You are all pumped up ready to go and change your life! I get it. I’ve been there! And it’s an amazing feeling! You think “I’ve got this! It’s going to be easy! I am READY to change my life this time!” But there are some of the ugly truths no one has ever told you about dieting. Flexible dieting even. It can be downright hard and discouraging at times. But is it worth it? HECK YES it is!
I want you to be prepared so when the roadblocks come along, you are ready to conquer them! Anything worth doing in life is not going to be easy and losing (and maintaining) weight is no exception. Yes, these things might be frustrating and hard but it is SO SO worth it! I promise!
So here are the 12 ugly truths no one has ever told you about dieting.
1. It is hard
Dieting is hard, plain and simple. You’re going to be tried and tested at every turn. Somedays you’re going to be hungry and grumpy and some days you’re going to feel amazing. Some days you’ll see huge results and somedays you’ll see none. It’s not easy and it shouldn’t be. Think how long it took to put on the weight. Taking it off is going to be work.
What to do about it: Take it one day at a time or even one meal at a time if you have to. If you feel like you’re absolutely starving and miserable, your calories are probably too low. Add in 100 calories and try that for a week. Yes it will be hard but it shouldn’t be THAT hard.
2. You will be hungry
Whenever you eat below maintenance calories, you will be hungry. Some days are a lot worse than others. Some days you may feel so hungry you’ll want to eat your first born and you just have to take it minute by minute and some days you may not feel hungry at all. It will be especially hard the first week or two, especially if you’re used to eating a lot.
What to do about it: Stay strong. Like I mentioned above, if you are absolutely starving and have no energy, add in 100 calories for a week and see how you feel. But realize, your body is adjusting to a whole new way of life and yes, you will be hungry. Also, find foods with a lot of volume. Veggies have a ton of volume for little calories. Also, making sure you’re getting in your protein will help keep you full longer. Eat protein at every meal.
3. Even with flexible dieting/macro counting, you ARE going to have to give up some of your favorite foods.
I know. I know. It is called flexible dieting and you’re supposed to be able to “fit in” anything you want, BUT unfortunately sometimes you just can’t. I COULD go to Olive Garden and get a Fettuccine Alfredo and have just a couple of bites but no way in heck am I going to fit it in as an entire meal… especially on cutting calories, it’s just not happening. I am sorry, but it’s true.
What to do about it: Eat your favorite food for your weekly “treat meal” or find a healthy alternative to make at home. Just make sure if you do eat something super high in fat, carbs and calories as your treat meal, that you get right back on track and you drink a lot of water that day and the next. It will help SO much.
4. You’re going to have to say no to things
Unfortunately, when you’re on your weight loss journey, you will have times when you have to say no to going out to eat with friends or family, and no to dessert because it doesn’t fit your macros. It might not always be other people you are saying no to. There’ll be times when you have to tell yourself no. I have had to vocally tell myself no about having a second cookie or reaching my hand in a bag of chips. Do whatever it takes because when you reach your goals, those cookies you said no to, will not even be on your mind.
What to do about it: Make sure your family and friends know that you are trying to lose weight and get healthier. Look for alternatives at restaurants that you can have that will fit your macros. Or suggest to them that they come over to your house and you’ll cook for them. If the person you are having to tell no to is yourself, we’ve all been there. When you change your life completely, sometimes old habits rear their heads without you even thinking about it. Make sure you are mindful about your eating and log your food into My Fitness Pal early in the day so you know exactly what you can and can’t have.
5. You might still see the same person in the mirror
When you diet and exercise, you usually lose weight all over at the same time. Some parts might shrink faster than others but more often you’re losing weight off of your entire body. So when your waist shrinks, so does your chest and butt. What that means is, when you look in the mirror, you might still see the same person because your proportions are still the same. Get it? Thats why I push taking pictures and measurements so you can SEE the actual difference and not have your mind mess with what you see in the mirror.
What to do about it: Go by how your clothes fit and also measurements and pictures and yes, even the scale. The scale isn’t always the best form of measuring progress but it is still helpful at times.
