Most of us have all done the yo-yo dieting. You can lose weight and then it comes back. You end right back where you started and have often put on more weight.
Long term calorie restriction will do this.
You will lose weight in the short term by cutting calories, but science tells us that long term calorie restriction does not result in permanent weight loss.
Calorie restriction is the backbone of the dieting industry. It relies on the simple premise of calories in need to be less than calories out. Except that our fuel regulation and storage is controlled by hormones - not calories. There are no calorie receptors in our bodies.
We have hormones that are regulated by nutrients.
So, what exactly is a meal plan?
There are 3 types.
The first one is one that you design yourself and these can be really helpful.
This blog really refers to the next 2 points.
The second type of meal plan consists of a structured menu designed by someone else with recipes and amounts of food to be weighed and measured. The amount and frequency that you eat are predetermined.
The third type is a meal delivery service that provides pre-prepared meals with the sole aim of weight loss.
Why are meal plans so popular for weight loss?
Why don’t meal plans work long term?
The real reason meal plans don’t work
Permanent weight loss requires a person to be able to do the thing they did to lose the weight forever. There is no finish line, no end date…. and this can feel hard or even impossible.
Permanent weight loss requires knowledge and understanding of 2 things.
What to eat. As you know we recommend low carb, real food.
Why you eat. A meal plan doesn’t address the reasons why you eat.
The “why you eat” is critical.
Understanding this is the key to long term weight loss. The majority of people don’t eat because they are hungry.
Most of us eat for other reasons.
Long term weight loss is an exercise in personal development.
Personal development is the process of understanding yourself. It’s something that needs to be learned - a skill if you like.
Permanent weight loss requires that you become really clear on your thoughts and feelings.
Thoughts create feelings (emotions), and actions are driven by emotions.
So, if you want to change your actions, you need to change the thoughts that are driving your emotions.
This is personal development!
It requires increasing awareness of your thoughts
The ability to reflect on these thoughts with curiosity not judgement.
The ability to separate your thoughts from yourself - you are not your thoughts.
Your thoughts are simply a connection between two nerve cells that form neural pathways. Habitual thoughts are deep pathways, but they can be changed. This is called neural plasticity and it is the ability to challenge and change our thoughts.
Personal development also involves the ability to show yourself self-compassion when things aren’t (and never will be) perfect.
We use the SLC acronym
Self-Reflection is looking at your actions both helpful and unhelpful and working backwards on what drove those actions. What were your feelings and the thoughts that created those feelings?
Learning is then asking yourself, “What have I done that went well?” or “What do I need to do differently?” and changing your response for next time. Believe us there is always a next time!
Compassion is the way we talk to ourselves when things haven't been perfect.
Many of us berate ourselves with the aim of motivating ourselves: “You friggin’ idiot!” Why did you eat all that chocolate!” “You're so disgusting - stop eating!” “You shouldn't have eaten all those chips, no wonder you’re still fat!”
This approach just doesn’t work.
One of our favourite sayings - “You cannot hate yourself thin, you cannot berate yourself well.”
Next time try this approach - in a soothing voice: “What's happening for you?” or “What do I need right now?” or “What can I do to help myself?”
This approach takes time, but the rewards are immense.
Once you understand the reasons you eat and have a plan to address this, the reward is food freedom and permanent weight loss.
No meal plan in the world can give you this.
Permanent weight loss is a journey in personal development and to quote a famous Pantene ad: “It won't happen overnight, but it will happen.”