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If diets really worked then there wouldn’t be a multibillion dollar industry (in the US alone) of diets and dieting products. It would be simple.

You would go on one diet. ONE.

You would lose the weight and then buy a bikini. Truth be told, if diets really worked then the bathing suit industry, specifically bikinis, would be the booming market, and not dieting.

The dieting industry sucks you in with weight loss success stories and pictures of people who look happy, trim, accomplished and who make you think that there is no reason why you can’t be like them if only you were 20 pounds thinner. To quote a nutritionist whom my sister Deena learned with years ago when she was studying Nutrition at Hebrew U,

“There are always those 5 pounds that stand between me and true happiness.”

I know for a fact that diets don’t work because I, along with most of the western world, spent a large portion of my life battling my weight and striving for that feeling of ultimate elation that only someone who is thin could ever really understand, or so I thought. Teenage anorexia, weight watchers, nutritionists, liver cleansing diet, Suzanne Somers and I am sure there are more than I can even remember.

Sure diets make you lose weight…at first; those beginning pounds drop off like apples from the tree in the autumn but that sweet crunch of weight loss success is oh so fleeting as things start to go rotten faster than you can say “winter harvest”.

Those group meetings that you thought were there to offer support and encouragement now only make you feel pressured and create feelings of shame and guilt because you only lost half a pound that week while being forced to watch those lifetime members, now on “maintenance”, sitting in the front row gloating as you hide somewhere in the back (preferably behind someone wider than you to distract attention away from yourself while pretending to show interest in that new recipe with one MORE thing you can do with watermelons).

The next step is when you start making excuses as to why you didn’t attend your weekly weigh-in or why you weren’t able to lose the weight that THEY expected you to lose that week. You eventually lose motivation or just get plain sick and tired of being hungry.

What ensues is a slew of yo-yo dieting, every new diet a reflex response to the overwhelming feeling of being sick of the status quo, wanting to gain control and wanting to commit to a new and healthier lifestyle. Which then inevitably leads to feeling hungry and fed up and discouraged and so it continues: the circle of fat to fit and everything in between.

So what is it about dieting that condemns you to failure?

Sustainability

The reason people keep dieting is because whatever it was that they were told to do the first time around wasn’t humanly possible for them to sustain long term.

Deprivation

When I go to work I bring with me a large sized shopping bag of food filled with lots of fresh fruits and veggies which I cut up and snack on during the day. I try not to eat out or to eat fast foods but I just don’t have time to prepare much in the morning when trying to get five kids out the door. So I keep high fiber, low calorie bread in our office freezer, chocolate in my desk for an emergency and fillers in the fridge for different sandwich options.

Most diets do the exact opposite. They try to take away things you are used to eating instead of re-creating and re-addressing your approach to a complete picture of health. Most of the time it means not eating carbs, fat, chocolate, ice cream, and whatever other forms of modern day torture they can think of. This leads to cravings and hunger which of course goes right back to the issue of sustainability. How long can you live without bread? Chocolate? I give it a week. Maybe two.

Attitude towards food

You haven’t really changed your way of thinking about food; you have just been told how you are supposed to be thinking about food while on a diet. You still have not learned how to become more in tuned with your body and you never really worked out the issues of what agrees/disagrees with you, what gives you energy or brings you down, what true feelings of hunger are, what makes you eat and how to recognize when to start or stop eating as needed.

Confidence

Many people don’t need a diet, they need to learn to love themselves, love their bodies and not let it affect their feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. Diets just feed on that ideal body image, widely promoted in the media, which inevitably encourages further feelings of inadequacy and failure for many people, especially women.

Happiness

Dieting won’t make you happier or solve your problems.

Good health will.

Healthy living means exercise, proper nutrition, good energy and a healthy mental state. Dieting means ordering a huge portion of hunger on top of your already full plate of overwhelming personal issues towards food.

Messing your body up

Let’s face facts. You are screwing up your metabolism. Dieting means losing muscle mass, which means a lower metabolism and a hell of a hard time burning calories. The end results in less muscle in your body which means ending up with a higher percentage of body fat then before you even started dieting not to mention the increased chances of recurring weight gain

Dieting is time limited

How many times have we said:

“That’s it! Tomorrow I will start my diet.”

or

“This diet only lasts for six weeks? I can do that.”

or

“When I get to my goal weight I can splurge.”

These attitudes are setting you up for failure right from the get go. Small changes are much more achievable.  For starters, why not commit to eating just one more portion of fruits and vegetables a day, park further away from the office and maybe just try to walk an extra ten minutes daily. And most importantly: Drink. Water. and if you must, save those sugary drinks for the weekends (you might not even want them at that point).

Post Script:

During the writing of this post I momentarily had a computer blitz and thought I had lost my draft to hard drive heaven in that great big cyber in the sky. The stress of possibly losing this post elicited quite intense emotions of stress and despair and, considering that I am a “stress eater”, left me with two options: to either commit a heinous crime against Microsoft executives or eat lots of chocolate.

Chocolate won out.

Now tell me, which diet accounts for that kind of predicament I ask you??

Please note: No Microsoft employees (including, but not limited to Bill Gates) were injured or assaulted during, or as a result of, the writing of this post.

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