Paleo, keto, vegetarian, whole-30, vegan, intermittent fasting and countless other fads float around as THE diet you should be doing to lose weight, gain muscle, and maintain health. While all of these strategies are a good way to structure the foundation of a diet, not one of them is the end-all-be-all answer everyone wants them to be.
I’m sure you’ve experienced it, or at least had a friend experience it. I’m talking about starting one of these fad diets, only to achieve sub-par results by the end of it and then regain every bit of weight lost merely 3 weeks after coming off. It can be disheartening to put all that hard work in day-in and day-out, essentially going through hell to achieve results, and then going right back to where you started. So, you’re telling me there’s no way to keep the results? Absolutely not! What I’m saying is that we’re all going about diets wrong.
Understand this, diets are fundamentally wrong. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, diets are not something to be started with means to an end in a specific time frame. Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t set a goal to hit in 3 months. That’s a great thing! The problem is setting that goal, then going back down the rabbit hole you just got out of.
Your diet should simply be what you eat. It’s a dynamic thing that changes and develops over time as you see results, good or bad. The best diet, the one that will allow you to become healthier, is the one you can stick with. It’s the one that provides you with energy and keeps you at optimal health while still allowing pleasure. It’s the one that doesn’t feel like “a diet.”
You say, “Lucas, what you’re saying is a pipe dream. No diet possesses all of those traits.” If you think that then you’re still thinking of a diet as a job. You’re thinking of it as work. Don’t think of what you eat at work. Think of it as an opportunity to expand. It is an opportunity to try new things and develop. What we eat plays such a vital role in our lives, so why not move forward just like you would do with an opportunity towards success?
Where do you start? The first step is indeed taking a step forward. Try something new because doing the same thing won’t get you anywhere. Try something for two or three weeks and see how it goes. It may or may not work. The worst case scenario is you’ve found something that doesn’t work, and now you have an opportunity to try something else new. How exciting!
I once had a client, Rebecca, who was trying everything to get back to the dress size she was before she had kids. She tried several different methods but found nothing was achieving the results she wanted, mostly because she simply couldn’t stick with it. These diets were causing her to have less energy and more stress, which is the opposite effect of what you want in a diet! The whole point to feel and be better, so why would you practice something that makes you feel worse? You might say, “well I really need to lose weight,” true, you may need to.
That does not mean you should be sacrificing your physical and mental well being. It means you must simply practice self-control, which may be uncomfortable at first. Knowing the difference is vital to success. Uncomfortable is good. It is where growth starts to emerge, and skills like self-control develop. When you are not able to function in your daily life and get the tasks done that you need to, then that is where you have leaned too far in the wrong direction. You must still be able to live without constantly be thinking about food.
Be humble in your approach. You must define your weaknesses and know where you falter. Many find that it is the over-consumption of food. Do you eat too much-processed sugar? Do you eat a lot of fast food? Do you like to eat a whole pizza and breadsticks in one sitting? Understanding your own specific problem areas is key to understanding how to fix what you eat. Everybody has their own demons.
Rebecca, through some of her own research and experience, decided meat and dairy may be causing the issues she faced. She went vegan! Now I am not one of these radical veganism advocates. In fact, I believe a vegan diet is one of the toughest to practice properly, and definitely not for everyone. At this point, though, it was about the only thing that she hadn’t tried, so she went for it. Guess what? It worked! She felt more energized and even was able to drop that stubborn weight she’d been dealing with. Most importantly, she was so excited about eating because she truly enjoyed eating all the fresh food she now got to prepare.
My point is not to tell you to go vegan or to start fasting or to stop eating carbs. Obviously, my point is to take a hard look at yourself. See what you need to change or at least understand that you need change regardless if you know exactly what that change is. It’s a change that you can make permanently. It’s a change which you can enjoy in one way or another. Our bodies change over time, just like our viewpoints on things change. Diet is not static, either. Rebecca had no problem with meat/dairy for years.
She had always been very athletic and lean eating beef and drinking milk. Changes in life like having kids, age, and stress levels will absolutely change how your body reacts to food. You simply will not be able to continue doing the same thing and expect different results, as the saying goes.
My challenge to you is actually the opposite of why you probably clicked on this blog post. Stop trying to find the perfect “diet” to lose weight. It doesn’t exist. Instead, accept the fact that what you eat should be as dynamic and ever progressing as humans ourselves. Take a step in a direction. It doesn’t have to be the correct direction (obviously don’t start eating more fast food unless you want to have a heart attack at 35).
The importance is that you’re taking a step. You’re actively deciding to become uncomfortable, and allowing yourself to grow in that sense. Figure out what works for you by allowing yourself the opportunity to succeed. It may require self-control, discipline, and some due diligence, but from that, you will gain more respect for the food you eat. You will gain more respect for yourself. You will be happier in your life, and you will achieve the results you want so badly.
Tell me what you eat in the comments below! I want to hear what works for you, and so do others because it may work for them!