Diet vs. Lifestyle Change - which is harder - considering change or making a change?
The last 2 weeks we talked a bit about “dieting”, and how we try to exercise away the effects of bad eating, specifically weight gain.
This week, I want to address the differences in our attitude about going on a diet, and incorporating lifestyle changes.
A DIET IS A TEMPORARY FIX
Most people that decide to go on a diet are focused on fixing a perceived problem that is usually triggered by an event. For example, your sister’s wedding is coming up and you want to fit into a dress. Or summer is on the horizon and you will be putting on the swimsuit. And of course there’s the school reunion, where you want to show that you have aged much better than your classmates whom you haven’t seen for many years.
So, we evaluate ‘what is the path of least resistance to get those pounds off?’ In other words, it is not a question of whether we are going on a diet, it is more a question of which diet. We do the assessment and determine which diet will be the easiest for us to adhere to. For many meat lovers it is a low carb diet. With a low carb diet you should be able to eat all the fatty foods (meat) you want, basically reduce your carbohydrate intake drastically, and lose the weight.
Others decide to just count calories, reducing their daily intake to some number significantly less than what they have been eating. They figure, “what the heck, I can follow these rules and restrict my intake for some prescribed number of weeks. It’s that important that I look good.”
DIETS ARE PROBLEMATIC FOR THESE 3 REASONS
There are (at least) 3 problems with this way of thinking:
1) You will feel deprived while dieting, which means that you will be constantly thinking: “how much longer do I need to do this?” Likely this will be front and center in your thinking every day, if not all day, every day.
2) It is very possible that you will not be eating healthfully. You may be deprived of very important nutrients and fiber. Not only does this compromise how you feel, it will impact what happens after you accomplish the weight loss and go off the diet.
3) You go off the diet, attend the event, and within the next month or 2 you watch the scale climb up, possibly surpassing your weight before choosing to diet.
LONG TERMS SOLUTIONS TO HEALTH
Unfortunately, as human beings we are hardwired for quick fixes. Lifestyle change doesn’t offer quick fixes, but what it does offer is much better overall health for the rest of our lives, and long-term solutions for the problems we think we are addressing by dieting.
Why is this message so hard to deliver? We are all attached to our habits. We think that change is hard. What if we discovered that change is easy?
ANTICIPATION VS ACTION
It is actually the anticipation of doing something big and different that is hard. Think about this analogy. Lots of people I know say they really want to write a book; however, they often utter the words “I could never write a book”. I was one of those people. I have now written and published 2 books. I will admit the first one was more motivated by proving to myself I could write a book. But that’s not the point. There was probably nobody less likely than me to write a book and yet I did it, twice.
How often do people say, “I could never give up sweets, or cheese, or … (whatever other food is not serving them)”? Making the statement “I could never …” is actually translated to “when I think about doing this, it seems overwhelming, so I’m not going to even try”.
REAL WORLD EXAMPLE
Why is the book experience relevant? It’s relevant because the anticipation of writing a book, both times, was similar to my attitude when I decided I needed a lifestyle change. My health and my wanting a certain quality to my life dictated me making a change from eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) including all the highly processed foods, to transitioning to a whole food plant-based diet (WFPB). The fear of change, and of failing, loomed large in anticipation of embarking on both of these journeys. Over my lifetime I said many times I could never do that. And yet, here I am to tell you once I started writing, and once I started choosing healthier foods, it was easy.
The books and the lifestyle changes were done over a period of a couple of years. But once I started there was no turning back, and it was exciting, and much easier than expected. The anticipation of taking on big changes is by far the hardest part.
We at Read The Ingredients create our products to support people in their journey or their day to day life of eating healthy and living well!!