I Hate the Word DIET

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Dear Reader;

There is one word, in this industry, that inspires anxiety for me, every time I hear it used as a verb.  DIET.  It’s a big fat four letter word.  It’s one of the ways I make a surefire judgement, on the spot, weather someone’s weight loss will succeed or fail.  In the long-run, diets fail.  Period.  With an overwhelming majority of us who diet, the weight will be re-gained within one year’s time.  It’s a never-ending cycle.  Hamster on a wheel.  Dog chasing his tail.

It’s About Control

It’s hard for most of us to admit dieting doesn’t work.  The verb Diet alludes to having some kind of quick control over our weight.  We like to think we can diet and just drop the pounds.  We can pull this off before an event or after an event (like our wedding day).  We buy into the concept that we have instantaneous control over our waistlines; it’s what we like to believe. It makes us comfortable to have control.

Then the wedding is over and what happens?

We might have control like this over 3 or 4 pounds, but any substantial weight loss is sabotaged by the concept and word DIET.  Weight loss is not instantaneous, nor is it because of fad diets or starving ourselves.

Body Image

How many of your friends have been on diets this year alone and have lost 15 and gained back 13.   Or lost 15 and gained back 18.  Or was it you?  How frustrating is it to watch the scale climb back up and up.  Then down, then up.  YOYO.

Can you think of a friend who’s lost weight and maintains it?  Longterm?  It’s hard, isn’t it.

The concept of dieting has saturated our society for decades, but lately, it’s at a climax (or I hope it is).   Women, especially, are obsessed with their weight.  We all blame the media for this.  I certainly jump on the bandwagon of believing the media amplifies our body image issues.  HOWEVER, my opinion (I actually spend a lot of time thinking about this because of the career path I’ve chosen) is the blame is mis-assigned.

I think the bigger problem is our food supply.

Think about the impact our modern food supply has had on our bodies.  It’s changed our body shapes, even.  Have you ever heard the term spare tire?  This body shape has completely hijacked our society (men and women).  Next time you are out and about, look around.  Notice how many of us have it.  AND it has nothing to do with weight or size. It’s thick or thin, short or tall.  This is a modern-day phenom.  Think about the curvy shapes of the past or the thinner shapes of the past; none of them included the spare tire.

I believe, our obsession with losing weight, goes hand in hand with the deterioration of our food supply (carbs, processed chemicals, pesticides, preservatives, manufactured fats and sugars).  It’s changed our body shapes in such a way that we are all fighting (even those of us that don’t have a lot of extra weight to lose) an uphill battle to change them back.  We think it has only to do with quantity, when in reality it’s just as much about quality.  Our processed foods are poisoning us and packing on fat around our middle.

I just read an entire article about how the corporations know the salty nature of their processed foods are addictive (have known for years) and they willingly sell to us on purpose. They even spend millions of dollars per year on research about how to get us to buy more.   Even if the research suggests they add an ingredient in large quantities that might be detrimental to our health, they listen.

We can thank our food supply for giving us even more anxiety about our body image.

Diet Food

Going into more detail about what I touched on above, about our modern-day food supply, we move on to diet food.  It’s really the bane of existence for weight loss professionals out there.  The low-fat, carb free, low-calorie, high protein, 100-calorie pack, etc…  These things are the enemy.  BUT we buy them, by the truck loads.  We think we can actually consume this over processed junk and lose weight.

Most of us, consuming this stuff, are intelligent people.

It’s so amazing when you visit the human’s need for something for nothing.  We fall for it hook, line and sinker.  It’s something corporations (which are pretty intelligent with their scientific research, data collecting worker bees) know about us and exploit endlessly.  Think about SmartOnes, Snackwells, Slimfast, Diet Coke, just to name a few.  These things are mostly, not even food.  Our bodies don’t even know what to do with them.  I often wonder why we are not concerned with what these foods do to our metabolic functioning or our organs. Probably because everyone around us is doing it, we think, what the hell.

America is estimated to have 75 million dieters.  The diet food industry raked in $60.9 billion dollars in 2010 alone.  And, guess what, it rises each year.  2010 is considered the year of the frugal dieter, meaning we spent our dollars very carefully.  Diet pills and meal replacements raked in $2.69 billion in 2010.  The experts predict a 3.3% increase every subsequent year through 2016.

All this money is spent on our something for nothing mentality.

The Three Big Fails

I see three very common diet scenarios, all the time, that fail.

The first one, is the diet food eater, like we discussed above.  You consume, you try to workout.  You fail.  Why? My guess is it’s because your body feels like crap.  You have no motivation to workout, because you don’t feel well.  You’ve underfed your body in an attempt to lose weight.  You’ve fed it full of a days worth of empty calories with SmartOnes and Snackwells and 100 calorie packs.  Your body is out of fuel.  It takes too much willpower to go to the gym now.  You haven’t given your body a single bit of nutrition that it needs to feel strong and get well.  It needs a full 1200 or more calories, per day, of nutrition and fuel.  Diet food, contains none of that.

