Ever heard the old chestnut “All diets work if you stick to them?” It’s actually true to a degree. Research on the subject reveals that when people adhere strictly to almost any diet intended for weight loss, they do succeed, regardless of which plan they choose (1). But that information isn’t very helpful when you’re trying to set your own course for achieving healthy weight. In light of all the options, how do you know where to begin?
What to Consider for an Effective Weight Loss Meal Plan
Before diving in to any specific diet plan or starting a healthy diet plan to lose weight fast, it may benefit you to make certain considerations that set the stage for healthy weight loss. The decision to shed pounds is not just about your physical body—it’s a big-picture change. As a matter of fact, many people (especially those who lose dramatic amounts of weight) find that making lasting dietary modifications results in emotional, mental, and even spiritual transformation. It’s not uncommon for an effort to get physically healthy to improve your relationships and even career.
With this in mind, it’s important to assess your own readiness—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—as you mull over your diet options. How committed are you to making positive change? How much time and energy do you have to devote to the process? Some people find it helpful to give their readiness a number on a scale from one to ten, or to journal about what roadblocks might stand in the way of achieving weight loss goals. Remember, too, that you’re not in this alone—for better or for worse. How supportive will your friends and family be if you undertake major alterations to your lifestyle? Do you have a support system in place, and if not, how might you gather one around yourself?
Other important factors to take into account are your own personality, dieting history, and preferences. Some people thrive on the meticulous nature of calorie counting and macronutrient tracking, while others find it tedious, or can even become dangerously obsessive about it. Consider which sounds more like you. Look into your past, too, for clues as to what does and doesn’t work for you. If embarking on a healthy diet plan to lose weight fast hasn’t worked in the past, remember that. Those with a history of feeling deprived on diets may do better to focus on what to add to the diet (like fruits and vegetables) rather than remove from it. Likewise, personal tastes in food matter immensely when choosing a weight loss strategy. If you’ve always been drawn to ethnic foods, you might feel right at home on a Mediterranean diet, or if you absolutely loathe fish, it’s pretty well guaranteed that going pescetarian isn’t your best option. Choosing a plan that’s realistic and enjoyable for you goes a long way toward promoting your success.
In addition to digging into your psyche, you may also want to take stock of what you already know about your body. In collaboration with your doctor or a registered dietitian, it’s helpful to look at the overall picture of your health before choosing a diet plan. If you have insulin resistance, for example, managing your carbohydrate intake will likely be a key consideration in your eating plan. If you suffer from IBS, a low FODMAP diet could be your ticket to reduce bloating and other unpleasant digestive symptoms. Alternatively, try keeping a food diary for a few weeks to see if patterns emerge, and experiment with your diet accordingly.
Once you’ve made the decision of the path you want to take to get healthier, enter in with an open mind. As in all areas of life, sometimes what we believe is the highway to our goal ends up being more of a bunny trail. Rather than holding a rigid grip on the rules and regulations of any diet, be prepared to make changes, subtle or dramatic, if you find something isn’t working for you.
The Importance of Patience
Finally, don’t forget to be patient with the process. Though rapid weight loss sounds appealing, it’s actually not desirable. Nutrition professionals can attest that the faster the weight comes off, the faster it usually piles back on. A quick fix won’t educate you about long-term healthy habits, and it certainly doesn’t get to the root of underlying issues around weight. Slow and steady wins the race. Besides, losing weight isn’t a goal in isolation; it goes hand in hand with the overall picture of your health, from hormone levels to sleep quality to systemic inflammation. It probably took years for these measures to get out of whack—allow for the possibility that it may take significant time to bring them back into balance.
Even if “all diets work,” there’s no one-size-fits-all. There’s no perfect healthy diet plan to lose weight fast. Finding success with a weight loss plan may take some trial and error as you find your own rhythm, but we’re here to encourage you to stick with it. Take advantage of the 131 Method’s many resources to help guide and inform the weight loss journey that works for you!