We've all heard this. So what does it mean?
Your food choices must change for life (unless you mean to join the yo-yo club). And so your food choices must not only help you lose weight (plant-based diets are great for this) but also be healthy enough to do forever (again, plant-based diets get the tick).
"You can't exercise off a bad diet" (I certainly spent enough years trying) and "80% diet, 20% exercise" is flooding the internet. Exercise is still a potent health weapon, and a Stanford study showed that changing both food and exercise habits at the same time had the greatest results. The National Weight Loss Registry confirms this.
= Lifestyle Change?
So: food and exercise. That's a lot of important change. Surely that's a lifestyle change?
Yes. And probably, no.
Adopting successful new food and exercise habits, with results you see and feel every day, is highly motivating. Why would you ever go back, when the change is so rewarding? Why indeed. Could it be there was a bigger reason for the bad habits?
Home. Friends. Family. Job. Hobbies. Money. Relationships. Mental health... the wider context for poor choices of all flavours. Fail to address your whole lifestyle and expect to reach the end of the honeymoon with your food/exercise successes. Expect to wonder why you can't do the right things anymore even though you know what they are.
Losing weight does not solve the problem of you working too much, or too little, or hating your job, or feeling unappreciated or lonely, or just plain wanting more from life. And if your coping strategies made you fat before, they can do it again.
The big picture
Losing weight through diet and exercise is hard. But a lifestyle change may be even harder.
Seeking the why of your stresses could lead you into deep waters. Your job, your home, your relationships...and like it or not, you may need professional help and crazy solutions if your familiar DIY approach leads you in ever-increasing circles.
Asking real questions and demanding better answers from yourself is key to a lifestyle change.