By Laura DesCognets, CPT
Diet has become a four letter word. I wrote about getting abs by Memorial Day last month and the bottom line was A) that abs are made in the kitchen and B) you really can’t “spot treat” for fat loss. ‘So what sort of diet should I go on then, Laura?’
When I say the word “diet” I immediately cringe and change my choice of words to “lifestyle change” but even that just sounds trendy. Diet makes me think of shakes and ladies eating nothing but lettuce for lunch. But what is a “lifestyle change”? It is the same as Gwyneth Paltrow’s “conscious uncoupling”?
I like to describe it as making a large enough change in lifestyle, nutrition and/or physical activity to see positive results, all while making choices that are healthy and sustainable.
You won’t see results if you don’t change anything about what you’re already doing. However, how many times has your neighbor tried that one crazy-fad diet, seen some quick results, to then just gain all or even more of her weight back?
So what should you do? It’s really not a question that is answered easily. I’ll take my best shot:
Diets are not one-size-fits-all.
Don’t you hate one-size-fits-all clothing? I’m 4’10” and trust, it’s just not true. Diets are the same way. What works for your friend is not necessarily going to work for you. Just because Beth from accounting lost 30 pounds on the Atkins diet doesn’t mean you will. There are other factors at play that will determine whether a diet is a good fit for you or not. How your body processes certain foods is huge. Talking with your doc is a good start to learn more about your nutritional needs.
Sustainability is key, but it doesn’t have to be deal breaker.
It’s fact that any lifestyle change is not truly a lifestyle change if it is not something you can sustain pretty well. Did you really change your life if you tried Whole30 and on day 31 ate your weight in sugar? Yo-yo’ing is one of the worst things you can do when it comes to your health. Gaining and losing and gaining messes with your metabolism and will ruin your chances for lasting results. Find something that works for you—It may be keto, paleo, low-carb, vegetarian, vegan, or some other plan. One thing it should include is whole, real food. One thing it should include less of is sugar. If it works, you should see results in lots of capacities: Fat loss, better sleep, more energy, less bloating, less gas, an easier time using the bathroom, etc. If you’re seeing any or all of these things, congrats! Your gut is thanking you! Now, can you sustain these positive changes you’ve made? If the answer is yes—AWESOME! But if you can’t, is all hope lost? Not necessarily.
Short Term Diets for Long-Term LEARNING.
The beauty of some of the newer, trendy “diets” is what you can LEARN from trying them out. Take Whole30—It's a short-term program you go on, not for the purpose of losing weight (though that may very well happen), but to learn a few things that you can stick with long term. That's right. The future is short-term diets for long-term learnings. Some positives of going on these diets:
• Be introduced to new, healthier foods you love.
• Learn to cook!
• Learn to read nutrition labels—You mean sugar is a carb?!
• Realize how much sugar there is in Sriracha (sorry).
• Learn that your body reacts to some foods differently than others—what should you maybe cut out permanently?
• Realize all you need to skip that third drink you didn't want in the first place is an excuse.
All of these learnings, when you add them up over time, expand. There's that magical moment when you realize you don't need to get fries on the side but can ask for something else instead. Then that moment repeats itself for the rest of your life—and you're healthier for it.