We earnestly embark on a new diet and exercise plan for the New Year, not realizing we’ve already set ourselves up for failure. We might as well make the 2014 resolution today while we’re at it, because chances are we’ve chosen a strict, overwhelming, time consuming plan. We intend to stick on it until we have that fit, hot bod we’re after but we’re already counting the days for the “plan” to be over and get back to enjoying life, food and fun. This is the trap of diet thinking. We see it as a plan, one that has an end in sight and we (whether consciously or not) intend on going back to the not-so-great-habits that got us here in the first place. We’re already fantasizing about margaritas, desserts, ordering pizza and getting to sleep in again instead of getting up to workout…and the first week of January isn’t even over yet. If we really want to be successful this go round, it’s time to change our mindset from diet to live-it. That may sound as cheeseball as the diary you plan on avoiding this year, but it’s true. Much of the things you will need to do to lean up, you’ll need to do to stay that way. Yes it’s typically a little more challenging up front because many of these habits are new. And yes, we often have to be more strict at the start because our metabolism does improve over time with consistent, healthy habits. However, when we think short term-diet mentality we will inevitably be on another diet again in a few months. This isn’t temporary, this is your life! A strict, fat loss jump start type plan or even a detox/cleanse type plan can be a great way to kickstart your New Year – and I’m not saying don’t go all in, but if you do, start thinking about what parts of this fat loss strategy can you employ long haul. What would be nearly impossible to keep doing? What are you learning that you can apply to areas that are still challenging to you? Ask yourself these questions so that you learn as much as you can from your new plan so you can carry these habits throughout 2013…you know, when the gym is back to the old regulars and the fridge isn’t so stocked with veggies and protein. Sound familiar? Well you’re not alone. One of the very first questions I get during someone’s initial consultation for a new weight loss plan is: When do I get to go back to eating “normal? To which I say, “What do you mean by normal?” “You know, like I’m eating now? I mean I don’t want to be this restricted forever. And this gluten free thing – when does that end??” That is diet mentality, not life changing mentality. I suspect they know what they are eating now isn’t totally working or they wouldn’t be in my office. But essentially what they are telling me is that they want to lose weight, go back to old-not-so-great habits and have that weight loss stay off. They want to do this “weight loss thing” for a bit and be done with it. But yes, they want to keep the body they worked so hard for. While we say, “this year is the year!” most of us are signing up for more yo-yo dieting because we’ve got the mindset that “it” ends. We tell ourselves that this will be the last diet we ever do! This is it – and this year it’s staying off for good! And I believe us (I’m guilty here too). We mean it. Our heart is in the right place…but our mind isn’t. This “stay on plan till it’s over” mentality will get us through those first few weeks, or months at best. What will get us all that way to 2014 and beyond is to change our thinking to how we live our lives, vs. how we will survive this diet. Stop thinking about how we can loosen the reins on this new diet before we’ve even begun to loosen the belt on our pants. Start this New Year-New You plan with changes you are willing to make for the long haul such as drinking 3 liters of water per day (follow me on Twitter and use #3LitersADay), eating breakfast regularly or cooking 80% of your meals at home. Don’t start with changes you’re only willing to do until your resolve breaks such as banning all sugar until you end up head first in a pint of ice cream. Focus on process as much or more than the end goal. Think less “I will lose 25 pounds” and more “I will workout 4 times this week and I will eat a fat loss breakfast every day and forgo the bagel”, etc. And enjoy that process, this is the live-it! Down with the di-et in 2013! Welcome to your new lifestyle – you’ll love it here.