How Do You Diet: For a Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime?
Did you think January was the #1 time of year the masses start dieting? In thought perhaps, but now we've entered Bikini season so those that sort of let resolutions slip away enter 'crunch' time, where a beach body is supposed to be created in 30 days or less. Good luck with that! Unless you believe Hogwarts truly exists, you must be planning a routine one would expect to find in the Navy Seal's Hell Week training - voluntarily signing yourself up for an extended course because that's what it's going to require when you wait till the Nth hour to finally get in shape!
It's funny how one goes about prepping for The Diet - there's the mental checklist we go through and it usually begins with:
Starting this coming Monday, I will change my ways.
I will exercise for 1 hour, X 5 days/week.
I will only eat 1,500 calories a day.
I will cut sugar cold turkey.
I will eat fresh veggies every day and cut out gluten.
But you still have to plan for what you'll eat in place of the regular fare and you don't know what's going to taste good (we're talking diet food, after all...), help you feel satisfied enough to keep you from falling off the diet wagon as well as keep you energized. Interesting thing about this last part though: if you pay attention to how you feel on your regular diet, you probably don't feel energized from it either! This is just one of the little lies we tell ourselves about why we hate dieting.
You head off to the grocery store on Sunday to purchase everything you need for this diet makeover. You have your neat little list but ah, wait! You pass the magazine stand and see all the headlines about the latest weight-loss secrets and you're sucked in! You scan them and make a second list for these ingredients as well. That's part of the insanity of dieting - that you get sidetracked by every headline promising an easier, or in fact - the best, or even pain-free way to diet - with delicious, satisfying foods, no counting calories, no exercise, effortless (insert: false claim after false claim, ad infinitum). Right! Here's a few gems pulled from the latest to save you from the lunacy of these so-called miracles:
The 2-Day Diet: Part-time diet. Full-time results!
How it claims to work: Two days a week, you’ll cut out a handful of foods that you know aren’t helping you (all the junk you love) and follow the plan detailed in The 2-Day Diet.
Comes with a book that alleges a science behind this breakthrough method, plus tons of yummy recipes for fast and easy meals that you can use on your diet days. On your 5 non-diet days, you can eat whatever you want. That’s it! It’s that simple. Hmmm...The science part is based on the testimony of people who chose to be part of this diet trial and they stuck to the program. On the non-diet days where one can eat whatever one wants, those portions had to be strictly controlled. Want french fries? You can! Make that just ONE, however. If we had that much control, we wouldn't have any weight issues in the first place! So the 2-day diet is all the stuff we know we should eat regularly for good health and nutrition. You are just paying for another diet program here and of course you know what this means: There will be work, it won't be easy, changes will be required and you'll have to stick with them. Even the 5 days where you don't diet, you are portion controlling everything you do eat. Isn't that called dieting?
The Bone Broth Diet: Secret to Hunger-Free Cleanses
This one makes immensely grandiose claims! 'Bone broth is packed with the building blocks of collagen. Bone broth collagen may actually be better than cosmetic procedures because drinking bone broth lets the collagen work from the inside out to naturally eliminate wrinkles and strengthen skin.' In addition, it claims to be able to help one shed as much as 15 lbs. in as little as 21 days, without hunger and for the low price of only $27.99, you can get the book that ALL the celebrities are raving about! Of course, not the vegetarian/vegan celebrities but all the rest of them. Okay, so I looked at the ingredients and it's basically a soup diet. I also looked up beneficial properties of bone broth, which is a misnomer because broth is differentiated from stock precisely because it doesn't use bones. But no matter. Like many nutrition trends, the claims surrounding bone broth are loosely based on nutrition science. The authors highlight the benefits of the broth’s collagen and cartilage content, though it is not the best dietary source. Also, just as the dietary fat you ingest doesn’t directly translate to body fat, swallowing collagen doesn't automatically translate to collagen in or between your bones. These authors just tend to overstate or sensationalize the benefits, and use a lot of personal endorsements to support their claims. Anecdotes along the lines of "I ate bone broth and my gut problem cleared up" do not count as science-based medicine! Most likely, it worked for those that followed it because again: The people that this study followed chose to be a part, they followed a plan - which was probably dramatically better than the way they were eating - and it limited food choices and caloric intake. And what do we call this? Dieting!
The Belly Melt Diet
"This revolutionary plan helps burn off TWO different kinds of fat: the visible flab on your hips, arms, thighs, and belly...and also the hidden, toxic visceral fat that has been linked to heart disease and diabetes." How many times have we seen these adjectives associated with the diet du jour: miraculous, revolutionary, amazing, etc? The truth behind those adjectives is not their association to the diet/food program but more appropriately to the people who followed them and their ability to stick with the diet as this is the hard part!
