Why haven’t diets just died yet?
Have you ever been on a diet that really worked? I haven’t. There have been diets that I’ve been on that were successful in helping me drop pounds, but the pounds never stayed off. As soon as I gave up on whatever unsustainable diet plan I was following, my weight came right back with it. Sound familiar?
The problem with dieting is that it’s a temporary solution. Even if you are successful in getting down to a certain weight on your diet, you eventually end up right back where you started (or worse) once you go back to eating the way you usually do. While you might deem it a worthwhile price to pay for a special event like your wedding, the bounce-back nature of dieting really negates the purpose of going on one in the first place.
A recent study in the journal Obesity that tracked the contestants from the television show The Biggest Loser suggests that physical activity was much more effective at keeping weight off contestants than changes in diet. In fact, while dieting was effective in helping them lose weight quickly, those that cut the fewest calories ended up being the most successful in maintaining their weight loss, suggesting that increased physical activity is a more sustainable method for weight loss.
A crash diet can cause your metabolism to slow to a screeching halt, as millennia of evolution has informed our genes that a dramatic cut in calories means there’s a famine and your body burns less calories in order to keep you alive. Research also shows that repeated crash diets can have a negative effect on your heart health, increasing your risk of heart attack.
The next time you think that you want to go on a diet, ask yourself what it is that you are trying to accomplish. Presumably you are trying to lose weight, but what is motivating you to lose the weight?
If you are trying to feel healthier, then a sharp reduction in calories is not the answer. For those who are sedentary, adopting a consistent exercise routine is the right answer. If you are already exercising, then increasing your exercise (think increased intensity and efficient usage of time rather than just more time spent at the gym) and perhaps slight modifications to your usual food intake is the way to go.
If you are trying to be thinner, think about addressing why you want to be thinner. Do you think people will find you more attractive if you feel less than your best due to eating a dramatically reduced amount of calories? Perhaps the sense of accomplishment of nailing a great workout would have a more positive effect on your mood and self confidence, leading you to attract more people. And if there is a particular person that you *know* would find you more attractive if you were thinner, they aren’t worth it!
If you are trying to “cleanse” yourself, your body actually does a very good job of eliminating waste. While eating healthier is an admirable endeavor, reducing the amount of food you are eating to the point that you are not getting the nutrients you need defeats the purpose of changing your diet. Many “cleanses” reduce calorie intake so much that it stresses the heart muscle, putting you at risk for complications.
The next time you are thinking about changing your diet, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and in a safe way. While losing weight is important to your health if you are overweight, losing it in an unhealthy manner defeats the purpose.