Health & Food

Change Your Lifestyle, Don’t Go On a Diet (Tip for Tuesday!)

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….. But of course, you can change your diet as part of changing your lifestyle. There is a big difference between “going on a diet” and “changing your diet”. One is temporary, one is (hopefully) permanent.  Most people can name about five or more fad diets, and what they entail.  Most people could go on a “Fad diet” for a day, a week, or a month, and lose weight.  But of course, most people have a tough time actually adhering to any diet they choose to follow (regardless of the diet).  Read below for an excerpt from this short article.
So even if you choose to follow a diet that has proven to work for many (I think about the DASH diet, the Mediterranean Diet, and Weight Watchers) you will not be truly successful unless you also incorporate lifestyle changes. It’s not just about what or how much we put in our mouth, it’s about how we organize our day, prioritize our to-dos, and deal with tough and stressful situations; our lifestyle.Making time to shop for fresh produce; Key to any healthy lifestyle.

A while ago I read this article  (same as the one linked above) about how lifestyle changes trump diets.  In other words, it doesn’t really matter if you are following the best new diet out there, what it really comes down to is making changes that last a lifetime and which you can stick to for years to come (theoretically, the rest of your life).  And of course that is why fad diets often fail, for the long-term, because they don’t teach you anything, and they are typically so different from your normal routine and lifestyle that they end up teaching you very little, and putting you further behind in the end.  The bottom line is, there is no magic pill or perfect diet.  You want to lose weight? You have to change your lifestyle. Period. End of story. Sorry, but it has to happen.  And this won’t happen over night either. Nope.  In fact, if you let it happen overnight, chances are you didn’t learn anything.  Changing your lifestyle means making a gradual change, which also means the weight will likely fall off gradually. But in the end you’ll be just fine because if you do it right the first time, you won’t ever put that weight back on, and then some.  You might take a bit longer to lose the weight, but you’ll never have to go back and start from scratch again. Do it right the first time.

From the article I linked above, researchers in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association say the following;

In other words, you can’t just change your diet (or “what you eat”), you can’t just start to exercise, and you can’t just start behavioral modification techniques.  You must do all three in order to truly successfully make a lifelong lifestyle change.  The bottom line is that when you just “go on a diet” you are setting yourself up to believe that this is a quick fix that will provide quick long-term results.  In other words, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Here are some lifestyle changes I would recommend, instead of “going on a diet”;

  • Change your diet (but don’t “go on a diet”). Include more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Period. End of story (especially fruits and veggies)
  • Don’t get overwhelemd at the grocery store. Make a list, base it off of what you will be eating and/or making that week, get what’s on the list. Don’t go hungry. Get in line, buy your groceries. Done.
  • Have a backup plan ready in case you are given the opportunity to indulge, way too much. Or, do what I do, have a bite, or two, and toss the rest. Who cares?! And most importantly I should note that if you doover-indulge at some point, don’t beat yourself up. It’s ok. It happens (and it will happen again!
  • Don’t call foods “good” or “bad”.  Don’t call certain days “cheat days”. Read this article.  
  • Don’t super-size. Get your popcorn. Enjoy it. Don’t call it a “bad food”, but don’t get the extra extra large portion either. You don’t need it.
  • Exercise at least four times a week. Period. End of story.  You can spare four hours a week to exercise.  And if that sounds like a lot to you, start with 2 hours and gradually work up to 4.
  •  If you’re not getting enough it’s probably the reason why you aren’t losing weight, if in fact you are struggling.  If you aren’t sleeping 6-8 hours a night, everything else you are doing to stay healthy and keep weight off, is worthless.  I’m a firm believer that sleep is as important, if not more, than eating healthy foods, and exercising.  After all, if you aren’t sleeping well, will you have the energy to exercise? Will you have the willpower to stop at just a small portion of fries?  Research says probably not.

So now I’ll ask; what do you need to do to really change your lifestyle and make these changes stick?For me my biggest issue has to do with night time snacking (what? you too?). I have about 1-2 days a week when I eat way too much at night.  My plan is to start using My Fitness Pal again to track my food for a month (or at least to track my night time eats) just to get back on track . When I use My Fitness Pal I start to pay more attention to every thing I put in my mouth, and I am reminded how one bite can put me over the edge (and you know, for me it’s typically not just one bite on these days when I get nighttime munchies!). I do know this already, sure, as I’m sure most of you do too, but it’s good to be made more accountable for about 1-month every once in a while to really get back on track.  What about you? What are you doing to change your lifestyle or how to you get back on track after “falling off the wagon”?

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