Here it is…the No. 1 secret to weight loss success.  Are you ready?

Tell the diet industry to go screw themselves.  Seriously, tell them to take their plans, their shakes, their supplements, their powders, their challenges, and their unsustainable quick-fix programs, and stick them up their rich butts.  There you have it.  That’s the secret to a healthier, more nourished you.

Listen, there is no magic pill, or tea, or shake that will help you lose weight.  There is no ancient root from the remote Tibetan coast harvested by monks that unlocks the hidden mystery of effortless weight loss.  Have you seen those online ads, “Eat this one thing everyday and you will have a flat stomach.” How many people click on those ads?  I’m guessing hundreds of thousands.  And you’d eat rat poop if they told you that was the answer, wouldn’t you?  It’s all bull poop–or rat poop…whatever. There is no wrap, or juice, or vitamin that can help you reach your goals. You aren’t going to “fix” yourself in 21 days, or even a couple months, and maybe not even years.  There is no quick fix. There is no end date to a healthier life. If there were an easy solution, no one would be overweight, and we’d all be sipping our Tibetan root in our bikinis beachside.

The weight loss industry is $60 billion strong.  It is an insanely lucrative industry because it appeals to a wide market share—or like, literally everyone in our country.  With 2/3 of Americans overweight or obese and the other third ripe with some body dysmorphia thanks to photoshop and stick-thin cover girls, they have everyone’s desperation filling up their pocketbooks.

You know what these companies are really selling? They sell a heavy dose of false hope, and an abundance of disappointment.  And you know what happens when you gain back the weight or can’t stick to the diet? They swoop in to sell you something newer, better, quicker.  Oh wait, that still didn’t work?  Surely it is a “you” problem.  It was your lack of willpower at play, not their product.  You didn’t try hard enough. Try again.  And again. And again.  It’s a never-ending cycle.

STOP DIETING.  You’re done with that. Nourish yourself instead.  Take back the power.  You want to change your life?  Shift your mindset and look within!  Take a look at the bigger picture and hold these 5 motivating truths close as you embark on a journey to a healthier you.

  1. Food is a form of love.

Food is the most primal relationship in our life. It’s the one we literally can’t live without. And like any relationship, it can be so damn complicated. Providing our body with nourishing food is the most tangible act of self-love and self-respect, but we get so caught up in the rat race of life and marketing propaganda that we forget this most intrinsic piece of knowledge.

Ask yourself this—do you eat to nourish yourself? Or do you eat for comfort, for joy, for sadness, or to fill a void of some kind? Do you indulge because you feel you “deserve it” after a long, crappy day?  Do you skip meals because you just don’t have time? What if you shifted your mindset and told yourself that what you deserved was a nutritious meal and a few moments for yourself?  What’s stopping you from prioritizing yourself?

I am a nutrition coach—not a counselor—but my job certainly has a gray area in which I work to help my clients uncover “the why” behind their food choices.  Understanding why we aren’t offering ourselves love through nutritious food in which we are so deserving can be a deep and painful personal space to explore, but one that provides so many answers to past failures and future successes.

Understanding that food is a form of self-love and self-care, and that you are deserving of both, is the most prolific revelation in the start to a healthier life.

2) Treat the cause, not the symptoms.

I recently saw a friend’s Facebook post about her weight loss efforts.  A friend commented on her post with something along the lines of, “What diet are you on? Doesn’t matter. Just another diet that I will hate and fail.”  I recognized the frustration and helplessness in her comment.  It is a familiar story—one I’ve seen time and again with my clients.  I’m guessing she has tried a number of diets, and has never been able to keep the weight off. Maybe she even gained back more after the diet ended.

Diets temporarily treat symptoms, but don’t address the root cause.  It’s like putting on chapstick when what you really need is a cup of water. If you don’t treat that root cause–lack of hydration in this example–your lips will chap again as soon as the chapstick wears off. It’s the same scenario with dieting.  If you don’t look at what has led you to this point, and what habits you’ve set in place overtime, you’ve only temporarily treated the symptoms and not the cause.  Your diet will wear off, just like that chapstick, and you’ll be back at square one.  Treat the root cause.  Take a close look at why you make the food choices you do, and work toward healing your relationship with yourself and food.

3. Ditch the quick-fix and set attainable goals instead.

Diets and challenges with end dates want you to clean sweep your entire diet and way of life like it is some magic wand that can erase years of bad habits that are deeply ingrained.  There is no reset button. Do it differently. Instead, set in motion one or two simple changes until it becomes habit.  Expand from there…slowly and overtime.

After years of yo-yo dieting, how empowering it is to not “fall off the wagon” and instead achieve what you set out to do.  This empowerment is contagious and confidence is the ultimate motivator in weight loss.

You tell me what feels more achievable? Restricting caloric intake to 1,500 calories a day, or simply adding vegetables to every meal and drinking water before snacking? Don’t make it complicated. Simplicity is where it’s at.

One of my favorite articles on weight loss is by Breaking Muscle and it says this, “Repeatedly attempting and failing to improve your health using temporary, unattainable nutrition strategies is a guaranteed way to persuade yourself that you can’t actually change your health.  It rapidly erodes your belief in self-efficacy, which is the psychological driving force behind every phase of personal change…”

Put simply—success breads success.

4) Be patient.

You didn’t gain weight overnight, and you aren’t going to lose it overnight, either.

Healthy living is a work in progress, not a destination.  It is a process, and a slow and sometimes painful one at that.  We are a culture that seeks the instant fix.  We want instant gratification.  Because the 3-day juice detox sounds amaze-balls, right? Sure, until you pass out in Target and gain all the weight you lost (mostly water weight) after you eat your first real meal.  Successful weight loss takes time because you can’t just sweep in and change everything at once.  It is too shocking to your system and your psyche.

Without getting too scientific, know that crash dieting fails because it is not sustainable to be in an extreme, long-term calorie deficit, as it shifts hormones in your body that signals hunger, stimulates muscle loss that is important for an optimal metabolism, and significantly slows your resting metabolic rate. So, yeah, you fall off the wagon and eat 37 Girl Scout cookies after all that time you just spent “being so good.”

5) It gets easier.

At the forefront, change feels scary.  It feels hard.  Your confidence is shaken.  Please know, it gets easier.  The more you eat healthy, the more you crave healthy.  The more you cut out sugar, the less you want it.  You will soon feel more energy and more strength from treating your body right.  You will look forward to your afternoon walk that you once felt was such a chore.  You will want the salad instead of the burger.  You will crave vegetables.  I promise. Know that change will take work until it feels easy–and eventually it will.  So stick with it.  You aren’t on a diet.  You are on this ride we call life.

Be proud of the journey, not just the outcome.  You are your biggest cheerleader. And you DESERVE health.

I’m guessing all this wasn’t the simple weight loss solution you wanted to hear, but I’m also guessing you knew deep within you that there wouldn’t be a quick fix.   You knew that change comes from within—one healthy choice at a time.  While you can’t market this, or slap some sexy celebrity abs on the cover, it is the truth.  Dieting is the alternative facts Let’s just keep it real.