The 2 Biggest Mistakes Dieters Make

by Dr. Jade Teta ND | Follow on Twitter

The questions patient’s ask about weight loss and dieting is a dead giveaway to their understanding of how change in the body works.

THIS SPRING, millions of people will embark on another diet and exercise program to get them ready for summer.

Almost all of them will fail miserably.

The reason? They simply don’t understand how the process works. The questions they ask are a dead giveaway as they have little clue as to the real way body change, or any change for that matter, works.

When I hear these 2 questions, it is very much like talking to a child who has yet to grasp the concept of time. You get in the car to make a twelve hour trip and after just 15 minutes they start asking, “are we there yet?”.

So, I am going to share some insights with you about why the following questions are not helpful.

Question # 1: What diet should I follow?

This question comes in many different forms. Questions like, “I just read the Extreme Metabolism Diet. You think I should do that?” Or, “Do you think I should go low carb?” Or maybe, “Do you have a meal plan I can follow?” Sometimes it just comes in a declarative statement like, “I am going to do the Isaology cleanse.”

This is one of the worst questions you can ask. It demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about how body change works.

“It is not about finding or doing the next diet, it is about creating a way of eating that suits you.” <– Tweet this.

Can you see the subtle difference? Instead of asking “what diet should I do,” you should be asking “how do I learn the skills I need to create the perfect diet for me?” That is the right question.

You are unique. You need to understand how your body functions differently. What foods satisfy and which do not. How your body reacts to work stress and sleep deprivation. Most of all you need honor your personal preferences.

Cutting out all the things you love by going on a “diet” is like voluntarily smashing your toe with a hammer every morning. You won’t be doing it for long.

Cutting out all the things you love by going on a “diet” is like voluntarily smashing your toe… <– Click To Tweet

Here is a novel concept, how about you create a lifestyle that allows you to eat as much of the things you love as possible yet still allows you to lose weight and get healthier? That is something you will be able to love, live with and do for life because it would be designed for you by you. It is the only way it works.

It is the only way it has ever worked.

Here is what to do:

Stop following off-the-shelf meal plans and one-size-fits-all diets. Meal plans, recipes, and food lists teach you little about change. You may think they are a helpful tool, but they can too easily become a crutch. Unless you can learn to generate your own lists, recipes, and food lists that work for your body, the process will be very difficult if not impossible.

Learn the process, and stop looking for protocols:

There is no off-the-shelf protocol that is going to work for you over the long-term. You are far better off learning how your body works and reacts. One-size-fits-all meal plans and food lists are part of the weight loss trap.

Question #2: How fast can I lose weight?

Another version of this question is,

“How long will it take to lose weight”

This is like asking “how fast it will take to become a doctor?” I can give you an answer of course. It takes about 10 years when you include undergrad, medical school and residency. But that is the wrong question.

The right question would be “how do I become an expert doctor?”

When you ask this question it illustrates something about your perspective and reason for wanting to become a doctor in the first place. The answer to that question is it takes as long as it takes, it never truly ends and nor would you want it too.

When you ask how fast losing weight will take you are showing your cards. It becomes immediately apparent that you want the outcome but not the experience. You want quick and expedient, rather than measured and thorough.

One way lasts and the other does not. You don’t get to short-cut your way to permanent weight loss.

Tweet this –> “You don’t get to short-cut your way to permanent weight loss.”

If you knew you wanted to be a great singer and make a career at it for life would you ask “how long it would take?” No, you would just go to work everyday working the process to get better and loving every second of it because you were following your passion. Singing would be your life and you would not feel whole without it.

Body change, health and fitness is no different. When you really are doing it for the right reasons there is no end in sight and you don’t want there to be. You arrive when arrival is no longer the goal. And when you get there you will be confused as to why the hell anyone would ask you “how long does it take?”

Here is what to do:

Stop expecting linear, predictable, timely and consistent results- change happens in stages, and will always involve peaks, valleys, and plateaus all on your way to changing your metabolism.

A few other things you should be thinking

  1. Be a detective not a dieter:
    To achieve real and lasting body change, you need to know how to read the signals of your body and adjust your approach. Hunger, energy, and cravings give you a reliable source of biofeedback. Correct these sensations first, and then you are in a position to see lasting change
  2. Understand self-control:
    If you want change, you need to make room for change. Psychologists tell us that self-control, just like our muscles, is fatigue-able. If you are doing too much, you will do nothing well. Before adding to your life, make sure you subtract. Read more about “How to Deal with Self-Sabotaging Patients”.
  3. Design a lifestyle that is easy:
    Body change requires making changes that are as easy or easier than the things they are replacing. If you think you can go on doing the same old things and get a different result, you are sadly mistaken. You must change, and that change must be doable over the long run.
  4. It is all about ME, meaning you:
    It does not matter if your friend can lose weight eating Fruit Loops and Frappucinos. There is nothing fair or logical about body change. Learn, practice, and master what works for you. No matter what any article, guru, friend, or anyone else tells you, filter EVERYTHING through your own metabolic tendencies, personality behaviors, and psychological preferences. This is the core teaching of Metabolic Effect.

The change formula = (K + E) x (T + P)

You want to know the formula for change?

It’s (K + E) x (T + P).

Knowledge (K) plus experience (E) practiced (P) over time (T) equals permanent change. See how that works? And one of the biggest hurdles for beginners is understanding this formula.

You need the know how (K). You need to apply that in the real world and adjust it to fit you, your body and your psychology and personal preferences (E). You then need to practice this over and over and over again (P) and given in time (T) it will become second nature. Change will occur.

Something that will help

In light of these new insights you may be asking, “but Jade, this is easy for you because you understand all the tools. I don’t know where to begin. I need do need some guidance don’t I?”

Now, this question I get. And I agree. And the key term there is “guidance”.

Guidelines are different than rules. Guidelines are flexible. They are more like principles and practices that you “try on” to see if they fit. If they do, you adopt them into the lifestyle you are creating.

If they don’t fit, you discard them no matter how much sense they make. A perfect plan you can’t or won’t do is not a perfect plan.

“A perfect plan you can’t or won’t do is not a perfect plan.” <– Tweetable

And then most importantly, you add the lifestyle elements you must have to enjoy life and make the change permanent.

This is summed up perfectly by the late great Bruce Lee. He said,

“adopt what is useful, discard what is not and add what is uniquely your own.”

That is how you make permanent change.

About the Author
Dr. Jade Teta ND

Dr. Jade Teta is an integrative physician specializing in natural health, fitness and body transformation. He is the co-author of The Metabolic Effect Diet. He completed his undergraduate training at North Carolina State University, earning a bachelors of science in biochemistry. He then went on to study at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington completing his doctorate in Naturopathic medicine. Dr. Teta has worked in the fitness and weight loss fields for over 20 years, and is the co-developer of the rest-based training system for personal training and group exercise. He is also the co-founder of the Naturopathic Health Clinic of North Carolina and of the health, fitness and international fat loss company, Metabolic Effect. His background in natural medicine, along with his fitness expertise, has defined his healthcare specialties of hormonal weight loss and functional medicine approaches to chronic disease.