An opinion about your diet or weight loss that is. I have found that people are always willing to give your their opinion about how you are losing weight, what you eat, if you’re losing weight fast enough, too fast, exercising or no, exercising too much, you should do this, you cannot do that, always do this, never do that, etc. etc. etc.
Often, that advice is contrary to what your doctor has told you told and can be wildly different from what he/she thinks you should be doing. More often than not, the advice is kindly meant by people who care about you. Sometimes, the advice is given by people who just like to hear themselves talk or think they know everything about dieting. Sometimes the advice hurts your feelings or feels overly judgmental.
It can be very overwhelming.
Everybody has an opinion about dieting because, let’s face it, almost everybody diets. Each person is different and a diet technique that works for one person may not work for the next.
I like to think that most diet advice is well meant by well meaning people. They may not know a thing about what works for you, or what you have discussed with your doctor or personal trainer, if you have one. But I think most of the time, people mean well. There are people who shell out advice or judgments in a hurtful way because it makes them feel superior and therefore better about themselves, but they are not really worth giving any value to, are they? No, I didn’t think so.
So here’s my advice for dealing with diet advice, critiques, judgments from other people. This is pretty much for anyone who is trying to lose weight, but it’s especially helpful to any bariatric patients out there.
- Ignore most diet advice you receive. Some of the advice may actually be pretty good, but most of it may not really work for you. If what you are doing works, stick with it. If not, then it’s OK to seek outside opinions, but I would start by talking to your doctor, then maybe your dietitian and/or personal trainer to make sure you are following a safe, healthy plan. Your best friend’s older sister’s cousin’s friend may have told you about the perfect “cleanse” where he/she lost 15 pounds in 3 days, but that plan may not really be the best solution to your problem. In fact, just don’t do that. Those “cleanses” are pretty crazy.
- Always consult with your doctor/dietitian/personal trainer. The most important part about losing weight is to do it in a healthy manner so that you never gain it back. Doing crazy fad diets, cleanses, pills, powders, unrealistically aggressive exercise plans will all backfire in the end. You may lose that 15 pounds in three days, but as soon as you start eating the way you were before, stop exercising, etc., you will gain all that weight back and then some. Nobody wants that.
- Be honest with yourself. I cannot stress that enough. You know when you’re following your plan and when you’re not. If you hit a plateau and you stop losing, or god forbid, start gaining again, take a look at what you’re doing. Honestly assess your diet plan. Write down what you eat, drink, and how much you exercise each day. You will get nowhere if you’re not honest with yourself about what you are doing.
- Set achievable goals. Setting unrealistic goals only sets you up for failure. If you set smaller goals and you exceed them, you feel better about what you are doing and it makes weight loss and better health seem possible. You’ll get there in the end, one small step at a time.
- Mix it up occasionally. Let’s face it, diet’s are boring. And boredom is the death knell to any diet. Feel free to try new healthy foods, new exercises to break up your routine a bit. Doing so could be a new jump-start in the right direction for your diet. It also keeps your plan fresh. If you’ve been riding the exercise bike for cardio, try swimming. If you’re eating nothing but bananas and yogurt for breakfast, try a melon salad and scrambled eggs with spinach. If you like spicy food, add a little more flavor to your baked chicken. Try Thai spices or Indian curry powder. There are a lot of low fat, low calorie ways to add more flavor to your meals. That will also help you feel more satisfied and less bored with what you’re eating.
- Listen to your body. You know your body better than anyone. If you’re having problems such as constipation, diarrhea, stomach aches, sore muscles, not losing weight, getting dizzy, or feeling off balance take another look at what you’re doing. You could be eating too much cheese, pushing yourself too far, not pushing yourself far enough, not getting enough protein, vitamins and nutrients, or enough water…any number of things. Again, keep a journal of what you’re eating, what you’re drinking, and how much exercise you do. If you cannot figure out what the problem is, take the list to your doctor or nutritionist and explain the problems you’re having. They may have ideas and suggestions to help you out.
- Don’t let the turkeys get you down. My mom has this saying that goes something like this, “You’ll never learn to soar like an eagle as long as you’re hanging out with turkeys.” I’m not suggesting that anyone abandon their old friends and find new ones, (although really, sometimes that’s what you need to do), but instead maybe give less credence to people who are not supporting what you’re doing. If they are not supportive, don’t talk to them about your weight loss progress. If they invite you over for lunch and serve fried foods or chips and pizza, maybe next time, offer to go to a movie with them instead. If they constantly criticize your progress, or what they perceive as your lack of progress, just ignore their comments and talk about something else. But really, if they are insulting you, what kind of a friend are they, really? Maybe you do need to find new friends…or at least join a group of like minded people who are supporting one another through this process. A support group, a friend to go the gym or share diet notes with. Spend less time with people who make you feel bad about yourself. (Oh, and don’t tell my mom I implied that she’s right. I can’t have her knowing that. We’ll just keep this between us, OK?)
- Never give up. I think this is the most important item on this list. Losing weight, dieting, exercising, and getting healthier is a constant battle. It’s easy to let minor set-backs get you down. And it’s hard to stay focused and committed when you’re down. Everyone messes up. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone gets discouraged. You are not a unique snowflake in this arena. If you’re feeling alone, reach out to someone else for support. I like to think that I can do everything myself, but even I sometimes need to phone a friend. If you give up, you will never know what you’re capable of achieving. As the saying goes, get up, dust yourself off, and start all over again!
Have a great weekend and remember, never give up!