With regards nutrition if you have decided to make a positive lifestyle change and have decided that the vehicle for this change is something that meets the following criteria:
1 – Starts with ‘The‘
2 – Has a middle word.
3 – Ends in the word ‘Diet‘
(The _______ Diet)
Then you have more than likely spotted a bad diet. Congratulations! 9 times out of 10 these will leave you focusing your diminished energy on an unsustainable plan that wasn’t designed with you in mind, wasting your time and money, setting yourself up for long term frustration and failure and in some cases doing more harm than good.
‘But I thought diets were a good thing’ you ask… Well, let’s talk briefly about what dieting implies.
The psychology of everyday diets implies that you keep taking something away until you are left with something that you are happy with. You restrict something. You remove something. You limit something. You eliminate something. Are any of these words positive? Market that in the context of some abstract and senseless timeframe, add a detox component and a sexy name like ‘The Sexy Diet’ and what you will quickly see is a plan that in no way resembles your day to day lifestyle as it stands, enforces nothing but negativity towards food and leaves you ready to bounce to the next sexy diet (The Sexy Diet 2.0).
It’s the classic ‘food got me here, so removing food is the only answer’ approach and it does my head in.
Have you ever meet someone that hasn’t eaten anything in six months? No you say, because that’s stupid. Sure you have. You met them last time you visited a cemetery because they are all dead. First thing to note here: If you don’t eat – you will die. That should not be a shocking revelation – in fact it should be pretty common sense.
Therefore food isn’t the problem, it’s the solution.
Now add to that the assumption that you should be exercising, working, socialising, raising children, and doing your best to lengthen your time on planet earth and, you know, LIVING and how does it all add up? How are you going to do all those things while emaciating yourself? You might get away with it for a few days, a few weeks, maybe even a few months. But where it will leave you is a dark place.
This might sound controversial. But allow me to elaborate. Change is good. Diets are bad. Diets denote an end point. That’s fine if you are a competitive bodybuilder with a rigid plan to drop body fat levels as much as possible for a given date. Unfortunately many of us confuse this process with attaining health. ‘If I look like that I’ll be healthy, if I look like that I’ll be strong, if I look like that I’ll be happy’ and so on. Well, I would suggest talking to one of these guys or girls the day of a show and asking them how they feel. If you don’t know any I’ll sum it up for you.
They feel exhausted both physically and mentally, irritable, hungry and weak. They don’t want to move, work, play or mate. They mostly just want a small room with a large pizza.
Is that how you want to feel? Because no fooling that’s how millions of people across the world are, today, I mean right bloody now approaching their health and wellness. You might even be feeling like this already.
Do not abandon hope. There is a common ground that will help you achieve and maintain a healthy, physically active body that promotes balance, improved body composition and happiness. It’s just a little bit harder to find because the sales pitch promotes longer durations, learning, some trial and error and doesn’t guarantee overnight success.
Now – there are of course some exceptions to this rule about ‘diets’. Some good diets exist, and they are the ones that promote lifestyle choices and lasting change. If you’d like to know what they are called they are the ones that:
That celebrity you love that lost all that weight exercising 3 minutes a week and drinking lemon water and unicorn tears is a liar.
Good nutrition doesn’t throw you in at the deep end before teaching you how to swim. It doesn’t demand the cessation of your social life, it shouldn’t leave your head spinning and it should add to the quality of your over-all experience here on planet earth. Note that I said over-all. The aggregate score should be in favour of happiness but that is not to say that it is guaranteed to be easy, or that you may never be hungry. Only that when the dust settles and all is said and done you should in theory look better, feel better, and still be able to do things like run for a bus, lift weights, play with your kid, make a deadline in work or whatever else goes into your life.
Alternatively you can sign up for that diet that says you don’t eat for six days but then get to eat a tub of ice cream then don’t again for another six days. Best of luck with that. Sincerely. I just hope that in six days time when it doesn’t work you won’t blame yourself or your own supposed lack of willpower to see it through and instead learn from your mistakes and avoid repeating them by bouncing to the next fad diet (after eating the tub of ice-cream of course!). Long story short the hardest part of my job isn’t taking things from people, its convincing people to eat more (but better) and to do it in conjunction with resistance training so that you are building a better you instead of tearing a perfectly good you apart from the start.