What Are Your Techniques for Sticking to a New Eating Plan?

Updated on October 23, 2011
S.A. asks from Chicago, IL
11 answers


I need to lose about 50-60 lbs. I fail miserably every time I try to get started. I am the queen of excuses for why I can't stick to a healthier lifestyle. I use food as an emotional crutch and have for most of my life. There have been times that I've been able to lose weight and keep it off, but since having my kids, It's stayed on and I'm sick of being fat. I'm down on myself all the time about it, but I guess not enough to do much about it. I start every day with the great intentions and do pretty well until dinner time (my most stressful time of the day), then I blow it. I'll do my workout DVD's for a few days, then something will happen to make me not do it for a few days (my 2 yr old waking up at night, getting a cold, etc...) which then turns into a few weeks... Are any of you former overweight moms who were successfully able to lose weight and keep it off? How did you do it? And most importantly, how did you do without Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, diet pills, etc...? I can't afford to go on any of those programs and I can't afford a gym membership. Thanks!

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answers from Dallas on

Everybody has given you great advice! I know it's hard. Most likely almost every one on here has struggled with sticking to an eating/ exercise plan, so please don't feel alone :-)

Anyway, since you have some good advice already, I'll just share a quote I saw that I love and it helps keep me motivated...

"You can't get the butt you want by sitting on the butt you have!"

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

Eat every 3 hours.

After doing this for ages, I just split my meals. In the beginning, eat a big first meal, and *make* yourself eat again 3 hours later (you won't want to). And then half your lunch. Couple hours later, half your lunch again. Then half your dinner. Then half your dinner again. Keep it up until you don't WANT more than half your breakfast. And boom. You're eating 3 meals 6 times a day, instead of 3 meals PLUS, or 3 huge meals (or 2 normal, one gut buster).

Work up to walking 5 miles a day.

When you're *constantly* eating (and it's not snack food, but honest to god food group nutrition each and every single time), your body quits caring about 'storing' energy (fat), and you become really "ineffecient", meaning your body quits hoarding every calorie you come across. The walking burns massive amounts of calories, but it's a low key activity, so it doesn't increase your body's needs (aka needing protein to repair muscle, or nutrients to replace those lost in heavy hitting activity).

It's not a "sexy plan" with fast results (in fact, you may gain a few pounds the first month while your metabolism is deciding whether this is normal or not), AND you don't have to buy anything... so you won't see it outside of a nutritionist office. It's not promoted, because it won't make anyone any money. You just eat every 3 hours, and walk every day.

Average loss is 50-100lbs in a year.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

This may sound like a small thing, but I know a friend who lost more than 60 lbs by never using the word "lose". We don't want to "lose" anything, right? If you lose something, you go looking for it.

Instead, she told herself all day long that she was "gaining". She was gaining health, gaining fun activity, gaining the ability to do new things, gaining a new outlook on life. She took up ballroom dancing - but even walking each day can do the trick, as long as it's looked upon as a gain (not a duty, a must, or an obligation).

Changing the language we use can change our life. Think of some words and phrases to substitute for the ones that haven't worked for you in the past. Each and every time you hear yourself using the old words, change them to the new. Once we change our language, we can change our actions, and that changes our outcomes!

AND - I totally agree with Riley. Eating every 3 hours and walking a little more each day is a great strategy!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

These are probably boring answers that you've heard a million times before, but:

- Banish the word "diet" from your vocabulary. Think "lifestyle change" instead

- Keep some form of food journal and count your calories daily

- Weigh yourself daily at the same time and chart the results so you can see the overall trend upwards or downwards. Don't forget that your weight can fluctuate a fair amount from day to day because of water retention, your period, ovulation, etc.

- Find an exercise you enjoy

The biggest key to understanding weight loss is to remember that 3500 calories = 1 lb gained or lost. If you eat 3500 more calories than you burn, you will gain a pound. If you eat 3500 less than you burn, you will lose a pound.

