One of the misconceptions some people have when trying to lose weight is that they need to go on a “diet” to get to where they want to be. That they have to eat basically nothing for a few months and then once they hit their goal weight, go back to eating like normal. But what happens when you do that? You’ll probably end up gaining it all back very quickly. In the spirit of the new year, when a lot of people make the resolution to lose weight, I thought I’d talk about my experience with this situation and why you really shouldn’t go on a “diet” like explained above.
Disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist or expert of any kind, just sharing my opinion.
You end up in an endless yo-yo of weight loss.
I’ve been there, believe me. I’ve done a couple things to try and lose weight, including that Special K diet where they suggest eating a bowl of their cereal for breakfast and then one of their meal replacement bars for lunch. It did work for awhile, and I did lose some weight. Then it got too expensive to continue, and I ended up right where I started. Diets can be okay in the short term, but I feel like some programs just don’t teach you how to eat the right way. It’s always “Use our product and you’ll lose weight fast!” and not enough information on how to eat healthier to maintain that loss.
John did Weight Watchers for awhile, and I joined him even though I wasn’t in a group. To me, the Weight Watchers program wasn’t as much about eating their specific products, but more about learning the nutritional info of foods and how much you can eat. Yes, they do have their own product line, but we never even bought them. If you know how to calculate the Points formula, you’re all set. At the time we did Weight Watchers, we ate out quite a bit, and John actually had a spreadsheet of the Points values of everything we ate so he could just refer to that next time we went out. Through this program, even after you’ve reached your weight loss goal, you can still continue to calculate your points through maintenance; you’ll still know how much you can eat without going over, thus (hopefully) preventing you from gaining your weight back.
You’ll feel like you’re depriving yourself.
Seriously, when I was in the process of losing my baby weight, I ate whatever I wanted. If I wanted cake, I’d eat it. Going out to eat? Sure! I just had to make sure I had the calories for it. If I wanted something but didn’t have enough calories, I’d either do some walking to allow me enough calories, or I’d try to pick something else instead that was in my calorie budget. If you deny yourself everything that you like, it’s highly likely you’ll binge at some point and damage your progress. I’m a big fan of everything in moderation, and also allowing yourself to indulge every once in awhile. If I’m at MOPS or a get-together where I know there will be food, I’ll let myself eat. Sometimes I’ll eat a little too much. But I’d rather let myself do that every once in awhile rather than sit there and sulk because I’m “not allowed” to have any of it. If I eat too much, I’ll just tell myself to get back on track tomorrow, and I always do.
You need to think of this journey as a lifestyle change.
I’ve heard that saying a lot, as I’m sure you have too. “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change!” But it’s so true. I needed to change my mindset of food and realized I needed to fuel it with the proper things and not fill it with constant junk. Instead of eating a double serving of the main dinner entree, I should fill my plate with one or two healthy vegetable sides. Do I need to eat a huge waffle with lots of syrup for breakfast every morning, or am I okay with some scrambled eggs and sausage? Am I perfect? Definitely not. I slip, I stumble, I get a huge frappuccino to drown my stress. But knowing more about what my body needs and filling it the healthy way all the time instead of following a fad diet for 2 months and then crashing is what’s keeping me from gaining my weight back.
This isn’t meant to discourage you at all! If you’re following a diet plan, by all means, continue to do so. But once that plan’s over, it’s so important to continue eating healthier and making better choices to maintain your weight and lifestyle.
What are your thoughts on the “diet” mentality versus the “lifestyle change”?