How to Get Off the Diet Roller Coaster

Podcast Episode #019: How to Get Off the Diet Roller Coaster

On your diet. Off your diet. Weight goes down. Weight goes back up.

Being on a diet roller coaster like this is exhausting for your body and for your mental wellbeing But how do you get off? How can you find the consistency you need to get lasting results? My expert guest today has some amazing insights that will help you do just that!

How to Get Off the Diet Roller Coaster [Full Text]

Today I have a really great question from Dani and let's dive right in. Dani says,

"Like most people who are trying to lose weight, I find that I go through spurts. I'll be really motivated to eat healthy and will be doing green smoothies every morning and no junk food. But then I get bored or just get lazy and seem to fall back in my old habits. Same goes for exercise. It always comes and goes in spurts. Why can't I just stick with this stuff?"

Dani thanks for your question. Again, this is something I just hear all the time and it's a struggle for pretty much everyone I've ever met. Myself included. Staying motivated and staying consistent with the habits that we want to build that is going to create this health lifestyle. Thanks for sharing your frustration. I just want to emphasize that you are not alone. So many people, again myself included, go through a similar sort of thing.

Today I'm excited to have a really special guest on the show. She's a kinesiologist from British Columbia, Canada and she has a lot of experience with just this; helping her clients stay motivated and stay consistent and getting over those initial hurdles that feel like a lot when we're trying to take on new change or create new healthy habits. So I'm really excited to introduce you to Tania Shaw.

Tanja, thanks for joining us today.

Tanja: Yeah, thanks so much for having me. Really excited to be here.

Dave: Yeah, I'm excited as well. I was checking your website and I know you're an uber qualified expert to answer this question today.

Tanja: (laughs)

Dave: I don't know if maybe you could start out by just sort of explaining what your expertise is and kind of how you got into the whole fitness field. Just so our listeners kind of know where you're coming from.

Tanja: For sure, so I got into fitness at an early age, back when I was running cross country in grade 3. It just was such an avenue for relationship building through school. You connect so well. The people you train with are the ones that you really really connect with on a deeper lever because you go through that pain together. My love for fitness probably just really to do my kinesiology degree at University of Victoria. Hang on (coughs).

Dave: (laughs). It's OK.

Tanja: I was gonna go back and do ... sorry about that. My voice was going.

Dave: This is completely unedited so all the listeners are going to be listening to this. Just so you know.

Tanja: Oh, good.

Dave: Laughs

Tanja: You missed that part.

Dave: Laughter

Tanja: Laughter).

Dave: So you did your kin degree at UVic.

Tanja: Yes. Now I'm embarrassed. That's OK. I'm still a better health and fitness expert than I am an interviewee right now. But, yes. Kinesiology degree at UVic and started as a Kinesiologist in a physio-therapy clinic and just really, really loved working with people one on one. Through that I just spent the lat eleven years of my life building a practice of a fitness business, now in a personal training studio with a great team of coaches. Really just helping people become the best versions of themselves.

Dave: Awesome. I know just from chatting with you through email that our question today from Dani is right up your alley. Just to recap, basically she's told a very common story that you experience all the time. Being on that roller coaster. Feeling really motivated to get exercising and eating well and then that motivation just kind of tales off and it becomes this vicious cycle of beating yourself up and then getting back on. When you read her question, what popped into your mind right away?

Finding Healthy Life Balance

Tanja: My first though was, "Yes, this is the perfect question for me" because my big passion is to get people off the on again, off again roller coaster ride of diet, fitness. Starting over again on Monday and get back to living life because it's such a waste of life-energy to constantly be battling with your weight. With feeling bad because you're not sticking to healthy habits like you think you should. It's so counter productive to living life in general. So that's really got to be my big passion. because this story, you hear it over and over again it'd definitely, she 's not the only one who's dealing with this.

Dave: I agree. Let me just challenge you on something there then. So the idea of just living life and just enjoying life. Someone can take that and say, "Awesome, this personal trainer just told me I can go and eat whatever I want." I know that's not what you're saying. So, how do you find an appropriate balance?

Tanja: Yeah, that's a really good question, actually. It's about listening. I think it all comes down to listening to your body and to really making the better, healthy choices from an appreciation and a love for your body. Because when you take care of yourself and you have that appreciation and love for your body and you want to live a big life, that's going to include feeling your best. Because you feel your best when you do some intentional exercise and when you're mind is not fogged up with a whole bunch of processed carbohydrates - hang over kind of thing.

