Americans view a healthy lifestyle as something difficult
to attain--and something that's not much fun. Traditional
diets have taught us that to lose weight, we must count calories,
keep track of everything we eat, and deprive ourselves by
limiting the amount--and kinds--of foods we eat. Diets tell
us exactly what and how much food to eat, regardless of our
preferences and individual relationships with hunger and satiety.
can help us lose weight (fat, muscle, and water) in the short
term but is so unnatural and so unrealistic that it can never
become a lifestyle that we can live with, let alone enjoy!
very few diets teach healthy low-fat shopping, cooking, and
dining-out strategies, many offer unrealistic recommendations
and encourage health-threatening restrictions. Even more important,
diets don't teach us the safest, most effective ways to exercise;
they don't teach us how to deal with our cravings and our
desires, or how to attend to our feelings of hunger and fullness.
Eventually, we become tired of the complexity, the hunger,
the lack of flavor, the lack of flexibility, the lack of energy,
and the feeling of deprivation. We quit our diets and gain
back the weight we've lost; sometimes we gain even more!
time we go on another diet of deprivation, the weight becomes
more difficult to lose, and we become even more frustrated
and discouraged. Then we eat more and exercise less, causing
ourselves more frustration, discouragement, depression. Soon
we are in a vicious cycle. We begin to ask ourselves,"Why
bother?" We begin to blame ourselves for having no will power
when what we really need is clear, scientifically-based information
that will help us develop a healthier lifestyle we can live
with for the rest of our lives.
restriction of food intake in order to lose weight or to prevent
weight gain, known as dieting, is the path that millions of
people all over the world are taking in order to reach a desired
body weight or appearance. Preoccupation with body shape,
size, and weight creates an unhealthy lifestyle of emotional
and physical deprivation. Diets take control away from us.
of us who diet get caught in a "yo-yo" cycle that begins with
low self-acceptance and results in structured eating and living
because we lack trust in our body and are unwilling to listen
and adhere to our body's signals of hunger and fullness. On
diets, we distrust and ignore internal signs of appetite,
hunger, and our need to be physically and psychologically
satisfied. Instead, we depend on diet plans, measured portions,
and a prescribed frequency for eating.
a result, many of us have lost the ability to eat in response
to our physical needs; we experience feelings of deprivation,
then binge, and finally terminate our "health" program. This
in turn leads to guilt, defeat, weight gain, low self-esteem,
and then we're back to the beginning of the yo-yo diet cycle.
Rather than making us feel better about ourselves, diets set
us up for failure and erode our self-esteem.
attitudes and practices acquired through years of dieting
are likely to result in a body weight and size obsession,
low self-esteem, poor nutrition and excessive or inadequate
exercise. Weight loss from following a rigid diet is usually
temporary. Most diets are too drastic to maintain; they are
unrealistic and unpleasant; they are physically and emotionally
stressful. And most of us just resume our old eating and activity
patterns. Diets control us; we are not in control. People
who try to live by diet lists and rules learn little or nothing
about proper nutrition and how to enjoy their meals, physical
activity, and a healthy lifestyle. No one can realistically
live in the diet mode for the rest of their life, depriving
themselves of the true pleasures of healthy eating and activity.
Don't Fail Diets; They Fail Us!
Decades of research have shown that diets, both self initiated
and professionally-led, are ineffective at producing long-term
health and weight loss (or weight control). When your diet
fails to keep the weight off, you may say to yourself, "If
only I didn't love food so much . . . If I could just exercise
more often . . . If I just had more will power." The problem
is not personal weakness or lack of will power. Only 5 percent
of people who go on diets are successful. Please understand
that we are not failing diets; diets are failing us.
reason 95 percent of all traditional diets fail is simple.
When you go on a low-calorie diet, your body thinks you are
starving; it actually becomes more efficient at storing fat
by slowing down your metabolism. When you stop this unrealistic
eating plan, your metabolism is still so slow and inefficient
that you gain the weight back even faster, even though you
may still be eating less than you were before you went on
addition, low-calorie diets cause you to lose both muscle
and fat in equal amounts. However, when you eventually gain
back the weight, it is all fat and not muscle, causing your
metabolism to slow down even more. Now you have extra weight,
a less healthy body composition, and a less attractive physique.
require you to sacrifice by being hungry; they don't allow
you to enjoy the foods you love. This does not teach you habits
which you can maintain after the diet is over. Most diet programs
force you to lower your caloric intake to dangerously low
levels. The common theory is that if you eat fewer calories
than you burn, you will lose weight. But when you eat fewer
calories than your body needs to maintain its life-sustaining
activities, you're actually losing muscle in addition to fat.
Your body breaks down its own muscles to provide the needed
energy for survival.
diets which use calorie restriction to produce weight loss
are no longer appropriate. Most weight-loss programs measure
success solely in terms of the number of pounds lost per weight
loss attempt. Diets don't take into account the quality of
the process used to achieve that weight loss or the very small
likelihood of sustained weight loss. For long-term good health,
you need to move away from low-calorie diets and focus on
enjoyable physical activity and good nutrition. Exercising
regularly and eating lean-supporting calories, protein and
carbohydrates, and reducing fat-supporting calories will not
only help you look and feel better, it will also significantly
reduce your risk of disease.
spends billions of dollars on different ways to fix people.
If we focused more on prevention and on improving our day-to-day
behaviors, we could cut health care costs in half. Contrary
to popular belief, leading a healthy lifestyle doesn't have
to be difficult; it doesn't have to painful or time-consuming.
Making gradual, simple changes in your diet and physical activity
will make great improvements in your health and well-being,
and they can drastically reduce your risk of disease.
your weight management program is to be a success, everything
you eat and every exercise you do must be a pleasurable experience.
If you're not enjoying yourself, it is unlikely that you'll
continue your program. It's that simple. These small, gradual
changes are not painful or overwhelming but rather the core
of an exciting lifestyle that you will look forward to.
the frustration, guilt, and deprivation out of weight management,
and allow yourself to adopt gradual, realistic changes into
your life that will make healthy eating and physical activity
a permanent pleasure. You will soon discover what your body
is capable of and begin to look, act, and feel your very best.
Good luck and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of a healthy,
NFPT Personal Trainer Magazine