There is a myth that diets don’t work. The truth is diets do work. But only while you’re on them. It’s what you do when you come off your diet that measures whether you will maintain your weight loss, or see that weight creep back up.
Most people go on a diet after looking in the mirror and seeing they have gained weight, or when their clothes become too tight. Then they decide to lose weight by going on a diet. Which is just another word for Denial. I can’t eat this, it has too much sugar. I can’t eat that because it has too many carbs. I can’t eat that because it has too much fat.
So you become more fixated on what you can’t eat. You eat like a rabbit for as long as you can stand or until you reach your goal. Then you come off your diet and go back to your old eating habits. Which…
…is why you gained weight in the first place. And what do you think is going to happen? This is the very essence of yo-yo dieting. It becomes a self perpetuating vicious circle until something changes.
The other problem with the standard method of dieting is when you focus on what you can’t eat, you set up cravings. Have you ever noticed how when you go on a diet most of the television commercials seem to focus on food? And usually high calorie foods. They’ve always been there but you didn’t notice because you’ve always been able to freely have them when you want. Then you go on a diet, or a Denial, and suddenly you notice these ads every time they’re shown. Because you are craving those foods and you’re telling yourself you can’t have them because…diet. The worst thing is once you come off your diet suddenly you can satisfy all those cravings so you’re most likely to eat these foods over the next week or two because you can. You could easily regain 5 or 10 pounds in the first week or two just satisfying all those cravings.
Giving up foods because they are high in sugar or carbs is not the ideal way to keep weight off. It does work, but it has to be sustainable long term. Portion control and tracking calories is the best and most effective way to not only lose weight, but keep it off. I’ve been with a calorie tracking app, MyFitnessPal, for three years now. I’ve successfully lost the weight I wanted to lose and I’m maintaining very well. Simply because I know how many calories I should be eating daily and how many calories I am eating daily. I haven’t had to give up a single food item I enjoy. I also exercise almost daily. I run, I walk, I work out at the gym. I’m 100% focused on keeping my healthy lifestyle. Because that’s the secret of maintaining weight loss. By making it a lifestyle. If I go over calorie once in a while it’s ok. I don’t panic. I am not going to derail all my efforts because I eat unhealthy once in a while. And we have to live. You have celebrations, parties, birthdays, the holiday season. You have to be able to enjoy life. And I do. I eat under calorie probably at least 80% of the time. And the funny thing is once you’ve been at this healthy lifestyle for a while your binging habits change. Overeating for me now looks very different to how I used to eat when I was being bad. You find you don’t want to eat crazy after a while. You don’t enjoy it and it’s not worth the uncomfortable bloated feeling you get the next day.
There will be people who will say there has to be more to losing weight than eating less and moving more. They are right, of course. It’s a psychological battle most of all. The most critical ingredient is a healthy mindset. It’s a process and you have to commit to it. Yes, you can have crazy days if you want, as long as the rest of the time you make a serious effort to stay under calorie. But you have to be determined and keep your eyes on the goal. There will be frustration. There will be times it doesn’t seem to be working. The scale doesn’t move. Or worse, the scale ticks up. That’s when you will be sorely tempted to just give up. That’s when you need to have other weapons in your fight to lose weight. Measure yourself once a month. Measure your waist, your hips. Compare the numbers each month. Take photos before you start your journey so you can make comparisons. Pay attention to how your clothes are fitting. Nothing boosts your confidence more than dropping a pant size. All these things will keep you motivated and show you the process is working even when the scale isn’t co-operating.
Be aware there will be temptations along the way. Someone brings donuts in to work almost daily, or a friend keeps inviting you out to eat at high calorie places all too regularly. You have to learn to pick your battles and know it’s okay to give in sometimes. It’s a lifestyle, after all, and you you have to be able to enjoy your life.
Diets only work when you are on them. There’s a reason diet is a four letter word. When you go on a diet you are more focused on the foods you “can’t” have.
You “can’t” have carbs.
You “can’t” have sugar.
