Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stop The Insanity!!! Why Diets Won't (EVER) Work

80's babies (and those before us) surely remember the slightly crazed platinum blonde with the buzz-cut screaming at you through your TV to Stop The Insanity!!!! Back in the 90's I had no interest in why this woman was yelling or what she was yelling about. But now, at almost 30, I finally get it.I got the message & I stopped my insane thought process & old habits that were seemingly the 'norm'. This post isn't a plug for whatever Susan Powter was/is selling (in fact I've never read her book, watched her short-lived talk show, or heard her motivate the masses). About a year ago, things sort of clicked in my head, and I started on a journey that has forever changed me. Now, I'm excited to share my epiphanies with you!

Thanks to innovation & technology (combined with a degree of laziness that is exclusively a 1st world problem), we live in a society of convenience and instant gratification. We want what we want, and we want it NOW (actually we wanted it 5 minutes ago)! Nothing wrong with creating the next-best-thing in the shortest time possible. However, that leads fundamental characteristics such as discipline, commitment, and patience to fall by the waist-side. Who wants to do something the hard way when surely there HAS to be an easier, faster, totally convenient way to replace it, right? Enter, THE FAD DIET...The cabbage soup diet...The grapefruit diet...The apple cider vinegar diet...The...tapeworm diet?! (I kid you not, look it up. And YES, it's exactly what you think it is!) And lets not forget the wide array of diet pills, shakes, cleanses, etc.

For these diet plans and products to gain so much notoriety, there has to be some truth to them, right? Yes, the majority of them will let you shed those pesky 5, 10, 15 lbs in 30 minutes, or whatever their ridiculous claims are. But what happens after that? I mean you can't live on cabbage soup the rest of your life. Grapefruit is wonderful, but I'm pretty sure you need more nutrients than vitamin C to live, and ummm, the whole tapeworm thing? That's just all sorts of gross.
It's a proven statistic that 41% of those who go on diets gain back more than what they originally lost. And yet, the majority of us keep going back for more! Why? What gives? And most importantly, what can we do to stop the insanity of this vicious cycle?

This is undoubtedly the hardest part of the whole weight loss journey; changing the way we THINK. Awareness is key to change. We must start thinking about the term diet for what it really is: an eating program, and one that is individualized & specific to each of us. There are a few basic guidelines that everyone can benefit from: 5-6 helpings of vegetables, 4-5 servings of fruit, at least 30 grams of fiber a day, no more than 20% of our calorie intake should be allotted to fat, around 20% of protein and LOTS of water. Don't try to tackle everything at once. I'm an overachiever by nature, so naturally I attempted to change everything immediately. I repeat, don't do it! YOU WILL FAIL. Instead, take small, purposeful steps. For instance, addicted to soda, iced tea, juices, & everything else that isn't water? Try switching to flavored seltzer water, or make your own unsweetened herbal iced tea at home. Still too drastic? Replace every other glass of soda, juice, iced tea with a bottle of water. Find yourself snacking mid morning or mid-afternoon on unhealthy empty calories? Try replacing your usual snack with a serving of almonds or cup of fruit salad. You will be so surprised at how much "insignificant" changes like these make a difference. And always remember, no matter how small the change, it's still a change for the better you weren't doing yesterday. Before you know it, you will be conquering the small  goals in no-time and be pushing yourself to tackle larger ones.

You should be taking these small steps in other areas as well. No amount of calorie counting will be completely effective without incorporating exercise. Almost anyone has 30 minutes to spare sometime throughout the day. Figure out when that time is, and make it part of your routine. Start small (a brisk walking pace for 30 min a day), and gradually increase when you feel like tackling a more challenging goal. Also, find clever ways to make mundane chores work-out friendly. Park all the way in the back of the lot when you go to the shopping center.  Hold your stomach muscles while you are blow drying/ flat ironing your hair. Do some leg lifts while you're watching your favorite TV show. It sounds silly, but it all adds up.

I may hear some flack for this next part, but I am a true believer in this. STEP AWAY FROM THE SCALE. Numbers are relative. Our bodies are proportioned differently, we retain different amounts of water, we carry ourselves in a different manner. Also, if you start any type of work out program, you will begin to lose fat & build muscle. My strong opinion is to measure yourself. Take a measurement of your bicep, thigh, waist, hips, and any other area u see fit. Keep a journal & maintain consistency in your measurements (ex- measure in the same spot on the same body part every time). To be honest, I couldn't even bring myself to look at those numbers at first. So I got a pair of old jeans that hadn't fit me in a good 6 yrs. every week I'd try them on. Pretty soon not only was a wearing them, but they got the "baggy butt" syndrome & it was time for a new measuring gauge. It may have not been the most scientific way, or even the most accurate way of going about documenting my weight-loss, but it kept me positively motivated.


If you take anything away from my endless rant, please let it be this; Find what works for YOU. Find what makes YOU feel GOOD. It is well worth the extra effort in searching and in taking small steps. It may take a little longer than a week, or a month, but you will see results. And if you are true to yourself and committed to your goal, these results will be LASTING ones.

Happy Eating!

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