Whether you work from home or run your own business, fitness should be a priority. But dieting is not the path to fitness; healthy eating and exercise is what you need.
I know so many people who are serial dieters. They believe diets are like some magic pill that will help them to miraculously lose weight and gain health and fitness! Either they periodically go on diets, or they consult a dietician and pay through their noses, or they troll the net for the latest diet – they would have tried everything from the cabbage soup diet to the Mediterranean diet to Paleo…Atkins…vegan…and so on. And what happens? On occasion there is dramatic weight loss. I know someone who lost a whopping 40 kilos in three months. Others lose between 10 and 20 kilos in the initial phase and then…boom…after three to six months the diet boomerangs on them. All that weight they’ve lost? They put it all back on with some extra kilos as the icing on the cake.
Many people have this misconception that crash diets, fasting or the latest fad diet will work for them. They read about a celeb eating baby food and decide they must try it. Or that actor who is following the blood group diet. Look how gorgeously thin she is. I must try it! And so, they fall into the diet rut – trying one diet after another, losing weight and then gaining it all back with some more to boot. Those who keep jumping off and on the dieting bandwagon are the yo-yo dieters or weight cyclers.
However, by following these unhealthy eating practices, we are allowing diets to take control of our lives, and the sad reality is, in the long run, diets DON’T work.
Diets induce temporary weight loss: Even though diets do generate results in the short term, very few dieters are able to maintain that weight loss, no matter what diet they attempt. To make matters worse, most dieters end up bigger or heavier than they were before they started dieting. This becomes a vicious cycle – each time we go on another crash diet, it becomes tougher and tougher to knock off those extra kilos and we in turn become more depressed and discouraged. So what do we do – we end up eating more and exercising less. Net result – we gain more weight!
Diets are tough: So, why don’t diets work? Well, diets are hard to follow. Most diets involve a major change in a person’s normal eating habits over an extended period of time. Being creatures of habit, we find it tough to alter our lifestyles drastically.
Dieting is also challenging because it relies on our willpower to keep us going. We start off a diet with good intentions and our willpower kicks in during the initial stages. However, as the days pass, stress, or other triggers, for example an office party, can tempt us to stray off the path. It is no cakewalk to maintain willpower to stay off our favorite foods for extended periods of time. When everyone around you is munching on pizza, you feel deprived eating a salad! And then you say, “Forget it. I am going to eat a pizza just for today!” Or, after depriving yourself for a while you feel that it’s okay to binge for a weekend. For most people, once they break the pattern, it’s very difficult to get back into diet mode.
Deprivation results in binging: Research reveals that diets make people very hungry and create powerful cravings for the self-same foods that they are trying to avoid, like sugars and fats. Add to that the feelings of deprivation and the dieter ends up overeating rebelliously. After days, weeks or months of deprivation, they tend to binge uncontrollably, and all the dieting efforts go up in thin air (or settle down around the waistline as extra inches!).
Dieting can lead to low self-esteem: Since diets are rigid and quite tough to follow, most people get bored with the inflexible eating routines that they are forced to follow. Some end up chucking it all up, others tend to ‘cheat’ occasionally. What follows are feelings of guilt, inadequacy and failure, which most often lead to low self-esteem levels. Such people jump from diet to diet in the hope of finding the perfect one that will be the magical answer to their weight problems and willpower issues.
Many dieters ignore exercise: If you want to lose weight and be fit and healthy, you need to exercise. Exercise, apart from helping us lose weight, also strengthens our cardiovascular system, our lungs, our bones and increases our flexibility. If you are working punishing hours, your body needs to be fit. And for that, you need nutrition – read healthy eating – and regular exercise. Says nutrition expert and best-selling author Rujuta Diwekar, “Being on a diet might help you lose weight, but without exercise we lose our muscle and bone density… The human body is designed for continuous activity.”
Remember, diets control us; we do not control them. Thanks to crash diets and stringent rules, most people ignore the need for healthy eating habits. Dieting is not some fairy-tale wand – we need exercise and proper nutrition. To quote Rujuta Diwekar, “I strongly believe that your diet has to be a healthy representation of what you will be eating your entire life. …Can you lead a life where you have papaya or dudhi juice all day long? If the answer is no, then don’t go on that diet. Diet is not starvation.”
Your aim should be health and fitness. You need to make a commitment to eating healthy and exercising regularly. The weight loss will happen automatically. The only people who lose weight and keep it off permanently are those who have made enduring, healthy changes to their eating and exercise habits. Moral of the story – diets don’t work!