And then you can actually really invest in life because you feel good about yourself. You feel confident, you feel comfortable in your own body. I think that's really, really huge for a lot of people.

When you are healthy you can invest in a BIG life, a happier life.

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Seeing Results From Your Efforts

Dave: Yeah, I agree. It made me think. I was writing an article the other day and it was in response to someone had written in and said, "Dave it's easy for you because you love exercise." I though along the exact same lines of what you just said there. At first, there's always going to be that barrier, it's never going to feel easy. But as you start to incorporate some of that healthy living, in theory at least, it pays back and even more so. Would you agree?

Tanja: It does, absolutely. One analogy I like to use is having kids or having an animal. Actually my dog just happened to come in the room (laughter)

Dave: (laughter)

Tanja: He happened to come in here for a second. I should have closed the door.

But before you commit to the healthy habits that are going to eventually make you feel better, all you really know is that exercise is going to take time. You have to get up in the morning early to do it. You can no longer stop through the drive through and have Tim Horton's doughnuts or whatever. You have to make these choices.

But, until you actually get in the habits and start doing it on a regular basis and you notice the results, you don't and can't understand how good it can be on the other side. So kind of the same thing along the lines of kids and, or a pet.

Seeing results is a huge motivator. You just have to stick it out until those first results appear.

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I don't know if I should put kids and a pet on the same level, but until you experience that love that you have when you have your child or your have your puppy dog that now is so excited when you come home. You don't understand what's that like until you actually get there. But you do know things like now you have to take them out for a walk everyday. Your dog, obviously, I'm talking about. Now you have to change your lifestyle habits because you're going to have kids and it's going to take away some of your freedom or flexibility that you had before.

So there are sacrifices, but that pay off is so worth it. Until you make those choices for your health. For long enough that you actually experience a result, then you don't really see that. But once you see that, it's a lot easier to stick to it.

Dave: What you just said I think is sort of the epitome of the problem of getting in shape actually. Exchanging an immediate pain or getting over something immediately for a long term benefit. It's really hard to conceptualize if you've never experienced it before.

A question for you then is someone like Dani, who's struggling with that, how can people like that experience a little bit of that long term benefit more quickly so they can start to see, OK, this is going to pay off.

Healthy Living Isn't "All or Nothing"

Tanja: Mm hmm. And that's a good question. When I saw the question, I think she put quite a bit of thought into it. It comes from two different areas. One is a lot of people have to get out of this mindset that I'm either on or I 'm off. Dani, for example, she's saying things that she's eating green smoothies every morning and no junk food. Well, that sounds kind of extreme, unless you love it. If you love your green smoothies and you hate junk food, then that's great.

Dave: Mm hmm. (Laughs). It comes to mind, I wonder how many people fit in that category.

Tanja: (laughs). There's not that many people like that. The problem with these diets and going thorough the diet mentality and going so hard right away is that we do intensity first and we don't stick with it because we just don't. What's more important is to focus on doing something consistently before you start to do something with intensity. So maybe the green smoothies every morning and no junk food is a little bit too extreme. Maybe we need to ease into that a little bit more.

Consistency is more important than intensity. Be consistent and THEN increase your intensity.

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That's just a big mind shift change to get off that kind of intensity or the fact that success has to be black or white or that I'm either on or I'm off -- That there can be some happy mid-point.

The other thing that popped out at me is that she said that, "Like most people that are trying to lose weight, I find that I go through spurts." I find it a very common problem when people start a healthy habit like change their diet, exercise for the sole reason that they want to lose weight ... because the weight is a result, a number on the scale, something that we can't really control. We can control the actions that's around it. We can control the things that we have to do daily to get you to where you want to be. I cannot tell someone whether they're going to lose two pounds this week or ten pounds this week or nothing this week because everybody's so different.

When we start relying on this external measure for success, which is the scale, and we forget about how good it feels to take care of ourselves and we start defining success based on something we can't really control then we start to kind of judge whether we are successful or whether we are successful with a program based on that number on the scale. We forget about all those other amazing changes that take place internally like you feel better, you're more confident , you feel more energetic. Regardless of what the scale does, I think that's really big as well.

