jared-pants.jpgDo you want to lose weight? Do you want to lose weight and keep it off? Permanently? Forever?

Then don’t diet!

I weigh 150 pounds, which is what I weighed when I graduated from high school almost 40 years ago. I have been that weight plus or minus 2 or 3 pounds most of my adult life. And I’ve never truly been on a diet. I have, however, constantly monitored my weight (it is a rare day I do not step on a doctors’ scale) and have always exercised regularly. I find exercise a significant mood brightener, a great way to lose the cares of the day.

The key to weight control is your eating habits and patterns. You want to lose weight? Don’t diet, simply educate yourself and change your eating habits and patterns. It may take time, you may have to learn some tricks of the trade about self control, focus, and visualization, but it can be done. Be it simply starting to write down everything you eat (without denying yourself) and asking yourself, Did I truly enjoy it? Was it what I really wanted? Was I eating out of habit? Nervousness? Boredom? Because it was in front of me? What if I had gotten up from the table or asked the waiter to remove the dish? Would I have been okay? What would happen if I started putting down my fork between every bite? Took a sip of water before every bite? What if I started using a small salad plate, would I put less on my plate? If I love food so much, wouldn’t it make sense to eat slowly, take smaller bites, and savor each and every morsel? What if I stopped or cut back on drinking alcohol or sweetened beverages? Can I refine my taste buds? Perhaps once I start using less sugar or eating more slowly, I will taste it more? And need less? How can I change/educate myself about nutrition? Earn a self-study doctorate on healthy eating? Do I have some healthy-eating friends I could hang out with more? Some physically active friends whose company I could seek out more?

Generally, diets are all about “denying” yourself what you want, perhaps even things you crave. It can work but it is going at it the hard way because what you resist tends to persist.

The key is to teach yourself to want—no, to LOVE—the foods that are good for you. To stop seeing healthy eating as a sacrifice, as resisting temptation. And see it instead as rewarding yourself with a healthy body and a long life.

I’m not saying it is easy or fast but it can be done. I used to be known as the King of Desserts. I ordered desserts first, saying life was too uncertain to risk waiting. My good friends will tell you how I once ordered dessert for an appetizer, another for an entree, and a third for dessert. I used to be able to get away with it because I was young and I exercised a lot. Those days are gone and desserts are pretty much off the menu. Today I’m a salad guy. Twenty years ago I could not imagine living on fruits and vegetables the way I do today, but I could even less imagine being overweight or out of shape. Even more important, I can’t imagine not being in control of my life, mind, or body. I love food but being healthy is a much higher value, a value to which other values and desires are subordinate.

Dieting is a short-term way to lose weight. Too many people regain weight when they return to the old eating habits that got them in trouble in the beginning. Healthy eating habits are a lifetime gift to yourself.