The biggest obstacle that we allow to thwart any weight management or weight loss progress we may have is our diet. Now the word diet comes from the Greek work diaita which literally means a way of living.?It isn’t a way of eating and I think that’s where most people fail. Your diet or diaita?is meant to coexist with the way you live, your lifestyle. Diets do not work for weight loss. (Now there?s a bold statement.) Many fitness professionals entice their clients by offering a diet that has a time frame, 12 week diet for instance. Then they boldly suggest that if you follow such and such diet for 12 weeks, you will lose an X amount of weight and your body will be forever transformed. Really? Boy don’t you wish that was true! How many times have you been sucked into this arrangement only to be disappointed 3 months later or worse after the 12 weeks and you return to your normal way of eating, the pounds creep up and there’s no stopping the weight gain.
Dr. Traci Mann demonstrated a very interesting graph from a weight loss study. This graph showed a broad spectrum of age groups from young adult to old age that were given the same diet, i.e, equal amount of calories, same foods. Over the course of a number months, the conclusions were quite baffling. You had a number of participants lose up to 30 pounds, at one end, BUT at the other end, some gained up to 20 pounds! ?Hmmm…quite perplexing, right?!!?
WHAT IS GOING ON?
First, there is a problem with delivery. The fitness pro creates an environment of hope and lofty expectations. Second, the diet that is delivered is one that is created for the general population. Thirdly, the pressure created begins a cycle of denial and anxiety. He/she barks at you to avoid this, don’t eat that, this is bad, that is worse. You internalize all this because you trust your fit pro. Now what was a ?way of eating? to compliment your lifestyle becomes one of second guessing, worrying about the types of macronutrients you eat, and stressing about everything that you consume. The fact that you have to question whether food is ‘good for you or not’ means that you have bought into that anxiety, stress, and fall victim to the diet mentality.
Now, the one thing that you have to remind yourself when progress stops due to the diet is the fault isn’t with you, the dieter. The fault is with the?fit-pro?and the plan that was given to you. In other words, the?diet was not right for you. The fit pro has slotted you into the diet instead of fitting the diet to fit you! And that is where Diaita becomes a part of you.
I don’t want to paint a broad stroke and accuse fitness professionals of this smoke & mirrors show. What I am saying is that diet is being marketed as a tough, regimented, deprived system of eating that you need to endure if you want to succeed. Or the complete opposite. It’s easy to lose weight, just follow this and that. True, there is a so-called learning curve and old habits need to be put to rest but focusing on diet as a way of living is paramount if you want change. You don’t replace old habits with new. You systematically, through trial and error, consume foods that serve your body. And that folks, takes time and many times, lots of time. You take the time to listen to your body, listen to the signals and respond appropriately to that signal. For the most part going about it alone can be disastrous because you want to believe what you believe so proper coaching is needed.
These diets can offer some positive feedback. One, it can train you to visually know what a portion looks like. We eat like animals (ironically enough, we are the only creatures who do not know how to eat). We pile food on top of food, have thirds and do this day in and day out. Two, systematically consuming food 5-6 times a day, as most of the diets suggest, keeps that engine running smoothly and your brain functioning properly. Third, create positive habits, hopefully, as it pertains to the quality of foods to eat.
So many fitness professional and nutritionist focus on the metabolic causes of weight control and not enough time on the non-metabolic cues which consists of the pleasure centers of the brain (primitive and will always beat out willpower), hunger (biologic), behavioral cues. You can view any media advertisement as well as any gym offerings regarding diet and the ad will never mention the non-metabolic cues. For them it’s all about their diet, their plan, your willpower, and your wallet. If fitness professionals want to seriously help their clients with their eating patterns, refer to a dietician, not a nutritionist, who has a four-year degree in nutrition and not a weekend certificate.?Dietitians?are trained in?focusing on the ‘WHY we eat’ part of the equation as well as the “WHAT we eat’.?
DIET PLAN PSYCH OUT
My beef is the emotional stress that is inevitably attached to these quick 12 week diets. And that leads to a dark hole and quite possibly madness. It can go something like this:
6am: New day, gotta get some breakfast in. Okay, lets see what can I have. Egg whites, oatmeal. Yuck! I’ll just get a coffee and a buttered roll on my way to work
10am: Man, I’m hungry! Let’s see what can I have as a snack. What? Yogurt or nuts? Don’t like yogurt and I can eat a whole jar of peanuts. Nah, I’ve got to have will power so I’ll wait to lunch.
1pm: Lunch Time!!!! Plan says salad and chicken breast with balsamic vinegar. What am I, a rabbit?!! I’ll have a chicken sandwich from McDonald’s.
3pm: Geez, I could go to sleep but I think I am due for a snack. Hmmm, more nuts. You know what, I’ll have some red bull just to stay up. And lets me grab some candy while I’m at it because that watermelon jolly rancher is calling my name.
7pm: Dinner! Just got back from the gym and felt like crap, hardly any energy. Well, i know I’m suppose to have protein after my workout so let me drink some of this protein powder my trainer suggested and then I’ll have a meal.
9pm: Well can’t eat now. I’ll be going to sleep soon. But you know what? I did pretty good today. I didn’t follow the plan as written but all in all, I didn’t eat that much and I do want to lose weight so I can’t have too much food. I think I’ll have some of this cake to reward myself for a good first day. Wow, this is sooo good!!!
Can you spot the stressors associated with this day? How many times did this person negotiate? What signals are present that will eventually doom this person to failure?
I’d like to know what you think? Leave a comment with your answers or drop me an email.