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Don’t Diet!

January 13th, 2010

A reader emailed me her current dilemma with dieting and I think a lot of us can relate:

Hey Mary,
I’ve been trying to get started in a healthier lifestyle routine, and sometimes I need more of a boost than to hear “have lots of fruits, veggies, and water, say no to junk food and watch your portion control.” That’s obvious, it’s just hard to do after years of eating/drinking whatever I like.

I feel like I need something more regimented in the beginning – rules – on what I can and can’t eat. A friend of mine told me she once found success with the “South Beach Diet” program. I’ve never been on one of these fad diets. What are your thoughts on them? What do you think would be a good way to get started?

Obviously I’m looking for a lifestyle change, I just need that kick in the ass that one of these diets/books may provide in the beginning so I learn to love/get used to a healthier lifestyle. There’s just SO much out there, and many times they aren’t compatible. Obviously exercise would be a big part of it as well, but I think that’s easier than changing the way I eat.

Any thoughts?

Dear Reader,

You’re right about a few things:  getting motivated is difficult and diets books never agree on a method.

But as you said, you’re looking for a lifestyle change so a fad diet isn’t going to be your best bet for the long haul (for any healthy form of weight loss actually).

Don’t think of yourself as going on a “diet.”  Try to balance your day with well-rounded meals that focus on veggies and fresh foods, but also incorporate foods you enjoy.  Baby steps in the right direction will be the key to a true lifestyle change.  Don’t tell yourself “no,” just enjoy enough of what you love until you are satisfied.  That cookie will be there tomorrow!

Exercise will be helpful in more ways than just shedding pounds.  You’ll feel some of the weight of the world lift off your shoulders, your priority will be you and not other people and their problems, and the chemical change will motivate you to maintain a healthy course in other parts of your life.

Keep checking into MTM for tips on fitness and food.  Between our resident trainer, Nutritionista, and myself, we’ve got you covered.

Hope this helps and have fun on your journey!

BTW, do you mind if I post your question anonymously?

Post away! I’m just confused about whether I should avoid alcohol, dairy, carbs, etc. for a time – so my body will stop the super craving. I just feel like I need some static rules to get me started.

Ok, start here:

Try to avoid white stuff – sugar, bread, flour.  But don’t cut them out completely. Try restraint before you go to restriction.  Telling yourself no will make you want more and is not the way to truly change your diet, in my opinion.

Eat something green (that isn’t COVERED in sauce) before lunch and dinner.  It can be a single veggie or a salad.  This will help curb your appetite for whatever follows (and help your body absorb the nutrients in the greens).

If you’re hungry during the day, reach for a single piece of fruit, raw veggies, or unsalted nuts (without dried fruit).  If you’re in need of something sweet, grab a Lara Bar.  Also if you know you’re really not hungry, have a cup of tea.  I like black or peppermint.

For dinner, try not to reach for carbs unless you’re really still hungry after you allow your meal to sit for 20 minutes.  Eat protein and veggies until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.

Allow yourself a reasonable portion of dessert once a day.  Sometimes you won’t want it.  Yay.  If you do, love every bite.

In these guidelines, you’ll see you have the liberty to choose what you like, but a few rules to help you make healthy choices based on how you feel.  Don’t starve yourself so you over-eat, eat slowly and often.

I hope this helps!

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