The question to ask yourself before you start a diet

 

five-years

 

Do you watch suits?

It’s one of television’s top legal dramas and also happens to be one of my favourite shows. If you aren’t familiar with it, you can catch it from the beginning on Netflix, although, consider yourself forewarned as this may result in binge-watching. 

After last week’s mid-season finale, I was curious about next season’s premiere date, so I grabbed my laptop and started searching. I came across this interview with Meghan Markle, who stars as Rachel Zane on the show, who is also the founder of the great lifestyle blog thetig.com.

At the end of the interview, as Meghan engaged in some Q&A with the audience, a young aspiring actor asked whether she had any advice for him as he was starting out in his acting career. She responded with this valuable recommendation:

“Don’t give it five minutes if you’re not gonna give it five years.” 

Although Meghan meant this for a young aspiring actor, her advice holds true for you too, or anyone else on the path to health. That’s because anything worthwhile takes time and because permanent results can only come from permanent change. 

Do know how often I hear “I’m just doing this diet to lose a few pounds,  after that, I’ll figure it out.”  Regularly.

But we all know how that story unfolds, don’t we. The diet ends (often abruptly), the old patterns return (often stronger), and the weight comes back (often faster). All because they went on the diet for the “fix” instead of for the future. 

Remember: permanent results come from permanent commitment. If a diet fails the five-year test (which it will, because most fail the five-day test) then you can almost be sure that it will fail you, too.

 So don’t waste your time. Use the five-year test. Here’s how.

Click here to download my Love Your lifestyle guide: 10 Tips to ditch the diet, make real change and love your lifestyle.

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When to apply the five-year test:

  • The next time you’re about to buy a shiny new diet book (because the stack at home hasn’t cut it yet).

  • The next time you’re contemplating renewing your gym membership (although you haven’t been all year).

  • The next time you’re tempted to swear off entire food groups (even though you love these foods and never showed sign of intolerance).

  • The next time you’re searching the health food store for that superfood from that TV show ( even though you hate the way it tastes, and it costs more than a tank of gas).

  • The next time you’re vowing to work out five straight days  (although you’ve never gone more than two days in your history).

Ask yourself: Am I willing to give this five years? Yes? Power to you. No? Don’t give any of the above five minutes and try this instead:

What to do when the five-year test fails

The best approach is  to focus on small changes that you can knock out of the park consistently. Here are some examples:

  • Instead of a 10-day of crash dieting, how about 10 days of good habit-building?
    • Ten days of drinking your daily water target
    • Ten days of building vegetables into most meals
    • Ten days eating home cooked meals instead of storebought
  • Instead of renewing a dusty old membership because you think you should, yet have no intention of committing to, rethink your movement routine, so it plays to your advantage. Do you need one-on-one support? Look into a trainer. Do you thrive in a group setting activity? Look into group classes in your area. Do you prefer doing things at your own pace? Look into online and virtual exercise platforms. 
  • Instead of vowing to cut all favourite foods from your life for the foreseeable future (especially when your history indicates that this causes you to binge on said foods), why not give yourself permission to indulge yourself, 10% of the time, on the best quality you can find?
  • Instead of extracts, tablets or drinks that you need to pinch your nose to throw back, why not commit to more humble superfoods that you feel confident preparing and likely already have in your pantry? Here are some super places to start: foods from the cruciferous family  (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), the allium family (garlic, onions, shallots) and green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, swiss chard). 
  • Instead of promising yourself that you’ll hit the gym six days next week when you’re starting from scratch, set the bar lower, at a level you’re sure to achieve every week. This way, when you go beyond your expectation, you can feel proud, and when you hit the target, guilt doesn’t overwhelm you. 

In a nutshell: when you’re making a change and want it to yield results, be ready to commit to it for the long term.

Breaking the diet mindset

Slow and steady is a hard sell in a world that glorifies celebrity diets and fast results. I get it.

But it’s time to wrap our minds around the fact that there is no short-term solution to a long-term problem. 

The truth is, I  don’t care about your short term. I care about your long term. 

So as small as the changes listed above may seem, if you have the tenacity to give them time and build strong momentum, these simple habits can evolve into real transformation.

So next time a shiny new diet shows up on your radar hit it with the five-year test: Am I willing to commit to this for five years? If not, don’t give it five minutes. 

Thanks for the tip, Meghan.

P.S.: Second half of the season of Suits starts up again in January (Sigh)!

 

Let me know in the comments below…

Did you catch last week’s Suits finale? How do you feel about the five-year test? Do your latest choices pass the test? 

 

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