Should We Stop ‘Dieting’?
It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. You might remember from my ‘3 Things I Achieved in January 2017’ post that last year I gained a bit of weight due to stress, and overeating as a result. Don’t get me wrong, I was far from overweight. But I was uncomfortable in the fact that I’d gained almost a stone in 12 months and I just didn’t feel like myself. Anyway, after Christmas I got my ass into gear. I started exercising and tried to eat as healthily as possible by having high protein meals.
I didn’t find it too difficult because I wasn’t counting calories or using any kind of points system, I was just choosing more nutritious foods. After a few months I noticed I had lost some weight and looked a bit leaner, however it was an extremely slow burn which didn’t do much for my motivation. I only lost about 4lbs out of the 11lb I gained last year, and I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t lost more. As far as I was concerned I had radically changed my lifestyle, I was lifting weights, having eggs for breakfast, a protein-packed wrap or pitta for lunch and my evening meal consisted of lean meats such as chicken or turkey alongside some roasted vegetables. Sometimes I’d have some rice as well. 4lbs just didn’t seem enough for all of the changes I’d made.
Fast-forward to today, 7 months into my journey and my weight is back up to where it was before I started. Yep, even though I’m still being pretty consistent. I’m even still exercising (I say it like this because I’ve never been able to keep up regular exercise before, so this is quite a big deal for me). If anything thing I should still be losing weight.
It makes me wonder whether it’s really worth being health conscious at all if you have to restrict yourself this much stay at a weight and body size that makes you ‘happy’. Is it really that important that we feel the need to do this to ourselves on a daily basis and make ourselves so unhappy just to achieve and maintain a certain number on the scales?
In my case you could argue that because I’m not actually overweight that it’s much harder for me to lose fat as my body requires less calories to maintain a lower weight. But that aside, there have been countless studies of people who have lost weight and then gained it all back – plus more – after achieving their goal weight from dieting. This is even true of those that have kept up with their healthy diet for the most part, and continued with regular exercise. Sure, they’ve allowed themselves a treat now and then because after all they’re at their goal weight now so why shouldn’t they as long as it’s in moderation? But this should not equal weight gain, right?
Obviously I don’t know the science behind any of this, these are just things I’ve read about and seen on the TV over the years, but its something that concerns me as a woman in my twenties. I certainly don’t want to spend the rest of my life on a ‘diet’ as most women sadly do. I don’t know a single woman that isn’t on some kind of diet or thinking about going on one. I find it so upsetting. There is more to life.
I use the term ‘diet’ loosely throughout this post because in my opinion consciously choosing more nutritious and higher protein based foods is still dieting. At the end of the day you are restricting yourself most of the time, and it’s already been proven that allowing some treats to slip back into your diet can cause the weight to slowly creep back up. Almost in the exact same way as it would if you were to go on a crash or low calorie diet.
So what would happen if I just stopped dieting? I’m both intrigued to find out and terrified that I’ll gain another stone in weight. Having said that, I’ve recently read blog posts and articles by numerous women that have made the tough decision to stop dieting completely and they have actually lost weight and kept it off in the long run. Many of them claim it’s because they are not constantly thinking about food anymore. Have you ever noticed the second you tell yourself you’re on a diet you suddenly find yourself craving all kinds of calorie-laden food? I know I do.
From what I’ve read it takes a long time to re-wire your brain to no longer categorise food as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ after years of conditioning, but once you do it’s supposed to be liberating. Plus, you subconsciously begin to eat less because you’re no longer obsessed with what you’re eating. When you think about it it’s actually really simple, when you’re restricting yourself all day everyday you are far more likely to binge, eating far more than what you would than if you weren’t on a diet. Often when on a diet if you allow yourself a cheat day or cheat meal, instead of just choosing to have a normal portion of food will likely find yourself eating much more than you need or even particularly want because you want to ‘get it all in’ before you’re back on the wagon again tomorrow. It’s easy to see how this diet and binge cycle is toxic to our health and maybe it explains weight gain in people that appear to be dieting all of the time?
Maybe it’s time we all stop caring so much about what we eat and trust our bodies a little more.
Would you ever cut out dieting all together?