The other common fail that I’ve seen is when people continue to eat exactly the way they have been eating while they gained the weight, high fat, empty calorie, nutrient void foods.  Think of your average restaurant meal.  BUT they just eat less of it.  So they think their bodies should lose the weight because of the caloric differences in their portions.  The common phrase you’ll hear is “but I don’t eat anything compared to what I used to” or “I only eat 800 calories a day”.  It may work, to some degree, momentarily, but it won’t last and it won’t change your body.  AND there is such a thing as under eating.  It’s scientifically proven that if you eat too few calories, your body will start to hoard its body fat stores.  The thing your body needs most, when you’re trying to lose weight, is vitamins and minerals to HEAL itself.  NOT the same food that got us here in the first place.

The last dieter that wonders why they are not losing the weight goes kind of hand in hand with the first.  But it’s the specialized dieter.  The gluten-free food eater or the dairy free eater, etc…  BUT instead of just omitting gluten or whatever it is you need to avoid, from the diet and living with the fact that you cannot have it, you fill yourself full of manufactured ways to trick yourself into thinking you can still eat gluten.  Have you ever had a gluten-free pizza?  Okay, then, I’m talking to you.  And for the record, we shouldn’t omit major food groups from our diet without a medical reason to do so.  The only time I disagree with the previous sentence is for those of us that don’t eat meat or consume animal products because of moral reasons.

The TRUTH

The truth about weight loss: it’s about healing your body.  Your body, when it is overweight, is sick.  Even some of our not so overweight bodies are sick. Have you ever heard the term skinny fat?

The truth is, you will lose all the weight and body issues if you eat for fuel and nutrition.

It sounds simple, but we all know it’s not simple for those of us that have deep-rooted habits.  It CAN BE simple, though.

Whenever you eat, follow a simple rule: ask yourself, am I feeding my body or am I feeding something else.  What will this food do for me?

Following this one rule will pretty much eliminate processed foods from your diet.  Processed foods are bad.  Maybe we should all say this out loud.  We should all own it, admit it, acknowledge it.  Accept it.  It’s the something for nothing mentality going on in your brain.  You don’t have to prepare anything, you just open a box or a bag.  That is not food, though.  Your body needs food.  I know it sux. I know you love the taste of those Thin Mint cookies!  And actually, there are a few processed foods hiding out on the grocery shelves that are okay.  I feed my family Triscuits, steel cut oats, no-sugar-added apple sauce, etc… There are some.  You have to be aware of ingredients.  Educate yourself.

When you give your body the nutrition that it needs, you transform it.  Do this and all of your weight loss problems will be over.  I know I am over simplifying it here, but maybe you are over complicating it there.  It doesn’t  have to be complex.  My blog is full of ideas for nutritious eating.  Just look under the category on the right “food”.

In order to lose weight and keep it off, you really have to embrace the facts and step out of the denial and the mentality of something for nothing.  Health should really be the goal.  When you are a YOYO, you are in an endless cycle.  You begin to eat things that are low-calorie junk because the experts all agree that it boils down to the number of calories in vs. the number of calories out.  THIS is indisputable fact that we all grab hold of and become obsessed with.  When really, it’s about eating real food, not how many calories are in it.

Calories. I think that may be the 2nd most hated word in this industry, for me.  It’s what drives us to buy the ridiculous products we discussed above.  It’s something most people who consistently maintain a healthy weight, rarely think about.

Another point worth making: food is a social thing in our culture (as it is for many cultures) and we all love to get together with our friends and our families over a great meal.  It’s not always going to be healthy foods, but that’s okay.  When you eat for fuel most days, you don’t have to be plagued with the guilt during the social settings.  That’s the best reward of all.   You can, really enjoy food, without the shameful feelings that come with it.

People say being happy has nothing to do with our size, but that’s just something we’ve subscribed to in order to alleviate the bad feelings that come with being over weight.  It has everything to do with size.  Our shame stands in our way, when we are eating in ways that are not right for us.  Obviously, losing weight won’t cure-all of your problems, but it will stop it from standing in the way to happiness.

I’ve been in both shoes, overweight and healthy weight. I am here to tell you that my weight did make me unhappy.  The accept yourself for what size you are, attitude, did not work for me.  I was miserable at a size that wasn’t me.  And that’s the thing, it did not feel like me.

Effective First Steps

If you are one of us that struggle with weight loss, I’d like to propose 2 things for you to go forth with:

#1 Acknowledge that we are what we eat.  Admit.  Accept.  It’s a very hard thing for us to do, but it is crucial for success.  It might not be an excessive amount of food, maybe it’s the choices of the kinds of food.  BUT it’s all about food.  Admit that you cannot be what you want to be while maintaining the something for nothing mentality.  The food you eat that is unhealthy will stand in your way.  There is no way around it.  Accept that you cannot go on eating unhealthy foods and expect changes.

#2 Instead of letting the body image issues shame you and perpetuate the cycles, try allowing it to be a tool for you.  The image of what you want to be, is probably the healthy version of who you already are.  Allow your image to motivate you and show you the way.  Use it as your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Know that your happy self is in that image.  That, is what you’re going for, not the svelte figure.

You are going for your happy self that resides inside that healthy girl.  She’s there.  She’s just waiting to be happy again.

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