New Year, New You, New Diet?
It's January 3, 2017 and if your experience is anything like mine, your Facebook and Instagram feeds are flooded with posts about dieting and New Year's resolutions about exercising. After the holidays where many people consume many different kinds of food (and sometimes alcohol), it seems to make sense that we would want to shift our focus to be more health-conscious. So, what's the problem?
The problem is the message we're taking in about body image and self-worth. For those of you who appreciate statistics, 30% of New Year's resolutions are broken by February. (See this article more information about dieting resolutions http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20762322,00.html ).
Maybe you've promised yourself that you'll stop eating carbs. Or maybe you've resolved to work out five days a week. Research tells us that once you eat a carb or miss a day of working out, you're much more likely to give up your resolution all together and, consequentially, feel poorly about yourself and your abilities.
I have even more bad news (sorry! I'll give good news soon, I promise). The dieting industry is set up for you to fail. Let me paint you a picture: You start a new diet and start to feel better physically and mentally. You learn healthy eating habits and maybe even work with a therapist to identify and work through any body image issues or emotional eating triggers. You lose weight and keep the weight off for an extended period of time. Eventually, you no longer need to follow the strict rules set forth by your diet because you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
What a beautiful picture, huh? Let me ask you this: how often does that actually happen? From my experience working with clients, the above-stated scenario is especially rare. More often than not, we "yo-yo" diet. We start a new diet for two weeks, fall off the wagon, and then start again. This cycle keeps the dieting industry alive. If you succeed at a diet and make progress to the point where you no longer need it, then they no longer get your money. They want you to keep coming back.
So, here's the good news I promised earlier. There is an answer to this conundrum and that answer is moderation. What if, instead of trying out new fad diets every so often, you made a conscious effort to eat healthily and exercise moderately all the time? This includes eating sweets, fast food, potato chips, etc. Let's get rid of "do not eat" lists of foods and allow ourselves to enjoy them in moderation. And if you miss one day at the gym, it's not the end of the world! You're human and you can give yourself the grace to not always be perfect.
What if we loved our bodies all of the time rather than teeter-tottering between criticism and hatred of them? We only get one body to use for our entire lives. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could love them?
**Always consult with a physician and/or a registered dietitian before starting a new diet or exercise routine.