How to Diet... Or Not
Look at Diets Through This Lens for Long-term Success!
Nutrition is important, and we really try to give our members and our community the information they need to adopt healthy eating habits. This is key to living a healthy life. However, food is a sensitive subject, and making slow, steady progress is difficult to wrap our heads around.
This is where diets come in.
"Why would I spend the next 6 months taking it slow, when I could do this diet and lose everything I need to in 21 days?"
We get it! As coaches, we never want to shoot our clients down. If we were completely blunt and said, "That approach is non-sense," they'd probably get defensive, try it anyway, and then be less likely to ask for help in the future. Instead, we want to lay out why we believe this new diet isn't the right fit, give a detailed explanation, and then let them decide which path they want to choose.
Ultimately, diets are not the answer for a long-term weight management strategy. There, we said it! Then why do most people try them? The fact is diets work… in short spurts. Unfortunately, after 30 days or 6 weeks or whatever arbitrary amount of time we’re supposed to “stick” to the diet, people are left asking, “Now what? Do I continue to do the diet? Do I just go back to the way they ate? Is there another diet to hop on to?”
If we’re answering the question, “How do I diet,” the answer is, don’t. Don’t diet. Learn. It’s ok to experiment. It’s ok to try a “diet” and succeed, fail, or succeed then backtrack. If you’re going try a diet, a.k.a. a new style of eating, go into it asking this one question, “What am I trying to learn?”
Get out of the diet feedback loop with these tips:
1) Be Ready to Learn
The Whole 30 is the perfect example. This is a great diet to learn from. They encourage you to favor whole foods over processed ones. This is a healthy way of eating (and generally what we recommend). However, the avoidance of some daily conveniences, like store bought condiments, caffeine and grains, might make this style of eating hard to keep up with. Next thing you know the “diet” doesn’t work.
Nope, it works, but we didn’t go into it ready to learn. If we go into a diet looking for the strategies that allowed us to be successful we can apply those to our lives. Then we’re not, “Doing a diet to drop “x” amount of pounds,” we’re learning so we never have to diet ever again!
2) Be Weary of Restrictive Diets
Listen, restriction is necessary for fat loss. The modern world is full of processed foods that are not good for us. The more we subject our bodies to these types of foods, the farther we are from optimal health. At the same time, if we find an approach that favors whole foods when possible and we eat frequently, we can indulge in less than healthy food ever so often.
Would you stick to a diet that NEVER allowed having a slice of pizza, a beer or chocolate cake. No? Good! We hope not! If a diet leaves NO ROOM for “off plan” meals, it's probably not something most people could use as a permanent solution, learn something, but don’t expect it to become a way of eating that lasts for a lifetime.
3) Give Yourself a Break.
This is a lifetime process. Once you find a way of eating that works for you and helps you be, and stay healthy, don’t panic when there a few days or weeks that aren’t optimal.
Beating ourselves up over what we’ve eating is a fast track to sabotage. If we’re exercising frequently, eating well and managing stress appropriately, things will balance out. Our best advice is to talk to a professional when things feel like they’re slipping out of control. Find someone you trust that shares your beliefs and ask for advice. If they’re worth their salt, they have helpful feedback on how to proceed.
Dieting is a messed up concept. Remember, there is no wagon to fall off of. There is no straight and narrow. There’s just eating well. Find a system that works for you that keeps you healthy and vibrant. Ask yourself: What can I learn from this, is this too restrictive and be patient as you go through the learning process. If there’s no straight and narrow, it’s just do your best and keep working at it.