Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Please Don't Diet.

I can't beg you enough not to diet. It won't work, it will eat you up, and spit you out.

I hate the word "diet". Whenever someone hears it they think: restriction, weight loss, "don't touch that"! And whenever you see someone on a diet (or if you are the someone on the diet) eat something that is "restricted", then suddenly they have no self control, they are a dieting failure. The failure eats to comfort, fail again, eat again, fail again... you get it.

I know that seems kind of rambley (pretty sure that's not a word), but I wish people would stop believing that a diet is the only way to lose weight. IT IS NOT! I know that I have gone over some of this before, but again:

To lose 1 lb OF FAT, you must burn 3500 calories more than you eat, 2 lbs, 7000 calories. That means AT MOST, you should only be burning 1000 calories per day more than you eat, AND you have to work to lose the fat and not the muscle.

Here's the important reason not to diet (other than burnout, failure, and restriction)... diets often cause you to lose weight FAST. Fast is not good. Your body can only keep up with a 1% per week FAT loss, so any weight you lose above that is muscle loss. Fat cells don't go away, but muscle will, so if you lose too much weight, you lose muscle, and when the weight comes back, the fat cells refill...

Now you have less muscle and more fat. Get it, dieting can actually make you fatter!

For example, if I were to go on a crash DIET this week, and lost 10 pounds by starving, and working my butt off, based upon my current weight of 181, I would have lost 8.2 pounds more than my body can reasonably keep up with, and most of that extra weight loss will be lean tissue and muscle. Since the weight won't stay off, it won't, go ahead, try it if you don't believe me, when I gain that 10 pounds back, I will actually be gaining more fat than I had in the first place because I lost all of that muscle.

Here are the key points:
1. Know your weight. Know that each weeks you should only lose 1% of that (in fat loss) to be truly healthy. Today I weigh 181 pounds. I should lose no more than 1.8 pounds to ensure good weight loss.

2. This can be done by creating a deficit. Losing weight is like balancing a budget. If I eat 1800 calories per day (which I do), I have to burn 2800 calories per day to lose 2 lbs per week. That's all. Yep, that simple.

3. Realize that some weight loss is water weight, and the only way to truly know if you are losing fat or muscle is by using body composition testing (those machines that check your BMI). You will see some dips in the scale, and there may be weeks when you lose over 2 lbs. Especially when getting started, your body will get rid of some water weight.

4. Make small changes. Eat a LITTLE less, find lower calorie alternatives, stand up more, go on walks that make you slightly uncomfortable (instead of leisurely), drink water, don't drink your calories, eat small snacks to stave off hunger. Cutting some calories here and there, and adding a little more movement to your life can create that 1000 calorie deficit you are needing quite easily without having to eat like a rabbit or workout like an athlete.

5. Most of all, don't deprive yourself. The only way you can make this change permanent is to know that you can live this way forever.

In an instant gratification society, I know that we all want to look perfect now, or as fast as possible, but what is wrong with losing it slowly? If you lost 2 pounds per week for 52 weeks, that is 104 pounds lost in a year. Not bad. Transformation, I think so. Permanent? More likely.


  1. Thank you for the wise words, Mandy. I also try to remind myself that I did not gain this weight overnight, so I can't expect to lose it overnight!

  2. You just talked me out of starting my "diet" tomorrow :) I know you're right, it's just so tempting to look for that quick fix! Thanks for the advice!