Diets ARE Unhealthy!

Most people embark on a new diet or weight loss plan with a desire to become healthier. And while sometimes the intention is purely health most of the time it’s weight and appearance based. And whether your goal to be healthier is driven by a desire to actually improve your health or be thinner, diet and weight loss programs will rarely lead you to the achievement of either.

By nature diets and weight loss plans are restrictive and excessive. They require an intense monitoring of your food/caloric intake and expenditure. When people start a new weight loss program they typically dramatically reduce their caloric intake while simultaneously dramatically increasing their caloric expenditure…aka a recipe for disaster. When you dramatically reduce your calories your body goes into starvation mode holding onto fat for fear of famine. And then increasing your activity level requires more fuel but you are cutting calories. The two parts of this plan work against each other and against you.

On top of that the diet and weight loss industries and fitness world continue to promote this do more mentality. And while challenging yourself in your training is key to success…overdoing it can be your demise. Your workouts don’t always have to be hard, puke inducing, and peel yourself off the floor level. It’s important to vary the intensity of your training. You need high intensity and low intensity days, but now there lies this myth that if you aren’t dying when you are working out it isn’t enough. People are running more, lifting too often, and conditioning more than need be.

Here is what happens to people on diets and weight loss programs… You choose exercise when your body needs rest. You choose less food when your body craves fuel. You choose longer duration training when your body needs less. You choose skip social events when you crave human connection. You choose smoothies and meal replacements when your body needs meals. You choose caffeine when your body needs sleep. You choose training when you are injured or ill.

The point is when your driving force is weight loss you will make choices that are unhealthy for your mind and body. In the long run the culmination of these choices can lead to poor mental and physical health. Everything from eating disorders, to decreased metabolism, heart disease, stress, eroded self-trust, headaches, fatigue, hair loss, binge eating and more.

So how do we shift from diet/weight loss based behaviors to health based ones. Here are 3 tips:

1. Listen to your body! Your body is amazing at giving you information; it’s up to you to listen. Most of us have spent our lives ignoring all our body’s subtle cues and we need to practice becoming more attuned to them again. We need our body to be our guide, not external sources like diets.

2. Appreciate that health is multifaceted. Diets only focus on one thing…weight loss. We can’t ignore other areas of health just to lose weight. When skipping meals and over-exercising is your M.O. you are not paying attention to your health as a whole.

3. Ask yourself, “Will my decisions today promote long term health?” We must stop thinking solely in the moment. We need to realize that what we do today will impact our health tomorrow and the long term. Depriving your body of sleep, rest, nutrients, etc. will lead to health problems in down the road. This works on the flip side as well…we must remember that remaining inactive, or choosing mostly non-nutritious food will backfire as well. We must be honest with ourselves and keep our long-term health in mind with all our decisions.

Diets and weight loss programs simply promote unhealthy behaviors. We must reject this diet mentality and start focusing on our overall health. Let’s stop giving the diet and weight loss industry all our money in hopes of the perfect body and life without problems and start taking better care of ourselves.