Archive for July 2011
A lot has been written about HOW to diet. Everyone has an opinion about what, how and when to eat. While knowing which kind of diet is the absolute best is something that we’ll probably never know for sure (not that I think such a thing exists), most people have a pretty good idea of what eating healthy means. Lots of natural food, less (or no) processed food, working out often, several meals a day, etc. Been there, done that.
The problem is that a lot of people try to find the magic trick that will help them lose weight fast and be something they can easily stick to (meaning, don’t have a desire to cheat on or quit). I have news for you: such a diet doesn’t exists. If you enjoy crap food like McDonald’s burgers, candy, ice cream and all that, you’ll crave it forever, no matter what kind of diet you follow.
I think it’s entirely possible to maintain your weight and still eat those kinds of food on occasion (just not daily), but in order to reach that moment one has to reach their ideal weight first, and that means going through the dreaded fat loss period, which for some can last for many months. During that time, I truly believe cheating is highly dangerous. Not only shatters the progress you’ve made the last few days but also kills your morale, makes you feel guilty and thus, increases the odds of more cheating or even quitting altogether.
If you’re on a diet, I think it’s worth taking some time to figure out exactly WHY are you doing it. Trust me, there are a lot more reasons than to fit on that dress that used to be your favorite. Here are my ten reasons, that I keep with me all the time (on my phone) so I can re-read them every time temptation comes.
- You’ll look better. This is the one most people use as an excuse to be on a diet (that’s why it’s number one) but I think it’s hardly enough to make most people survive the constant temptations of the fat loss period. In the deciding moments, that ice cream looks too good and you’re not that fat. You’ll need better arguments to help your discipline defeat your cravings.
- Clothes will look better on you. An annex to the first one if you want, but still different. Remember all those clothes you can’t wear anymore, or those you want to buy and don’t fit.
- You’ll feel more confident. If you’re on a diet, chances are you don’t feel 100% good about yourself. Getting to your ideal weight will make you feel awesome. No more holding your breath in public!
- You’ll feel better physically. Have you ever eaten a lot right before going to bed? The next morning doesn’t feel very good, does it? Or eating a lot at a dinner (oh, all-you-can-eat places, how much harm you’ve done) and feeling completely stuffed and with no desire to do anything but sit down on the couch and pass out. When you eat healthy food and healthy portions, all this goes away.
- You’ll be healthier. You’ll have more energy and have less risk of some nasty diseases (heart conditions, diabetes, etc). Depending on the person (some people are really efficient at processing bad food without many secondary effects) you may also get better skin, less stinky sweat, less (or no) gastric issues (ulcers, etc) and a bunch of other benefits. I know, because I’ve been there, that the “long term benefit” is a lousy argument when trying to counter the choice of instant joy (cheating on your diet), but it still is an important argument.
- You’ll cultivate your discipline. Discipline is a finite resource. If you try to use it to do too many things at once, you’ll fail. That’s why experts always advice against introducing too many new habits at once (diet, gym, wake up early, learn a new skill, etc). Every time you use your discipline to force you to do something (or not do something), you consume some discipline, and when it’s gone for the day, chances are you won’t force yourself much to do anything. On the other hand, like a muscle, your deposit of discipline can become bigger with exercise. Be disciplined and stick to your diet. After a while, you’ll see the benefits of it and you’ll be able to take on more things with your discipline. Just don’t try to do too much in the beginning.
- You won’t feel guilty. Eating healthy feels great inside. It makes you feel like you’re in control, like you’re doing the right thing. Cheating, though, makes you feel like you gave in to your most basic instincts, like you did a wrong thing and like you’ve killed the progress that you made the last few days with this one meal. All three are true, so don’t let a few bites of unhealthy food make you feel this way.
- It’s only temporary. You shouldn’t feel like you’re never gonna eat pizza or ice cream again. You’re on the fat loss period, and during this period, your stomach is sacred. Only the best foods are allowed in, only those approved by you when you were deciding on your diet. But once you reach your ideal weight, you can still eat some of those foods you like so much on occasion. Once or twice a week. That’s not so bad, is it? See it this way: the less you cheat now (and feel like shit doing it) the sooner you’ll get to “maintenance mode” and be allowed to cheat occasionally without side effects or guilt. Stick to your diet and get there as fast as you can. The way to do it? Don’t cheat.
- It’s a challenge. Getting (or should I say achieving) a great body through diet and exercise is not easy at all. In fact, it’s probably the most widespread goal across people in developed countries. If you’re a normally overweight person, chances are this has haunted you all your life. The desire to have a better body opposed to the desire to eat whatever the fuck you want. I’ve been there (heck, I still am) and I know it’s not easy at all, and can consume a ridiculous amount of one’s thinking (and fantasizing) time. If you’ve made some progress already, look back and acknowledge the progress you’ve made as important. Keeping track (body fat % better than weight) is absolutely necessary. Finally take this, feel awesome and move on to bigger dreams in life.
- You’ll be a better person. You’ll be hotter, more confident, healthier and more disciplined and you’ll feel less guilty while at the same time taking on a really big and important challenge in your life. If you don’t think all that is not worth eating some things (and not eating other things) over, you’re probably a lost cause. I know this is kind of an “overview” point rather than a new one, but I like wrapping things up nicely.
Craft your own list of benefits for not eating that piece of cake that’s staring at you (feel free to borrow from mine) and have it accessible at all times. Whenever you feel the urge to cheat or go easy on your diet, read it like you’re trying to exorcise a demon out of you. Then acknowledge that it’s never necessary to cheat. It’s almost always easier, though, but you have a choice.
If you have other reasons to stick to your diet I’d love to hear them on the comments