Don’t Take Diet Short Cuts and Expect Long-Term Results

Jannine Myers

In the New York Times best seller, Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell presents the 10,000-Hour rule, explaining that the ability to be great at anything hinges upon the need to devote at least 10,000 hours of practice time (about 90 minutes a day for 20 years) to whatever it is you’re wanting to be great at. Honestly, that’s a little discouraging for most people; the good news is that there are other reports out there that dispute the 10,000-Hour rule and give the average person hope of obtaining at least some degree of proficiency in new areas of learning.

That brings me to the subject of diet and nutrition, and the aspiration of so many women to learn how to lose weight and keep it off. One UK study, conducted by Kevin Dorren, Founder and Head Chef of Diet Chef, suggests that “the average woman diets twice a year, losing 11lbs each time.” If women are dieting twice a year on average, and each time losing 11lbs, the inference is that they keep dieting because they always regain the weight that they lose. Why can’t they keep it off?

In my experience and observations of women trying – and failing – to permanently lose weight, it seems to be largely due to a desire to lose weight quickly and at any cost. In many cases women seek to lose weight for a specific occasion, for example a wedding, a milestone birthday, a summer vacation etc., and so the motivation is there and hence also the likelihood of success. The problem however, is that the kind of diet strategies they employ usually involve either drastic calorie reduction or significant deprivation of some sort; these types of overly restrictive diets are simply not sustainable and eventually fail.

Getting back to the 10,000-Hour rule……… getting good at losing weight and keeping it off won’t cost you a “20-year” learning sacrifice, but at the same time you can’t expect to enjoy long-term weight loss by using extreme and unsustainable methods. Permanent and healthy weight loss is only achieved through improved and non-restrictive lifestyle habits; habits that are practiced over and over until the brain and body is conditioned to do them automatically.

If you truly want to get off the “yo-yo dieting” train, you need to stop buying into quick-fix diets and short cuts and start making baby steps towards permanent lifestyle changes. Yes, the changes may be difficult at first and the weight loss might be much slower, but just remember – when you were a baby learning to walk, you didn’t quit the first time you fell over! You kept getting back up and falling back down, and eventually you walked! So, go educate yourself on what habits you need to change and then with the determination of a stumbling baby, endeavor to take daily steps towards those changes.

With time and practice you’ll hopefully achieve your weight loss goals, as well as the type of lifestyle that supports a long-term approach to maintaining a lean and healthy body!