A Working Diet

Should being on a diet be miserable? Is it worth it even if the diet is going to get you your desired results? Should you go to bed every night feeling like you are starving?

Fad diets are tough. People jump on them for all sorts of reason. The ultimate being that they want to lose weight, and they want to lose it quickly. But the diets come and go, and when the fad is over the dieters often find themselves looking to jump onto the next trend. Most of the big diet companies, that are making tons of money from people wanting a quick fix, get you in with the idea that you can eat to satisfaction and still lose weight. What’s not to love about results with little or no sacrifice?

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you got. –James P. Lewis

If you are wanting to lose weight, take a moment and think about how you got to where you are today. There is little chance that you got where you are because of a bad day or week. We got to our present state over the course of months, possibly years. It was your repeated behaviors that put you in your present state. And if you are not happy with your present state, it will be a change to your repeated behaviors that will make the difference. The key is pretty simple: to make an improvement to your current body composition you have to exercise more and eat better. Your best chance of success may be a gradual improvement such as walking an extra 10 minutes a day or substituting something you consume on a regular basis for a healthier alternative. Incremental improvements can have a huge impact in the future.

But think about what is not going to work, such as shocking your body. Deciding to exercise more and then going out and punishing your body is not only dangerous, but it is not sustainable. You have to build up your body, and that takes time. The same with your diet. If you go from a daily 4500 calories of eating what you want to 1500 calories of healthy choices, your body is not going to respond well. What are the chances of you keeping up with your diet if you are miserable the whole time?

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. –Albert Einstein

Making changes to your repeated behaviors is going to net positive results. But at the same time, you are going to have to be flexible. If it is not working, change it. Become knowledgeable about the foods you are putting into your body. If your diet calls for certain types of fruit but your body reacts poorly to the sugar, don’t eat it. It will be okay. The incremental changes in your repeated behaviors hopefully has oriented you to healthier choices. Choose foods that work for you. You can even have the flexibility to cheat on occasion, because the other 6 or 7 days are super healthy. You are not depriving yourself of all the “fun” foods you love to eat, you are choosing not to eat them every day.

Making healthy eating choices should be something one does over the course of a lifetime. Easier said than done, right? Maybe. But we can start today to make better choices. If what we consume is in balance with the calories we burn, and we are ingesting calories that will properly fuel us, we will not have a need for a radical diet. This long term outlook will keep your body weight stabilized, it is going to save you money, and in the end you will be much happier for it.

Overcoming Desire

Those little chocolate covered donuts from the vending machine were my weakness. The days that I thought I was working hard and needed a reward were the days when I dropped the change in the slot. In time, every day was deserving a reward regardless of the work I did.

It has been over six months since I had one. If I close my eyes, I can still remember the taste. The sugar, the chocolate, and all the other ingredients I had no business eating. One time I read the label on the package. I looked in horror at the numbers. Was it really that bad? I was shocked only for a brief period before I tossed back another donut.

My fitness regime of the past was mostly misses than hits. Strong desire, mediocre effort, and poor nutritional choices was my recipe for inconsistent results. For some reason, I always believed my diet wasn’t that bad. Of course I would not eat the best, but I told myself that my workouts would make up for it. Boy was I wrong.

It wasn’t until I changed two things in my lifestyle that I began to notice real results in my body composition. Making a serious daily commitment to increase my physical activity was the first change I made. I stopped making excuses for not working out. I didn’t have the energy levels to exercise consistently after work, so I started doing it first thing in the morning. If for some reason I missed in the morning, then I knew I had to make it up later.

The second change was focusing on my diet. Losing weight is not rocket science. You have to burn more calories than you take in. By limiting my caloric intake, I became very conscious of the types of food I was consuming. Those oh-so yummy chocolate donuts are over 300 calories. On a 1500 calorie diet, that is over 20% of the daily allotment. It is not worth it. It is not the fuel that is going to power those increased activity levels. If I am only going to take in so much food, I need it to be the best it can be to do the job. Wasting my allotment on empty calories is not doing me any good. Doing it every day is foolish.

If your dog was suffering from stomach problems, what would be the first thing you would do? You would look at what he eats. Was there a change in his diet? Did he eat something he wasn’t supposed to? What if your dog was overweight? Would you walk him more? Would you give him less food? We would do anything for our pets, but would we do the same for ourselves? If you are not getting optimal results out of your diet, then maybe it is time for a change.

Change is difficult. The desire for that donut is strong. The sugar memories are etched in your mind. You know the taste, the texture, even the smell. Maybe once every blue moon, you indulge because you like it and you earned it. But if you are like me and that pack of cheap donuts becomes a regular part of the day, then overcoming that desire is a priority. Those donuts are at war with the fit body you imagine. They are the enemy to all your hard work.

The man who overcomes his desires is braver than he who overcomes his enemies. -Aristotle