Originally published at my former site: For the Love of Mocha
If you are looking for the best diet to lose weight and keep it off, you have come to the right place. Are you surprised that you ended up at a website that focuses on chocolate? That’s not a mistake. Continue reading to find out how I went from a lifetime of obesity to weighing “normal” without giving up chocolate.
The best diet is not a diet.
It’s true! If you are like most people, you have tried many diets. Some have allowed you to lose weight, and some haven’t. Most of the time, we either feel like it’s too hard and give up altogether, or we see some success and stop trying so hard. As a result, the weight comes right back on and brings a few extra pounds with it. Sound familiar? We call this “yo-yo dieting” because our weight is continuously bouncing up and down.
So what do we do then if we aren’t going to diet anymore? If we want to see lasting change, then we need to make changes that last. We need to replace some of our bad habits with good habits and let our good practices do the work of changing us for a lifetime.
First, let’s look at some things that might be holding us back.
- It’s too hard.
- I don’t feel motivated.
- I don’t have any willpower.
- I feel deprived.
Most of us feel this way at one time or another, but there’s good news.
- It doesn’t have to be hard.
- We don’t need motivation.
- We don’t need willpower.
- We don’t need to feel deprived.
We need to create habits that ultimately lead us to our desired outcome.
How do we create new habits?
There are many different ways to create habits, but one technique that helped me is following BJ Fogg’s advice on creating Tiny Habits. BJ Fogg, Ph.D., is the Director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University, and here’s how his plan works.
Let’s say you want to exercise more, and you have decided that walking would be a practical way for you to get more exercise, but you can’t seem to get motivated to do it.
Instead of saying, “I am going to walk for thirty minutes every day at least five days a week”, try this:
Think of something you can do every day that will take you a little closer to reaching that goal. Here is where the “tiny” part comes in.
Can you think of a task that takes minimal effort, one that might take less than thirty seconds to complete? It must be something that you can do. Tack that on to something you already do, which is your trigger.
It should look something like this:
- After I eat my evening meal, I will put on my sneakers.
Here are a few more examples:
- After I get out of bed, I will unroll my yoga mat.
- After I put food on my plate, I will put the leftovers in the refrigerator.
- After I get in bed, I will think of one thing for which I am thankful.
Are you getting the idea? There’s only one more step, and it’s easy.
- Celebrate your success. Do some little thing to acknowledge your victory. It can be as simple as a fist pump or saying, “I’m awesome.” Don’t skip this step. When you do a little victory dance, your brain says, “That felt good,” and you are more likely to repeat the behavior.
When we create tiny habits, it becomes almost natural to change our behavior.
Since you already have your sneakers on, why not go down to the mailbox? While your yoga mat is out, why not do a stretch or two? Stronger habits usually follow a well-established tiny habit, but sometimes you may need to tack on an additional tiny habit.
After I lay my yoga mat on the floor, I will do one stretch.
Beware of your environment.
If you surround yourself with people who live for dessert, guess what? You are more likely to live for dessert. When you surround yourself with people who love to exercise, you are more likely to enjoy it. The people around us have a significant influence on our behavior, so it’s essential to surround yourself with people who are what you want to be.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”― Jim Rohn
If you want to walk more, consider joining a walking group, or find someone to accompany you. You are more likely to enjoy the activity if you spend time with others who enjoy it.
Likewise, if you want to eat healthier food, you will do well to spend time with people who already eat that way. I’m not suggesting that you pack your bags and leave your family behind, but be mindful of your environment. Consider what you read, what you watch on television, and where you hang out.
When I first began to make lifestyle changes, I became aware that I craved cheeseburgers almost every day. What was it in my environment that was causing these cravings? I began to pay attention and realized that every day on my way to work, I passed a billboard that pictured a juicy cheeseburger. The picture triggered a craving.
Figure out what your triggers are and avoid them.
Once I began to drive a different route, the cravings magically went away. In addition to that, I began to check healthy cookbooks out at the library. Although I didn’t make any of the recipes, looking at the pictures changed something in my brain: I wanted healthy food.
Sugar is your worst enemy.
Remember when they told us that eating fat would make us fat? Everyone went crazy, trying to avoid foods that contained fat. Supermarket shelves began to fill up with items labeled, “Reduced Fat” or “Baked.” As a society, we didn’t lose weight. Most of us cut back on eating fat and found ourselves getting fatter.
What was happening? When they removed fat from many of our foods, they took out the flavor. To remedy this, they added sugar. Now scientists are telling us that it’s sugar that makes us fat. Really, it is. You can Google it. If you want to lose weight, cut out the sugar.
The good news is that once we stop eating sugar, we stop wanting it.
It’s true, and it only takes about three weeks for our tastebuds to reset, and sugar begins to taste too sweet.
So what does chocolate have to do with anything?
Dieting leaves us feeling deprived. The thought of giving up sugar makes us want to run to the nearest store, purchase a half-gallon of our favorite ice cream, and down it in one sitting. Feeling deprived often makes us crave things even more.
That’s where chocolate steps in and saves the day!
Not all items labeled chocolate are created equal. When I say chocolate, I am not referring to that milk-chocolate coated candy bar that’s filled with caramel or some other delicacy. Those items are laden with sugar, or worse yet, corn syrup, and they will do nothing more than make you fat.
Dark chocolate is different.
Dark chocolate, or chocolate that is 70% or more cocoa, has a multitude of health benefits. Not only that, but it satisfies our desire to have something sweet. If you don’t like dark chocolate, you can learn to like it. Start with the darkest chocolate you can handle, maybe 55% cocoa. While cutting out the sugar, start eating chocolate.
Your taste buds will start to like it.
That’s when you start buying darker chocolate. Maybe 65% dark won’t taste so bad anymore. Slowly work your way up to the darkest chocolate you can manage. (I enjoy 85%, and it is not unusual for me to eat 100% baking chocolate.)
Eat it every day.
You can enjoy dark chocolate every day, and as long as you are not eating it by the pound or consuming other sweets, you will probably lose weight. You can read more about dark chocolate here: What is the best dark chocolate?
If you want to see examples of healthy dark chocolate or purchase some, go here: Best Dark Chocolate.
Dieting is not the best way to lose weight. The best way to lose weight is to make lifestyle changes that lead to the outcome of losing weight. Creating tiny habits can help you. Replacing sugar-laden foods with 70%-100% dark chocolate has many health benefits and should enable you to lose weight without feeling deprived.
How about you? What are your best tips for how to lose weight and keep it off? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. ~Theresa