When you hear the word diet, you often think of eating tasteless food and practically starving yourself. You may think your lunch can only consist of celery sticks and water or a grapefruit for breakfast. Maybe those diet programs, vitamins or shakes you see on TV come to mind. The thought of a diet makes you depressed. All you think of is what you can't eat, and you suddenly want to do nothing but eat junk.
People ask me all the time, "Can you eat that on your diet?" "How long have you been on your diet?" Or they say, "I can't go on a diet. I just like to eat too much."
Let me explain myself. I am not on a diet! I have not starved myself to lose weight. There have been no diet pills, special shakes, meals that are delivered in packages to my door, sprinkling my food with a powder so I eat less, or other gimmicks. The "secret" to how I've lost weight is that I started counting calories, making better food choices and exercising regularly.
That's it! Yes, losing weight and maintaining that weight loss is a complex issue. You have to want it and be willing to work toward it each day, but those are the basics. You must burn off excess calories, which are stored as fat, in order to lose weight.
There are many ways to go about this and I think you have to figure out what works for you. I don't have special dietary needs, so I haven't gone low carb, I can have sugar, and I didn't have restrictions as far as working out. So, what worked for me may not be the exact thing that will work for you, but it still boils down to the fact that you can't eat more calories than you burn, or you'll put on weight. If you work out several days a week you do have a little more wiggle room as far as eating. Working out still isn't a license to eat whatever you want and however much you want. There is a saying that goes, "You can't out train a bad diet." That's very true.
So, when I say my "diet" consists of overall healthy eating, diet is just the term I use to refer to what my overall food intake is like. It's not what many people think of, which is "diet: strictly limiting what you eat until you get to your goal weight." There is a reason people who constantly go on diets do not always succeed in losing weight and keeping it off; they quit their diet, start eating like they did previously, and gain the weight back. They never really changed their habits. This is exactly what I did my WHOLE life before 2010, and that is why I never kept any weight off that I did lose. I was on diets as early as 3rd and 4th grade.
I think anyone who has dieted can relate to this!
What I aimed to do was to be healthier. I have always liked a variety of food and was the type of person who cooked decent dinners with some veggies, but then after my kids went to bed I'd eat junk, like a pint of ice cream or a bunch of cookies. Plus, I chugged soda all day long. Food is something I used when anxious, and I knew I needed to figure out a way to stop that. Sometimes I still do it, but it's eons from where it was before.
At first, I just started eating what I normally ate, but tracking the calories. This was eye-opening, because although I knew I ate too much (and obviously was not exercising enough) I didn't realize how many calories I was consuming. I was drinking over 600 calories a day in soda! No wonder I was so overweight. That is one of the first things I did--cut out soda. After a few weeks I didn't crave it anymore. I started to drink more water. Soda is one of the few things I have basically eliminated. Every now and then I get a craving for one, and I have a few sips and don't even want it. I used to LOVE sweet tea, and just the other day my husband had one, and I was out of my drink and took a sip of his. It tasted so gross to me. Your body really does adjust to eating healthier, so you don't need things as sweet. When I would hear people say they started to crave mostly healthy things, I thought they were full of it. Now I know the truth. I crave broccoli and apples, or other healthy things. It's not hard for me to eat healthy, because most "junk" food doesn't appeal to me as much as it did before.
Over the last 3 years I've tried a wider variety of foods, and I've made sure to eat healthy as much as possible. When you decide to change your life and better your health, weight loss will come. I feel like people who are only focused on rapid weight loss and not their overall health are often the ones who will gain weight back. Losing weight to look cute in a bikini is different than losing weight to save your life. Yes, we all want to be happy with how we look, but if that's all you're focused on, when your event (wedding, summer, reunion) is over, you will put back on the weight.
I was over 300 pounds and tired and I ached. Sometimes I'd feel pains and worry I would have a heart attack or something. That is no way to live! I wanted to be healthy for my family, and I decided that I would figure out how. I didn't know what to do, and Sparkpeople was a lifesaver for me. If you haven't read The Spark, I'd highly recommend it. It really helped start me on my journey to better health. Once you believe it's possible, you can do it.
Eating healthy is not a punishment, it's loving yourself. You have to take care of yourself, and if you don't have your health, what do you really have? Jillian Michaels says that your health is the foundation on which the rest of your life is built. That is so true. I know now how great I feel from eating healthy food. It doesn't mean I'll never eat a cheeseburger or piece of cake again. It just means that I am eating with moderation. I fully believe in the sentiment that you are what you eat. My health has been completely transformed from eating healthy. I had high cholesterol, high triglycerides, a fatty liver and borderline high blood pressure. My ankles, knees and back started to hurt all the time. Some days I felt like I was in a perpetual fog. I was existing, but not really living and enjoying my life. All of that has been fixed through nutrition and exercise. I know it works because I have experienced it.
Now that I am healthy, I am happier than I've ever been. Losing weight isn't going to make everything in your life magically better. However, it did help fix a lot of things in my life. I often went to bed feeling guilty because I couldn't do certain things with my kids. My son would want me to go down the slides with him at the park, and I couldn't fit. I was tired and didn't feel good a lot of the time, and when you feel sick, it depresses you. So, in those ways I am much happier. I go to bed now knowing I am doing what I need to do in order to be healthy. I know my kids are learning how to be healthy. When I take good care of myself, I can take better care of my kids and husband.
Now I can slide with my kids, ride bikes, do the swings. There is nothing off limits.
If you are just starting out and have a long way to go, don't despair. It is going to take a while if you've got a lot of weight to lose. That is ok. It is not a race to lose X amount of pounds by a certain date. Changing your habits and lifestyle is a process that takes time. After 3 years I am still learning ways to be healthier and am by no means perfect.