You “can’t” have fats.
So you eat salads for as long as you can until you’ve reached your goal weight or, more likely, you just can’t take it any more. Then you go back to your old eating habits.
Which…. Is the reason you gained weight in the first place. This is the essence of yo-yo dieting. Going back and forth between going on a diet and your old eating habits.
Anyone can lose weight. It’s keeping the weight off that’s the real trick. An easier way around the problem is to make a simple lifestyle change. Portion control or counting calories through an app like @MyFitnesspal can make a huge help.
Many people think counting calories is obsessive, unhealthy or too hard. The truth is a repeated cycle of weight gain and dieting is much more unhealthy and harder.
Through MyFitnesspal, I can eat what ever I want. It’s all about portion control and exercise. Because of this I have maintained my weightloss for two years with no sign of going back.
But exercise isn’t just about being able to eat more food. Exercise gives you a healthier, fitter body.
Remember: you lose lbs in the kitchen and you lose inches in the gym or on the road depending on what exercise you choose to do.
What ever your exercise of choice is, make it something you enjoy. Now you’ll never have to “go on a diet” again!
The scale lies! When you step on a scale it throws out a number and says you weigh this much. But that doesn’t tell the full story. If you ate something high in sodium the night before, or if you worked out the day before your body could be retaining extra water weight. There’s nothing more demoralizing than stepping on the scale and seeing you’ve gained anything from a pound to fi’ve pounds. Especially when you know you did everything right.
To avoid burn out look for those non-scales victories. The extra energy you’re feeling. The way your clothes fit better. Dropping a pant size gives you a huge boost. If you’re just starting out take lots of photos. Those “before” pics can give you a clear idea of how far you’re coming. Especially for those times when the scale refuses to budge. And take measurements. Waist. Chest, arm, leg measurements. Check them at the beginning of every month to truly see how far you have come.
We know that it isn’t easy to start something or if you start something to actually stick with it. Believe us, we know. We have been there, tried it and failed. Yes. Failed. So many times we would say, “oh, one day I will try again.” But, you know what? Don’t just try. Just start. Just do it. Grab a partner or friend and do this together. Stick with it. This isn’t lose 50 lbs in a month quickly. This is a health journey and it is for life. It doesn’t matter when you start, it matters that you do. Remember, the years will be passing by. The question is: will you be healthier in five years or at the same weight and fitness level that you are now, (or worse)? We are continuing on our health journey and would love to take you with us!
Thirteen weeks ago I made the decision to become vegetarian. I don’t know where it came from, but I’m so glad I made the choice. My wife has been a vegetarian for twenty years. When we first got together, I remember saying to her, “don’t try to convert me.” I loved to eat meat and I couldn’t imagine giving up my bacon and burgers. Yes, I was an avid meat eater. I think she always held out hope that one day I would change my mind. It took nine years, but I’m finally there!
And all it took was a stray thought as I was half way through a bacon cheese burger.
“I’m eating a dead cow.”
That was it. The burger that I had been enjoying suddenly tasted like death. The next day I made the transition. Needless to say my wife was delighted when I told her! I don’t really know where the thought came from. I hadn’t read anything, seen anything online or on the television relating to animals and my wife hadn’t said anything for a while. Maybe I was just ready.
Obviously I’ve always known where meat comes from. But like so many people I preferred to just bury my head in the sand and not think about how that meat came to be on my plate. Until one day I couldn’t ignore it any more. My conscience wouldn’t let me. I’ve always considered myself to be an animal lover, but how could I call myself that when I ate animals almost daily? I could hardly say “well, I love some animals, but I love to eat others.” So I finally came to my senses and gave up meat. I’m amazed at how easy it has been. I haven’t really had any crisis, no cravings for any meat. And some of the meals we’ve had in the past three months or so have been delicious.
