Eat less, exercise more.
That’s what works for weight-loss and weight management, right? Well, maybe for a while…but definitely not for the long-term, and it is a very difficult lifestyle to maintain. This is what we are all taught, even many professionals. Want to lose weight, start a diet. Having experimented with this on myself, listening to clients over the years, and continuing my education on the matter, I now think differently. I continued to tell myself there must be a better way, and I am convinced there is…eat!
Diets. Don’t. Work. Sure, cutting calories will help the scale move down, but to continue movement or to maintain that number is very difficult with diets.
One of the reasons is that your body perceives a diet/major calorie cutting as a stressor. When we are stressed the body produces more stress hormones as high levels of cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones cause the body to slow down. Decreasing calories is a threat, and the body goes into a survival mode. When this happens not only is it difficult to maintain or lose pounds, but your body may even start to store fat and you will see a weight gain! Have you ever thought to yourself, I am doing everything right! Why can’t I lose weight? This may be it.Diets do not promote a change you can sustain. I can eat 1200 calories for a week or two, or eat nothing but protein or smoothies for a month, but that’s about it. There’s no way I could maintain that. Diets focus on food choices; eat this, not that. They rarely focus on deep seeded issues on our behaviors and why we really choose the foods we do. In order to make lasting change in how we eat, we really need to dive deeper into the why.
Some of my personal why happened about 6-ish years ago. I had a very emotional connection to food. I grew up with a loving family that often rewarded ourselves with sweet treats. You could always find a reason to eat something unhealthy (at Grandma’s house it was sweet cookies and cakes) and easily justify it-celebration, reward, it will make you feel better…Because of these habitudes toward food that carried into adulthood, I was always on a diet, always failing, and never happy with my body. I needed to understand why I ate the way I did, and why I wanted a real change before anything could happen. It wasn’t until I stopped dieting, and focused on nutrition rather than calories that my body started to change and so did my mental health around diet and exercise!
Diets suck. When you live a healthy life and choose healthy foods to be your main source of nourishment you will never have to say no! With diets there is no PLEASURE in trying to become healthier. On my own journey, the more I chose good nutrient dense foods the more I craved them and was satisfied by them. I now could be totally satisfied with a Greek yogurt over ice cream any day- but that took time! If you do not include pleasure into your eating, dieting will be the grind it is best known for.
When you are eating the right foods, sure you still need to be calorie aware, but there is no need to count calories. By creating a positive relationship with food, you can stop beating yourself up all the time and feeling like a failure. If you eat healthy most of the time, you will create space for those treats that we all look forward to. Have I convinced you to ditch the diet yet? Try it today… EAT!