Dieting vs. Having a diet: Day 19, quite a battle

Posted on: July 17, 2012

Today is going to be a confessional of my sometimes violent internal battle with the dieting vs. having a diet concept.

First of all, I know, or at least seem to have a pretty accurate grasp on what is healthy and the some of the latest research on nutrition and fitness related topics. For a long time, I battled what I knew to be correct. I wanted to be 1 in a 1000 that could eat like a madwoman and stay trim. I’m not. I am the same as everyone else; my body hoards sugar in visible places just like the next guy’s and no amount of running is going to undo the consumption of a left over, chocolate, gluten-free pancake topped with a cup of fro-yo, four gluten-free graham crackers dipped in Nutella, 3 servings of rice chips, and a serving of sweet potato fries. That is what I consumed today when I got home from instructing swim lessons; I was tired from having gone to bed at midnight and waking up at 4:50 and hungrier than sin because my 150-calorie Shakeology didn’t exactly hold me for the nearly 8 hours (during which I taught a 45-minute Cardio Fusion class and did my own Insanity workout) between when I woke up and when it was time for lunch. So, you can infer that the cleanse I mentioned yesterday didn’t go so well. It would work more effectively for someone with normal workout habits (i.e. 1 hr a day), I presume; I will keep it in mind for finals week during fall semester since meal prep is a cinch and I won’t have time for more than an hour of exercise a day.

Second of all, quick fixes aren’t the answer. I have read and tried plenty of tricky, gimmicky plans for weight loss and honestly, they just lead to misinformation, fallout, and frustration. For the first time in years, I have come to terms with the idea of putting a valiant effort into attaining the body I desire. I track calories and I exercise with intensity. On top of that, keeping a mostly vegan and completely gluten-free diet helps me function at my best. I find that telling myself that I WANT to eat healthfully keeps me from caving to most cravings (or temptations from friends). Of course, during any journey in life, not just a health and fitness journey, there are going to be assiting road signs to your destination and there are going to be road blocks. In my opinion, the pizza and brownie the other night weren’t a road block for me; today, on the other hand, has been. But what can I expect? I just had 18 great, productive, amazingly healthful days in a row. Next time I will shoot for 28 days in a row! Improvement is the only way.

My 5 tips for having a diet (and how I could take my own advice):

  • Read up- know what is healthy and what isn’t. That will help you to decide what foods to include on a daily basis and which to include less frequently. I am actually pretty good, maybe nerdy-good at this one.
  • Know your numbers- do you work out a minimal, moderate, or maximal amount? Do you need a miniscule or monstrous amount of food? Awareness of the calories you burn and consume is important for keeping a balanced diet. This is where I went wrong the past few days. Since committing to the use of Myfitnesspal.com I am almost always able to maintain energy while creating a caloric deficit; but yesterday, I began the Shakeology cleanse and even added two unapproved servings of fruit to the plan and it just wasn’t enough to keep my energy going through several hours of intense physical activity and even lead me to overeat.
  • Pick some principles- What rules do you want to live by in your diet life? I choose not to eat meat. I choose to keep dairy at but a few servings per week. I don’t drink pop and I steer pretty clear of fried foods. Maybe you want to cut out red meat, or sweets 6 days a week. Rules help give us structure. Abide by a few.
  • Listen to your body- Often cravings or digestive discomforts are signaling to us something about what we are or are not eating. Do a quick Google search the next time you notice an intense desire for a certain food or an out of the ordinary tummy issue and explore the option of food being the root cause. Adjust your diet accordingly.
  • Accept diet differences This goes beyond diet and extends to other facets of life; we all share this world an should make it a point to get along regardless of our personal preferences. Though I am a vegetarian (nearly vegan), I cringe when I hear people get all preachy at the sight of a steak. Of course, I will explain my diet decisions if someone asks about them but I am not going to whip out every fact I’ve retained about energy expenditure, saturated fat, and animal abuse to try to “convert” them. I push my diet on family and dearest friends occasionally (since my parents still love steak, my sisters still frequent taco bell and my boyfriend still loves doughnuts, I’d say a lot of it is frivolous pushing; though, my best friend is vegetarian now and my boyfriend did devour tempeh fajitas yesterday), but for the most part I live by the idea that I am trying my best to do what makes me feel happy and healthy and I just want others to do the same.

Any thoughts?

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