• Ashley Smith, MPH, RDN, LD, CHES

Ditch the Diet and Achieve Real Change


Photo by CreateHERStock via nappy.co

We made it to 2021. Most us are knee-deep in the internet searching for ways to drop the quarantine 15. Without pause, Google returns every fad diet imaginable from juice cleanses to smoothie detoxes.


But you have been down this road and you know the outcome: quick weight loss, plateau, regain. If it truly is a “New Year, New You,” why not do this thing right for once?


Quick weight loss is not designed to be sustainable. I know we think, if I can just get the weight off I’ll figure out how to keep it off. Unfortunately, the data proves otherwise. More than 50% of weight loss is regained within two years. By year five, it’s up to 80% [1]. Losing weight is not the hardest part. Maintaining weight loss is. This is especially true if crash dieting altered your metabolism or your body is fighting to return to its set point.


So now what? Start with the maintenance phase, i.e. your lifestyle. Beware, a diet disguised as a “lifestyle change” is still a diet. For a true lifestyle change, think about what habits you would do long term. And girlfriend, no one is drinking juice 24/7 for the rest of their life. Choose more sustainable behaviors like balanced meals, daily movement, and quality sleep. With practice, you can change your brain and change your habits [2].


Here are five tips to get started.


1. Be realistic with your goals.

If weight loss is your goal, consider how long it took to gain that weight. Also, how long have you been at this weight? Your body may have a new set point. This means as soon as you start losing, your body will adjust to get you back to that weight. Start small and be flexible.


2. Dig deep and connect with your why.

Could you be confident, have more energy, and achieve better health without weighing exactly what you weighed on your wedding night? Absolutely! Focus on meaningful outcomes that motivate you.


3. Be patient with yourself.

Give yourself a huge learning curve. Prepare new recipes. Try new vegetables every week. Test new workout routines until you find your groove. Have an open mind. No one expects perfection.


4. Slow and steady wins the race.

Give yourself at least a year to achieve your first outcome. Start with the smallest achievable goal. Nope, smaller. Work on it for three months. Grow from there. The more habits you try to change at once, the less compliant you will be. It’s brain science. Trust me.


5. Get support.

Garner support from friends and family and set healthy boundaries where needed. Ditch social media accounts that make you feel insecure and follow ones that are more inclusive. Or heck, just follow the puppy accounts. They’ll make you smile. A happier you is more motivated to achieve.


Sources: 1. Maintenance of lost weight and long-term management of obesity 2. Clear, James. Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results : An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. New York: Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2018.





About the Author

Ashley Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Health Education Specialist. She uses behavioral health models and mindset techniques to help women ditch dieting, improve their relationship with food, increase their energy and reduce stress.


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