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A lifestyle change or...

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

… just another fancy term for a lifelong diet?

I have to admit that this possible misconception had crossed my mind a couple of times in the past. Especially after returning to old habits at the end of a strict, depriving diet. And seeing the pounds returning as well. The idea of a lifelong diet seemed like the only – dreadful! – solution at times like that. But I hadn’t really given it much thought until recently.

I was reading an article here on SP. To be honest, I really don’t remember the exact subject because the thing that really caught my attention was the first comment right under the article. A woman insisted that what she learned here on Sparkpeople was not a lifestyle change but simply how to maintain her weight by being constantly on a diet, by saying “no” to all “forbidden” foods and by being in a never-ending workout frenzy in order to keep her body in a considerably fit state! It made me think…

Could she be right?

Could we be fooling ourselves here?

Are we in a constant dieting procedure that we have hidden behind the comforting and guilt-free term “lifestyle change”?

Could we?

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

I had to give it some serious thought and find my own personal answer before I present it as a debatable subject to my good Sparkfriends. My adult life consists of three different eating patterns. In the past it was either “on a diet” or “off a diet”. And then I found Sparkpeople and committed myself to a “lifestyle change”. So, let’s see how they differ…

* DIET*

emoticon Meals:
Strict, following a program that someone else had made for me and not according to what I’d like to eat on a specific day. ALWAYS low-calorie, low-fat and lacking taste and variety.
emoticon Sweets and treats:
Out-of-the-question! Forbidden! Even the thought of them could make the scale go up!
emoticon Nutritional knowledge and awareness:
Limited and mistakenly oriented to fat percentage. Food was either fattening or not. Who cares about nutritional values…
emoticon Exercise:
A weight loss tool, used occasionally to help the scale move a bit faster. “Does it burn calories? Then I’ll do it!”
emoticon Weight maintenance:
Weeks, Months, never actually made it to a full year…


*OFF-DIET*

emoticon Meals:
Anything, anytime, anywhere! I’m not on a diet anymore! Woohoo!
emoticon Sweets and treats:
See “meals” above. Woohoo twice!!!
emoticon Nutritional knowledge and awareness:
If it tastes good, it’s good for me! We said it: I’m not on a diet anymore!
emoticon Exercise:
Well, I walk when I have the chance. I mean, I like exercise but why should I do it? I’m not trying to lose weight.
emoticon Weight maintenance:
…Hmmm… Now, where did I put that scale?...


*LIFESTYLE CHANGE*

emoticon Meals:
Balanced, planned by me according to my desire and taste.
emoticon Sweets and treats:
Occasional and in moderation. Enjoying food is part of life, after all.
emoticon Nutritional knowledge and awareness:
Much more than ever before. I always read nutritional labels and I watch my daily intake of most important food categories.
emoticon Exercise:
Way of life. Something that helps me feel strong and healthy and not just a weight loss assisting tool.
emoticon Weight maintenance:
I have been in the lowest weight range of my life for a little more than a year. And counting…

In short, the answer is NO! This “lifestyle change” that there’s so much fuss over it here on Sparkpeople, is NOT a life-long diet. It’s not a diet at all. And it’s not the “eat-everything-I want” way of living, either. It’s the safe road in between. It’s about learning to enjoy food in your own terms, the ones that can help you maintain a healthy body that you feel good in.

And if we compare it to the “off-diet” state, or to a mentality of eating everything in sight, then, yes, it might look like a diet. But is this the way we want to live? Treating our stomach like a trash can? Saying yes to all the zero-quality products that the food industry has to offer? And calling every other way of eating a “diet”?

No! The “D” word was taken out of my vocabulary. It got replaced with words like moderation, balance, real food. Through Sparkpeople I learned that there are many more labels for food than just good and bad, fattening and not.

I learned how to stop dieting. Once and for all.

I made food my friend, not a foe.

And for this, I’ll always be thankful to Sparkpeople.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARYJEANSL 11/23/2013 3:21PM

  Much easier said than done...

