This past week I was asked to be a guest lecturer at Georgia State University to a group of senior Exercise Science majors. Since this isn’t something I do every day – or ever – I was a little nervous. I envisioned a classroom of early morning zombies, bored twenty-somethings, and faces buried in their phones. Well, let me just say it was the highlight of my week. These young men and women have so many great plans and ideas to take their degree into the world and use it to really help people. The areas they were looking to work ranged from physical therapy, cardiac rehabilitation, working with children, people with prosthetics, athletic training and personal training, just to name a few. I was so impressed with this group. They were engaging, allowed me to point right at them and ask direct questions, and were not afraid to ask me lots of different questions.
I was asked about my main complaint in the fitness and wellness industry. Personally, I have a huge beef and frustration with the misinformation surrounding diet. The diet business is huge and absolutely wreaks havoc on the fitness and wellness side of things. Why do I say that? Because diets do not work. There is absolutely no cookie cutter diet out there that will work for you. A dieter will find themselves on a never ending cycle of starting and stopping a diet because a person cannot live their life on a diet.
Think about this. How often have you noticed a friend, co-worker, acquaintance or whomever who has lost weight, and the first thing you do after complimenting is to ask them how they did it. Then you run right out to google the program, rush to the bookstore, or these days, straight to Amazon so it’ll be right in your mailbox so you can begin following the exact program that worked for your friend. You do this assuming that if it worked for that person it should surely work for you. Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. Then you finish the book or the program and you are officially off of that diet. What happens then? I think you know either from experience or you also know the statistics that show that the majority of folks with regain the weight and usually a little more.
No wonder folks are frustrated! There are far too many wrong messages out there. I’ve been there. I’ve picked up the latest article in Shape magazine and followed some program to a tee. I have restricted my calories, kept endless food journals, eliminated certain from my diet, overtrained and exercised in unhealthy ways trying to “burn off” what I had eaten. It is an exhausting, unhealthy and endless cycle. There is no single approach to weight loss that will work for every single person. Following all the crazy diets in the world will not leave you healthier and balanced. The point is that you do not need to be on a diet. You need to have a diet that is your lifestyle and is based on your personal needs, personality, medical needs, age, genetic make up and all those other things that make you who you are.
Looking back on my struggle with finding the perfect diet, I know I have spent countless dollars on countless programs. On the top of my head I admit to looking into Dieting for Dummies, The Fat Flush Diet, The South Beach Diet, The Hungry Girl Diet, The Biggest Loser Diet, Abs Diet for Women, Body for Life, Whole 30, and I could likely go on if I were not too lazy to get up and look on my bookshelf. Now I will say that each time I read something I always come away with at least one nugget of information and that’s a good thing. But look at that list! What a bunch of yo-yoing from one program to another. I hate that I have wasted so much time and energy and money looking for the perfect program for me. AND not any of these books or diets could teach me how to create my own personal healthy lifestyle.
Eliminating all white bread, or all fats, or all sugars or chocolate will not create your own healthy lifestyle. All that does is take those foods from your diet. If you love one of these foods and crave one of these foods, at some point you are going to likely have that food. And you should. This is your life to live and enjoy. Attempting to follow some super restrictive eating plan is not going to sustain you and could end up being more unhealthy than helpful to your journey.
At this point our society is sadly overweight, likely malnourished, frustrated and confused by all the information bombarding us daily. All the different diet fads have left folks so confused as to what really is healthy. The good news is that it really doesn’t have to be that complicated. You can find your own healthy lifestyle with simple diet and habit changes. Everyone is different with different needs, triggers and body types. However, everyone can start making daily changes, pick whole foods over processed foods, begin moving more. Find ways to get away from the diet dilemma and begin making it more about your lifestyle.
It’s a journey and one that should eventually be as natural as taking a shower. At some point I hope everyone can find the freedom of eating intuitively and finding a balanced healthy lifestyle. It will be so freeing! No diets! No more searching for miracle pills, powders, and the next best diet trend!
If you think it’s time to get off of the diet roller coaster and you are ready to find ways to create your own healthy lifestyle, join our February 12 round of Better & Beyond. It is a 6 week program geared for you to create the habits, with workouts, coaching and feeding your heart, for your personal balanced healthy lifestyle.
Enjoy Your Day!