6. You can’t diet forever
At some point, you are going to have to come out of a deficit for a period of time, even if you’re not quite where you want to be yet. When you diet, your metabolism slows down and your progress begins to stall. At some point, progress will stop all together. This is your bodies way of telling you it needs diet break. This is completely normal. In order to bring your metabolism back up and start progress moving forward again, you need to go back up to maintenance calories for several weeks to months even. Our bodies are not meant to be in a calorie deficit for long. They don’t like it. They want food! You might gain a little weight (water weight) but when you go back into a cut, you’re body will start responding again. This is the point I am at right now. I want to lean out and be in a cut but my body is saying no!
What to do about it: Come out of a calorie deficit and go to maintenance calories for 10-14 days. Then drop your calories back down to your cutting calories and see if your body responds. If it doesn’t you might need a longer diet break.
7. You will hit a lot of plateaus
Weight loss is not linear. You may be trucking along wonderfully in your progress and seeing weight loss every week then BAM! Your progress stops completely. Or you may even gain a few pounds. This is completely normal! Let me tell you something, if you’re relying on the scale only, progress could still be happening that is just not registering in your weight. You may be putting on muscle or you may be holding extra water weight. Or girls, it could be your hormones. That is why pictures and measurements are important. If you see no more progress in pictures and measurements, it might be time for a diet break. (see above)
What to do about it: Make sure you are hitting your macros perfectly. That includes a bite of this or that throughout the day. LOG EVERYTHING! You could be going over calories by several hundred by grazing on food throughout the day that you think is harmless. Also, make sure you are putting everything you’ve got into your workouts. If you are tracking perfectly and your exercise is on point, you might just be hitting a plateau. You can either drop your calories by 50-100 (if you have room to do so. You don’t ever want to drop your calories lower than your BMR) Or up your workouts, move more etc.. Drink more water and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Also stress can play a big part in weight loss so relax 🙂
8. You will have setbacks
Injuries, illnesses, vacations, plateaus, emotionally trying events, falling off the wagon completely etc.. Setbacks come in a lot of different forms. But they are a part of the journey. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall off the wagon here and there or all over the place! It’s ok! Just jump back on and try again. Weight loss is a LONG journey so go easy on yourself. Setbacks happen to everyone, the important thing is knowing how to get over them.
What to do about it: If you are injured listen to your body and don’t overdo it before you’re ready or you’ll injure yourself even more or prevent your injury from healing. Do some modified workouts. Hurt knee? Work upper body. Hurt arm? Do some lower body and cardio. Same goes with illnesses. You can still make sure you’re tracking your food perfectly and doing whatever physical activity you can until you’re back to normal but again, don’t push yourself until your better or you could end up worse off. If you fall off tracking completely, do your best to get back. Recognize what it is that happened and try not to let it happen again or find a way to push through. Vacations are awesome and inevitable. I love vacations and live to travel! But it’s not always easy to stay on track with your eating and workouts while away from home. You can check out my post here about staying on track while on vacation or if you decide not to worry about tracking while away, make sure you get back on track the second you get back. My workouts are always a little rough the first few days back from a vacation, but it doesn’t take long for me to feel back to normal.
9.You will still be the same person
Just because you lose weight, does not mean you will change as a person. If you are a selfish and awful person, losing weight is not going to change that. If you are selfless and giving, losing weight is not going to change that. You might think, “Once I lose this weight, I will be happier” or “When I lose this weight I will be a better mom/dad” That’s just not so.
What to do about it: Work on being the best you you can be now no matter what you weigh or what size you are! Your kids/friends/family will not remember you as being a certain size, they will remember you for how kind, selfless and amazing you are!
10.You may be more tired, emotional and moody than normal
Like I said, dieting is hard and when you cut calories you’re hungry and hungry people can be emotional and moody. And when you’re not giving your body all of the calories it needs to function, you may feel more tired. Personally, I don’t get tired during a cut and I don’t really get too emotional or moody either but I know there are some people it really effects. So just realize, you might be one of those people. It’s all part of the journey.