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ANNIEONLI 5/22/2013 6:19AM

    You so smart! emoticon

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EFFRAYECHILDE 5/20/2013 1:20PM

    emoticon

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MAYBER 5/19/2013 6:56PM

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts
Been there done that
Blog was recommended by Jamer123
Well worth the time to read
One day at a time

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STARDUSTGR 5/17/2013 6:43AM

    Great Blog!! I read it again and again!!
You inspiring me to change my nutrition lifestyle!!!
Thank you!!!
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WYLKIOT 5/12/2013 2:11PM

    emoticon

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CONCERNED85 5/9/2013 9:25PM

    That was great and a lot of thought went into the way it was presented. Thank you for the way you thought that through and phrased it which is a way I need to think of it too. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CYND59 5/9/2013 5:37PM

    Bravo! I love Sparkpeople. The support and motivation is awesome. This is not a diet at all. It is a way of life!

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MICKEYH 5/8/2013 10:26PM

    Elle, what a wonderful blog!! Thank you so much!! Lots to learn from your blog. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GREENVALLEYS 5/8/2013 7:05PM

    emoticon You graduated!

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GYPSYROVER 5/8/2013 6:13PM

    Wow! A lot of thought went into that post! Thank you! emoticon

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JEEPGIRL150 5/8/2013 12:59PM

    There is so much truth to this. Thank you.

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SEYMOURCHICK 5/7/2013 5:03PM

    Well written and so true!

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BLOOMINGLENA 5/7/2013 9:48AM

    Your blog was once a again to the point! Thank you for making me a part of the Sparkpeople community! I have learned so much and will never stop learning how to be healthy without dieting!
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IN102WIN 5/7/2013 8:33AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon I loved this blog!!

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MAGGIEMAGGIE5 5/6/2013 11:04PM

    RIGHT ON!!! emoticon

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BAREFOOTMTNGIRL 5/6/2013 8:56AM

    Well spoken! Thank you! After seeing the title of this blog, I was a bit worried because compared to my usual free-for-all nutrition, SP does feel a bit diet-ish. But you are so right--it's not restrictive, it's just being aware and making good choices!

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CM_GARDNER78 5/5/2013 11:36PM

    totally!! You hit the nail on the head with this one!! Perfect. I love your background too...so spring-like! We still have snow in my neck of the woods! ;-)

Anyway, great blog!! :-) Thanks for sharing!

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LOGOULD 5/5/2013 9:34PM

    I prefer to think of food as fuel

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MARIANNE9855 5/5/2013 2:43PM

    Totally agree its taken me years to get here but I like the food I eat now I want to eat healthy food now no empty calories and I feelso much better emotionally and physically! emoticon

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CUDDLYPOLARBEAR 5/5/2013 9:31AM

    Great post

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REBECCATKD 5/4/2013 9:18PM

    Agreed! I eliminated the "D" word when my daughter began to pick up language as a toddler. We don't diet; we eat healthy. We don't exercise to lose weight; we exercise to stay healthy and get stronger and faster. I didn't want my little girl to grow up thinking that it's all about how much you weight -- because it's so not!!


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CHRISTINAICU 5/4/2013 11:24AM

  Thank you for sharing.

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AMANDACOETZER 5/4/2013 8:18AM

    emoticon

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NEWTINK 5/4/2013 5:28AM

    After 30 years of the up and down diets, the no one to tell me how to loose weight , the constant feeling of failure and worthlessness I personally stopped the insanity and I know that it is a lifestyle change for me. Sometimes it feels like a diet but you push past those moments and remember that although you have changed your life there are still limitations but in the end it isnt a diet it is a choice . emoticon

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CHRISGORGME 5/4/2013 1:21AM

    When you realize the difference it sets you free and that's the most amazing feeling for all of us dieting or not for years and years!
emoticon emoticon

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CLOVER2 5/4/2013 12:45AM

    When I finally came to the conclusion that you have described, it was such a relief. I spent years being so confused because it was always what to do when dieting and then what to do when not dieting, no in between. I LOVE that in between, it is such a joy to know it is a way of life, NOT a diet!

