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Diet vs Lifestyle

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Almost as often as you see an advertisement for some type of (usually unhealthy) food, you get some sort of information about a new diet. The Atkins' Diet, Wheat Belly, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig - the list goes on and on! But there have been professionals who say not to diet. Why is that?

Well, "diet" as in "I'm going on a diet" has come to mean "a special time where I pay attention very carefully to what I eat to lose weight". It gives the implication that after this unspecified "special time", you will fall right back into the unhealthy practices that made you gain weight in the first place.

Diet can also have another meaning. It can be used to describe your daily eating, as in "My typical diet consists of oatmeal, juice, and a sandwich". This type of diet, the diet that professionals want people to engage in is a LIFESTYLE diet - one that isn't around for a little while to get your weight down, but a permanent change to your eating habits.

You can go on a diet, but if you don't learn proper eating habits, the weight will come back. I know that's how it's always been for me. I lost weight on the Weight Watchers program, and while I did learn some basic "eat more fruits and veggies, drink water", the program basically let you eat anything as long as you recorded what it was. So TECHNICALLY, you could eat cupcakes all day long, as long as it was under your points allotment. It was easy for me to take my once in a while treat and suddenly make it a daily occurrence. And suddenly, I went from having just enough points for a day, to never enough (those Oreos add up!).

Right now, I'm on a diet. I'm on a meal replacement to get my weight down to within my BMI. But on the side, I'm learning the basics of eating healthy - of integrating more vegetables and fruits, to choose lean meats, to avoid or reduce my intake of "bad foods". This time, I am fully aware of how transitory the "diet" is - and instead of using diet in the first definition, I want to end up with a LIFESTYLE DIET - one that will carry with me for the rest of my days.

This is not to say you HAVE to go on a temporary diet before establishing your lifestyle diet. The first time I lost weight (20+ pounds!), I went on a lifestyle diet. I chose healthier foods, smaller portions, etc. No Weight Watchers, no meal replacements, just good 'ol fashioned "Watch what you eat!" In some ways, I think this method is preferable. You learn NOW how to eat right, not later. You may not see the weight loss as you might in other programs, but I doubt you'll stumble and trip up and binge on your favorite temptation. I think for the most part, I actually kept those 20+ pounds off from my lifestyle diet change.

My ultimate goal isn't just to be 150 pounds; my REAL goal is to develop a healthy lifestyle diet. One that isn't centered around food, which gives me energy and makes me feel good about myself.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    When I was 20 years old, I weighed 425 pounds. Out of desperation - and trying to please a certain family member who could *never* be pleased - I had weight loss surgery. Stomach stapling, which I don't recall the technical term for. This was before all the new-fangled procedures came out. Before they started performing surgery on 14-year-old children.

    Anyway, I lost 100 or so pounds pretty rapidly. Lol, when they butcher your insides to where you can't eat anything but liquid or you'll vomit, yeah, you lose weight rapidly.

    It all came back. As soon as I figured out how to eat around the surgery, as soon as I figured out what I could still eat and in massive quantities, I gained it all back.

    Surgery didn't work for me, and I wish more people who it didn't work for would speak out so we could all start realizing that the best way to lose weight is *not* to try to lose weight. It's as you say, at the end, to develop a healthy lifestyle. If you do that, weight loss will probably result, but that shouldn't be the main focus of our efforts.

    In the end, my surgery was just like a temporary diet, wasn't it? Neither of which - for many people - truly work.
    1892 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/14/2013 3:40:44 PM
    very good! For me, it helps just logging in the food and exercise at spark everyday. It's eye opening when you have to log in/admit how much you are consuming everyday. I think you are going to do great and reach your all your goals!
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    1895 days ago
    This is a great post. Being on the same food program, for me it feels like less of a diet, and more like food rehab. And the biggest part of any rehab is not what happens during the program, but using the tools you learn to stay healthy after. You're definitely thinking ahead, and I know you'll succeed when the time comes!
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    1896 days ago
    Sounds like you have a good plane 1 that will work for you! And as in (my REAL goal is to develop a healthy lifestyle diet. One that isn't centered around food, which gives me energy and makes me feel good about myself.) Me to, did you read my mind? emoticon I think it's great emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1896 days ago
    Good for you! My worry with those meal replacements is always that no real learning or change will occur and the person ends up back where they started. BUT if one is willing to commit to learning how to eat properly whilst taking the shakes, as you are, there is a chance of real recovery. I think a lot of your heavy lifting will come in preparing, practically and mentally, for the switch back to normal meals. Best of luck! emoticon
    1896 days ago
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