Have you been dieting to achieve weight-loss and improve your health? You certainly aren’t alone. An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year and approximately $33 billion is spent annually on weight-loss products. And yet, nearly two thirds of Americans continuously struggle with weight. Could this have something to do with HOW we diet?
Dieting: An Overview
Most traditional diets are defined by a handful of key characteristics:
- Weight is generally lost quickly in a set period of time
- Foods are categorized as “good” or “bad”
- Eating habits are often based on environmental cues
- Calorie consumption is greatly restricted
- Progress is dependent on a number on the scale
Most of us at some point or another have tried to diet for weight-loss, especially for an upcoming vacation or important event. If your diet followed some of the above characteristics, how did you feel throughout the process? Most of us will answer hungry, tired, frustrated or even discouraged. This is because diets are generally short-term and not healthy for our body.
Switching to Lifestyle Change
So if dieting may not be the answer to weight-loss, what is? The key is to think in terms of long-term lifestyle changes that you will follow for the rest of your life. It is important to remember that weight management is a lifelong journey. No matter where you are in life, you will have to work hard and stay mindful in order to manage your weight. A short-term diet will not do this for you.
What makes a lifestyle change? Behavior that you can stick to for the long haul:
- Eating healthy, nutritious and whole foods to nourish your body
- Practicing moderation, not restriction
- Exercising on a regular and consistent basis
- Relying on your body to tell you what you need
- Losing weight at a safe and healthy pace ( 1-2 lbs per week)
- Measuring progress beyond a number on the scale
Noting the Difference
When you focus on long-term lifestyle changes instead of short-term dieting, you will note a few things. First, you are being kinder to your body. You are less likely to experience extreme hunger, food deprivation, weakness, exhaustion and mental stress. Lifestyle changes teach you listen to what your body is telling you. You will also notice that even though weight-loss may be slower, it is more permanent. Research shows that short-term dieters are likely to regain most, if not all, of the weight they lost. This can be even more discouraging.
So, if you are on the journey to manage your weight through weight-loss, try to focus on the long road ahead. It may be tempting to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time, but this is bad for your body and will likely result in weight regain. Instead, aim for lifestyle changes that are focused on overall health and wellness. You will not regret it!