I’ve been getting quite a few emails lately asking what kind of diet I recommend for weight loss. The truth? I don’t have one. The biggest secret to losing weight and keeping it off comes down to food (NOT just calories) and exercise. Not really a secret at all right? You can’t easily lose weight AND keep it off by dieting. I
think know the failure rate for dieting is pretty steep.
“The diet world is about tearing down, and sports nutrition is about building up.” – Active.com
I love this quote because it’s so true! Dieting can easily break down your muscle tissue which is what you need to burn calories. To burn fat and lose weight, you need to burn calories right? The more muscle tissue you have, the more efficient your body becomes at metabolizing food. Higher metabolism = good. :)
Why Diets FAIL
They’re Temporary. Diets not only get people focused on the short-term weight loss, but they tend to not last very long either. As soon as you stop following a particular diet and revert back to your old eating habits, the weight is going to come back and it usually does so quickly.
They Make You Tired, Sluggish and Weak. The reason that dieting helps you lose weight is because you’re usually eliminating certain foods, forced to eat certain foods and because the diet has you eating too few carbohydrates. Your body needs a good amount of carbohydrates to keep your body energized throughout the day. Not eating enough of them can make you droopy and fatigued by lunchtime.
They Can Be Expensive. Some diet plans make you purchase their foods. Some even have precooked or prepackaged meals that you simply need to re-heat. These can work wonderfully if you have the money to continue purchasing the foods from now until forever. However, if you stop because you can no longer afford it, or you just get sick of their food, you’ll likely go back to your old ways of eating and then gain the weight back.
Can you see the pattern? When dieting, the weight almost always come back once you “come off” or stop the diet. When the weight begins to come back you’re going to get upset and feel like you did something wrong or that “nothing works”. That’s not true. It may be that you need to change your relationship with food. I know a good amount of people know what they “should” be eating (in fact probably most people), they just continue to have the same eating habits.
Think of it this way:
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got!”
“But I Crave the Structure That Dieting Programs Provide”
A diet is really nothing more than a meal plan. You can come up with your own healthy meal plan pretty easily. If you aren’t sure how, make an appointment with a nutritionist and they will help you design one.
Be a Weight Loss Success Story
If you really want to lose weight and keep it off and not have to worry about following a strict diet, then begin by making small changes. The secret to success is choosing to live a healthy lifestyle. This doesn’t mean you have to cut out all of your favorite foods and drinks… (I don’t!) you just need to consume them in fewer quantities and eat them less often. You don’t have to go all out from day one and consume grilled chicken breasts and raw carrots 6x daily. That’s the recipe for a crash-and-burn-type-experience to follow shortly thereafter. S-l-o-w-l-y implement changes to your eating habits.
For example, you can begin by cutting out snack cakes and potato chips. The only thing that helps me not eat these foods is to not even buy them. If it’s not in your cupboards you can’t eat it! Another example would be to stop drinking pop during the day (yep, even diet pop) and opt for water, flavored water or tea. You can lose a lot of weight quickly by making small changes such as these because you will be cutting out a large number of empty calories that your body doesn’t need. If your body doesn’t need the “nutrients” you’re giving it, they won’t be used and will therefore be stored. “We can’t want that.” <—-I’m quoting my ~10-year-old self here.
Something that really made the healthy eating thing click for me was thinking of food as fuel for my body. I think the first time I heard that was actually watching an episode of MTVs “True Life” quite a few years ago about an athlete of some sort. I think it was about fitness models/competitors? I guess you can learn a thing or two watching MTV!
P.S. Another reason I hate diets? It all seems like a ginormous marketing ploy to me. It’s like people are trying to make a buck (and they make a LOT of them) by preying on those who are actually trying to lose weight. It all comes down to your lifestyle – you don’t have to “diet” to lose weight.