We have all been there – the fad diet. We want a quick fix to get rid of the bulge that has emerged after Christmas celebrations, or when we realise that we have 2 weeks to look like America’s Next Top Model for our summer holiday. We eagerly move onto trying the next big thing that promise you the results that you want and deserve, or your money back! You look at all the transformation pictures of happy sprightly individuals with six packs and not a spot of cellulite on them and hand over your month’s pay check without a second thought.
I’ve seen time and time again people fall victim to fad diets like The Baby Food Diet – switching two meals out for a jar of baby food, The Grapefruit Diet – eating nothing but grapefruit for a week, The Juice Cleanse – blending every vegetable under the sun to create a substance close to algae & The Cabbage Soup diet – a tedious and uninspired soup that replaces all your meals for seven days, and this is just to name a few. So why is it that we see the same individuals torturing themselves for a week (if they last that long), only to see them the next week pounding Krispy Kreme’s like it’s going out of business…well I will tell you that there are numerous reasons:
1. The Media
The influence of the media on the proliferation on dieting cannot be refuted. From an early age we are bombarded with images that reinforce the idea that to be happy and successful, we must be thin. In the present day, its near enough impossible to open a magazine, turn on the TV, browse online shops, without being confronted by the message that fat equals undesirability. With our self-esteem at rock bottom, we turn to the media once again to research how to get those stubborn areas toned: cue the fad diets. They force feed you information that sounds like music to your ears, whilst showing you images of these beautiful thin women that achieved their bodies ‘in two weeks’… wait, you’re telling me that I don’t need to exercise? It only lasts a week? It only costs £600? Sign me up!
2. Surprise surprise, these fad diets are not sustainable.
You receive your ‘slim shake’ and your measly diet plan that wouldn’t feed my right thigh, and power through the first few days, excited at the prospect that you are on your journey to building a Kim Kardashian’s tushy. The last half of the week gets a bit harder, the girls invite you out for a curry…curry is your favourite, how could you turn it down, you’ve worked so hard on your diet during the week, you deserve a treat. The curry turns into cocktail hour, the cocktail hour turns into a night painting the town red, and you leave a club craving that kebab. Which leads onto reason number three!
3. The cyclical effect of fad diets
Saturday morning you wake up thinking that a bulldozer may have entered your house and somehow ran over your forehead, and the only thing that would cure it is a big fat greasy fry-up. And then it occurs to you, the fad diet is not for you. And the binge occurs, eating everything you have been craving the past week and even things that wouldn’t even tempt you before. And the pounds start to pile on.
The endless list of failed diets create the false belief in many women that they are destined to be overweight, that they have fat genes, they are big boned, they have reduced leptin hormones… the list goes on. But the point in this long analogy is to tell you that it isn’t all doom and gloom with diets and weight loss. So do tell me the key secret to maintaining fat loss! The secret? Moderation. We need to stop looking at diets as a quick fix and start looking at it as a lifestyle, something that can be maintained without the feeling of being deprived and on a diet. How do I do this? Here are a few tips:
Moderation – macros/micros
Moderation is the key to life – we cannot deprive ourselves entirely of the foods we love, because one day, and there will be a one day, we will not be able to resist and the binge will occur. The longer the deprivation, the more extreme the binge. So revolve around 70-80% of your diet around nutrient dense foods:
Aim for 1g of proteins per lb of bodyweight, healthy fats such as nuts and avocado (in moderation), and fibre and micronutrient intake (to keep those bowels happy ;)). Do some research! Instagram is a great way to find healthy recipes that will curb that craving for a family size dairy milk… and with the abundance of flavours of protein and protein bars available, that protein intake will be easily hit, and so will your sweet tooth. Protein pancakes, microwave cakes, cheesecakes… you’ll never want a chocolate bar again!
That other 20-30% of your calorie intake is yours to eat the foods that you love. However, the key is to not smash that bag of Oreo’s in one sitting… take one or two, enjoy it and keep the rest. Move on. With the knowledge that you have that you can enjoy the foods without the guilt, you will begin to learn that a whole bag doesn’t need to be consumed.
Ugh, the E word… But wait trust me, it may be a trial and error process, but try new things and you are bound to fall in love with something. There are so many new and wacky ways to exercise becoming readily available, and there isn’t a right or wrong way. Bodybuilders may slate crossfit, crossfit may slate aerobic classes, and aerobic classes may slate heavy lifting… but if you enjoy it, do it. Bring a friend, make friends, get a sweat on, and feel good about yourself.
And lastly, remember, if it took that long to put the weight on… it is going to take that long to get off as well. Trust the process, feel good about yourself and carry on, remember, it’s a lifestyle.