Say goodbye to the yo-yo.
I want to start by saying that this is a slightly misleading title. Diets do work. They totally work. They help you get the weight off right? Exactly, so they work. But they also don’t work, because most of the time, the weight is off for a while, and then BAM! it’s back again, and this time it’s worse.
There are a number of reasons they don’t work.
1 – The results are only temporary. When you diet, you restrict your consumption for a period of time in order to achieve a result. The problem is that when you stop restricting your consumption, you’re back at square one. 95% of people who lose weight through dieting regain it within 1-5 years.
2 – Our body doesn’t like them. When we cut back on calories, our bodies perceive it as stress and work to conserve our fat, active inhibiting our weight loss.
3 – They suck. Do I need to get into this? Point 1, plus point 2 = sucky. If you work really hard, and hate your life essentially because you’re starving and progress is slow, and then once you stop all the weight comes back again, that would be kind of depressing.
4 – They don’t deal with the problem. When we’re overweight, our tendency is to think that the weight is the problem. The weight isn’t the problem, the thing that caused the weight gain is the problem: our eating habits. A diet gets rid of the weight yes, but it doesn’t actually address the way you eat so that you can avoid ending up in the same situation again.
5 – It can lead to potentially harmful behaviours. When weight loss is the goal, we have a tendency to become a little obsessive. We count calories down to decimal points and weigh everything. If we notice we’ve gained a pound instead of lost it, we punish ourselves. None of this is healthy behaviour. While it’s good to be aware of what we’re eating and how our bodies are doing, this is extreme. It’s especially extreme when you think that everyone’s weight fluctuates a little day to day, don’t freak about the scale!
Okay, so now that I’ve waffled on about why your diet doesn’t work, what can you do instead?
Go long. Think about the rest of your life (yes, I realise that’s a really long time). Think about how you want to feel for the rest of your life, what you’d like your life to look like, what things are important to you, vital vs preferable. Now find a way of eating that works with that. Be willing to make compromises, but remember that these are long term compromises.
Don’t try and ‘put a band aid on it’. Address the real issue. Look at the reason behind your weight gain. Are you unhappy? Is it that your bored? Are you just exhausted and too tired to think about what you’re eating? Or is it just that you don’t realise that a plain white bagel contains 400 calories but won’t keep you full and will send your sugar levels on a quick spike.
Educate yourself. Like I said, there is no quick fix. You have to be willing to find out about food. Learn about nutrients. Nothing too complicated, just the basics about carbohydrates, fat and protein. Experiment with food and see how your body reacts to figure out how it affects you. Make sure you feel full, not stuffed after each meal.
Give it time. This is a lifestyle you’re developing, so it’s going to take time. Be patient with yourself, give yourself time to figure stuff out, and don’t panic if you don’t see results right away.
Enjoy it. If you’re doing this for the rest of the life, it can’t suck. You need to find ways to enjoy it. Whether that’s buying new cookbooks and trying new recipes, or experimenting with eating more frequently, make sure you don’t hate it.
/Femi, The Girl Who Hates Working Out
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