Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Diets don't work

Dieting is all the rage and has been since well before my time. It is a katrillion dollar industry… selling based on our “trouble spots” or sense that something is wrong with us because we don’t look like the women we see in magazines. Well, you’ve heard all that before, so why be redundant, but you know… it can really get ya down!

I have tried it all. My mother put me on a 600 calorie a day diet when I was 11, determined to make me fit into the doctor’s ideas of what an appropriate weight is. (more on this later, as I’ll NEVER fit into that range). I was a normal girl and more chubby than fat, but here I was eating turkey deli meat and dill pickles and yogurt all day to starve myself to make my mother proud. And thus it started.

Since then I have done the zone, the grapefruit diet (I hate grapefruit!), Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, LA Weight loss (for 1 whole day before I asked for a refund), herbal diet pills, Dexatrime, Xenadrine (only stopping when I went on a hike in college and started having heart palpitations). I’ve done Body for Life, more and more and more Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers. I’ve done fasting and cleanses and macro vegan. The only thing I haven’t done is low carb/high protein because that just never made sense to me. But you get my point. I’ve been there and done that. It’s exhausting. And expensive. I bet if I had all the money I ever spent on diets and slim fast shakes and protein bars and frozen boxed diet food, I’d probably be rich.

So finally, at 31, I’ve realized something. A light bulb has gone off. Diets don’t work. There is no miracle cure for being fat. But there is the math. And it seems so very very simple. Ingest fewer calories than you burn and you will lose weight. Take in 3500 calories less than you expend and you have just lost one pound.

But counting calories is tedious. And diets don’t work because we feel deprived or because they are bad for your body long term (or straight out gimmicks). So how does one manage their calories without having to be obsessively thinking about it but still get some of the foods that make them happy from time to time?

Well, this is the age old question and I’m still figuring it out. For me, lately, I’ve done my best to eat really healthy whole foods with less processed ones, less sugar and less hydrogenated oils. I try to eat what’s been recommended for me to eat every day by my naturopath. In case you’re wondering, that includes ¼ cup unroasted nuts or seeds (peanuts don’t count), 2 servings leafy greens (iceburg doesn’t count), 1 serving fruit (not banana), 1 serving whole grains (millet, steel cut oats, brown rice, quinoa, bulgar) and drink plenty of water. And I’m working out 5 days a week mixing cardio with weight training. I’m not losing weight drastically, but my body is changing and I feel great. I love my body for keeping up with me the best it can and I love myself for feeding it well. I have more energy and am better able to manage stress. As for the details, I suppose those will either sort themselves out or I’ll see how this goes and adjust accordingly. But as for the diets… I am boycotting. :-)


  1. Bravo!
    Last year I was on a pretty regimented exercise and healthy eating kick and I didn't really start to see results until about 3-4 months in.
    Then the holidays came and it all went to hell...
    This is very inspirational!

  2. If we could bring ourselves to eliminate processed food we would all have better health, and lose weight. Gotta love the diet prescribed by your naturopath. A down and dirty boundary for me: I don't eat ANYTHING with hydrogenated fat or partially hydrogenated fat and I don't eat ANYTHING with high fructose corn syrup. Those two adjustments alone should render results. And NEVER drink diet soda. It is the WORSE thing you can do to a diet. Once you read the effects on diet you will give it up too. Actually I'm for cutting soda out altogether.

    Love your voice and courage.