Square one. Stop thinking about diet, diets, dieting, on a diet, fad diet, latest diet, celebrity diet, diet pills, diet plans, diet programs… ad nauseum… literally!
A diet is simply what you eat! Your diet can consist of chocolate donuts or alfalfa sprouts, but most “Diets”, with a capital “D” will not set you free. Instead, they lock you in a cage. Eat anything other than what they prescribe, and you are a failure… at least, so reads their literature.
Of course, what we eat and when we eat it can play a big part in weight loss or weight gain. Even where we eat can be a factor. Ever eat too much at Grandma’s on Thanksgiving? I have. How about that cocktail party when you went wandering over to the snack trays, and drank one more drink because someone offered it to you? Okay, for me it would be sitting at the bar ordering one more beer (light, of course) because the game’s not over yet. Oh yeah, pass the chips.
FORGET THE WORD “DIET”
Let’s just eat healthy and live healthy, OK, Sister Mary Fides, healthily. I know. It’s an adverb.
HERE’S THE LOWDOWN ON WEIGHT LOSS.
If you take in more calories than you use, you gain weight. If you burn more calories than you take in, you lose weight. Proven scientific fact. No ifs, ands, or buts. Although we are all different and our bodies shuffle quantities of calories and file them a little bit differently from our neighbors’ bodies, we can all contribute to weight loss by taking in fewer calories or by burning more calories… or both.
You’ve already figured out that using both techniques simultaneously will be more effective than trying to accomplish successful weight loss with only one.
I’m going to assume that the reason you want to lose weight is to improve your quality of life. You are concerned about your health. Being over fat can contribute to major and minor health problems. Yes, you honestly believe it would be great to lose weight, but you don’t want to be miserable, and neither do the people around you.
By the way, I said over fat, rather than overweight, because healthy people can weigh more than what the charts and tables say they should weigh. Weight per se is not the problem. It’s the fat that cripples and kills people, so I was just making a point. According to the charts, when he was in the best physical condition of his life, Arnold Schwarzenegger was “overweight”, but I doubt he was “overfat”.
WELL, YOU CAN CUT CALORIES BY DIETING. RIGHT?
First, if not at the beginning, then somewhere in the diet, you will begin to feel deprived, depressed, and desirous of dessert. (Neat trick with the d’s, eh?) You might even feel like you’re being punished. Can’t eat the things you like. Can only eat asparagus, or bean sprouts, or three from this column and two from that column; except on the third Tuesday when the moon is full. Is it any wonder you and any other living human might quit a diet simply because of this nonsense?
THE REAL REASON DIETS DON’T WORK.
As if discomfort and stress were not enough, there are actually a couple of hidden reasons why diets don’t work. I’m not even going to go into the effects of stress and cortisol on your weight. That’s a book by itself, and is too large a topic to go into here.
IN FACT, DIETING CAN MAKE YOU GAIN WEIGHT.
Most diets are structured on one principle, cut calories taken in. Most of us burn calories at a given rate based on our age, physical makeup, activity, and heredity. The rate at which we burn calories is called the “metabolic rate”. Our metabolic rate is unique to each of us, and is simply the measure of how fast we burn, or metabolize, calories. As we grow older, the metabolic rate slows down and eating the same number of calories as last year will cause us to gain weight. As we age, we also tend to become less active, and our body gradually changes its metabolic rate based on …