I’m sure there are people out there who imagine a vegetarian’s plate to consist of vegetables, potatoes and a gaping hole where a piece of meat used to be. But there are so many things out there vegans can eat. And thanks to the internet, with a little research you can easily make a pain free decision to become vegan. And it really will be pain free because no animals will have been harmed for you to enjoy your meal. And contrary to popular opinion you can easily get enough protein from vegetables, grains and nuts.
A week after turning vegetarian, after researching the dairy industry we agreed to take it to the max and go vegan.
I decided after becoming vegan that I wouldn’t be an activist. I decided I wouldn’t go round bashing others for doing what I, myself, was doing just a few weeks ago. But I can’t help wishing more people would consider giving a vegan diet a go. Even if you don’t think you could hack such a radical change forever, just cutting down on your meat consumption would make a huge difference. Every little helps. And if you get a lot of people doing a little, that would make a huge difference for the animals.
An ever growing population is placing ever greater demand for meat. That means more animals are being bred to be slaughtered to keep up with that demand. And let’s face it, corporate companies are not interested in the comfort and welfare of the animals in captivity, waiting for their turn on the chopping block. Cold hard cash is the only concern of the meat industry. With the demand for meat on the rise, these companies are cutting corners on the welfare of the animals held in captivity, adding to the misery of their lives before the inevitable and horrific end.
Enjoying that burger?
So we’re enjoying our vegan lifestyle, experimenting with new dishes and I for one am enjoying new flavors I never would have experienced if I’d remained a meat and potatoes guy.
August 2008 is when my life changed forever. My wife and I had been to a convention. It was a chaotic three day event with barely a moment to breathe, let alone eat healthy. At some point I must have been bitten by a bug of some sort. Right at the top of the back of my thigh. What started as a bite quickly blew up into a full blown absess. I had to endure a five hour flight sitting on this thing. I was in agony! I popped Tylenol all the way home like it was candy. That was the longest five hours I’ve ever experienced.
I went to a doctor the day after we returned home. He told me it would need to be surgically removed as it was now too big to lance. I was admitted to hospital the next day. As is usual, I had a blood test after being admitted. Purely routine. Or so I thought. I had the surgery. I then woke to the news my fasting sugar was 320.
I was informed I was a diabetic.
I didn’t really understand at first exactly what that meant. I’d heard of diabetes, obviously, but I didn’t really know that much about it. I remembered reading an autobiography written by a soccer player called Gary Mabbutt. He was type 1 diabetic and he had to inject himself with insulin before every game. You’d never have guessed it if you’d seen him play. He used to cover every blade of grass in every game and was often one of the hardest working players on the pitch.
Once I was out of hospital, the first chance I had, I bought a book, the Dummies Guide to Diabetes. What I read frightened the life out of me. Now I knew what I was up against. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, liver failure, amputation…the list goes on. This horrifying disease can cause so many dreadful complications.
I went through the usual phases: Denial. Anger. Why me?
The years since have been a constant struggle. My A1C has been up and down. My fasting sugar levels have been up and down.
My emotions have been up and down.
Now, I’m controlling it. I’m exercising. I’m eating a (reasonably) healthy diet.
Now, my A1C is up. My fasting sugar levels are up. I can’t be bothered to exercise.
Now, I’m back in Control.
The endless vicious circle.
This has been my life for the past six years.
It’s a rollercoaster ride.
It’s a whirlwind.
It’s a never ending vicious cycle, just waiting for the next time I fall off.
But at the end of the day I’m determined to win, to keep a good quality of life. My biggest fear is going blind. I actually fear that more than dying.
The one constant positive is the GCcontrol shakes I’ve blogged so much about. They really do help. But they are not a cure. They are only a tool. They are only at their most effective when combined with exercise and a decent diet. I don’t eat anywhere near as healthy as I should, yet they continue to lower my sugar when it is high.
With or without the shakes, the battle goes on. I’ll continue to post updates. I just wanted to share my story. To anyone out there who has been diagnosed as a diabetic, maybe it’s only just happened, I will say this. Hang in there. It’s going to be a bumpy rides. You will have your ups and downs, just like I have. But you can fight it with the right tools and with enough determination!