The Secrets of Success: Stop Dieting

By , SparkPeople Blogger
SparkPeople doesn't endorse "diets." We don't sell pills, and we don't have a gimmick. What we have are success stories, committed members and proven results. Last year, we reached out to the members who have lost weight (more than 100 pounds in some cases) and kept it off. We shared their 27 Secrets of Success exclusively in our best-selling book, The Spark, but then we realized that some secrets--including these--are too good to keep to yourself.

We're spilling the beans.

Secret #13: Stop dieting.

Fully 90 percent of all members said they were following a healthy lifestyle, as opposed to dieting. People on a diet actually lost less weight! There were big differences in how dieters thought. They were twice as likely to think of exercise as a chore, more likely to “beat themselves up,” more likely to cut out food groups and deprive themselves, and more likely to say that they “don’t feel good about themselves.” They got less sleep on average—between five and seven hours, versus seven to eight hours in the healthy lifestyle group. Dieters also reported lower levels of happiness.

Back in college, my friend and I were determined to slim down before Spring Break. We didn't like to exercise, so we turned to dieting to help us lose a few pounds. The Cabbage Soup Diet sounded good, so we loaded up a cart with vegetables and made two giants pots of smelly, bland soup. For three days, all we ate was the soup. By Thursday night, we were cranky, tired--and hungry. We ordered a large pizza with banana peppers, ate it all, and washed it down with a bottle of cheap rose wine. It would be a few more years before I learned a valuable lesson: Diets don't work. Healthy living doesn't feel like a punishment.

Diet starts with "die"; I don't know about you, but I like living!

Changing Our Mentality from Dieting to Healthy Living

Stop Dieting and Start Living

Cut Calories without Dieting

9 Simple Tricks to Eat Less

Start shouting from the rooftops: "These are the Secrets of Success!" Spread the Spark by clicking the green "Share" button below.

Find the 15 secrets we're sharing here (a new one is posted every day). For the rest of the secrets and to learn how to fit them into your life, check out The Spark.

Have you stopped dieting? How many "diets" did you try before starting SparkPeople?

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I have lost count how many diets I have tried!! Report
I never really tried any crazy fad diets, I just ignored everything I knew was right and ate crap lol. But now, I know what's the right way to eat and what's healthier for me, so it's now so hard for me now. Report
This is just what I have been working on. I have reached my goal and my thinking has not really made the transition. So there is still work to do. Report
I agree with you totally..diets are for the birds and I love living....Thanks Report
love your blog :) Report
I have come to realize that I am not on a diet. I am focused on improving my health and future lifestyle. Report
It's not a DIET,

It's a LIVE-IT!

