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Life Is One Damn Diet After Another

A common expression is that we’re “going on a diet.” The phrase suggests that, like a vacation trip, there is a beginning and an end. We dream of the day we will reach our weight goal and how wonderful it will be when we don’t have to lead a life of painful deprivation. In the back of our minds, there is a comforting little tape playing, promising us that when our weight loss campaign is over, we’ll be able to stop counting calories, carbohydrates, or fats. We long for the day when we no longer have to clench our teeth as we refuse a favorite dish that always causes us to salivate in our sleep. We reach for the carrot and celery sticks without anticipation or enthusiasm while torturing ourselves with visions of the special treats we’ll enjoy when the diet is over.

Uh, hello? Allowing ourselves to think of a diet as a delineated, restricted period within our total life span is a sure avenue back to tent city (that refers to what we wear, not where we live). To have any hope of attaining permanent weight control, we must approach it as a lifelong effort, watching our intake day after day, week after week, year after year. You feel your heart sinking in your chest. You think “If I have to live like this all the time, it’s just not worth it!” That little voice promises you that you are different. You can relax because now you know how to lose weight, you can do it anytime you want.

Gain five pounds and you’ll go back on your diet and be back to goal in no time at all. But you won’t! Think back over your chequered weight history. We all believe that once our weight is down, it will be so easy to go on a short diet if we gain back a few pounds. It doesn’t work that way, though, does it? We start gaining a pound here and a pound there, but then there are some special events coming up and a diet would be so inconvenient. We don’t go back “on” our diet until we’ve gained enough weight to develop the self-disgust that warrants a new period of serious deprivation. We have become a full-fledged member of the yo-yo club, that vast majority of dieters who cannot keep the weight off for more than a few weeks. The reasons we go “on” and “off” diets are numerous: they are boring, depressing, and very uncomfortable. They set us apart from friends, family, and coworkers who continue to snack, to feast, and to celebrate. We resent how diets make us feel and how they impact our daily lives. Let’s look at the whole picture from a different perspective for a minute.

Instead of “a diet” envision a way of eating that involves living on a diet for the rest of your life. While the prospect may appall you, don’t say you can’t do it just yet. First, consider another wide-spread concept many of us accept. To lose substantial weight in a relatively short time, we need to select the diet that seems to fit us and then stay with it, religiously, until we’ve reached our goal. Let’s now take these two concepts, squish them together, and then turn them upside down. We are not “going on a diet.” We are starting our diet-for-life. We then pick a diet, any diet at all, and make the commitment to stick with that diet for one week, and one week only. At the end of the week, we are going to pick an entirely different diet to which again we only commit for a one week period. This continues for virtually the rest of our lives with selected diets changing on a weekly basis.

What does this accomplish? A whole bunch of things: 1. By selecting a different diet each week, it removes those common misgivings that maybe we should have gone in a different direction. We worry that we’re not getting the right nutrients or that we’re going to get sick or develop a rare disease. We read the diet ratings and panic at the warnings posted for all the popular programs. With our new approach, you don’t have to fret about if you made a good or bad choice because you’ll be making a new choice in a week. 2. If there are particularly painful “No-Nos” in this week’s diet, resolve to try something next week that allows a currently forbidden fruit. For example, a primarily protein regimen has been found successful for many participants who often lose five or ten pounds in a week. However, they miss the vegetables and salad they enjoy. The next week could then be a vegetables and salad only routine, also successful for rapid weight loss but a bit lean on the protein you body needs for self-repair.

You may then find yourself craving some good bread so you switch to the Subway diet for a week until your craving is satisfied. Move on to something completely different – the cabbage soup diet or liquid shakes. Since there are literally thousands of diets, a few are bound to include the food you crave. You are never more than a week away from having what you feel you absolutely must have in order to keep going. You can include spartan fad diets that move fat quickly and you can include calorie counting or Weight Watcher diets that allow almost anything so long as you adjust your intake to stay within the totals specified. 3. The frequent changes in your eating patterns keep your body off-balance. Give the body enough time and advance notice and it will adapt to anything, turning protein into carbohydrates and storing even low calorie carbohydrates as little pockets of fat. By totally changing what you eat on a regular basis, the body gives up trying to figure out how to thwart you and spends its time efficiently processing what you give it.


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