You can't control the number on the scale. You CAN control your actions that will help that number change.

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Motivation starts, like Dani here, because it sounds like she wants to lose weight so she's probably trying to get away from something really negative like she is not comfortable in her clothes. We really just need to shift that focus to something positive she really wants. Like she wants to feel good. She wants to maybe train for a race. More positive habits other than just getting away from that discomfort of feeling like you need to lose weight.

Dave: I really like what you said there sort of acknowledging that sort of softer benefits opposed to just the number on the scale. It sounds sort of critical because the podcast we're on right now is called "10 in 4" and that's based on a program that I run that's all about losing ten poundsin four weeks. Quite often, actually every time I work with a client, we talk about that. That you can set up actions that will lead to weight loss over time. And those actions will lead to weight loss. Like you said, it could be one pound or twenty pounds.

I know with my clients quite often will start to notice other things that actually become more exciting than the weight loss, but it's almost not sexy to sell, "Hey, you're going to feel more energetic." No one wants that. Or they think they don't until they experience it.

Tanja: Yes, absolutely. In my business, we actually don't do weigh-ins for the first bit. We really take a break from the scale because we want people to start to get to long term lifestyle changes that are independent of the number on the scale. They lose weight anyway because they are doing the actions steps. Like I said, it just becomes more. You can really start to focus on those other things a lot more.

I think for me and my business even though I'm not scale orientated, you have to bring in people what they think they want and then give them what they need for long term success. I think that's a big part of it and it sounds like exactly what you're doing as well. Is people come in because they want to lose weight but when you keep asking why they want to lose weight ... and you keep asking five or six times, it has nothing to do with the number on the scale. It has everything to do with feeling in control, feeling confident, feeling energetic and those things can be independent of the number on the scale as well.

Dave: Totally

Tanja: When you start feeling better. When you start having more confidence, when you start living the life you want to live and being that person you want to be the weight takes care of itself anyways at the end of the day.

Dave: That's awesome. I just want to repeat what you just said because that's so important that when you start take care of yourself and experience all those other benefits, the weight will take care of itself. It will come off as opposed to that being the focus. That's just huge. I'm glad you said that.

When you start take care of yourself and experience all those other health benefits, the weight will take care of itself.

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Tanja: (laughs). Yeah, it's big. A big reason why I've become so passionate about this is because I see people over and over again who are so weight focused. It really drives that all or nothing mentality. For example, I had a client a couple years ago. We did a twenty-one day challenge. We did weigh-ins every week. Most people lost between 6-10 pounds those twenty-one days because they cleaned things up and they loosed some water weight too, of course. One week she did everything so perfectly. She tracked her meals, she added some extra workouts and all that great stuff. She lost .2 of a pound.

Dave: Was probably pretty depressed.

Tanja: She was devastated. She was in tears, she nearly gave up. I was like, "Wow." The next week she ended up losing more because her body just compensated. She forgot about all those other amazing things that she did. It's one measure of success. It's one measure to thing to track but I think it's more important to focus on the action steps. You can still measure results based on the scale.

As you know, too, when you do some more strength training and things, sometimes your body comp changes too. Sometimes, depending on hormones weight comes off faster, sometimes it doesn't come off as fast. It's the way the body works.

How to Get a Taste of Success

Dave: What would you say then to Dani because I think from a psychological or philosophical perspective this is awesome. To reframe sort of what you're deeper goal is and approach things looking for that positive outcome to maybe just focusing on the one major. Practically speaking, can you give her some advice or to anyone else listening. What is something you recommend starting off with and that does lead to relatively quick results?

Tanja: Relatively quick. That's a good one, you can stop eating all together. No, I'm just joking on that one. That won't lead you to long-term success either. Yes, there are two different parts. One is the mind shift changes and one is actually strategies. You know realizing what your why is, understanding why you want what you want. Focusing on the positive things is a big part of it.

In my coaching programs, I look at nutrition based on three different components. One is nourishing your life. Sometimes people have a really hard time sticking to eating habits because food is such an important part of their life. They use it for stress relief and pleasure and everything else. It's really important to balance it out with things you're doing in life that are really, really nourishing like relationships and stuff.

The other one is foundational habits. That's things like food journaling, meal planning, relaxed and mindful eating, that sort of thing. Those corner stone habits for long term success.