The Belly Melt claims to work by resetting your hormonal clock, primarily referred to as the circadian rhythm, done through getting the proper amount of sleep. For some of us, this is more challenging than any diet, but I digress. Then, it's a few days of specific foods totaling 1,200 calories divided over 4 meals. After that, it's basically a month of daily caloric intake not to exceed 1,600 calories, consisting of food from the following list: Salmon, shrimp, chicken, turkey, lamb, eggs, fat-free Greek yogurt, cheese, whole-grain bread, quinoa, lentils, hummus, spinach, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, broccoli, kale, banana, berries, pineapple, grapefruit, sunflower seeds, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts, flax seed, avocado, dark chocolate, olive oil, canola oil. No, not Godiva dark chocolate. This list probably looks similar to the one you brought to the grocery store with you, yes? And on top of this? It DOES NOT target belly fat (there is no such thing as spot-reducing, but you knew this already, right?!), so be forewarned. The main weight lost initially will be water weight, as is so often the case when starting a new diet. Basically just more recipes that may provide a few new ways to put together diet food, of course after getting that oh-so-important sleep! Aren't you glad you didn't spend the $31.99 to find this out?
I do write often about the futility of diets - as presented mainstream, to the public, by marketers, and quite frankly, that's what the authors of most diet books are. Just another trickster counting on the subterfuge happening in every diet-challenged person's life, hoping you'll throw money their way. Just learn to eat CLEAN people! Clean is exceedingly simple and is basically about how a food is produced. Organic, non-GMO, fresh-from-the-farm-to-your-plate is the best choice as well as minimally processed/refined food choices over 'fake' foods, like those pictured below:
And - watch out for these additives!
Keep in mind that the above indicates some of the worst but is by no means a comprehensive list.
Dieting shouldn't be viewed as a painful chore but as something done in the name of nourishing your body and life. There are so many cons to all the BS circulating on diets and I believe the worst part of this is that most of us have become extremely confused on what and how to eat properly. It really isn't that difficult. The problem really is that we are just comfortable with our poor habits and bad choices - even though we know they go as far as endangering our health - we are comfortable in our rut, change takes work and we are so not disciplined. Consider the CONS perpetuated by popular diet propaganda, regardless of the claims (there's always the fine print):
Encourages unrealistic weight loss expectations.
Spot reduction. Body fat can be lost - over the entire body. Diets cannot promise spot reduction on specific areas. This takes TIME.
Doesn't differentiate the kind of weight lost, as typically initial weight loss will be primarily water weight.
Oftentimes claims it is unnecessary to count calories and monitor portion sizes.
Failure to teach that weight-loss will take time, effort, commitment to making dietary changes that LAST, and most likely, the inclusion of exercise.
Limits/excludes food selections though initial claims may be 'Eat as much as you like/whatever you like.'
Of course, you know where this leads (see below) which is once again, why diets DON'T work.
As for the Pro's of healthy eating:
Nutritious foods improve health and promote weight loss.
Better Lifestyle - Healthy foods boost your brain power and protect brain cells from the damage causing cognitive decline. One nutrient in particular, omega-3 fatty acids, are associated with improved concentration and mental alertness. The better your focus and attitude, the more effective you will be at work, play and life in general.
While this is also not a comprehensive list, the benefits are far-reaching. If you feel pained to start, take small steps so that the second paragraph above of this post looks more like this on your Monday Super Start:
Do cardio for 15 minutes 2 - 3X/week.
Take the stairs whenever possible.
Cut back 100 calories/day.
Eat half a bagel and share the other half.
Eat one green vegetable this week.
Keep it simple, stay positive about the good changes you're making, don't give up when you make mistakes and take your time.
Above all, honor your own truth and never let society make you feel that you must conform to a certain 'LOOK' as beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder and actually does start on the inside!
I do get asked often what my secret is. That's funny! Secret to what? I'm just a regular girl, no one special. I struggle, make mistakes, hurt and cry sometimes too. I'm not a celebrity, I'm not wealthy, I haven't come up with anything that makes the world a better place, though I do try to make the part of the world I touch a better place by just being a kind and loving person. But this is my mantra and I live by it, consistently. In the realm of health and fitness, this may be the only difference between us:
Good news is this can easily be yours too! Remember that I struggled for years before finally getting it right (some 30+ years) and what it took for me was a decision about what I wanted my life to be about. This pretty much sums it up: