. Another wanted pizza night with her husband every week.
When they stuck to paying attention to their hunger, they were able to incorporate their treats into their week without a problem.
The great part was, because they knew they could have food they loved, they also lost the urge to overeat these treats.
This is The Best Way to Live Life
This is the best way to live life. To never worry about food again. It’s just something you eat and you can always have food you like. In fact, everything you eat can be food you like!
Food isn’t love. Food isn’t happiness. And food isn’t connection.
You can have all those things without gaining weight. You can have love, happiness, and connection without going on a diet.
Keep showing up my friends,
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Hi, I'm Sara Garska and I'm so happy you're here! Big changes can happen with a shift in thinking. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having. As a certified life and weight loss coach, I can help you create a life you love. Click here to schedule a free 50-minute coaching session.