The short version is that diets suck. I mean, who do you know that actually enjoys going on a diet?
Even though we know diets don't work for the long haul, we're conditioned to believe that they're the only way to lose weight and look great. So we try them all.
There's one thing you should know before I continue: My diet of choice was ice cream.
I tried to eat healthy, I really did. In fact, I tried really hard. I knew all about how brown rice is better for you than white. I chose brown more often than not. I even chose whole wheat bread instead of white. And then there was that South Beach Diet stint, too ...
But mostly there was ice cream.
Clearly, something wasn't right. I went through a lot of trial and error and eventually figured it out: Diets. Don't. Work.
Since that epiphany, my entire life changed. Now I get to eat delicious, delectable food to my heart's content while following a whole foods plant-based lifestyle. And now I have killer abs! Strangely enough, those were just a side effect of my new way of living.
I'd like to save you some of the trouble I went through, so here are my reasons why I don't diet:
1. Diets always backfire.
The diet mentality is about everything you can't have/eat/do and that's tough. When something is forbidden, it instantly makes it seem even more desirable than it did before and our cravings for the forbidden food go through the roof.
I don't know about you, but I firmly believe that rules are made to be broken.
The minute I feel restricted, my mind feels like there's a battle going on inside. I start going back and forth about whether I should eat or not eat the forbidden food, and I begin to wonder whether I'm trying to talk myself into it or out of it.
The cravings for things we can't have become powerful and overwhelming. They often become so intense that we end up feeling one of two ways: rebellious or defeated. Either way, we throw away the diet and we cave. We always end up bingeing on the forbidden foods.
Then we end up right back where we started, only this time feeling defeated and at a loss, or guilty and uncontrollable. And we wonder how on earth we're ever going to get the body we want.
What we don't understand is that it's not our fault. The diet failed us; we didn't fail at the diet.
The only diet that works is the one you can sustain forever. Otherwise, you're probably going to put the weight back on, which is why being healthy is a lifestyle, not a diet.
2. Diets increase cravings.
Besides the fact that when something is forbidden we instantly want it more, most diets will have you reaching for foods lacking in nutrients.
When we don't feed our body the nutrients it needs to function properly, it continues to send hunger signals to our brain. So then we keep eating. And eating. And eating.
Whenever I'd eat, I'd get this weird sensation that I was stuffed and yet still wanted nothing more than to eat. As my mom would say, "there's always room for ice cream." And yes, there was always room, no matter how full I was.
Unfortunately, these processed foods that we eat leave us with intense cravings and they leave our bodies undernourished regardless of how much we eat.
3. Diets don't address the real problem.
Even if you exercise your willpower successfully for the full duration of a diet, what happens when it's over? You go right back to your old eating habits.
You have to address the root of the problem and that can be twofold: As I mentioned above, eating food that lacks nutrients makes us continually crave and eat more.
Emotional eating is the other issue. This is when we eat to fill a void. I can't tell you how many times I'd open the fridge door out of boredom or to distract myself from what was really going on.
4. Diets control your life.
Diets keep you from living. If you avoid doing things you love, like going to a potluck dinner because you're waiting for your diet to end, you're letting life pass you by. It's hardly worth it.
Or if you miss out on a trip to the beach with your boyfriend/husband/friends because you're scared of people seeing your wiggly bits, you're missing out on a wonderful experience because you're waiting to look a certain way.
Diets keep us from doing things that we enjoy because we're always waiting to look or feel a certain way before we can relax and enjoy our surroundings. I'm not that patient.
5. Diets aren't actually associated with health.
It's like the chicken or the egg. Does being thin and having the body you want make you healthy? Or does being healthy help you have the perfect body?
For the most part, we think that being skinny makes us healthy. Hence, we resort to unhealthy crash diets to lose weight. And that usually does work for a time but in a very unhealthy, unsustainable way.
In fact, though, it's the other way around. When you eat clean and live a healthy lifestyle, you'll be rewarded with an incredible body that not only looks good but feels great too.
That's what happened to me. I didn't change my lifestyle to lose weight, I did it because I was miserable and I wanted to remember what it was like to feel good and have boatloads of energy.
Let me get one thing straight: It's not selfish to want to look good.
Get that out of your head. You deserve to look as fabulous as you want. But a diet isn't going to get you that. At least not for the
long term. A healthy lifestyle, on the other hand, will.
Here's an exercise for you: Have a bonfire. Gather all your friends and all your diet books and toss the books into the fire.
I finally stopped dieting and I look and feel better than I ever have before.