Ask Stew – Need Diet Help!

Dietician Mrs. Jennifer Eiland, left, discusses possible changes Master Sgt. Anthony Jones may want to consider regarding his diet to help better his overall fitness (Photo Credit: G.A. Volb).

No one wants to be a Yo-Yo, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. Dieting and a long-term life style change are two different things when it comes to weight loss. Most diets will start off on a diet plan that forces the elimination of certain types of foods, over-restricts calorie intake, and other unsustainable temporary habits to see success quickly.  However, if you are seeking a more permanent solution and tired of the yo-yo dieting like this retired Master Chief, consider seeing a diet professional and do the two-habit challenge: one habit you have to start and one habit you have to quit.

Here is a question from the retired Navy veteran seeking some advice on the topic:

Stew, I have done about 5-6 diets in my life to lose some weight in the short term, but eventually fail and wind up falling back to my starting weight or worse (Atkins, Grapefruit, Intermittent Fasting, Liver Detox, and various other cleanses). What do you recommend to get off this yo-yo dieting method that has plagued my goals over the last 10-15 years? Retired Navy Master Chief – Jack M.

Master Chief, this is probably the most common issue people have with starting a diet that is not a true lifestyle change and meant as a long-term fix. These diets are obviously quick fix methods to drop quick weight if you have it to lose (not that healthy however). In fact, if your diet starts to eliminate macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, fat, protein) it is not a long-term solution. However, if you are seeking to eliminate something – try sugar, but the best option is to speak with a registered dietician or certified nutritionist and get on a program that is a sustainable life style change.

I am not a dietician or nutritionist, so my advice comes from personal experience and research on the topic both personally and professionally.  Here is a recent article I wrote documenting some options out there that started off reducing carbohydrates significantly (not completely), but evolved into eliminating sugar altogether and getting a daily allotment of carbs from fruits and vegetables (salad, broccoli, asparagus, tangerines, apples).  This common denominator with successful dieting / food planning is doing something that becomes a new way of eating for you that is healthy and sustainable. To be honest, in the end it comes down to discipline.

It Takes Discipline, Persistence, and Patience

I bring discipline up as a topic for the Military.com readers as most of us can relate to building discipline.  As a retired veteran, it might be refreshing to start being more disciplined again as it too is a habit.  Plain and simple, you have to be more disciplined when it comes to old habits and temptations that cause you to increase your caloric intake. Fighting off the old habits will be one of the harder challenges of a new food plan.  Second, the discipline to stick to the new program is challenging at first, but the new method will start to become a habit in 3-4 weeks of persistence and patience. Third, the other side of the equation is caloric expenditure.  How are you getting your exercise? If you can burn 500 calories a day in the gym and eat 500 calories less by consuming smaller portions, you can be on your way to a lifestyle change of basically burning / consuming 1000 calories a day on the side of weight loss. In fact, read ideas about the 1000 Calories a Day Goals. Your success will come from eating healthful food and moving more, but the discipline to portion control (even of good foods) is still required for long term goal achievement.   

Stew Smith works as a presenter / editorial board with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  There are also over 800 articles onMilitary.com Fitness Forum focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

Latest Fitness Books:  Navy SEAL Weight Training and Tactical Fitness

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