Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why diets don't work...

Food.... mmmmm.  Just gotta love it!  I'll let you in on a little secret, DIETS DON'T WORK!  There whew I got it out, I know this because I've been dieting for years and managed to reach 130 kg not really a great testimonial! 

I mean well here's the thing, they do work.... in the short-term, and then we go "off" them and we put the weight we have lost back on and usually more.  Here's the thing Diet usually equals Deprivation, either through calorie restriction, food group restriction of some sort, or just deprivation in general, this often plays havoc with both our body and our minds.  Isn't it interesting that the the multi billion dollar diet industry is mostly a farce, it's set up so that you will fail and you will go back time and time again and spend more money! 

That's not to say that there isn't some good advice out there, but guess what!  I'm sorry to say there is no quick, effortless fix.  Yep sorry folks, if that's what you are looking for you might want to stop reading now.  The thing is, it's a long haul thing.  You have to decide what it is you really want, wanna drop a lot of weight quickly, possibly unhealthy and not worry that later you will put it back on plus more then sure go for it, there are LOADS of things out there to help you do that.  This is why diets don't work, eating well, eating healthy, exercise, guess what they are lifelong commitments, they are something you need to do every day, like brushing your teeth, having a shower, brushing your hair.... now occasionally some people let these things slide, but it's not like you can go a long time without doing them, not without some seriously icky consequences.  Let me ask you this if you skip brushing your teeth in the morning, do you beat yourself up about it?  Do you rush about brushing your teeth 3 more times that day to make up about it?  Do you obsess over it?  I bet most of you answer no, that evening when you come home before bed, you just pick up your tooth brush give em a brush and aim to do it again in the morning right?  No muss no fuss, just whoopsie and onwards with it.  Is this analogy making sense to you already?  This is how you need to be with eating, it's about a measured approach.  Some days you are gonna eat that muffin or have that piece of chocolate, or maybe even a block, but it's about how you move on with it that is going to make all the difference in making it lifelong versus a new diet.

So I hear some of you yelling but if I could just stop at one I wouldn't be in this predicament... I hear you, let me tell you I hear you loud and clear, it is what I used to very loudly pronounce the several times my mum and I did Weight Watchers many moons ago, but guess what?  Like many things moderation is something that can be learnt!  In fact it's imperative you do learn it, but it takes some effort and that's where most people give up, but let me tell you, if it's something that you can grasp a hold of, it will make a considerable difference to your life... or maybe that's just me.

So here's the thing, you don't actually have to starve yourself to lose weight, CRAZY, I know right, because most of us have been indoctinated with the idea that to lose weight you must not eat alot.  But guess what it's about the types of food you eat.  So many people say but I don't eat alot, or I eat really healthy.  So here's the kicker, types of food and portion sizes, these are the secrets.

Let's look at my old eating habits:
1. Skip breakfast can't be bothered
2. Get large mocha on way to work (skim of course)
3. Buy lunch go to local cafe get schnitzel and chips or ceaser salad, (Come on it's salad right)
4. Some afternoon chocolate and another mocha (don't worry it's skim)
5. Go by KFC and get popcorn chicken and chips, upsized of course cause there's not much in those boxes right.
6. Buy bag of sour cream and onion chips to have while watching tv.
7. All followed by copious amounts of pepsi max, it's OK it's diet.

Let's break this down.

Mocha - 232 cals x 2 = 464 cals
Chicken Ceasar Salad = 904 cals
Maxi Popcorn Chicken = 646 cals
Chocolate bar (eg Cherry Ripe) = 255 cals
200g pack of Sour cream and onion chips = 1050 cals

Now look at that we see like 5 items that's not a lot to eat in a day right?  For a grand total of 3319 calories.  Now even if my BMR was 2500 that's still a crap more lot of calories than I need in a day and guess what those extra calories become.... YEP FAT!  Just check out my before photo to see!

Now let's look at a more recent intake.

Muesli with banana and yoghurt = 338 cals
Large skim latte with one brown sugar = 132 cals
Piece of fruit = avg 100 cals
Home-made salad/wrap/or leftovers = avg 425 cals
Rice cakes with light cream cheese = avg 200 cals
Stir fry = avg 425 cals
Fruit with yoghurt = avg 200 cals

So immediately you can see there is much more food here, 7 items with copious amounts of vegetables added to the lunches and dinners, would you be surprised to learn that even though there is more food here it's only 1820 calories worth?

These days I eat MUCH more than I used to, but I eat different foods, food that make me feel good, and keep me revved and rearing to go, even though there is more food there are less calories and hence weight loss.

So during my journey I found a website called Calorie King, here's how it works:

Everyone requires a certain amount of calories to just EXIST.  Even if you are bed ridden your body and organs use calories.  This is called your BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate).  There are many calculations out there to help you get this but please remember as with anything people can vary so while it gives you a starting point you may later need to vary things to get them working for you.  But do it in increments rather than just dropping a bunch of calories to start with just try dropping 100 at a time till you find the right level for you (if you are will to do every diet under the sun for years on end you CAN give this a fair whack).

