171 Days ’til 40: Why Diets Don’t Work

03 Sep

Okay, okay, I know that I am probably not going to babble about anything you haven’t already heard…. but today I am in a mood to talk about diets, so I suppose you are going to have to endure what I am saying, even if you have indeed already heard it.  So here it is, straight from the mouth of someone who has lost 14 kilos (31 pounds) over the last 8.5 months – diets DO NOT WORK.  Why?  There are many reasons.

1.  When embarking on a diet, the attitude is wrong.

  • With diets the attitude is all wrong – people think it is about giving something up, about restricting themselves, about losing something they are entitled to.  They view the diet as a punishment, taking away all that they want to eat in order to reach a goal of a particular number on the scale.  Of course, we all know what happens when the goal is reached – all the denied food enters the picture again and eventually the lost weight returns – and more.
  • Instead – change your attitude and go for a LIFESTYLE CHANGE.  Remember the insanity quote by Einstein?  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  A person needs to understand that they cannot return to old eating habits after a diet and expect to remain in their healthier state of being.  They must understand that they need to make a commitment to continue to make healthy eating choices.  This commitment from the beginning means that you are not waiting for a magic number impatiently so that you can eat crap again, it means you are wanting to keep yourself healthy for the long-term and you understand it is not worth it to go back to old patterns.  An alcoholic who has been sober for one year cannot expect to go back to a beer with no issues – food is the same way.

2.  When embarking on a diet, people often forget exercise.

  • I hear from so many people that they do not have the time or energy to exercise – I completely understand this.  Neither do I – neither did I.  It is all about priorities.  I had to make time and realize that the energy would come.  Yet, I found that exercise was actually more critical to a healthy lifestyle and weight-loss than the dietary choices I was making.  When I committed to exercising daily I saw tremendous results in my overall health.
  • Instead – remind yourself that over time exercise will energize you, instead of deplete you.  Even when I feel completely wasted and useless when I start to exercise, I usually am energized after.  In fact, many times I can then be more productive in the evenings because the exercise has given me a much-needed boost at the end of my day.  Like many, I had to think creatively about how I was going to add exercise to my day because I did not feel I had the time and I HATE To exercise.  I knew I would never make it to the gym, so I bought a stationary bicycle and created a new rule for myself – if the tv was going to be on, I had to be on the bike for the first hour.  It was hard at first, but it certainly worked.  I ride for an hour a day and have watched many news programs and quite a few television series (Big Bang Theory is my FAVORITE!)

3.  You don’t have to modify as much as you think you do – diets can be very restrictive

  • I really can’t stand the fad diets that tell us there is so much we cannot eat – there are many things we can eat if we are creative about our choices or if we are willing to take the time to make the healthier version of an item at home.  Yes, it really is all about moderation, as opposed to complete restriction.
  • I cut out two things from my diet – gluten and sugar – by cutting these things out, my remaining food choices suddenly got healthier without too much effort.  I usually eat between 1200 and 1600 calories a day.  This is full of fruits, cheeses, nuts, yogurt, vegetables, meat (I LOVE meat!!!), and even hamburgers (on a gluten-free bun) and french fries (chips for the Brits out there!)  I have made brownies and cookies and all sorts of items – and occasionally even buy sugar-free Reeses Peanut Butter Cups – yum!  Some people may need to track their calorie consumption for a while to be aware of what they eat and if they are eating too much food to maintain their weight at a healthy place.  This is easy to do and if you own an iPhone there are tons of apps for that!

Today, 171 days ’til 40, the thing I have learned the most about writing off diets is that when my attitude changes and I choose to be healthy it is truly empowering.  I am eating what I want to eat – food that will enable me to be healthy over the long-term and enjoy my life to its fullest.  I am fully aware of what I am eating and I watch my daily consumption.  I keep a balance between allowing myself to have that occasional food I desire, while making sure it is a healthier version and does not put me too far out of a healthy calorie consumption range for the day.  Tonight I want a hamburger and french fries (chips) for dinner!



