There must be something in the air this time of year. In the span of four days, three of my friends have said that they are at a point where they are ready to make better choices and lose weight. This is huge, and I can't say how proud of these friends I am! The first hurdle is actually wanting that change for yourself. As I've said before, I've tried this path before, but for the first time it's sticking because I am really ready to embrace this change for the first time. What I mean when I say this is that this is not a short term Diet where I only eat grapefruit for two weeks and lose massive amounts of weight because of that before I go back to Big Mac's and Ben & Jerry's. (Okay first time I've even though about Ben & Jerry's since I began, and now I desperately want some Phish Food!!!!) This is a major life change, you are changing your lifestyle for the rest of your life and that's a big deal! These friends are going to be doing different things to achieve their weight loss goals, and if they work for them more power to them. I thought I would share my own thoughts and opinions though and explain why I do what I do.
So if you've been following along since the beginning you know that I am not on a Diet plan, I have changed my diet. (Big D Diet is for plans like Adkin's, Southbeach, or what I call fad Diets. Little d diet is the food that you consume.) My old diet consisted of what I approximated to be around 3500 calories a day, and over 100 grams of Fat a day. Believe it or not most people consume around that amount in a day. More and more places you eat out at don't even think twice about serving you a meal with 700+ calories a portion...this doesn't include the appetizer and dessert you know you want. Add on top of that the snacks you've had at work that day, a midnight snack, the four or five soda's you've downed throughout the day, and the skipping of meals when we get too busy to stop and it's no wonder we live in a nation that is larger in weight than any other. We don't think about what we are putting in our mouths, we just eat. We don't even think there is a problem with feeding our children a happy meal that regardless of what combo of drink or side you get averages 500 calories! The best happy meal is still close to 400 calories. Think about how much food a happy meal is, would you be hungry and snacking an hour later?!?! To me dieting is not about going drastic and cutting out parts of what we eat, but rather adjusting our choices to be better. I adjusted my diet to be roughly 1700 calories and 50 grams of fat a day, no more processed foods like boxed meals or frozen dinners, and cutting out all beverages other than water or tea (sadly sweet tea was not included in this, a Southern girls nightmare!!!). I also track my food choices in a food journal online at www.FitDay.com which tells me my daily percentages of carbs, fat, protein and other important vitamins.
Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with those that choose to go on a Diet, I just don't think they work like we really would want them to work. Are they instant gratification, of course. Do they give you results, absolutely. Are they hard to follow, make you hungry, and make you gain all the weight back after you stop doing it, in my personal experience yes. For about 13 years now there has been a low carb movement thanks to Diets like Adkin's. I've never been a huge fan of these, but due to massive results they have gained a lot of popularity. More recently there is a gluten free movement. For those that are unaware of what gluten is, it's protein found in wheat, barley, rye, malts and triticale and is also used as a food stabilizer. There's also the low-sugar, low-fat, organic only, and nameless other options that fall into the fad Diet category. All of them have one thing in common though that I have a big issue with, eliminating or drastically reducing the amounts of certain foods or component of foods that we eat. Last time I dieted I talked with a nutritionist, and although I didn't remain on the plan she told me something that I still think about to this day about all these Diets. "Different nutrients were placed in different foods for a reason. If we weren't meant to have them they wouldn't be there. We just have to figure out the good and bad amounts of these foods." Did you know fruits are a major source of carbs? Does it seem smart to you to never eat a banana again? Rather than cutting the food out, it seems smarter to judge whether or not the food is a source of good carbs or bad carbs. In the case of the banana, I'd say the other nutrients in it outweigh the small amount of bad carbs they have. There's a reason the biggest complaint when you go on a low carb diet is low energy, carbs are a major source of energy. Don't get me wrong, some people have to be on these Diets for medical reasons, allergies or medical conditions not allowing them to process these foods, being the biggest but for the average person I don't think they are doing what you want them too.
Did you know that when you skip a meal and allow yourself to be hungry you are actually hurting your weight loss rather than helping it? It's true. When you skip a meal and your body becomes hungry it looks to itself. Unlike what most of us think though it doesn't go straight to your fat to feed itself. Since your body is hungry it's beginning to wonder when it's next meal will be so it goes into survival mode making sure it only uses what it needs and what will sustain it. In this state though your body will go to muscle first rather than fat to covert to energy. It does this because muscle is easier and faster to convert. Muscle will give you more energy faster than fat. So when you skip a meal, or allow yourself to be hungry like many Diets do you are actually hurting yourself and ruining all that hard work you put in at the gym.
I've made it clear that what I have done is change my lifestyle. I exercise (no diet or Diet will work well without this!), I only drink water, and I eat so many fresh fruits and veg it's crazy! For me it was more important to change my habits so that I can continue this for the long haul, and not have to cut out that scoop of Ben & Jerry's every once and a while. I've learned that denying myself something, only makes me want it more, and when I allow myself that thing I binge on it because I want it so bad. So rather than not having it ever again, I allow myself a little bit of it to contain the craving and prevent binging. Let's face it we can't follow Diet's all the time, so for me finding out how to make better choices made more sense than following a plan for a few months, losing weight quickly, and then gaining it all back when I stopped the plan. I think this is also the reason programs like Weight Watchers work, people are learning not to cut things out of their life, but to look at what they are putting into their body. This gives them the tools to succeed long after they are no longer active in the program.
So if Dieting works for you, more power to ya! I've found that for me Dieting only brings on instant gratification and disappointment in the long run though. For me it's about dieting, and enjoying the things I love in moderation. So good luck to my friends, and hopefully I didn't anger anyone who is on a Diet by what I said. =)
T Minus 4 Days to my First 5K!!!!