I hate the word 'diet.'
There, I said it.
To be totally honest, the word hate does not do it justice.
I literally cannot stand the word diet.
Why am I so vehemently against that word?
Because diets fail. 95% of diets fail.
An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, and spend $33 billion each year on weight loss products, per the Boston Medical Center. Let me help you save that money.
65% of these people have regained the weight lost in 3 years.
I was listening to a podcast today where they were talking about the new weight loss drug Ozempic and if/when people stop taking Ozempic, the patients re-gain the weight. Why? Because they keep doing the exact same thing they were doing before. Do you want to be on Ozempic for life? Do you want to be on a diet forever? I am guessing the answer is no.
What if you re-frame your perspective?
Instead of diet, which brings about images of restrictions:
- What about adjustments to your lifestyle?
- What about making a goal to be healthier?
- What about making a goal to sleep better?
- To have more energy?
You can accomplish all of those things AND lose weight at the same time, by taking your time, making long term, sustainable changes.
So, real talk, here are some red flags you should look for if you want lasting, sustainable change.
You are worth more than a quick fix.
It is never really a quick fix, it almost always leads to a longer journey.
A diet is defined as a meal plan that drastically restricts calories and while you might lose weight in the short term, when you go back to eating normally, just like with Ozempic, the weight will come back. Can you lose weight quickly with a large calorie deficit? Yes, absolutely. Almost anyone can lose weight fast if they eat like a small child. This can lead to a feeling of euphoria because FINALLY, you found something that works! And it feels "healthy" because you are losing weight and feeling good in your skin again... until you aren't. That honeymoon phase has an expiration date. You'll lose weight with lower calories than you're used to. After an extended period of time you'll also slow down your metabolism (affecting your energy and ability to maintain a healthy weight), jack up your hormones (I know we hear this word thrown around casually a lot but think about it - these affect EVERYTHING - they're a big deal), and be deeply affected mentally/emotionally. At some point you stop losing weight and either plateau or start gaining it back. Very low-calorie is not a road you want to go down if you want to lose weight.
2. Any "diet" that restricts movement because of the low calorie count is not going to help your health in the long-run. We were made for movement! Your lymphatic system clearing out toxins/sludge depends on you moving - a LOT! This is really important.
Your brain works better when you move.
Your digestion works better.
Your mood is affected.
Nutrients are distributed more effectively.
Everything works better when you are moving and active and I don't just mean getting some steps in.
We are made to do hard things. The recovery process after exertion is also a healing process, a regenerative process, an anti-aging process - ie, we want that! Do hard things! Think long-term. Do you want to restrict movement because you're restricting calories? Or do you want to enjoy your calories and know they are fuel for living a FULL life? Which do you want your kids to see?
3. I feel like this one is common sense but any program that relies heavily on packaged foods is not great for your health or sustainable for life. It doesn't help you with planning or skills needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I'm all for convenient options (we all need some of those) but when something packaged and preserved is a mandatory part of a "healthy" lifestyle... it's not a healthy lifestyle.
4. There is no such thing as "getting off track." This is your life. If you enjoyed more sweets than normal at a holiday gathering or on vacation, good for you. Doing so should be INCLUDED in your "healthy habits" (not separate from them) if you want to make changes that are sustainable. Just decide what is worth it to you - you may find, when you think about it, that a lot of what you would usually automatically reach for isn't. And there are some things that definitely are! You can get back to eating what makes you feel and perform your best at any time because this is a long-game. It's not not this intense, short-lived thing - I mean, it can be but that can be pretty miserable and short-lived means the results are short, also. This is a marathon. Pace yourself. It's worth it.
5. Any way of eating/living that doesn't teach you what to do outside of a program is a red flag. It probably isn't going to help you fully change habits, mindsets, belief systems around food.
If what you really want is food freedom, you need to practice the skills that lead to it, which will be somewhat individual to you.
For that matter, coaching should be based on the individual, too.
Programs are usually one-size-fits-all or very close to it.
For example, macro counting can be a wonderful tool for someone who has no idea what a good amount of protein looks like, but it may be too triggering to someone who has a tendency to obsess about food. Raw vegetables may give one person boundless energy and another digestive issues. HIIT workouts may make one person feel amazing and another feel terrible. Coaching should consider your environment, resources, background, mindset and thinking, time, etc. In short, coaching should be tailored to you, not a program.
6. There are no "bad" foods. You want to help teach anyone to develop a disordered way of eating quick, give them lists of what's "good" and what's "bad." Stick with it long enough and you may even come across evidence that broccoli is "bad" because of goitrogens (know what's worse than any goitrogen? Fear of broccoli. Really doubt that's the thing that's keeping you from your goals).
- Carbs are our body's preferred source of energy (you DEF want that!).
- Protein is what supports our body through the rebuilding, healing, and aging gracefully process.
- Fats are crucial for balanced hormones, neurological function and helping resolve inflammation.
And you should definitely have some foods that nourish your soul (without feeling like they are bad).
Once you are more aware, you will find you begin to want more and more of the foods that make you feel really good, and less of the ones you discover do not. But that's way different than restriction and avoiding out of fear because something is "bad."
If something seems easy, or quick, that is a red flag. If something looks like a good stepping stone for where you are at personally, sure, try it out.
With eyes wide open and keeping in mind the bigger picture.
- Is this sustainable for life?
- Is this how I want my kids to see me live?
- Is this making me feel lighter in regards to how I think about food or life in general? Relief, joy? If so, try it out!
You are the captain of your ship. And you're way more capable than you've probably given yourself credit for of making decisions toward what feels right for you. If you're feeling really lost, this is what I do! I help provide options and education for what is best for YOU and your life!
Cliff notes: You are worth the long-game. It is worth it to heal your thinking around food (not just try to get to a smaller size as fast as possible - you are worth so much more than "smaller"). You deserve to feel good in your own skin. You deserve to feel good and worthy ON THE JOURNEY. And you're worth the time it takes to get there. The mindset shifts. The education. The practicing. There are no quick fixes. But you can start down that path of healing from the inside-out and creating truly healthy habits at ANY time. I hope you do