Self control and Restrictive diets

People often see that I lost about 55 lbs and ask “How did you do it?”.  I don’t mention this to brag,  although I’m very proud of what I have done,  I say it to show you that I don’t just speak, I practice my own philosophy.   A huge part of becoming healthy physically is setting limits and being honest with yourself.  I can truly say that I have not cut any particular food type out of my diet.  I still eat fast food sometimes, when the mood hits, I still eat pizza; I still have candy and cookies on occasion.  I’ve just learned to do it far less frequently.  I say this simply to show that there’s no “secret” plan that we who have succeeded adopt that we just aren’t sharing with the rest of you.  Sure you can go all restrictive and eat only veggies, chicken breast, and sweet potatoes if you want, but that’s not the only way to do it.  That method (restricting yourself to certain foods or food types) can work, but it requires a strong will, and full knowledge that you’ll need to do more work later to maintain your goal.


Through years of experience mentoring others looking to lose weight, I’ve learned a few things, the main thing is to use the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!).  KISS means don’t over think it, don’t use 2 steps when 1 will work, and always look for ways to make something easier.  With regards to your nutrition, KISS is great.  A lot of people think that by going low carb, or removing cookies, or removing sugar, or raising your fiber will be the cure-all for their issues, it’s not.  It’s all about moderation folks.  Planning and moderation.  Let’s go back to the KISS principle and apply it to a restrictive diet.  Say you want to go low carb, thinking that this will get you where you want to be.  It may do just that, but when you reach your goal weight or body fat %, what do you do now?  Now you have to redesign your plan and rebuild your nutrition, this is much more difficult than one would think, and it violates the KISS principle fundamentally.  A better method although maybe a little slower to see results, would be to design your nutrition plan right at the start, just allowing for a larger calorie deficit at the start and rather than changing your whole diet, adding more of the same calorie types to your existing program when your calorie deficit needs to change, eventually adding enough to maintain at the end.  This eliminates the need to redesign your nutrition after the initial stage.

Of course, the above technique still requires will power, just because you can have the foods you like, doesn’t mean you don’t have to change your thinking about HOW MUCH to have at any one sitting.  Sure you can have cookies, but instead of the whole box, maybe you just have 3 or 4.  Will power to resist such things isn’t something we are born with, it’s simply you having the mental strength to say “Yes, I want more, but I need to stop because eating more is not the right move.”  On a final note, self-control can sometimes mean disappointing others.  Deal with it folks, when your best friend wants to “go out for drinks” because he/she is feeling bad about something, you absolutely can (and maybe should) go with her/him.  Here’s the thing, when they ask you to “drink with them” or “eat with them” that’s where you MUST draw the line.  No excuse is a good excuse, because no excuse exempts you from weight gain, and don’t kid yourself there is a psychological factor when you “fail” often enough.  Succeed a few times and your confidence goes up, as does your conviction.  Don’t give in to pressure, your friends and family will get over it if you don’t indulge with them, and if they don’t, that’s their loss (and yours, pun intended).


About banks1850

I'm a regular guy, very happily married, I have no kids, 1 dog (ok he's sort of a kid), love sports (playing and watching), and enjoy helping others. I'm an ACE certified personal trainer since early 2010 and I focus on impact athletics performance training and also beginner development for both nutrition and exercise. I'm a bit of a nerd, as such I love to read about health and wellness and much of my nutrition and biological knowledge comes from college and advanced text.

Posted on October 28, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I totally love your posts here and at MFP. You’ve given me a lot of good information that has been very helpful as I continue my weight loss and getting fit journey. However, I slightly disagree with you just a tad. While some people have called me an outright liar about this, I have had rare days in my life where I have eaten in excess of 2000 calories a day so it was rare that I ever ate more than 3-4 cookies. Most days, no cookies. But those of us with some kind of insulin issue, whether it be diabetes, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, etc., really must limit carbs in order to lose. Not cut out carbs but find out our personal limit that helps us lose without having negative impact on our insulin levels.

    Low carb does not mean no carbs although some people do push it that hard, it’s not recommended by Atkins or most other low-carb proponents. The Atkins plan calls for only 2 weeks at 20 carbs/day to help yourself rid yourself of carb cravings. After that you add 5 grams carb/day for a week, then 5 grams carb/day the next week, and so on until you find your personal sweet spot where you still lose. Vegetables, low GI fruits, and whole-grain products are encouraged while you go up the carb ladder. Once you reach your goal weight, you continue to add these types of carbs until you reach the amount that you can eat without gaining. Most other plans have somewhat similar recommendations.

    While I’m not following any of the low-carb plans out there, I do find that I do best when I only get about 60-100 grams/carb per day. The variance depends on what types of foods that carbs come from and how intensely I exercised that day. If I eat more carbs than that, even if it’s quality carbs from the types of foods most would consider clean foods, I start getting intense hunger pangs and, if I check my blood sugars, they are going too high and then plummeting. Maybe not low enough to bring on a hypoglycemic episode but dropping fast enough to bring on the feeling that I need to eat to stabilize my blood sugar level.

    And I do believe in splurging a bit once in awhile as a life of deprivation would be a depressing life, imho. So I do sometimes go above my carb limit intentionally as I still love to indulge in pizza, lasagna, cookies, ice cream, cake, etc., once in awhile. I just plan for it in my calorie budget and insure that I will have a good workout in order to burn the excess sugar in my blood. And, of course, watch the portion size of these splurges. I’m not talking an all-out pig-out. So we agree on that. I just point it out because lowering your carbs on a regular basis doesn’t mean that you can never eat carbs again, or some kind of sweet again, it just means that you need to watch it just like anybody does on any kind of diet.

    I have lost 59# this way without feeling deprived so it’s working well for me.

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