DIET. I bet that word makes you feel some kinda way. Does it scare you? Does it dredge up bad memories? Does it make you feel bad about yourself? Maybe you read the word, imagined a bowl of leaves (also known as salad) and then rolled your eyes. The whole concept of dieting actually makes me a little cheesed off (no pun intended!).
The word ‘diet’ can simply be in reference to the foods an individual consumes. For example, ‘she survived on a diet of instant noodles for a month’. By the way, I do not recommend that in the slightest. But the word ‘diet’ mostly conjures up mental images of salads and depriving yourself of your favourite foods. It might even make you think of things like Weight Watchers, keto, low carb, calorie restrictions or maybe even intermittent fasting. I actually like that last one but more on that later.
The weight loss industry in the United States was expected to be worth over $70bn in 2020 (PRNewswire, 2020). Yes, that’s billion with a ‘B’. There is a lot of money to be made in this area because so many people want to lose weight for a myriad of reasons. Some just have a few stubborn pounds they want to shift. Others are very overweight and need to lose weight for medical reasons. Then there are new mums who want to get back to their pre-baby weight and there are those wanting to lose weight for a particular occasion like a wedding or holiday. The list goes on. There is always someone trying some kind of diet to lose weight for one reason or another.
But here’s why I hate the idea of diets. Take a walk with me down a hypothetical path. Let’s say you want to lose some weight. Maybe you want to drop 15 lbs before your next holiday. Or you want to lose 30 lbs because life just got away with you. You decide to do keto or just a low carb diet. It works. The weight comes off quicker than you expected. You look good. You feel good. You’re fitting into a pair of jeans you’ve had hidden at the back of your closet for heaven knows how long. What happens when you stop doing keto or the low carb diet? Yup. The weight creeps back on. The problem with a diet as many people know it, is that it’s a temporary fix. I actually said to a friend recently that we’ve all become so hooked on instant gratification. And weight loss is no exception. Most people want a quick fix. They want results now. But the weight wasn’t gained in a few weeks so why is there this pressure to lose it so quickly?
I am all for people trying to be a healthier version of themselves. If that means losing weight or getting physically stronger or maybe even just being in a better place emotionally/mentally, then I’m here for all of it. I don’t knock anyone for doing any of the things mentioned above. I just think we need a mindset shift. In order to lose weight and keep it off (this is the hard part!), a short-term solution won’t work. The mindset shift comes in realising and accepting that long-term weight loss can only come from long-term action. And this means making it a lifestyle. Making it part of your everyday habits over a long period of time. If you gave up carbs completely, how long could you stick with that? Be honest with yourself. Maybe you’re not giving up carbs. Maybe you’re still eating the things you like but limiting yourself to 1000 calories per day. How long could you stick with that? This is why a lot of people regain the weight they lose. They revert to old eating habits and the lost weight finds them again.
I am a strong proponent of intermittent fasting (IF). I’m sure you must have heard of it. There are different ways to do IF. One of the most popular is 16:8. This basically means you fast for 16 hours and only eat during an eight-hour window. So, imagine you have dinner at 8pm tonight, you then wouldn’t eat again until 12pm the following day. Some people choose to fast for 20 hours and eat during a four-hour window. There are other health benefits related to IF that have nothing to do with weight loss. But the thing I like about IF is that it’s sustainable. I have clients who have tried IF and found it easier to stick to than they had thought it would be.
Look out for a blog post on the different ways to do IF and the health benefits associated with it. IF isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. However you choose to manage your weight, make sure it’s something you can maintain long-term. Now put your phone/tablet down and get some movement in! A healthy lifestyle incorporates great eating habits, as well as keeping your body active through regular exercise, not to mention continuous self-care practices and mindset work. More to come on those in subsequent posts. But until then, let’s treat our bodies with love and respect. It’s the only one we’ll get in this life!