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GOING-STRONG 5/4/2013 12:17AM

    emoticon

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GRACEISENUF 5/3/2013 11:31PM

    I am finally coming around to the same line of thinking after three years on this site.


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BEAUTY_WITHIN 5/3/2013 11:25PM

    Thanks for the great comparison! Very true!

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SCRAPBECCA 5/3/2013 10:01PM

    Well said! I am full agreement with your perspective. So glad to be walking this road with you and other SP!

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SMARVYGAL 5/3/2013 5:45PM

  Nice that you figured this out. I am on a new round of getting fit, but I seem to be doing it healthier. This time I have lost 20 pounds (9 of them on SP 11 before I found SP). I know I can make it as long as I have a few well chosen snacks that I decide upon.

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MICHELLE2343 5/3/2013 4:32PM

    Thank you so much for asking those questions and taking the time to really think about it. This was a great blog for me to read and remind myself why I am doing a lifestyle change and not just a diet. emoticon

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ALIDOSHA 5/3/2013 4:17PM

    emoticon

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MARGARITTM 5/3/2013 4:12PM

    emoticon

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CHARLIEDONNIES 5/3/2013 4:11PM

    great blog lady bird emoticon

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JAVAGAL47 5/3/2013 3:25PM

    Thank you so much for your blog. Nothing flippant about it, just down to earth understanding of what this journey we are on is all about. You have done many people a favor, who may have been "on the fence" whether they should continue their desire for a healthier body, and happier out look about reaching their goal in a healthful manner. A Spark friend, Betty

"The advice "Keep your feet on the ground" does not mean keep them from moving.

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DOTTY7267 5/3/2013 2:21PM

    Nice blog - thank you for sharing and standing up for lifestyle change. There is definitely a difference between the 2.

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AJB121299 5/3/2013 2:15PM

    nice

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WALKINGCHICK 5/3/2013 1:19PM

    I loved this blog! You are so right! You've changed my mindset! emoticon

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SQUIRRELMISSION 5/3/2013 12:51PM

    Right on point. I, too, had to go through the same thought process - and it was almost identical to yours. Today, i am lunching with my husband, and we are going out for some yummy yummy indian food. But, i was able to get up just a little earlier and workout just a little harder to be able to enjoy my meal today. Workouts have become pleasurable, and regretted when missed. Food has become fuel. Even now, i cant seem to want to eat things such as popcorn, because my mind says, where is its accompanying protein? lol Very well said and i truly believe that if more people could realize that life is not about deprivation, but about changing your thoughts, your body and heart will follow.

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ALCHARVEY 5/3/2013 11:23AM

  interesting food for thought for the day

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BOVEY63 5/3/2013 11:15AM

    emoticon

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ROBBIEB7 5/3/2013 10:59AM

    Really well thought out and well said. Thank you! I needed that! emoticon

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DUSTYPRAIRIE 5/3/2013 10:45AM

    I have to admit, there are times I've felt like that woman. I've been here two years now, off and on. These days it's mostly on. I'm finally in "normal size" clothes again but still journeying to my goal. Yes, it is now a lifestyle!

Great blog! I sincerely mean that.

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BROBBINS8 5/3/2013 10:41AM

    This is what I am striving for learning how to fit in the foods we already make and not making diet food. If we are having ribs then I am going to eat 1 but now I make good healthy side dishes to go with that not potato salad, beans, corn and dessert. If i want 1 of those other things I will have it on another day with something healthy. I am not giving up sweets and bacon. For the rest of my life all in moderation. I love your blog emoticon

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CYND59 5/3/2013 10:34AM

    Wonderful blog. I love Sparkpeople!

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GEEKYGIRLCHERYL 5/3/2013 10:23AM

    Great blog. What you said is definitely true. It really is a mindset on how you can eat and live. emoticon

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FIRECOM 5/3/2013 9:50AM

    WOW - you hit the nail on the head with this blog. You have a brialliant writing style and I appreciate that.

I am often reminded that the first 3 letters of diet spell DIE.

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CAKEMAKERMOM 5/3/2013 9:36AM

    emoticon emoticon

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