Weight Loss Ticker

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How Not To Diet

Throughout my life, I have been on many diets. I sort of thought of myself as a dieting expert. Funny, I was about 380 lbs. and thought of myself as a dieting expert. In one sense, I did know what to do. I knew what healthy foods were. I knew about portion control. I knew about having a well balanced diet. I knew about avoiding restaurants, highly refined and processed foods such as sugar, white flour, pepperoni, hot dogs, etc... I knew to avoid high fat foods. I knew that it needed to be a lifestyle. I knew all that, but there I was 380 lbs.

In truth, I didn't think of changing my lifestyle, but making temporary changes to achieve a certain weight at which point, I wouldn't feel guilty for eating all those terrible foods. When you are thin and eat horrible, people look at you as a role model, an example of what they want, and of course someone to envy. Therefore, my goal was always to get to a certain, to look thin, to appear healthy and fit so that I could eat unhealthy.

When I started this journey of fitness, I did start with a weight goal. I wanted to lose half my body weight. However, there was a bigger goal in mind. I was going through a lot of stress at the time (and still am). I have seen a lot of people end with nervous breakdowns, panic attacks, heart attacks, and even death because they weren't fit. All things bringing so much stress in my life couldn't be dealt with if I was sick, in the hospital, incapacitated, or dead. I knew that I had start living fit or I was going to bring a lot of hardship on myself and the people around me because I was refusing to take care of my health. So the weight loss was only a sub-goal in the grander scheme of things. Though I think it was more important to me at the beginning than it is now. Anyhow, fitness is the grand goal.

Having fitness as my goal is a wonderful goal. It's not some far off, pie in the sky dream like reaching a certain weight on the scale always seems to be. I can achieve fitness every day. Each day, I can eat healthy. Each day I can be active by exercising, playing with my kids, going for a walk, or just getting my butt up and doing something. Weighing less does play a part in living fit. The closer to a healthy weight I get, the more active I can be. The closer I get, the more opportunities I have. For example, could you imagine a 380 lb. person trying to go up a rock climbing wall, competing in a triathlon, or even fitting in a single seat with no extender on an airplane? When all is said and done, I can live fit every day.

Living fit each day, doesn't mean perfection. It doesn't mean I won't eat a cookie, or skip some exercise or just veg out on the couch. It doesn't mean that I will always eat the best things at a potluck or at a restaurant. I doesn't mean that I will lose weight every week until I am at a healthy weight.

Living fit means making making a pattern of eating healthy and staying active. It means accepting that you will not be perfect, but not using that as an excuse to live unhealthy. Before, I lived unhealthy with a few healthy aberrations thrown into the mix. Now, I live healthy with a few realistic, less-healthy moments thrown into the mix. Living fit means living in a different world. It means living in the same world, but with a different world-view/paradigm/outlook/model (not sure which word fits best).

Therefore, I do not consider myself to be on a diet (with the exception of my current calorie restriction for the purpose of preparing for the marathon). For me the word diet means a temporary way of eating. Diet are what you go on. Normal eating is how you live. Therefore, I believe that diets are not the answer for long term fitness and health. Making a new normal is the key. With fitness as a goal, the scale numbers will follow as a bonus. The numbers may not be high or dramatic or quick, but they will be real.

WebMD had an interesting article on how not to diet. They say to avoid the five following dieting techniques:

1) Diets which focus on particular foods or food groups like the cabbage soup diet, some of the low-carb diets, or any diet that forbids a particular food. On one hand, they can be unhealthy because of what you miss out from certain foods or food groups. On the other hand, having something restricted can cause us to crave those foods leading to binging.

2) Detox diets are simply hokum. The body is well equipped with any toxins in the body.

3) Diets with "miracle" foods or supplements don't cause weight loss.

4) Fasting and very low-calorie diets will slow down your metabolism causing you to gain weight on fewer calories. This is the culprit behind the "yo-yo" dieting.

5) Diets that sound too good to be true ARE. This is where those slime balls on TV tell you about some secret to weight loss that the government, food industry, farmers, or aliens are trying to keep you from knowing so that they can have control over your life and make more money. They tell you that shoving a dozen donuts in your pie hole every day and eating a bucket of fries as a snack isn't cause of your weight gain. No, it's some evil organization that is making you fat. the truth is that it is these charlatans are the ones who are trying to make money off of us being fat.

My conclusions: 1) All of these diets probably show results at first, but I suspect that they are not sustainable over the long haul at best and may hurt your health at worst. 2) The only way to lose weight is if the calories you take in are less than the calories you use. So instead of finding some gimmick to achieve this, we should find a way to make healthy eating habits with slightly less calories than needed coupled with expending more calories with increasing our daily activity. This, in my opinion, has the best chances of being sustained for the long haul. 3) There are psychological factors that will aren't addressed by any diet that need to be addressed to make healthy living a lifestyle. 4) As I said earlier, fitness is a better goal than the number on the scale.

Living Fit Is My #1 Job!


cmae said...

This is a really great post. Thanks.

Colloidal Silver said...

Great post, everyone is entitled to a diet break every now and then. Just remember to stay focused and you will meet your goal.

Paul D said...

great diet tips! and keep up with staying fit rooting for you man!