Don, Co-Leader of All Health Professionals, Binghamton Area Losers and Laid Off But Staying Strong SparkTeams Report
What I find most helpful about Spark (aside from all the supportive community and recipes and extra doo-dads) is the way the nutrition log is set up to accommodate any foods you want to eat as long as they meet a certain balance of carbs, protein, fat. You can monitor more nutrients if you choose, but by keeping those big 3 in balance each day, I finally feel properly fueled so that I have fewer and fewer "binge" cravings or even desire to overeat. I am more satisified throughout the day/week so I am less likely to feel deprived and thus react by eating some absurd amount of a high-calorie, high-fat food. Report
Diets do work, but only short term! Thanks for sharing one of the best secrets of weight loss/healthy living: everything in moderation. Report
I had a goal to lose 40 pounds before I turned 40 so I joined Weight Watchers and achieved my goal. Then a little over a year later I had gained back 30. Luckily a friend told me about SparkPeople. The difference is amazing!! I'm not trying to lose the extra 30 pounds - I'm learning about nutrition - or lack of it in my food choices. If I go over my goals for the day it's okay because this is not a temporary date-oriented goal - it is truly a lifestyle change of learning to make healthy choices. And the goal tracking and SparkPoints are great motivational tools. I told a Weight Watchers friend about SparkPeople; she was at a meeting and someone asked her if she used WW Online and she told him that she just heard about something that is 100% more useful - and free! Thanks, SparkPeople! Report
Have not 'dieted' in years, but need to get back on track... Once I stopped paying attention to what I was eating the fat was back... Learned years ago diets don't work, and like others I've tried many. Report
I 've always thought I had healthy diet-at least better than many around me. I gained a lot of weight after changing from an active job to a sedentary one and remarrying at the same time. As my "life" improved,my health did not...I ate more & finding Spark has been the a-ha for me to get back on track.I can SEE what I REALLY eat- LOL this self insight was an eyeopener and I look forward to sparking about my day each evening. Thank you SPARK ! a very happy newcomer Report
I'm not on a diet. It's a life style change. I'm in it for the long haul. I've not tried any of the other so call diets. I mainly try to watch my diet, exercise and strength train. I've had some injuries which hindered my success but I feel I'm moving in the right direction now. Thanks to SP for a great site and support from all the members. Report
Living a lifestyle is the right choice. When say diet that sounds like punishment.Thank you,
I like the article. Report
Years ago I did Weight Watchers, but otherwise I've never been on any of the popular diet programs, pills, etc. I think watching my mom and sister go from one to the next made me realize that simplicity and just doing the basics - more exercise, less food - would be enough. Now, I'm trying that out with SP and it's fabulous! Report
I've been doing the Shape Shifting method (body/mind/spirit weight balancing), but the Spark page really helps round out my efforts. I'm not on a diet, per se, but this site really helps me keep track of what I'm eating and gives a great sense of community with people who are on the same path. Report
I was dieting since I was 11, I am now 56 - o you can guess how many cause i can't remember them all. I no longer diet, I am on a lifestyle change journey and it is working!! Report
sparkpeople is definitely a lifestyle change for me. i feel that this is the right fit, unlike all the diet and exercise "spurts" that i have done before. I do not have a deadline to quit doing this, either. I want this to be forever. keep on sparking!! Report
I tried the cabbage diet too. It ended with a banana split and hamburger. I really enjoy this website because changing my life style is a much easier way to lose weight and stay on track. It make so much sense. :) Report
slow but surely changing your eating habits and what you eat defintely is better than dieting, but I do see where a 'diet' might help kinda jump start you. Done both with success. Report
I have tried diets before that didn't last. Once I gave myself a year to lose 55 lbs. and I kept it off several years. However, I now realize this must be a permanent lifestyle change for health as well as for weight loss. Somewhere along the way, this sunk in and SP has given me a new perspective and focus. Once the "lightbulb" moment came, my whole attitude changed. Report
I agree. Being an older woman and trying every diet I could find and afford nothing worked for me long term. Now with Spark People and the wonderful friends I ave met here I am proud to say that I have lost 420 pounds, and 170 of that came off after joining And I am keeping it off a lot better than I have before also. So a bit Thank You to those in Sparkpeople for you help and nonjudgemental ways. You have my deepest gratitude. Report
Good information. I hate diets and believe lifestyle change is the answer. Report
I am slowly making changes to my lifestyle. I do all the cooking for my parents, my son, and myself, so I am spreading the spark to my entire family. I use a small plate when I eat and I feel full faster. I love fresh fruit. I have tried the different pills, diets, and gimmicks, and it all failed. Now I am active and feel amazing. Report
I basically am aware of what I eat and try to eat the best Report
I have been on almost every diet there is and have lost weight and gained it all back. This time I am concentrating on changing my lifestyle. Report
I'm pretty young so I had never really done many "diets" though my mom did the Slim Fast thing when I was younger...
In high school I just though you had to not eat and that I would lose weight. So I'd try not to eat all day long. The doctor said I needed to "lose weight" and I decided to try, but then got mad at myself when I caved and got a candy bar or whatever.
But I learned that cutting out anything really doesn't work. Moderation is best. Like, now if I want something sweet, I just count it into my calories for the day! And I still eat-ALOT!
I don't feel deprived. I just try to eat healthy 80-90% of the time, and don't worry about enjoying a treat, or lunch out the other 10-20% of the time. Report
Here here!! I cannot agree more! I am finding that is it FUN to discover healthy activities and foods that enable a lifestyle that supports a healthy weight and body. I love going to farmers markets, trying out great healthy Spark recipes and enjoying foods that are tasty and healthy. I love biking with friends. And I am going hiking with a fun group today. I really enjoy Zumba and Kickboxing classes. Doing all of these great activities with great people makes it seem less like a chore and more like a fun planned activity that you can look forward to (gulp). This is the antithesis of the diet and exercise as punishment route. Focusing on making a healthy diet and fitness fun is helping me to achieve my goals. Report
I have dieted many times in my life and none of them changed my mind set. I am slowly trying to remember everyday its a lifestyle change! This is for life trying every day to make the healthier choice. Report
Healthy choices that are sustainable makes so much more sense than a die-t. Report
I've done Adkins diet in which in lost (and gained it back)50 pounds. I've done the Optifast diet in which I lost (and gained it back) 88 pounds. I've done a low fat diet, and other diets that never changed my life. This time, my weight loss feels permanent because I'm doing it slowly, and using foods that I like and will be able to continue to eat even when I am trying to maintain my weight. That's the big difference this time! Report
Totally true, it's the very point I've been pressing to others about SP. It's hard for lifetime dieters to change their thinking. My Mom coming to SP had the "here we go again" attitude. "Can I get my willpower up? Better throw out all the junk food, all the sugar, get the lowfat stuff in the fridge..." The prevailing sense was 'yuck, depressing, here I go again dieting' and that attitude sets a person up for a short-term, end in mind eating plan.