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42 responses to “171 Days ’til 40: Why Diets Don’t Work

  1. mskatykins

    September 3, 2012 at 00:15

    You know, I am one of the people out there who actually know this stuff – but you have presented it so well that I feel a renewed sense of optimism and positivity! 🙂 Go you with you with your weight loss too, excellent work, 400! 🙂

  2. boyslikeme

    September 3, 2012 at 00:17

    I’m in the middle of a lifestyle change (as opposed the previous decade worth of fad diets, self loathing etc) so totally agree! I have found that using Miracle Fruit tablets allows for a guilt free sweet treat too (they make everything that is usually sour taste incredibly sweet for about an hour – amazing and natural!). Enjoy the Burger and Chips!

    • 400daystil40

      September 3, 2012 at 12:47

      Wow, what an interesting thought – using the miracle fruit tablets— hmmm, maybe I need to get some! Yes, I did enjoy the burger! 🙂

  3. Laurie Buchanan

    September 3, 2012 at 00:25

    yes, Yes, YES!
    As a Holistic Health Practitioner, I completely and totally endorse what you’ve shared here.

  4. buckwheatsrisk

    September 3, 2012 at 01:29

    i’ll comment when i’m finished eating my ice cream…

  5. Valley Brown

    September 3, 2012 at 05:25

    Excellent assessment of the human condition. The road to health is relatively straightforward, but as humans, we feel compelled to meander, looking for that magic shortcut, even when our original route is direct. When it comes to changing your food choices, yes, healthier versions of what is familiar and comfortable are great starts to making great lifelong change. My favorite is “power fudge” — a mix of equal amounts of flavored protein powder and peanut butter (and/or hazelnut spread), and enough honey to make it into a consistency that can be pressed out into a glass pan. The mix is kept covered and refrigerated. While it still has a lot of calories, they’re “better” calories and don’t have the cholesterol and refined sugar of traditional fudge. It’s a great way to curb a candy craving — allowing yourself one piece a day. Forty is going to be great for you!

    • 400daystil40

      September 3, 2012 at 12:44

      Thank you for your comment and the great “power fudge” idea – I do something similar with peanut butter/ nuts/ dates/ sesame seeds/ etc. I use 100% fruit jam to sweeten it and change the consistency. Like you said, it is not low calorie, but it is a healthier snack option when the cravings emerge. 🙂

  6. A Table in the Sun

    September 3, 2012 at 06:08

    I SO agree with you. I’m 53 and have never had to “diet” because my life is all about good and healthy food choices. Even with the necessity of being gluten free and dairy free, I never feel cheated. There are so many good foods to eat! I do have treats when I want them, but I don’t want them often because my body is conditioned to eating nutrient rich food. So happy that you have been successful with your lifestyle change.

    • 400daystil40

      September 3, 2012 at 12:42

      I have found that I tend to go off and on the healthy food choices, which then causes me to gain or lose weight – but it is not a diet per se, it is really decided in various moments that it is time to rededicate my priorities towards health. 🙂

  7. nuttyalternatives

    September 3, 2012 at 15:39

    Completely agree!!! Thanks for sharing!

  8. walkwiththerabbi

    September 3, 2012 at 15:53

    Great message and content! I love the television/stationary bike connection. You are absolutely right on when it comes to attitude. Powerful reminder on multiple levels. Thank You for investing your time to put this together. L’ Chaim (If you don’t know what this word means, I would invite you to watch “Fiddler” again and to mimic all the dancing scenes. Also, great exercise)! Blessings to you and yours today.

  9. Fay Moore

    September 3, 2012 at 16:16

    If you live by this, you won’t be battling the bulge when your body chemistry changes a decade from now.

  10. saymber

    September 3, 2012 at 19:00

    •Instead – change your attitude and go for a LIFESTYLE CHANGE — this is at the top of the list to remember when you want to lose weight! You touched on several good points here! Yes, many of us may have heard some of these things before but a reminder and new spin NEVER hurts! I’ve done “diets” and an extreme example of what happened to me is I was 180 lbs, went on an diet and got down to 128 lbs and in just a couple years I was back to 180+….the “diet” wasn’t something I could live with indefinitely, wasn’t realistic, wasn’t healthy and I not only gained all the weight back but THEN Some! Balance is so important and for me, a self proclaimed carb addict, I have to make sure more of what I eat is protein than carbs or the scale just doesn’t move. Drinking lots of water and daily exercise helps me.