Use the internet to find out your estimated daily burn rate, which is based on age, height, current weight and activity level.

If you find out that e.g. your average burn rate is 2000 calories a day, you need to eat only 1500 calories a day for a week to lose 1 pound (500 calories X 7 days = 3500 calories). If you continue to stick with that week in/week out, you will continue to lose a pound every week. Use your food journal to track your calories so you get to learn exactly how much you're eating.

I learned this method 10 years ago when I needed to lose 20 pounds. I found The Hacker's Diet on the web, which was pretty much written for computer and engineering geeks. The mathematical aspect of it appealed to me (guess it's my secret geekiness inside). Anyway, I followed it and it really worked. I kept the weight off for 5 years until I got pregnant. After the baby, I was able to drop all weight gain except those last 5 stubborn pounds - my fault, because I was not calorie counting the way I should. Like you, I'm a totally emotional eater.

Last year I gained another 8 pounds because I was dealing with a very stressful issue. I was shocked when I finally stepped on the scale after Labor Day and resolved to get back on the Hackers Diet properly. I want to lose the 8 pounds plus the 5 pounds of baby weight never lost, plus an additional 7 pounds for an even 20.

So far, in the last 6 weeks, I have lost 6 pounds. I'm using the MyFitnessPal app (free) on the iPad to track calories. For exercise, I'm doing a mix of walking/jogging or biking on days when I can get out or Zumba DVDs in the evenings when the weather is bad or my schedule is tight. I'm trying to do an absolute minimum of 20 minutes a day, but preferably 45 minutes.

I will not lie to you - if you follow this method, the first 3 days will be kind of hellish. When you count calories carefully, you find you have to discard almost all junk food, a lot of sugars and a lot of fats. Your body craves these things plus the extra calories you are not eating. You feel hungry, grouchy, chilly, have cravings. But then, by the 3rd day these feelings start to dissipate and your body starts to accept the reduced calories. I find, within a week or two, I start feeling really great, energized.

The one good thing about relying on calorie counting is that you totally become in charge of what you choose to eat. If you decide one day that you really HAVE to have that piece of chocolate cake, well then you go ahead and have it, just realizing that you're going to have to cut down on your calories somewhere else to make up for it. Or if you have a day where you totally blow it - you don't blow the whole diet. You just pick up where you left off the next day and realize it's going to take you a little longer than a week to lose that 1 pound. I totally blew MY "lifestyle change" today - oh well - back to it tomorrow. Saturdays are always tough for me.

Sorry, I'm being totally long-winded. I always get carried away when I talk about this weight-loss method because it totally worked for me (except for last year, when I ignored it - ha, ha!)

Best of luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I am a big believer in Tony Horton. And he created a program called 10 Minute Trainer just for people like us! After I had my second child, I was so down on myself for all the baby weight I gained, but now I had TWO kids to take care of, etc, so I didn't feel like I the time to do anything for me. Enter 10 Minute Trainer.

The workout is all scheduled so that you don't have to figure out what you're going to do today to make a well-balanced workout program. And they're in 10 minute chunks. So, if you only have 10 minutes, do the first one for the day...if you happen to have more time, add the second, etc. Do it when you have time (kids are napping or at school or whatever). Ten minutes are better than zero minutes! And if you miss a day or two, OH WELL!! :)

As for diet...I'm a big believer that if you call it a diet, you've already convinced yourself that it's just temporary and something you need to just get through for a time. Changing the way you eat is a real lifestyle change. First thing: don't deprive yourself and make certain things off-limits...this will just make you want them more and then feel more guilty when you give in. Give yourself one day a week when you can splurge! Have that chocolate cake or big ol' hamburger! But keep it to that one day. For the rest of the week, add fruits and veggies. Make half your dinner plate veggies, then split the other half to be protein and whole-grain carb. I don't even have regular white pasta in my house anymore--only whole grain. There's actually a great food guide with the 10 Minute Trainer program to help guide your food choices.

