Odds are if you are...
1. A Human Being
2. Over 13
3. From Planet Earth
4. Require Food To Survive
... you have been on a "diet." Whether you dieted for a week, month, or just the day after Thanksgiving, in some form or fashion, we have all tried dieting.
"Dieting is great!"... said no one ever. But why do so many of us choose to diet..?
In my opinion, we diet because of an unhealthy combination of mainstream society and social media. People do, and we follow suit. Plus, we are impatient and in dire search of instant results and gratification.
However, this post is not so much about how society and social media affects us. Rather, it is about the underlying, sometimes hidden, unfavorable effects that can leave people unmotivated and uninspired to improve their health and wellbeing.
According to Wikipedia, "dieting" is defined as "the practice of eating food in a regulated and supervised fashion to decrease, maintain, or increase body weight, or to prevent and treat diseases, such as diabetes."
At first glance, that sounds pretty all right. But no so fast...
This is the point where I was going to throw in some related, thrown together dieting statistics. Instead, I'm going to skip the BS because there's a lot of misinformation out there.
But even so, you've most definitely heard of people losing lots of weight, stories of people losing 20, 30.., even 100 pounds! But then, they gain it all back because they go right back to how they ate before.
It's saddening, to say the least.
It doesn't help either that the standard American diet is, let's be real, complete shit. We feel so entitled to "having our cake and eating it too." But this is exactly why obesity has, is, and will continue to plague our country (and the rest of the world) unless things seriously change.
While doing some quick research, I found a quote that you might've heard before. It goes a little something like this: "(x percentage) of people fail diets." The reason I wrote "x percentage" is because it's a difficult data point to measure and I saw conflicting statistics.
Okay, fine. This isn't anything new. People fail diets, duh.
But slow down there killer, the quote then went on to state the inverse: "(same x percentage) of diets fail people." Okay, now, we are getting somewhere.
Let's go a little deeper...
"Dieting sets people up to fail." Okay, but why..?
Why Diets Fail
Let me guess... You are probably thinking of things like:
a. Eating Too Much Food
b. Going Out To Eat
c. Poor Sleep
d. Too Many Cheat Meals
e. Not Tracking Calories/Macros
f. A Student's Worst Nightmare (wait, what?)
g. It's The Holidays...
h. Can't Cook
Some other less common, farfetched, and perhaps even bizarre reasons diets fail include:
a. "I like Cake Too Much"
b. Fitness? Fitness Whole Pizza In My Mouth
c. Crash Dieting - Let Me Lose 10 Pounds in 45 Minutes (totally exaggerating but still)
d. Lack Of Instant Gratification
e. "I Have Cravings"
f. "But I Have A Slow Metabolism"
g. "I'm Too Hungry"
h. "I'm Old"
Are some of those ridiculous? Perhaps. But let's be real... We all know someone that has fallen into one of these categories. The excuses we tell ourselves each day will always hold us back. Always.
And although there are truths to each of those statements, there's one statement that trumps all others.
If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that people "go on a diet." Still, this is nothing extraordinarily groundbreaking here.
Once on a diet, there is only one thing... just kidding, there are TWO things, you can do:
1. Make It (the diet) A Lifestyle
2. Go OFF A diet.
And which thing do you think people do more of..? No seriously, guess...
1. Make It A Lifestyle
2. Go OFF A Diet
I'll be straightforward here... Dieting has good intentions. People that go on diets, at the very least, have already decided that they want to improve their health and wellbeing.
That is one of, if not, the most difficult things a person can do - start something, in this case, an attempt at improving their lives.
But, as I am trying to make you realize, improving your health has less to do with dieting and more to do with your mindset.
Here's an example:
Observe this hole food below (pun intended)...
That right there... is a sweet, ring-shaped fried cake. We call these things donuts or doughnuts (ugh... spelling) in my native tongue.
Now stop salivating and pay attention.
Let's hypothetically say that right now, you, yes you, the reader, is currently on a diet. If you are already on a diet, well, screw your diet, you're on a new one.
Let's call this diet the Donut Destruction Diet of Destiny (catchy, I know). This diet is void of, you guessed it, donuts. For some, this might make you tear up a little and that's okay. Leave a comment and tell me how you really feel.
Now, let's say you and a friend go to a shop called Drunkin' Donuts to catch up one afternoon.
You are waiting in line to order coffee. Your friend glances over at the display case and starts seductively gazing at the donuts.
They turn to you, eyes gleaming and piercing your soul, and say:
"I'm getting a donut or twelve, do you want one..?"
Now, what would you say?
a. "I Can't Eat Donuts."
b. "I Don't Eat Donuts."
If you guessed b., then congratulations, I give you permission to stop reading (please keep reading).
But if you guessed a., then you're fired. Okay, not really.
So how do the words "can't and don't" relate to mindset..? It's quite simple, really.
"Can't" sets up a mindset of restrictiveness. Restrictive eating habits like the foods you eat (or "can't" eat), not enjoying what you eat, not enjoying the process of the journey, etc.
"Don't" sets up a mindset of positive habits. These habits are the building blocks of your lifestyle and they go hand-in-hand. There are foods that you don't eat (and drink) and you're complacent with that.
"I (blank) eat donuts."
Such a short and simple sentence, yet the word you choose to complete that sentence sets you up to either fail or succeed.
So What Does This All Mean?
If it's not blatantly obvious by now, we as a society need to move away from dieting. Instead, we need to start improving our lifestyles.
Because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what diet you have done, are doing, or will do (no, stop dieting). Everyone that has ever been successful with dieting did so because of one reason.
That person was in a calorie deficit. But again, I want to keep the focus of this post on psychology rather than biology & physics.
Luckily, I have put together a fantastic article that goes in depth on the top 10 musts on how to effectively lose body fat. You can read it here.
The key that will ultimately unlock your success comes down to the answer to the following question...
Drum roll, please.
The golden question that always comes up is "what is the best diet?" And dare I use the word "diet" in this context, but I am.
Actually, to hell with the word "diet." We will now call it "nutritioning" or our "nutritional protocol."
Some people say the Atkins Diet is the best. Others swear by the South Beach Diet, or the Paleo Diet, Keto, Low Carb, Vegan, Vegetarian, Carnivore... I think you get the point.
Okay fine, here's the truth.
The best diet is the one that you can adhere to and stay consistent with.
Boom, that's it.
The so-called dietary "secret to success" for living a healthy lifestyle.
This applies to everyone - people losing weight, gaining weight, maintaining weight, whatever - dieting is temporary, but nutritioning is permanent and the principles last a lifetime.
What you eat matters.
How much you eat matters.
Why you are eating matters.
But none of it matters if you choose not to be consistent with it.
So, care more. Like, a lot more, because you wellbeing depends on it.
Eating nutritious foods do not need to be boring. Luckily, most people eat just about anything and health foods have exploded over the years.
As I always like to say, if you can't find a more-nutritious & healthier version of a particular food at the grocery store (there almost always is), you can buy the individual ingredients and make it yourself (which is ALWAYS better to do anyway).
Find out what works best for you, have fun experimenting, and make it your lifestyle.
No one is except yourself is responsible for your h