Would you be shocked if I told you that the average woman spends 31 YEARS of her life 'on a diet'?
I'll be honest - I wasn't. 'Dieting' is so firmly rooted in our culture, it's almost impossible to survive a day without someone telling you how they're cutting calories, avoiding gluten, or only eating foods with a PH value of 9 or above.
(yes, the last one is a real thing.)
Well guest what? I don't care if your diet is atkins, paleo, low carb, low fat, ketogenic, zone, microbiotic, south beach, whatever. It all needs to stop, right now. Because whilst these diets fade in and out of popularity, we're still making the exact same mistakes time and time again.
Why dieting is not the answer
Whenever we start a new diet, we do so full of motivation, focus, and a desire to succeed. Every single time we promise ourselves 'this will be the one.'
But just a few weeks into the programme, something changes.
The motivation burns out, we lose focus, we get distracted. And before we know it, we've fallen off the wagon and we're back in the very same place we were to begin with.
So why does this happen? The answer is actually pretty simple.
Imagine you're looking for a brand new diet, but don't know where to start.
So you trundle through the archives of the internet or wander the fitness isles of the library, and before you know it, you’re hit with those all too familiar promises.
“Lose weight in 3 weeks! Tone up in 28 days!”
The problem with these programmes is that they are all chasing after the short term fix. The magic bullet. The panacea that will get us into shape faster than ever before. Having a health and fitness goal is great and everyone likes a challenge. But once you’ve achieved it – then what happens?
9 times out of 10: You slip back into the same old habits, and end up as unhealthy and out of shape as before.
If anything is going to deliver long term results – in whatever aspect of life – it has to be sustainable. This means something that you can stick at. Not just this month, or even this year. My challenge to you is to create something that you can maintain for life.
The fundamental diet mistakes
In my opinion, the reason that most diets don’t work is because they focus too much on restriction. Restricting calories, restricting carbs, restricting sugars, restricting fats.
But healthy eating isn’t about restricting at all. The problem is, when we focus on what we can’t have, we’re already setting ourselves up for failure. It’s basic human psychology. If someone tells us something is forbidden, it automatically makes us want it even more.
If there’s no room for flexibility and enjoyment, sooner rather than later we’re going to fall off the wagon. It’s inevitable.
In order for a diet to be sustainable, it must first be enjoyable. Which probably means you need to ditch the word ‘diet’ altogether. Instead of going on a diet, you’re creating a lifestyle.
The paradigm Shift
Traditional dieting views food as the enemy. As soon as we change this mentality, things start to fall into place. Instead of depriving your body, nourish it! Instead of restricting food groups, start embracing others!
It’s a simple change in mind-set, but one that I promise will make the world of difference.
You already know the basics of a healthy lifestyle, so let’s not try and overcomplicate things. Eat plenty of brightly coloured fruits and veggies. Be sure to get a healthy balance of protein, carbs and fats. Avoid processed food wherever possible. Drink your H20, move often, sleep deeply. Enjoy life.
But if you’re at a party or out for dinner with friends? Treat yourself. Relax, enjoy the company, and don’t stress out about making the ‘perfect’ food choice. What does that even mean, anyway? In fact, obsessively worrying and stressing about food choices is going to be much worse for you than treating yourself in the first place!
The lifestyle effect on dieting
Remember, food is not your enemy.
The meal in front of you is not defined by it’s calorie content or macronutrient breakdown. It’s there to nourish your body, fuel your cells, to energise you and to make you feel good.
Most importantly of all, it’s there to be enjoyed. The traditional method of ‘dieting’ leaves you feeling miserable, deprived, and ultimately on a path destined for failure.
Creating a lifestyle allows you the flexibility to live healthily, whilst at the same time maintaining balance and enjoying life. Don’t start a diet with an end date. Create something sustainable: for 2016 and beyond.