Now Calorie King asks for a whole bunch of information and then you have two choices, weightloss or maintenance.  Maintenance calories are the amount of calories you can eat to maintain your current weight.  Weightloss calories mean they look at your maintenance calories and then take calories away to create a deficit.  This means that even without exercise you should lose weight.

Because they have created the deficit already, when you exercise you should then eat back the calories you burn from exercise because you already have a deficit in the calories you eat.

Now I've been on the forum for a while.  I eat my exercise calories back I am losing weight, but as I mentioned it's not a perfect world and we are all different.  Some people only eat half their exercise calories back, some eat none.  What you need to be careful of is not eating enough, this can cause your body to go into "starvation mode", what this means is unsure of when or where the next meal will come from or unsure that it will have enough food, your body starts to rebel, it holds onto fat with a vegence and you may find that the scale just won't move.

So here's the thing, start by doing it kit and caboodle, the joy is you don't have to feel deprived, sometimes I have a piece of dark chocolate or a bit of cake, because I exercise I can eat even more than I showed you above!  Now this doesn't mean you should go and eat 1800 calories worth of chocolate if I did that I'd be too tired to exercise!  But it does mean there are times when you can basically have your cake and eat it too.  I guarantee though if you fill up on lots of fruit and vegetables and lean meats, you will find that eventually you don't really want that sugary, fatty stuff you use to live off.

Here's the thing, you do it for a month and the scales don't move, as long as you are 100% sure about what you've been eating and you've been using a HRM to gauge your exercise calories (it's the bes way otherwise it's more of a guess) then try only eating back three-quarters of your exercise calories, begin tweaking to find what level works for you.

Here's another thing, don't think but if I don't eat back my exercise calories I will have created a bigger deficit and I will lose weight quicker, maybe initially but if you cut your calories back too far and you hit a plateau you have NOTHING to play with, which means you end up reducing your calorie intake more and suddenly you are on a diet and chucking it all in because it's all too hard!

So what if you need some help are there any diets out there that you can work into your lifestyle, that will help you create a healthy balance, learn some moderation.  If you find it all too difficult, too busy, try Lite n Easy, I did that in the beginning to take the focus off the food.  But remember like anything it is just a tool and you will only learn from it what you put into it.  LnE taught me about portion sizes, and that real food is still fine to eat, add more vegetables to things, eat smaller portions.  When I felt I had a better handle on it I moved into making my own meals again, but I take a leaf out of the LnE book, I cook a big pot of whatever I am making and the freeze the other portions, so when I can't be bothered to cook, or I've run out stuff for lunch, there is always a quick easy option for me to grab a meal from the freezer.  The premise of Weight Watchers is good, the only thing about them I don't recommend is a lot of the weight watchers products, a lot of them are very high in sugar, use them but stick to making your own food.

Again don't focus on diet, focus on using these programs as a tool to fuel a more healthy balanced lifestyle.

Don't starve yourself, this is how yo-yo dieting becomes a vicious cycle, we starve or deprive ourselves, we binge from hunger, we give up because it's too hard, we make bad food choices, we feel bad about ourselves, we decide we need to diet and so on and so on!

Like exercise it does NOT have to be an all or nothing thing.  Small sustainable changes that you will keep up for a long time are worth more to you than dropping 10 kg in two weeks (which is ridiculous anyway.... I don't care about the Biggest Loser it's a TV show!).  So if it all seems to daunting do this.  Pick one thing you would like to change.  Want to swap that afternoon choccie for a piece of fruit.  Do it, for a week, do that one thing.  Then the following week pick something else, swap white bread for brown, do it for a week (maintaining the choccie to fruit one as well), and so on and so on.  As will exercise I guarantee once you get started you will want to do more and more and before you know it, you will be saying no to that packet of tim tams, and craving a nice big salad with your chicken or steak or fish!

I'm going to leave it there for today, it's a lot of information to process especially if you are still trying to come to terms with the no need to starve thing! ;)

Happy Wednesday folks!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome blog Tia.

    I never thought of the teeth brushing analogy like that, I am definitely adopting it...
    I forgot to "brush my teeth" yesterday (ie, didn't exercise, ate too much) but luckily I did it this morning ;)

    Everything you've said there is spot on.
    Just put in the link to CK next time for reference, in case some poor person stumbles upon your blog and has no idea what you're talking about. Blatant publicity, but without it, where would we be??

    Also, I have no winter clothes either. They are all too big now!! So I am picking up some stuff when I go to Hong Kong, hopefully $500 will cover my new wardrobe and some entertainment as well, considering things are so cheap over there!! Yay!