Dieting Success – Part I – Reframing

This is the first of a two-part post on increasing weight management and nutrition related success.

Many people set goals for weight/body fat content in their pursuit or maintenance of fitness. Diets of every kind are notorious for failing to modify eating habits (and maintaining weight loss). A primary reason is that dieting is a matter of restriction. It’s about NOT having something. Psychologically that amounts to punishment. How long does anyone stick with something that is punishing?

One issue rarely addressed on this topic is that the mere term – diet – has become a four-letter word. It connotes restriction, denial and punishment. Psychologically, we cannot expect people to stick to something that is punishing.

Yet diet also means – what you consume. But since the word itself conjures up so many negative impressions and feelings, my first step is to reword it to reframe it. My approach is to refer to your diet as your nutrition and fuel. You are not “on” a diet. You are taking care of your nutrition and fueling needs.

Many of you may say that this is only semantics. You are right. Words carry meanings. Those meanings may or may not be accurate as they are individually defined and personalized. Our personal experiences shape those meanings and they often carry emotional baggage along. The meanings and emotions shape your reality. Want proof? Just ask people about dieting.

To kick start viewing your food and beverage consumption as your nutrition status begin restating typical questions you pose regarding diet. From now on ask empowering questions to reframe the old “diet” thing.

  • How has your nutrition been today?
  • Have you fueled your body appropriately today?
  • Did you fuel your body as an athlete today?
  • What can I do to improve my nutrition for the rest of today?
  • What nutrition needs do I have in preparation for tomorrow, or my workout?
  • Is this how an athlete manages nutrition?

Notice that these focus on physical needs and healthy outcomes. They avoid a focus on restrictions and punishments. Reframing is one step in directing your behaviors towards those outcome goals.

If you have other ways to reframe your nutrition related behaviors please share them.

Part II

4 comments on “Dieting Success – Part I – Reframing”

  1. Avatar Jackie

    This is such a timely topic for me. As a competitive dancer (and being over 50 years old) I can struggle to maintain a healthy outlook on nutrition and fuel for my sport. I notice a big difference in my stamina when I have not fueled well the previous day. There’s also the superficial aspect of my sport; my weight needs to be in check, and with age that takes an ever-more-mindful approach. I’ve made some recent changes that I am seeing direct benefits from: sharply decreasing my bread and sweets intake has given me added energy and reduced mid-section flab. Every time I look longingly at a cupcake (which actually occurs less often these days) I focus on the positive effects I’ve been seeing by limiting low-quality fuel in my diet. Thanks for this post!

    • Avatar Coach Dean

      How do you get around the idea of restriction or denial as part of sticking to it? At some point most people give in because they can deny themselves just so long…. and usually those payoffs are too far off in the future.

  2. Avatar Jackie

    I try very hard to frame it as “prevention” when I skip the cookies, not “sacrifice”. And I also try to be flexible; severe restrictions are so much harder to follow and makes you kind of an annoying person to be around, frankly. So, home-made cream puffs at a friend’s dinner party? Bring it! Ice cream in front of the TV? Not so much.

    • Avatar Coach Dean

      Ah yes moderation. It is interesting you mention about being annoying to people around you. This in fact ends up one more negative reinforcement that will either: further whittle away at your will power OR if you are otherwise motivated it will feed your will power just to annoy others and to “show them” you can do it.

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