The next one is going to be fuel your body --that's what to eat. That is, we both know, very important as well. You can't just have special K and orange juice for breakfast and expect you're going to get results for long and feel great during the day

In terms of action items, one of the first things I would recommend doing is to start a food journal. It's something we use. We don't count calories. We don't necessarily measure very single thing we do. It's more of an accountability to build some awareness in your habits and to see where you can start from. Naturally when people start to food journal they generally tend to trend towards making better choices anyway.

Something I learned from a book called "The Diet Fix." It was about journaling the good, the bad and the ugly. It doesn't matter if you're on track or off track, whatever it was is about writing it down. That's a big reason why people don't food journal because they don't want to write down their misses. They only want to write down their quote, unquote "good." I think food journaling is really, really important to get you started.

Want to fix your diet? Try journalling the good, the bad, and the ugly. Write it all down!

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The next one, in terms of diet is to switch as best as you can to whole, real foods. When you do that you cut out the process crap that our bodies really don't need. Your body will actually adjust and you start to pay attend more to your hunger levels as well

And the big third one ... This is the big reason why our clients are so successful and I know your clients were successful as well. Is having a coach, having an accountability partner. Having support. We don't do these kind of things on our own and if your health is important enough to you, you got to get someone to help you out with that

Dave: You are preaching the same messages I do.

Tanja: (laughs)

Dave: This goes for you and I as well. I often use the analogy of something whose a musician for example. If someone's a singer and they want to take their singing career to the next level, what do they do? They hire a vocal coach.

Tanja: They get a coach

Dave: I've hired a business coach who can help me with things in business that I don't understand so it only makes sense that if you want to go to that next level you need someone with outside eyes that can help guide you that way.

Tanja: It's so important. I actually had a really good conversation with one of my clients about this because she was always so frustrated why she couldn't do it on her own. We realized the higher up these people are, whether they're sports athletes or people in career they all have massage therapists and they have psychologists and they have doctors and they have a whole support team to make them awesome.

It's not a failure that you can't do it by yourself. It's just that you are smart enough to know that your health is so important to you and it should be important you. That you're willing to invest, I thing that's a big, big, bit part of long term success.

It's not a failure if you can't do something on your own.Realizing what's important to you and to finding help is a success.

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Your "10 in 4" Takeaway

Dave: This has been awesome. I would love to keep chatting. You've done a good job of really providing some practical things that people can start with. As you know. At the end of the show, I like to leave with a "10 in 4" Takeaway, which is you're go to advice for today, So something that someone, Dani or someone else can start else could start doing today that could have an impact on their life.

What would you say? Someone who's going through this roller coaster ride and needs to to experience some wins and just even out their approach to heath and fitness. What do they do?

Tanja: There's lots of things I could say, but I think the number one thing that I would like to Dani to start with is to really, really get clear on why she wants this. Then look at what success actually looks. So, a year form now think where she wants to be and what those habits look like on a daily basis. We always focus on I want to lose weight, but if I want to be fit, healthy, strong and confident what does that actually look like so you can start to focus on action steps and not just on the results of the weight loss right away. Then of course realizing that we're not going to be perfect all the time. That's not the goal, that's not real.

Dave: I love that. The long vision though and I like that you said because it's a long term vision but then you can start to back it up and say, a year from now this is what I want my life to be like so what do I need to do in the next week or the next month.

Tanja: Yeah, and break it up in to small, little bite-sized pieces. Then get a coach to keep you accountable to those goals. That's the coaches role to keep the goal the goal.

Dave: Yeah, I agree. Thank you so much, Tanja, it was awesome having you on the show. Can you tell listeners if they wanted to learn more about you and your fitness philosophies where can they find you?

Tanja: Hey, thanks so much for asking that, actually. I've actually just started my own website - It's My name is spelled with a "J" so I gotta spell that out. T A N J A S H A W .com. I also have a podcast that I started back in the spring called "The Fit and The Vibrant You Podcast" and that's been a lot f fun as well.

Dave: They can find that in iTunes?

Tanja: Yes, it's on iTunes and that links to the podcast on my website as well.

Dave: Oh, perfect. In the show notes I always have some links as to things we've talk about so I'll link you to both of those so our listeners can go right there.

Tanja: I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Dave: Yeah, hopefully we can have you back again on the show sometime.

Tanja: I'd love that. Thanks again.

Thanks for joining me today!