I love this new freedom of choice. I love the way my body feels when I eat better and how pleased I am not only to see the scale go down, but to see my nutrition report showing that I actually fed my body well. Report
I've tried a few diets in the past and honestly HATE any kind of diet. I'm so glad SparkPeople has helped me figure out what I need to do instead. Having lost 20lbs so far, I've received a few comments from people who have noticed, and it feels so great to say that I did it WITHOUT dieting! How awesome is that? Report
Great article! So true! Report
I am in total agreement with the healthy lifestyle concept rather than the dieting mentality. However I find it bit disingenuous for SparkPeople to allow SparkTeams who are focused on dieting rather than healthy lifestyle. The use of human growth hormone for weight loss is just one example. The mere presence of such teams make it appear that SparkPeople finds the concept acceptable even though it seems incongruous with the philosophy of the site. At what point does a team not qualify as acceptable on the website? Just wondering... Report
I would never diet but I do believe I've learned to make some healthy lifestyle choices. I've subbed water for colas (it's been a year now without one); I eschew the bad fats and have cut way back on red meats; I've made a concerted effort to consume lots of veggies (often raw) and fruits (although I may have been taking in sufficient amounts in the past. While I do count calories, etc., I note that if I do have any problems here, it is not one of overeating, it is the intake of sufficient quantities of that which is required to keep me going, whether it is nutrients, fats, carbs or whatever! I attribute the weight loss to exercise and a healthy lifestyle and eating well! Report
As a teenager I tried every diet that came out in a magazine around spring. The ones I really liked were the ones that had exersizes with it. I kept doing the exersizes long after I gave up the diet (hum... think My body was trying to tell me something?lol)

Now its just eating well and exersizing to help releave stress. Report
The word "diet" makes me rebel. Why? Maybe because every diet I have been on I have lost weight, gained it all back plus more. Last year I started working with a nutritionist/personal traininer. Best thing that every happened to me. She was much kinder to me than I to myself. We worked to find new things to eat that were healthy and thanks to her, I have lost 26 since January 2009. I now try to eat healthy (although will confess that an occasional hamburger is my downfall) and have found SparkPeople to help me with my motivation. So, no more diets for me ever! Report
I never thought of this: but we have a lifestyle, whether a healthy one or unhealthy one! I loved this blog. I read all the extra links, all are helpful Report
100% true! From the start one year ago I announced I was starting a healthy lifestyle journey. This was never once about how much weight I could loose each week, but rather on small steps that I could do for the rest of my life. One year later, I am living a much healthier lifestyle and as a bonus I have lost 90 pounds in my journey. Report
This is an excellent article! Please readers, if you have struggled for a long time with your weight, pay attention to this article. I struggled for probably 20 years with my weight because I always dieted. Looking back, I always looked forward to the day "I could eat like before". I ALWAYS gained back what I lost and more. This time, I came to the realization that I could never eat that way again. It was hard to accept, but once I did, it was such a release! No thinking about food ALL DAY LONG! No fear of :"falling off the wagon", no obsession with the scale! Yes, I was finally free and the weight just came off (and is still coming off). Believe me, if there is one thing that will ensure your success, it's changing your mind from "diet" to "lifestyle". Do it, and watch a miracle unfold! Report
I've never gone on fad diets, liquid diets, high protein diets, etc. I think some of them probably work and aren't bad for you, but I could never sustain limiting my food for a long time. Report
I definitely thought of it as a diet originally. I thought "I'm not going to pay this much attention to my food forever, just for now." But I was wrong! It has truly become a part of my life. No more diets, I am now living my healthy lifestyle. Report
I feel as though I have been dieting my whole life! I have been overweight my entire adult life... I have every book, every cookbook, all the tools... Eating Healthy & Exercise, I know thats the key, we all know... but we always want the easy & fast way, like theres a magic shortcut we haven't tapped into yet, LOL! Report
I love the SP "nutrition plan"! I don't feel deprived, I can make my own choices and I especially love to see the charts and reports-they really keeps me on track. Report
Yeah, I'm done with dieting also. Whenever someone I know makes a comment like, "oh she's on a diet" I calmly turn to them and say "no, I'm just eating better." I'm not depriving myself of the things I love, I've just learned to find healthy alternatives to them or I've learned to incorporate them into my life in a more moderate fashion. Report
40 years of dieting, I'm done!!! Thanks you sparks and sparks friends. My weight is the lowest it's been in 15 years! Report
I stopped dieting! I think I tried every "diet" (Fad and otherwise) out there! I joined the Spark in January and believe that I have adopted a healthier lifestyle than restricted it! I am eating healthier and exercising - ingredients for living not die (t) ing! Report
So True. No more dieting for me. My new sparkpeople "lifestyle" is helping me succeed where regular diets failed. Report
Somedays I think the number is more than I can count! I agree with the word "diet" is die with a t at the end, and no results that truly last. I think people beat themselves up more on a diet since its a bunch of negative talk and going for ketosis. I am preferring this healthy lifestyle for a permanent full energy change that takes into account everyone is human. 2 steps forward for every 1 step back! Report
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