When The One Meal a Day Diet Doesn’t Work

by David

in Health & Fitness

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There was a question recently in the comments about whether it was time to change my strategy with my diet.

That question pulled me up short because I’d have to admit that all the evidence would seem to suggest that the one meal a day diet doesn’t work when it comes to getting six pack abs.

OK, so it worked for me when I wanted to lose 30 lbs – but as soon as I declared I wanted to try and use it to get flat abs, it stopped working!

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that eating one meal a day is a sub-optimal approach to weight loss. I am sure there are better options out there, but I wanted to prove a point.

The point being that it’s possible to lose weight eating a diet based around normal family food. I wanted to do it in a way that didn’t disrupt the routine around main family meal. I didn’t want to count calories. I didn’t want to take supplements. I didn’t want to include or exclude certain foods. I wanted it to be sustainable over a long period of time with only moderate daily exercise. And I wanted to do it without anyone knowing I was on a diet.

And that’s exactly what I achieved.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to reproduce my earlier success when it comes to losing the last of my fat and it’s right to question whether I need to change strategies.

I could do something new (and maybe I should), but I’m not ready to admit defeat just yet.

I’ve said before that a diet is won or lost in the mind and I believe that’s where I’ve been losing this battle.

It’s no surprise to me really when I consider what else has been going on in my life.

Last year I spent nearly nine months trying to get back to work. I needed to get back and the financial implications of not getting back were causing me a great deal of anguish.

And of course once I got back I needed to throw myself into my career so I ended up dropping other commitments – like this blog, like the diet, like the home maintenance, like social networking and a whole host of other things I’d be on top of in an ideal world.

The truth is I always have been and always will be susceptible to the emotional fatigue that comes with living a life packed to the rafters with running a family, working full time, trying to achieve ambitious personal goals and continuing to explore the work at home thing.

Put another way…. sometimes I just don’t want to be on a diet.

Right now I have to admit I’m lacking the commitment, or at least the sort of commitment it takes to get the job done.

There are a few things that come to mind:

1. At no point have a I had a concrete plan for dealing with the times when I want to put the diet on hold. So a lot of the time it felt like I was either on or off the wagon. Being off the wagon lends itself to eating with wild abandon or at least a casual recklessness. There needs to be some kind of holding pattern I can slip into.

2. I stopped doing the diet part of the lifestyle diet. I just did the lifestyle. Whereas there was a time when I was prepared to go hungry for longer, I’m now in the habit of satisfying that hunger with a piece of fruit or with a mug of tea or coffee. But gradually I find I’m consuming more throughout the day than I did when I was really ‘on it’. My diet seems to be morphing into the six small meals diet – except it’s sixteen snacks and one main meal.

3. I’m not exercising nearly as much as I used to. Before my return to work I was walking the dogs twice a day. Now I’m walking them only once and not walking as far.

4. I used to cook all the meals and therefore had control over portion sizes. And because I haven’t openly declared to my family that I’m on a diet, I’m often presented with a huge plateful of food which I feel compelled to eat. I know, it’s a pitiful excuse, but that’s the way it is sometimes.

5. When I first started out with this diet my motivation was linked to a strong emotional desire, albeit negative emotion. But I no longer feel that way. As I said above, I achieved my goal of losing 30 lbs, so the motivation is gone  and I’m really not hooked into the new goal at all. Yet.

It’s a matter of commitment. I’m not committed. Not fully anyway, and that leaves too much room for other stuff to slide in and occupy my time, energy and mental reserves.

It’s not the diet I need to work on (apart from a few subtle tweaks), it’s me I need to work on.

(But I need to remember that All great achievements require time” – Maya Angelou)

Picture Credit: Vincent X

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Midlife Singlemum February 19, 2013 at 8:35 am

First of all congratulations on getting back out to work. I would have thought being out all day might make it easier not to eat but interesting to see that’s not the case. You are right about a holding pattern being needed – and quite urgent to address this before you start putting the 30lbs back on again. Maybe define exactly what you are allowed to eat during the day? Tea/coffee with milk, fruit and a big salad or a sandwich for lunch? And if you eat well during the day use a smaller dinner plate in the evening so the server is restricted in what she can dish up. just some ideas. I wish you luck.


David February 19, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Thanks. 🙂

You make some great points. I do feel the need to set some kind of limits while I’m on a break from the diet. Partly because in my mind, being on a break is different from falling off the wagon. Thanks again! 🙂


Michele February 19, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Hi David,

I really enjoy your site and find it so inspiring. I am starting the diet today, and have 15 lbs to lose. You have a lot to juggle with four young children plus work and everything else in life, you should be so proud of yourself. Maybe at this point you really don’t have but a few pounds that you need to lose and one last burst of absolute commitment for a couple of weeks would do the trick. Also, once you start doing exercises specifically targetting your abs, I bet you’d see them. You can’t give up now! One question… lol… does your wife still not know about your site and/or diet? I think you should be very proud of the site and all your followers! I’m really looking forward to losing weight and definitely going to give this a good try! Thanks for all your posts.


David February 19, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Michele, thank you for the encouragement. It’s very much appreciated.
I don’t think my wife knows about the site but she is aware that I’m trying to lose the last few pounds. As far as I know she still has no idea about the one meal a day thing… mostly because she’s seen me eating lunch and dinner at the weekend and during the week I’m at work.
I wish you luck with your own goal. And thanks again for the kind words!


Midlife Singlemum February 19, 2013 at 11:07 pm

That’s hilarious that your wife knows nothing about this diet.


Michele February 19, 2013 at 11:06 pm

BTW David,

Why not try the last few pounds by documenting your results without
dessert for a full week, even if you have a slightly bigger portion of dinner?

Sorry for the second comment on here. Just really wonder what those results would be for you. Also, I’m in Florida, but from Dunstable, England, and reading about your food makes my mouth water, and reminds me so much of foods I love. I love to cook and I do make the English roast… who could give that up? lol. However, I haven’t had desserts like that in a long time, and all those English desserts bring back memories!


David February 20, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Michele, feel free to make as many comments as you like. 🙂

You make an excellent point about the desserts, but as I type this I have just finished eating tarte tatin with custard! It’s a bit French so it probably doesn’t remind you too much of Dunstable. But I thought it would make your mouth water to hear about it. I know, I know! Too cruel! 🙂

I have seriously considered dropping desserts as a short term measure and I’ll write a little more about that in a post.

I’m stuffed now. LOL


Michele February 21, 2013 at 3:59 pm

LOL! Have to say so far this diet is easy for me. I never eat breakfast anyway, and the longer I wait to eat the better, (since eating usually provokes more eating), but around 2 ish I’m eating something like an apple and really enjoying dinner. (No dessert.) I was worried I wouldn’t be able to cut off the window of one hour for dinner, as it’s after dinner eating that gets me into trouble, but my mindset is strong right now, so I didn’t even feel hungry. I previously tried Atkins, what a joke that was, and Weight Watchers is good, but since you start eating in the morning it ruins the whole points/calorie thing for me by evening. This way is great! Thanks so much!


David February 22, 2013 at 12:34 am

It sounds like you’re doing really well. I’m pleased it’s working out for you. And if you don’t want your desserts…. I’ll have them! LOL


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