Once again, it’s time to brace yourself for fad diet season. As we quickly approach the holidays and the New Year, you’re bound to start seeing more and more articles pop up online, promising super-secret weight-loss tips and fast ways to shed inches on your waistline. We go through it every year, as many of us overindulge during the holiday season then beat ourselves up and promise to do better next year.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, build muscle, or just feel healthier, these fad diets claim to have all the answers. The thing is, most of them just don’t work. Sure, sticking to a diet can help us lose a few pounds in the short term. But once we get where we want to be and retreat back to our regular habits, guess what? We’re right back where we started. Sometimes even worse than where we started, as we begin to binge on all the tasty foods we had to deprive ourselves of in order to lose those pounds in the first place.
And you don’t even have to wait for a diet to conclude before feeling the adverse effects. Just thinking about dieting can lead to binging. Case in point, one recent study found that merely telling people that they’re going to go on a diet the following week leads them to overeat. That’s because going in, we know that we’ll have to deny ourselves the foods that we crave, so we wolf down the unhealthy stuff that we won’t be able to eat during the diet.
I say enough is enough. It’s time for us to remove the word “diet” from our vocabulary once and for all, and go all in on a healthier, more long-term mindset. No, this doesn’t mean that you should go out and gorge yourself on ice cream and become a cookie monster. But instead of slapping your wrist every time you feel like reaching for a slice a pizza, start putting together some realistic goals that you can implement over time. If you really want to live healthier and feel better, focus on making overall healthier choices in your everyday life. Cook meals at home, bring your lunch to work, drink less alcohol, practice mindful eating, actively participate in your company’s wellness program, start working in some physical activity, and so on.
Of course, it’s also important to work in the foods that you enjoy instead of cutting them out completely. If your plan is to eat a bunch of stuff that you find repulsive, how can you possibly hope to stick to it? Why force Brussels sprouts down your throat when there are plenty of other ways to get your doses of omega-3’s and green vegetables? Why scarf down the avocados if you can’t stand them? Why do I keep asking so many questions? Bottom line, there are plenty of nutritious and delicious options out there for you to choose from, so don’t fall into the trap of force-feeding yourself foods you simply don’t enjoy.
Personally, I prefer the 19/2 plan, where I eat perfectly for 19 meals out of the week, and indulge myself a bit on the remaining two meals. Notice I said “indulge” and not “overindulge”. If you’re set on going in with a plan, but find yourself struggling to find something you can stick to, consider giving the 19/2 approach a try for yourself.
A truly healthy lifestyle shouldn’t be restrictive, difficult, or stressful. It just has to be consistent. Making consistent nutritious choices mixed with steady physical activity leads to sustainable improvements and lasting health. While taking small steps toward a healthier lifestyle may seem insignificant by themselves, when taken altogether, they can have a huge impact on your long-term success, helping you ditch the diet and get off the weight-loss roller coaster once and for all.
Michael Nadeau, Founder