We’ve all been there. The holiday season has passed; we’ve enjoyed all the work and family parties. We had a second helping of sweet potato pie and indulged in that tray of peppermint fudge your coworker made. Now, we have to look in the mirror and assess the damage. Problem is that you’re busy, you need an easy way to get this under control. So, you start looking for a way you can lose the weight without having to wake up at 5 a.m. to get to the gym. Enter the fad diet.
Fad diets are tempting. They offer big results by simply cutting out something that is obviously the problem. There is a little truth to each one of them, but the problem is that they are exclusive. Unless you can follow their diet in the strictest sense, you’re going to feel like you’ve failed when you slip. And odds are, their premise is very flawed. Here’s why you should skip them.
Think back to any popular diet of the past ten years. They all have something in common: they pick out a bad guy and say that you can’t have it. Sometimes that’s bread, pasta, dessert, chocolate, cooked food (I’m looking at you Raw Diet), or even food that hasn’t been blended. Some diet programs are figuring out that this isn’t the best approach and have been altering their plans, but for the majority, they get you to buy into their pitch. And trust me, it’s a pitch. These days we’re even seeing documentaries about these kinds of diets, and they are pretty convincing. After all, you get to really see the journey the person went on to lose the weight. If they did it, surely you can, too.
Weight loss is possible while still eating everything you do now. Bread is not the enemy and bacon is not out to get you. The important thing is to make sure you are eating a balanced diet, and making smart decisions about the types of substitutions you are making. You shouldn’t deprive yourself of something you enjoy (unless your health care provider says so), you’ll just end up desiring it more. Instead, try monitoring yourself and allowing yourself your favorites in moderation. I don’t recommend finding alternative versions that promise to be healthier than the original. More often than not, these substitutions, say lower in calories, may come higher in fat or sodium. Not only that, but you’ll end up eating more of them because your brain tells you it is okay, they’re not as bad for you. Enjoy your whole-milk latte, but maybe only get it every third coffee. Enjoy a rich slice of chocolate cake, but maybe only on date night. You can be in control of your own diet and win. It’s not as hard as we make it out to be.
Fad diets love to promise big results by doing this one thing: follow their diet plan. Yes, you may end up losing some weight with their program, but what kind of weight is it? Odds are, it’s water weight. A little water weight is normal, especially in women, but it’s misleading of your true health. There are multiple reasons why the body holds onto water weight, and it’s not necessarily because you are unhealthy. Either way, exercise is absolutely necessary for weight loss, even in the lightest form. As you’ll read in a second, without it, you’re only doing about a third of the requirements of healthy weight loss. Skip on the exercising, and as soon as you’ve grown tired of your latest fad diet, you are going to see the weight (and the inches) come back pretty quickly. Skip the fad, make smart and healthy decisions every day, and it’ll pay off.
Healthy weight loss should come from a permanent change in habit that you are capable of maintaining for your entire life. Fad diets promise that the weight is going to come off fast. It might, but that’s not in your best interest. The healthy rate of weight loss should fall somewhere between 1-2 pounds per week. Less is fine, but more usually means you are changing your diet or routine extremely, which your body isn’t going to like. As you lose weight gradually, you lose weight caused by fat, which is your ultimate goal. Losing weight rapidly is generally weight loss caused by a loss of water weight and even lean muscle (which you definitely want to keep)! You want that muscle as the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn. Think of it as a wheel that gains momentum. You’ll even burn more calories at rest than you did before.
Ever notice how the most popular fad diets have popular celebrities endorsing them? You love that celebrity, and she looks great, so you HAVE to try what they’re selling. After all, it worked for her and all she did was follow their diet plan. For $29 a month, you too can look that good. Not necessarily. That celebrity you love was paid, handsomely, to represent that company. Some marketing director did their research, found her, and ran the numbers. They know the demographic they’re selling to when to air the commercials, and at what price you’re willing to give their program a shot. The fad diet business is booming, and making their salaries go up is their true goal. They aren’t concerned about whether the program works for you. They are concerned about how much of their product you buy. So, they’re going to keep finding those celebrities you love. It’s up to you to see through their pitch and get healthier by making smarter decisions.
So, save your money. Skip the shakes and fitness bars, and invest that money in developing healthier eating and exercise habits that will stick with you even when that fad diet has long been forgotten. You can do it.