It’s Not a Diet: It’s a Lifestyle Change (Part 2)
No one can stay on a diet indefinitely because it is not natural. It is an artificial way of living that can be adopted and adhered to temporarily, but must come to an end.
When it does — as it inevitably will — and you revert to the old ways of eating and relating to food which were familiar to you for so long before you began the temporary program, all of the weight lost will be regained. And more. Because your body will protect itself instinctively from any repeat onslaught of starvation such as the one it just survived.
I’m not a nutritionist, but I have read a great deal of literature about this.
More importantly, I have lived out the cycle numerous times over the years.
My understanding: Scientific evidence proves that diets slow down your metabolism. When you drastically reduce the number of calories you consume, for instance, your body panics and starts storing up fat like a squirrel hiding its stash for the long winter.
Sure, you lose pounds. You also lose lean muscle mass which is precisely the opposite of what you want to accomplish. Then the diet ends, the body realizes that food delivery in generous portions has resumed, but suspects that it may again become scarce. Better store the new stuff as fat just in case there is another drought, it tells itself. So the result is short-term success followed by the disappointment and despair of not only gaining it all back, but surpassing your previous highest weight and size.
That is why permanent weight loss and optimum health can only be achieved by making lifestyle changes, not via a “diet”. When tempted to refer to my nutritional and fitness program as a “diet,” I gently remind myself that this is how I am going to live the rest of my life. There are certain foods that I simply am not going to eat any more because I know that they are, effectively, poisonous.1
And when people notice my weight loss and ask “Are you dieting?” or “Oh, which diet are you on?” my response is always “No” and “None. I’ve changed the way I eat and work out regularly.” In most instances — unless the person who posed the question is genuinely interested — the subject is dropped and the conversation progresses to more salient topics like whether or not Lindsay Lohan can straighten up and Letterman’s latest jokes about her.
- Among them are French fries, any variety of potato chips and ice cream. [↩]