What to do about it: Work really hard to find foods with a lot of volume (big amount of food for low calories) so you feel full longer. Egg Whites are an amazing volume food. Make sure you are getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night and really listen to your body. If you are feeling exceptionally moody, tired and emotional, your calories may be too low. I don’t recommend going super low on calories to begin with. Your body needs time to adjust to this new way of life.
11. There are a lot of mind games that happen when you diet
You will look in the mirror after putting in months and months of hard work and not think anything is happening. (It is) You’ll eat a big meal then jump on the scale the next morning and be 10lbs heavier and think you’ve sabotaged all of your progress (you haven’t. It’s water.) You will wonder somedays if this is all worth it. (It is) You will wonder if you’re doing it right. If your calories are too high/low. If you’re working out properly. You will wonder and wonder and wonder about EVERYTHING some days.
The last few months I have been reverse dieting (adding calories back into my diet slowly) and the mind games have been crazy bad! When you add in calories, particularly carbs, you retain more water, which makes you feel puffy and some of the definition I was seeing before, has gone away. And then I start to wonder if what I am doing is right and if I should go back to cutting calories, am I gaining weight and all of the things that my mind is telling me that I should do when really I just need to be patient and trust the process. Because guess what? My measurements are the same and my clothes fit the same so its all in my head (and on the scale. Yes my weight has gone up)
What to do about it: Relax and trust the process. You know if you’re really making progress or if you mind is playing tricks on you. Get a good nights sleep and see how you feel in the morning. That always helps me.
12. Weight loss is 100% mental
You’re probably thinking I’m crazy and that weight loss is nutrition and exercise but trust me on this one. The one thing that changed for me this time around, was that my mind was in it 100% and I knew, without a doubt, that I would not fail this time. If my mind hadn’t been there, I would’ve only lasted 2 weeks like all of the other times I tried to lose weight. And here I am a year and 8 months later going strong. It is 100% mental.
What to do about it: If you don’t feel like your mind is in it 100%, do little things each day to change your habits. Get a little more sleep. Eat a serving of veggies instead of potatoes chips. Go on a walk instead of watch tv. Your mind will get there, sometimes it just needs a little convincing. Change your habits and it will change your mind.
13. It will take longer than you think
Have patience. This a marathon not a sprint. Fad diets DON’T WORK! If you’re doing it right and in a sustainable way, it’s going to take time. I have been on this journey for almost 2 years and I am still not where I want to be. Changes happen and they happen slow. That’s ok! It’s more sustainable this way and time is going to pass anyways.
What to do about it: Have patience. Your body will respond in its own time. Yes there are some things you can do to help speed up the process. Make sure you’re hitting your macros 100%, make sure you’re getting in your workouts, drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. If you’re doing everything in your power, your body will still respond the way it wants. Part of it is genetics and part of it is just the process.
14.Your journey is never over
So what happens after you’ve lost all the weight you want and you look and feel amazing? Do you just go back to your old habits of eating whatever you want, whenever you want? Nope! If you did that, it would only be a short while before you undid everything you worked so hard for and all that time spent would be for nothing. You will have to track your food forever friends. To be honest, I am totally ok with that! Because I suck at intuitive eating and I know that I feel and look so much better when I do track.
You’re still going to have to watch what you eat for the rest of your life if you want to maintain your weight. Sure you may be able to be a little more flexible and you will be able to add in more calories but you’re still going to have to track those calories. And be prepared for the fact that maintaining weight is as hard as losing it was. You may go about your life eating well but being a little more free in your food choices and the weight might slowly start creeping back. That will mean its time for another cut. It will be a constant cycle, so prepare yourself for that.
What to do about it: Just like you have to shower and brush your teeth everyday, you have to watch what you eat and exercise every day. It’s part of life and something you need to come to terms with.
I hope this post didn’t discourage you but I did want to shed some light on some of the ugly truths about dieting. Its not easy, it will take time and you’re never done. There will be setbacks and hardships but overcoming them will make you a better, stronger person! Next I am going to post about the great things no one ever tells you about dieting so stay tuned…
You’ve got this!