For most Americans living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a pipe dream–something that we can dream about achieving but very few will. Furthermore it is viewed as kind of a drag, an obligation that really isn’t exciting for all the work it requires. This is just the first of many misconceptions contributing to the growing obesity problem in America.
One of the major reasons we have such a negative perception of dieting is that there is simply too much misinformation being touted as fact by so-called experts. You know those common “truisms” we all believe such as you must document every morsel of food you consume, count calories diligently and basically deprive ourselves of all things tasty and delicious.
These types of diets fail us because they are far too restrictive, telling us exactly what to eat, when to eat it and how much of it we should eat at a time. Traditional diets don’t give much credence to individual preferences, hunger or satisfaction, which is why they have great short-term effectiveness but do nothing to help us maintain weight loss for years to come.
Why Diets Fail Us
Those first few weeks of a traditional diet are exciting; you’re learning to love healthier food options, you have more energy and you’re loving your shrinking silhouette. However these diets treat us as small children, dictating every single thing we eat or drink, instead of teaching us the tools we need to lose weight and keep it off for good.
There is a saying “you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day or teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime,” and this could not be truer when it comes to weight loss. Successful weight loss means making the right choices on your own rather than following stringent guidelines that don’t take into account boredom and late nights at the office.
Life often gets in the way, which means successful weight loss means knowing how to make your own healthy food selections at the supermarket, healthy methods of cooking and ways to enjoy dining out without going overboard with your food choices. Moreover traditional diets tell us we need to exercise and be physically active but they say nothing of effective and safe exercise routines.
There seem to be so many rules associated with traditional diets that most of eventually just give up, tired and defeated by inconsistent information and restrictive food choices. This is why diets only work in the short term; because it feels as though it is a short term program. After all, who can imagine spending time each day writing down everything you eat and drink, then doing calorie math?
Making It Work
There are many common factors shared by traditional diets and rather than taking up these diets we should be learning from them. Diets that make you feel boxed in will never work for more than a few months at a time, particularly if you haven’t been taught what you need to do to lose weight and keep it off.
Learn healthy eating because it will help you lose weight without making you feel as though you are depriving yourself. Healthy eating means fresh fruits and vegetables that make up most of your diet, combined with lean protein (chicken or turkey breasts without skin) and whole grains. Knowing this allows you to choose your own foods instead of eating only what some diet tells you to eat.
Avoiding high calorie junk food can help you keep your calorie count low without whipping out a calculator and spreadsheet every night. Fruits and vegetables aren’t very high in calories, but fried chicken and cupcakes are quite high and knowing this information provides you an easy way to reduce your daily calorie intake.
Be active every day whenever you can. Even if you can’t find time to make it to the gym on a regular basis you can take small steps to be active and burn calories and fat. Take the stairs and walk short distances rather than driving. Grab a friend and go walking or pick up a game of tennis or racquetball.
Learn to cook your own food in a healthy way and you’ll find that you don’t feel quite as restricted in your weight loss efforts. Breaded baked chicken tastes as good as fried chicken but it has fewer calories. Cooking methods such as baking, steaming and grilling allows you to enjoy foods you love without the fat associated with frying food.
The important thing to remember is that we don’t fail diets, but rather they fail us. If you need to lose weight, your best chance of success is to learn what it takes to eat healthy and lose weight and do it on your own. Sure diets are convenient, but not when you find yourself feeling defeated and without motivation after you’ve put on a few of those lost pounds.
Written By: Updated: January 25,2010