Dieting Versus Lifestyle Changes: Making a Long-Term Impact

Many people want to lose weight or improve their health in other ways. When this happens, they often turn to diets, exercise programs, or similar areas to help them achieve their goals. It’s often a disappointment to find that while they had drive and motivation, they ended up in the same place they were before.

This has led many people to look for another option. Lifestyle change is a popular phrase that’s being used in magazines, television, and other areas. The reason for this is that multiple studies have shown that long-term weight loss is the result of healthy lifestyle changes.

What is a Lifestyle Change?

Studies that have looked at long-term success with weight loss found that people who maintained their weight have made true lifestyle changes. This is the key to success, rather than sticking with the latest fad diet. What makes this different from a diet though? There are a few key characteristics

  • Lifestyle changes aren’t temporary. If you follow a specific dietary plan for a month and then go back to your old eating habits, then you’re really not making any lifestyle changes. Instead of a short-term plan, lifestyle changes involve making healthy habits a normal part of your lifestyle.
  • Lifestyle changes are about balance. Any area of self-improvement notes that discovering balance in your life is the key to making long-term changes work for you. Without having this balance, you can end up feeling deprived and overwhelmed. This means that while you’re focused on making healthy choices the majority of the time, you also have the space for some indulgence in your life. This is in contrast to diets which can be restrictive with minimal “cheats.”
  • Lifestyle changes will become a part of your routine. In the beginning, you’ll probably have to put some effort into changing the way that you live, exercise, or eat. However, as you focus on ways to incorporate these habits into your schedule, you’ll find that they do become habits over time. For example, if you make walking every morning a habit, soon you’ll find that you end up missing that when you’re not able to do it daily.
  • Lifestyle changes must be things that you can do on your own. Diets are all about following a plan that’s already been set for you. This is only a temporary fix and following that for a long time would be difficult due to a loss of personal preferences and choices. Figuring out how to incorporate healthy habits into your own schedule is the more realistic option.

The Problem with Diets

What often makes people confused when distinguishing between these two areas is that they seem to have the same goal. They often do but diets have been shown to be temporary and usually don’t lead to long-term success. Consider some of the popular diets that are encouraged today such as the ketogenic diet. People will find that they lose weight in the short-term which is encouraging to them. However, this diet was extremely hard to follow over time, which led to people going back to their original dietary habits. This often then leads to their regaining all the weight that they originally lost and sometimes even more.

Making Lifestyle Changes

Keep in mind that you don’t have to ignore all of the diet-related advice provided. Some diets emphasize including more plant-based foods into your diet and others have good advice as well. The key to making these changes work is that you have to believe that you can incorporate the changes into your own schedule and follow those changes in the long-term.

Finally, lifestyle changes usually are more of a gradual process than a rapid one. It’s a good idea to start by making one or two changes at a time and then focusing on those for a month until they become a habit. Making these slow but effective changes over time will lead to long-term success. If you’re tired of trying to work on self-improvement and failing every time, then it’s time to start focusing on lifestyle changes rather than the latest diet plan. This overview provides a great reason why diets are probably not the best option for you and providing one that will be.