I ended up losing almost 20 pounds on 10 Minute Trainer and then switched up to P90X (also by Tony Horton for a tougher workout) and lost another 20 pounds while gaining strength & confidence. It's part of my day now. And without it, something feels off! As an aside, I started running before starting P90X, but after going through the 10 MInute program a few times. I did a 5K that year (that was just last year). This year, I've done two 10Ks, a 15K, and I have a 10K and 5K yet to go before starting training for a half marathon next spring! I hate running, but with that strength & confidence (and slimmer body) Tony Horton's programs have given me, it's become my new challenge. I still have about 10 pounds left to my realistic, maintainable goal-weight and I hope I'll get there within the next year, but we'll see.

Both workouts are available directly from Beachbody.com and I highly recommend going this route, rather than eBay since there are a ton of bootlegs on eBay and if you go direct from Beachbody, you get access to all the helpful stuff that they have to offer (coaching, recipes, articles, motivational stuff).

This is just my personal experience and you'll have to decide on whatever feels right for you. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

What you might do, and won't cost anything, is to look for a community support group, for over-eaters or weight loss groups.
Community support groups, exist in every city.
Search the newspapers or do a Google search.

And as far as exercise, you don't have to buy gym memberships. Go walking in your neighborhood etc. Or do exercises while you are watching tv etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If you need weigh in accountabilty you could join TOPS. They are cheap like a few dollars a week and usually have a program. You could also find and pair up with 4 friends and meet each other at a bike trail to either walk or bike 4 to 5 times a week. Do basic things the first week like write down everything you put in your mouth without modifying it/only measure it all. Then when you have a complete week go on the internet and find out your calories you currently consume daily and average it out. This will be the amount of calories you will slowly back down from from this number, so if you consume 2600 now then decide where you can cut 100 calories per day. This combined with adding the trails should bring you a slow but safe 1 to 2 pounds a week without starving and without huge sacrifices. When you attend a group or have friends holding you accountable you are generally more successful.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Yes! I am right there with you, 50 lbs exactly. I joined Weight Watchers last May and just canceled last week. I wasn't going to the monthly meetings so it was a waste of $40. Just since I decided that I was quitting last month, I decided to eat healthy, NO processed food. It's probably the biggest thing that many American's do, cuz it's so convenient and quick. So if it comes out of a box or can, I don't eat it. I weighed myself last Saturday and I was 178 and now this morning I am 174.5 :) The hardest thing to give up is my daily Starbucks mocha or chai, not sure if that's considered processed or not but it's a big calorie getter. Want to be my weight loss buddy? We can do this together =)

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answers from Phoenix on

accountablility is really the key. find the modivation partner and do it together. Find a book you both like and follow it for a year. I am a big fan of weight watchers, and I think if you can team with someone who has done it before you can get all the knowledge to live that lifestyle perm. You can do it on your own and have a partner to weigh with. It may take a long time though so you have to be prepared for that. The 17 day diet seems really popular these days..... can try that to follow in a book. All I know is that the food has to be the first choice to change and working out comes later. I think it is OK to get the food down for 4 weeks in a good habit and then introduce 30 min of moving daily in something you enjoy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Redding on

You CANT let yourself get hungry because that's when you will crave and cave. Figure out the foods you want in the house--NO junk food, and snack on healthy stuff even when you arent hungry to keep you from getting hungry. You are probably a grease/sugar junkie. You have to quit them. If you allow yourself to get hungry you wont be able to control the crave and you'll find yourself at McDonalds gettin a double cheese burger. Drink green tea (brewed by the cup) throughout the day, and eat celery with pnut butter inbetween meals. It's SO totally helpful. You can stick to your good, new way of eating if you do this.



answers from Cleveland on

I put reminders everywhere in the house and in my car saying that I need to lose weight. I was trying to lose my postpartum belly because it just wouldnt shrink at all. When i would go to the grocery store, I would just get things that were on my list and try out something new and healthy.
if you want, join FItness19, and it's only $9 a month. That would equal $108 a year.

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