Monday, March 12, 2012

...stop dieting...

When the word diet is said, I immediately cringe.  I cringe as a fitness professional and I cringe personally.  We hear it all the time..."Diets don't work!".  Actually, they do work.  The problem is that the results usually don't last and you're left with disappointment and depending on the extreme matters you may have taken, you could be left MORE unhealthy than when you started!  Starving yourself or working out to excess WILL make you lose weight, but it is NOT maintainable and can do you more harm than good in the long run.  This is the opinion of the personal trainer side of me.

Personally, I cringe because I am a girl that knows what she likes and isn't happy when I don't get it.  I associate diets with the LOSS of things I enjoy, and I hate the feeling of deprivation that has always accompanied diets in my life.  I remember being a teenager and moving an old stationary bike in my room.  I remember eating lettuce and taking diet pills and riding that stupid bike.  I remember hating myself and feeling ugly.  Obviously that's extreme and unhealthy, but I think even healthy diet plans can be risky if you don't have the right mindset.  After my 2nd child, I joined Weight Watcher's and had great success.  I didn't get strong at all, but I sure got skinny.  It started out well for me, but somewhere along the way...old demons and ideas crept back in.  I was so obsessed with the number on the scale that I was going to see every week when I went in for my weekly meeting, that I would refuse to eat meat for 2 days before weigh in and I would use laxatives the day prior.  I've never admitted that to anyone, and it makes me sick to see the words on my screen.  The only reason I admit this is because I know there are women and men out there trying to be better but they are going about it in the wrong way.  The Weight Watcher's plan did not drive me to that.  Being on a DIET and my own personal fear and unwillingness to REALLY change both my body AND my mind drove me to that.

So if you shouldn't diet, should you just be happy where you are at?  My answer would be, "No, not necessarily."  When I weighed 200 lbs back in 2002 and began my own transformation, I went back to Weight Watcher's because I needed some kind of structure and plan.  I did not attend meetings, because for ME personally...I knew the public weigh in would set off some of my past issues.  After a couple of months, I had started to build a healthy foundation but I wanted to be able to eat more healthy fat, like nuts and avocados and the "points" on those did fit in well with being able to eat enough.  For the first time in my life, I made my workouts and what I ate more important than what I was NOT able to eat.  I practiced discipline and moderation.  I ate good most of the time but occasionally I would have small amounts of things that I wanted.  I always used to say, "ONE doughnut, once in a while, will not make you fat.  One doughnut everyday is another story."  I had great success doing things this way and maintained my weight loss for 9 years.

You may think I'm going to go on a rant about the Paleo diet or how I have began eating in the last couple of months.  I'm not.  Do I think there are benefits to this way of eating?  Yes, but the point of this is to change the way you see food in general, no matter HOW you choose to eat.  Make a decision to eat healthier.  Simplify your choices.  Ask yourself questions.  "Does this food make me healthier?  Or less healthy?"  When you are choosing something, be aware that you are indeed CHOOSING.  You don't HAVE to eat crap because you are traveling or tired, and you don't have to skip meals because you are busy.  It's a choice...a choice that's easier to make if you think ahead.

When someone that hates to run at the gym asks me how to get better at running, I have a very simple and true answer.  I say, "Run more."  Sounds like a smart a** response, but it's the truth.  If you want to increase your cardiovascular respiratory endurance, you have to increase your cardio activity!  Eating and choices are no different.  Make better choices more often when it comes to your food and it will become easier.  I remember when I began running and the first day that I burst through my own front door, excited to announce that I had just run for 13 minutes without stopping.  I knew then, I was becoming a runner.  I'm still not quite there with my eating.  I'm feeling myself start to lean back towards old habits.  I was taking my own meals to my parents' house for Sunday dinner and then the past 2 weeks I didn't.  Last night my Mom had barbecue brisket and pasta salad and corn.  I ate it and I feel bad today...physically and mentally.  So, it's a new day.  Not a piece of food has gone in my mouth yet, and when I get up and walk in the kitchen...I'll prepare something that leads me closer to my goals rather than further away.  You can do the same.  Quit "DIETING" and start eating healthier.  You'll be surprised what a difference this shift in attitude can make!


  1. Well said. Thanks for driving the point home! I am not obsessed with the scale like I used to be -- and sadly have torn my left meniscus this past weekend (WTF?!), but I do think about my diet and getting better. Have I done the 30 day challenge? NO; but I have removed things one-by-one, week-by-week - to make the change over less dramatic. It has helped tremendously. I feel better. One thing at a time. One day at a time.

    I also think that being perfect - 100% of the time is unrealistic. Food is pleasure. Food is socially acceptable. I will NEVER eat certain foods (fast food for example) -- but on a special occasion, yes I will eat cake! Operative word is OCCASION!

    Great post (as usual)! Hopefully, bringing your own meals to your mom's doesn't incite drama! (I know it would in my momma's house!!)

  2. There isn't enough time or space for me to say "I agree!!" to each of the statments in here that made me really nod my head! I can relate to so much of what you've described, especially the statements about wanting to break the habits and emotional drivers for how I make food choices. I cringe at the word "diet" when people ask me about eating Paleo (I try very hard to avoid caling it a Paleo diet) because diets are temporary and not sustainable. So well said. Thank you for this post!

  3. I just finished my 30 and have never felt better in my life. I then spent two days eating more chocolate than ever in one sitting and hiding it from my husband. I did tell him the next day and then spent two days with the side effects. I am going to do another 30 b/c I think I need to keep myself on track. I want to be able to have that one treat and move on without it making me obsessed with sugar. Thank you for your words.

  4. As a fellow fitness professional, I love your blogs :)

  5. This is the best post I have read in a very long time, and I am going to bookmark this page and read it every day until I have it memorized! I just started trying to get into shape, and I've been walking, but I really want to run. I have this fear that I cannot be a good runner because I never have been, but your words inspired me to think differently and I thank you!