This post is sponsored by Tufts Medical Center. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Do you ever feel like the health and wellness industry is just out to get us!?

In January, what happens? Weight loss programs and products that promise to debloat us “for real this time” go crazy and tell us aaallll the reasons that we need their specific dieting services and products to lose holiday weight. Juice cleanses, shakes, pills, and quick fix solutions pop up everywhere. This will be the year, you guys!

Then come spring, we’re told we need to start shaping up for summer! There’s the diet that can help us look our best in our bikinis, another diet that will fight flab to rock those summer shorts, and yet another diet to shed unwanted winter pounds.

In the summer, it continues. I actually just googled “summer diet,” and here are some of the first hits that came up in my search: “Top 50 Summer Diet Foods for Weight Loss,” “The Best Way to Lose Weight in a Week with the 7 Day Diet Plan,” “1500 Calorie Summer Diet Plan,” “3 Weeks to Summer Shorts Diet Plan,” and “7 Skinny Ice Cream Products to Help You Lose Weight This Summer.” Sigh.

Finally, in the fall, there’s a diet to get back on track after all the summer BBQs, a five-day detox to rid of summer toxins, and a magical pill to help you keep weight off for good… even through the upcoming holidays.

I often ask my insider email group to tell me what their #1 struggle is when it comes to fitness and nutrition so I can use their answers to create valuable content. It comes as absolutely NO surprise to me that one of the top five answers I receive on a constant basis relates to information overload and the challenge of weeding through all the different claims and promises of the health and wellness industry. Every program claims to be the best. Every fitness philosophy says that their way works. Every diet promises you’ll lose weight, and fast. No wonder achieving a healthy lifestyle seems so complicated, overwhelming, and confusing. Where does one even begin? How do you know who to trust?

Here’s what I think:

The diet that works the best for you is the one that you don’t have to refer to as “being on a diet.”

Just let that sink in for a second.

The diet that works the best for you is the one that allows you to eat whole nutritious foods in a way that works for YOUR individual preferences, dietary needs, and lifestyle. It’s one that allows wiggle room for treats and promotes moderation and non­-deprivation. It’s one that doesn’t require you to drop money on weight loss products that simply DON’T work for the long-term. The diet that works the best for you allows room for treats, doesn’t deprive you of essential nutrients (we need carbs, you guys!), and it makes you feel GOOD about yourself. The diet that works the best for you is one that you don’t feel on the wagon and off the wagon with, over and over and over again. It’s not one that you have to say, “oh I tried that diet… but…” afterward. The diet that works the best for you is one you can see yourself being able to maintain for the long haul because it’s realistic, sustainable, shame free, and fun (my four pillars of stress free fitness). It’s the one that you create for yourself according to your own terms.

I call this the #WellnessYourWay diet. 🙂 

If you are considering going on a diet to lose weight, I want to challenge you to break your diet mentality and consider taking one of the following steps first. These are the 3Ds for looking at dieting in a new way, in a way specific to YOU, so that you don’t ever have to say you are actually “on a diet” ever again.

Deliberate on your past.

Instead of beating yourself up about failing at certain diets in the past, use your experiences to learn more about yourself. Were there certain things you liked about how you felt while on said diet? Things you didn’t like? What worked? What didn’t? Use this knowledge to figure out what works best for you! I honestly attribute my ability to eat intuitively now to all the things that DIDN’T work for me at previous points in my life. For example, the South Beach diet, the Special K diet, and a strict Paleo diet never really stuck with me because there was always something that I wasn’t “allowed” to eat while on them. South Beach was no carbs, Special K didn’t let me look at anything but cereal, and Paleo didn’t allow dairy or legumes amongst other restrictions. I don’t know about you, but most of the diets I’ve tried in my lifetime haven’t done much except left me feeling deprived of something that I was told I HAD to eliminate while on said diet. Another thing I’ve learned about myself from previous experiences that I don’t feel 100% satisfied from drinking a shake or juice as my entire meal. I like to eat/chew my food to feel satiated. I use this knowledge to define how I eat now.

Apple Brie Appetizer Bites

Define your daily definites.

Daily definites are 1­-5 actions that you can commit to doing on a daily basis. These behaviors should revolve around adding something your routine instead of subtracting, and they should be effortless, non­restrictive, and simple to follow through on. Once implemented consistently, your daily definites should help decrease feelings of failure and set you up for long-term nutritional success. My personal daily definites are to have water nearby at all times, to eat breakfast, and to prioritize protein. My daily definites aren’t rules or restrictions. I’m not telling myself I can’t eat carbs, that I can’t snack after dinner, or that I can’t drink alcohol during the week. They are just simple no brainer actions that help automate my eating while taking the focus off all the restrictive stuff. Other examples might be to always carry a healthy snack in your purse, to drink a cup of tea in the afternoon, or to eat a certain number of veggies in your breakfast to get them out of the way first thing in the morning. Your daily definites should come to mind pretty easily if you’ve already done a lot of reflecting in step one.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

Defer to a professional.

Finally, my last tip is that if you ARE going to drop money on something diet related, for the love of God don’t let it be a quick fix pill or detox shake program! Invest your money in a qualified wellness coach who can guide you through more of the motivational stuff. A coach won’t necessarily give you a specific diet to follow, but they will help you become more aware of what IS working in your life and develop a plan that works for you by leveraging these strengths and positive areas. If you are looking for more guided meal plans to fit YOUR specific nutrition needs, then invest your money in a registered dietician. For example, the registered dietitians at Tuft Medical Center’s Weight and Wellness Center or other established organizations can help make sure that you are getting the right amount of protein, veggies, healthy fats, etc. for your body’s specific needs. They can assist in ensuring your dietary choices aren’t leaving you deficient in any nutrients or feeling malnourished. Regardless of where you choose to go, make sure to research the professional’s background and ask them questions about what your sessions will be like and what kind of outcomes you can expect. After all, you are investing in you.

Portland Maine Quads

So to answer my original question as posed in the title of this blog post: should you go on a diet to lose weight? Yes. But only one ever again: Your own. Wellness YOUR WAY. No more gimmicks and quick fixes. Think about these 3Ds, become the expert on you, and figure out your way of eating so that you’ll never have to go on a diet again. And just trust me on this one, it’s then that the weight loss will come.

If this post resonated with you, consider joining Wellness Your Way, my new 12-week group coaching program that kicks off on January 16th!

#WellnessYourWay is simple and stress free lifestyle coaching for people who want to lose fat and get lean without all the rules and restriction. There’s no set meal plan and no food is off-limits.

If you want to develop a positive relationship with food and come to peace with your body, this program is for you. As it relates to nutrition, you’ll learn how to prevent nighttime eating, incorporate treats without the guilt, and automate your eating with tools and strategies similar to the ones described above. You’ll also learn how to use your body as a tool for success and figure out how to listen to what it’s telling you to drive your daily nutrition and fitness decisions.

#WellnessYourWay is not a diet. It’s a program to help you get back to basics and transform your relationship with food, fitness, and yourself.

Enroll in Wellness Your Way here.

Registration closes Friday 1/6/17!