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!