    • 400daystil40

      September 3, 2012 at 23:18

      Wow, it sounds like you have had the experiences I talk about. Yes, when the diets are not realistic for life, they hurt us more in the long run – and we always seem to gain back more than we lost, which also stinks! You are so right – more protein, exercise and water are all critical elements to having a healthy lifestyle. I try to exercise for one hour 4-5 times a week. When I am lucky (and to not have too many late night meetings) then I get to exercise more nights per week!

  11. Viveka

    September 3, 2012 at 19:08

    So so true …. I have to admit that most of my adult life has I been on some kind of diet – because I have seen myself as overweight, but then when I packed my home in Gothenburg for storage after been in UK for 8 years and I saw the clothing I gave away to charity – boxes after boxes, size 14 – my whole world stood still. I been size 14 all the time, and 14 is a size that is normal. I cried like a baby over all my lost years … when I have been on diets.
    Terrible – where do we get all the ideas from??? I think eating right on the same times every day .. and exercising is the only way to lose weight. That doesn’t mean we have to spend hours on gym – it’s enough with walking or go on the bike.

    • 400daystil40

      September 3, 2012 at 23:16

      Oh no, it sounds like you really had a traumatized time with your weight and concepts of self – yes, 14 IS normal!!! How sad that you lost that time feeling bad about yourself when you could have just been living. I do think that society places too much emphasis on diets/ food/ etc. Not an easy thing to fight, for sure. I hope that you have taken the control back and do not let society dictate how you should be or what you should look like!

  12. Hawkruh

    September 3, 2012 at 21:28

    You said it and you’ve said it right. Now, I just need to follow it. 42 days sice turning 50. It’s never too late

    • 400daystil40

      September 3, 2012 at 23:14

      Yes, saying it is the easy part – implementing it……. not so easy!

  13. Another Thousand Words

    September 3, 2012 at 23:39

    Congrats on the weight loss, $00! Your post is loaded with common sense…I, too, have been losing since switching my diet a bit (after the nasty embolism) and getting more exercise–mainly walking. I also do ‘chair exercise’ while at the computer, especially shoulder rolls and jazz-hand arm lifts…and yes, I eat cookies, chocolate, but have cut back on the bread…sometimes a half-sandwich is as filling as a whole…if eaten slowly enough to savor the taste of really good food!

    • 400daystil40

      September 4, 2012 at 23:07

      Thanks! Very good point! If you eat slower you do eat less and fill up!

  14. Another Thousand Words

    September 3, 2012 at 23:40

    Sorry, that should be “400”…for you!

  15. Unconfirmed Bachelorette

    September 4, 2012 at 02:26

    Great post! I’m on the same path. Except I’m approaching 50 rather than 40. 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      September 4, 2012 at 23:03

      Thank you so much! Good luck on your journey! 🙂

  16. Lela Bonchjela

    September 4, 2012 at 19:33

    Hey again! (I realise I comment a lot here hee!) So you lost that weight just by cycling as a form of exercise?

    • 400daystil40

      September 4, 2012 at 23:03

      Yes, that was the only exercise I did – 4-7 times a week for one hour… and no gluten and no sugar. 🙂

  17. The Quiet Borderline (back in hospital)

    September 6, 2012 at 17:54

    Great advice right there! You should write a book! The anti-diet book!

    I’ve put on a lot of weight since being hospitalised, 26 kilos, from 64 kilos to 90 kilos. Very upset about it and now I have another month before I get out of the hospital and can start to be a lot more active and make my own food choices. I can’t wait to get back to using my blender to make fruit smoothies!

    • 400daystil40

      September 6, 2012 at 22:06

      Thanks for your kind words! That stinks that the hospital causes you to put on weight – particularly when they are supposed to be helping you to feel better!

  18. pamela68

    September 9, 2012 at 03:40

    Honestly …thank you so much for your words. They really inspired me. I am much lighter mentally after reading good practical advice. I am also off sugar (1 1/2 years now) and been considering getting off gluten as welll. Also you might like some of my recipes. On I have lots of good sugar free gluten free baked goods.

    • 400daystil40

      September 9, 2012 at 22:59

      Thanks for the link to your site! Can’t wait to try the Reeses shake!

  19. ninjaneil

    September 29, 2012 at 16:33

    Thanks for that post. I’ve never done well on ‘diets’ and always excelled on ‘ways to eat’. I love food and believe our relationship with it should never be adversarial. I’ll come back here…


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