It seems like everywhere you turn there are advertisements on what the next “it” diet is, as well as promises and scare tactics alongside this claim to make you buy into it. In my opinion, it’s all crap, and I hate diets.  Not only do they make a person go crazy and obsess over their food and weight, but they also rarely work – especially for the long term.

Drastically cutting your calories, eliminating a food group, or eating one meal for 7 days straight may work in the short-term, but it is far from maintainable – or healthy!  Crash diets don’t work, and this is one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight.  When you cut your calories below 1200 for a woman, or 1500 for a man, all your body does is slow down it’s own metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories) to compensate for the loss.  This is your body’s way of conserving energy, and the complete opposite of what you want it to be doing….burning calories.  If you are eating the right amount of calories for your body and your level of activity, you will be burning calories all day long.

Consistency is key here.  Eating healthy 80% of the time, and maybe having a treat here and there is way more healthy and advantageous for your body, and your mind.  When you cut your calories so much that you feel lethargic, bitchy, dizzy, or weak after a couple days, your body will in turn make you crave food, and lots of it, to make up for this drastic deficit.  This is where the pigging out or binge eating comes into play, and can completely turn around any progress you have made.  I just learned there is actually a term for this called “poststarvation hyperphagia”, and it is your body’s evolutionary way of making sure you will survive when your body goes into “starvation mode” again.  Yikes!  Lots of people do this on a small scale daily – I definitely used to!  They won’t eat all day long, and when they get home from work, or put the kids to bed, they gorge their faces out on all the bad food that is in sight.  This is unhealthy on so many levels, and just like any crash diet, it is counterproductive to what you really want – to lose a couple pounds.  Unfortunately after doing this a number of times, you begin the yo-yo cycle of dieting, and quite often, unless you’re a genetically lucky, you put on more weight than you started off with.

Here’s a couple pointers on why diets suck:

  • Crash diets put this obsession around the food you eat daily and the numbers you see on the scale.  Obsessing over food takes the joy out of eating, and can create anxiety when you’re at functions and you have no control over the food options.  Mentally, this is a tug of war, and why so many people go off and on diets.  It’s so hard!
  • Crash diets slow your metabolism when your calories become too low for your body.  Yes you’re cutting calories, but if you’re cutting too many out, your body will compensate for this loss by slowing down the rate at which you burn these calories (your metabolic rate).  Therefore, how much of a benefit are you actually doing for yourself?
  • Crash diets are not maintainable.  My theory is, if you can’t do it for your lifetime and create a lifestyle out of it, than it’s not worth doing.  When you crash diet by lets say, eliminating most carbohydrates from your meals, (which are essential for energy and proper organ function by the way), could you imagine going your whole life without energy or a bite of bread, or a piece of fruit?  Probably not, and if you think you could, you’re kidding yourself.  This is why crash diets don’t work, you’re always going to want that forbidden food, and when you finally give-in and have it, you’re going to end up binging on it.  This is where the yo-yo factor comes in.
  • Yo-yo dieting, meaning you’re on a diet, and off a diet, down 5 pounds, then up 10 pounds, is what really discourages people.  When you try to lose weight on some crazy crash diet, and you’re successful, then it’s followed by the weight being put back on, and then some,  and you feel defeated and unsuccessful.  You wait a couple weeks or months until you’re uncomfortable or unhappy with your body, and then you do it again.  This throws your body into starvation mode, and then back into poststarvation hyperphagia (pigging out).

Here’s a couple of pointers on how to lose the weight successfully, and keep it off:

  • Consistency is key. I hate to say it, but losing weight fast is not healthy, and won’t last.  Eliminating the bad foods and drinks from your diet, and beginning to workout is a lot more realistic than eliminating a whole food group or eating the same damn thing for 7 days straight.  Eating healthy foods 80% of the time is the consistency it will take to see a difference in your body.  It may not happen overnight, but while it is happening you’re going to feel good and not be obsessing over calories.  Having a little treat once or twice a week will keep you sane.  Nobody wants to be told they can’t have certain foods.  We always want what we can’t have!
  • Redefine the word “diet”.  A diet is the way we eat – nothing more.  Diets should not be something that restricts your body from the nutrients it needs, or creates such a calorie deficit that you feel like crap all the time.  A healthy “diet” should simply be a  food lifestyle.  This means you make the choice to eat healthy foods that come from nature 80% of the time.  Stop wasting your money on all the diet foods out there like low carb cookies, low calorie yogurt and low fat peanut butter….should there even be such a thing?  Eat foods that you’re body wants like fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds and meats.  Save the processed stuff for your treats if you’re really craving it.
  • Be sure to eat snacks throughout the day.  This will increase your metabolism, which is your body increasing the rate at which it burns calories because it knows it’s not starving.  Make your snacks very “clean” with options like fruits with nuts, vegetables with hummus or plain Greek yogurt with some honey.  Not granola bars, flavoured yogurts, or a Starbucks frappaccino size venti.
  • Check out on-line resources and communities like ours on Royally Fit Online for support.
  • Find healthy alternatives to the foods you love.  No one wants to feel like they can’t have their favourite pizza on Friday nights anymore, so you need to find healthy alternatives so you don’t feel like you’re restricting yourself.  Make your own spelt crust pizza, monitor the cheese you put on it, and load it up with veggies.  If you love pasta, make brown rice pasta with your own olive oil sauce, and have a side of salad so you don’t have a whole plate of pasta.  There are always alternatives, you just need to find them and be creative.
  • Listen to your body.  If your calories are too low you will feel tired, spacey and possibly bitchy.  If your weight goes up and down and you never feel comfortable in your own skin, than you know you need to start making more mindful choices when it comes to weight loss.  You need eat 3 balanced meals, and 1-3 healthy snacks throughout your day to feel amazing.  Every time you make a food choice, ask yourself if it came from nature and is something your body needs, or is it something that is low-fat and promises weight loss.  Don’t do anything drastic or your body will go into starvation mode.  If you feel hungry or tired, grab an apple right away before you hit the whole cookie jar later on.  Remember, if it’s not maintainable, or something you can see yourself doing as a lifestyle, than it’s probably going to backfire on you – because crash diets suck!

Showing you the difference between liking and loving your body,
ashley dale roy

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