This is more of a long personal blog post, but I’ve learned an incredible amount from embracing a healthier lifestyle that I believe I can share with you, and that’s what I’m doing today.
January of this year, I set just ONE New Years’ resolution: stick to my diet for the whole year. Of course, I wasn’t ignorant enough to think I could last a whole year without any slip-ups. So, I gave myself room for cheat meals, sugary goodness and a few hundred calories over the limit. Yet, I felt so guilty every time I ate something above my calorie limit, or if I ate a slice of chocolate cake, I’d feel like I cheated myself and let go of ‘being healthy.’ I’d go back to eating whatever the heck I wanted and I realized this ‘diet mentality’ was not working for me.
Here comes the kicker: I quit my diet about a month and a half into it, and I haven’t looked back.
Here comes the punch: We’re all thinking about diets the WRONG way.
My diet, at the start of the year, was to stick to 1600 calories a day (edit: this has changed now!). My diet was to eat protein dense foods with a low fat content, minimize my carb intake (way below than required), cut out refined sugar and eat out less (hidden calories!). Now, my lifestyle (note: change from diet to lifestyle) in one line: just eating good clean stuff and have a nice greasy meal on the side. No eliminating food groups and no severe restrictions. I have some avo on toast on a weekend (hey, healthy fats!) and a rather hefty slice of gooey fudgey cake on a Sunday afternoon. I still counted my macronutrients to stay in check, but I shredded the idea of a diet away. I loved this way of eating so much more than feeling restricted. Here’s why I made the change:
We’re all thinking about diets as something we need to stick to for a painfully long period. The whole idea of sticking to a ‘diet’ for an infinitely long period of time just seemed so daunting that I gave up before I even started. And most often than not, we fall short of our goals and berate ourselves for being such ‘failures,’ when in fact we’re just looking at diets the wrong way. Why you ask? I believe that diets are short-term learnings for a long-term lifestyle (meaning, diets aren’t meant to go on forever). Allow me to explain this in detail.
Sustaining my diet from January to mid-March opened my eyes to a lot of new information and adaptations to sustain a healthier life without constricting myself to think it was a diet. The changes I made are all the things we hear on the internet (such as swapping sodas for sparkling water with a lemon wedge), but what we don’t hear is that it’s possible to embrace it as a lifestyle than thinking of it with so many negative connotations. The heritage of the term diet implies restrictions on all the yummy stuff. However, it doesn’t.
I stopped my diet in March because I didn’t need to fit into a box that dictated what to do and what not to do. My learnings from the two-and-a-half-month-long diet showed me small things I can change in my life in a way that I can incorporate it for a seriously long period of time.
This sort of perspective is different for everyone. It is important to understand how a ‘diet’ changes your body, and what aspects do you like and dislike about it. What are the things you can adapt every day (or long-term)? What aspects aren’t sticking right with you? These are all questions you can ask yourself as you embark on a food learning path (i.e. a diet). Once you have a good feel for the type of foods that boost your metabolism, keeps you full for longer, reduces bloating and combines well with the type of nutrients you’re after (i.e. carbs, fats, proteins, or all), you’ll adopt these naturally. This process takes a while and duration differ for everyone. For me, two and a half months was a significant period in understanding what my body needs (and occasionally, wants). Therefore, once I realized that I no longer needed to go on a diet, but simply adopt the learnings from it, I was able to remove my mindset from ‘diet’ to lifestyle.
Today, I actively pick a lunch with more protein. I choose to reduce dairy because I’ve noticed that it leads to bloating. I use Medjool dates in my smoothies instead of sugar because I’m opting for lesser refined sugar. I swap milk chocolate for dark so I can have more. It’s small changes like this in our food journey that make the biggest impact because these are habits we can sustain.
To really sum it all up, you don’t need to be on a diet for an infinitely long period of time to see results or to sustain them. Adopt the changes you enjoy or want to put to action into everyday life and say goodbye to the notion that diets are all bad! Essentially, a short-term diet is the learning for a long-term healthy lifestyle! A diet should be clean, never restrictive. I’m working towards a goal of a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle because the two-and-a-half-months of dieting and understanding my body showed me what it’s like to treat myself right; to treat myself mentally and physically the way I deserve instead of eating junk, going on a sugar rush and crashing. The learnings can be cyclical. Once you feel like you are ready to make more changes or if you’ve changed your goals, feel free to go on a new ‘diet’ or food learning journey. Then, repeat the process again until you’re ready to adopt the learnings to everyday life!
With all this said, I’m not a professional nutritionist nor am I trained in any of it. These are just my findings on how I’m adopting a cleaner, more nutritious and happier lifestyle than I ever have, and I’m sharing my story in the hopes that it will help you too! Someone else could grossly disagree with me, and that’s fine. We’re all trying our best to reach goals in the ways we see right. For me, as long as I know I’m putting in good, whole, nutritious foods in my body, I’m as happy as a clam! 🙂
I hope you guys found this (rather long) post helpful! Let me know what your thoughts are on diets and restrictions, would love to know what else is circulating around!
Until next time,
All my love,