To Diet or Not to Diet

 

Floating around social media the last few days I’ve seen several articles on either side of the “diet” coin:

“Why you shouldn’t diet in 2018”

“Top 6 Diets of 2018”

“Don’t diet this January”

You may have a goal to be healthier and take care of yourself this year – many people do, and that’s great! So, should you “diet”?

A lot of nutrition and fitness coaches will tell you that diets never work and that you need only listen to your body, feed it when it wants food, and don’t when it doesn’t (often called intuitive eating). That works really well for people who are in tune with their bodies, have normally established hunger cues, and like to eat healthful foods. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many of the clients I work with. These habits and hunger cues can be learned, but it takes time and it’s a frustrating road for a lot of people. Everyone is different, which is why I’ve learned to avoid all or nothing statements like “diets never work.”

At some point, this kind of comes down to semantics.

You can call it a diet, you can call it a lifestyle change, you can call it an eating plan, but ultimately what matters is whether or not it works with and for YOU.

I’ve seen people try strict diet plans that don’t fit their lifestyles, fight tooth and nail to stick to them, and feel totally defeated when they can’t seem to make it work. I’ve also seen people try to eat intuitively without any boundaries or guidelines and flounder, frustrated that they don’t seem to be making any progress.

On the other hand, when people find the right balance of structure and freedom to fit their lifestyles – it’s magic. They have a plan that is tailored to work with their unique personalities, budgets, families, and favorite foods. They are achieving their goals and they’re happy and feel great doing it. This is the elusive magical unicorn of healthful eating.

It can be a daunting task to find your own magical unicorn, so I’ve compiled some tips to help you out. Without further ado, here are 5 ways to know if an eating plan is right for you:

1. It’s not miserable/exhausting.

It makes me sad that I even have to say this, but it happens all the time. People put themselves through psychological and physical torture because they think it’s the only way to achieve their health goals – not so! The right plan will not make you sad and miserable, or be so labor intensive that you can barely keep up. If you love all kinds of food, for example, paleo wouldn’t be a good choice – you’ll be miserable saying no to so many things you love. If you have eaten breakfast your entire life and are hungry every few hours, intermittent fasting probably isn’t for you (you can read about my experience with that here). If you hate numbers and don’t like tedious tracking, don’t count calories! You’ll hate it!

Choose or design a plan that works with your individual preferences and quirks.

2. You’re not hungry all the time.

We’re trying to make your body healthy and happy. Constant underlying hunger is not conducive to either of those goals. ‘Nuff said.

3. It doesn’t restrict your social life.

Your eating plan should work beautifully into your social life. You should never skip out on girls’ or guys’ night because you are “on a diet.” You may end up ordering differently than you have in the past (or not!) but your social life is a huge part of a healthy life too. Don’t let an overly restrictive eating plan intended to make you healthier screw up other aspects of your health. You can read about my experiences with a social life-crushing diet here. It’s not worth it, trust me.

4. It includes all the foods you enjoy except legitimate allergies or intolerances, at least some of the time.

There is absolutely no reason to cut out entire categories of foods to lose weight. Certain medical conditions excepted, you should never have a list of foods you’re “not allowed” to eat. First of all, psychologically, you’re setting yourself up for the trap of only wanting what you “can’t” have. Second, why be more restrictive than is necessary? The ideal plan is the least restrictive plan that still heads you toward your goals. You may eat certain things less often and in smaller portions, but avoid plans that label foods as “good/allowed” and “bad/not allowed.”

5. You’re making progress.

Obviously, your plan needs to be making you healthier or what’s the point? Now I need to stress something very, very important here. Very important. Huge. Please don’t skip over this:

Progress comes in many forms, and most of them are not on the scale.

Please, please, please don’t gauge your success or failure only on your weight. A healthful eating plan should improve your health in so many other ways: Are you eating more vegetables? Do you have more energy? Do you sleep better? Is your skin clearer? Do you find yourself snacking less after dinner? Do your clothes fit better? Is your mindset more positive? Do you have less pain?

All of these are potential benefits of improved eating habits, and they’re nothing to sniff at! Be aware of them, because weight can be a fickle mistress, but health is so, so much more than weight.

So before you start a new eating plan this year, make sure it fits these criteria. As always, if you feel overwhelmed or lost at the idea of trying to find an eating plan that works for you, find a dietitian who can help you find a plan that fits your life. If you’re in Washington state, I’d be honored to work with you! Click here if you’re interested.

Have a happy, healthy new year!

 


It’s day two of my goal-setting giveaway challenge! It’s not too late to join in – visit Dietitian on a Diet’s “Giveaway Alert” post on Facebook or Instagram to play! Yesterday we were dreaming big, today is a little less fun but just as important.
Today’s challenge: Assess your current reality. Where is this area of your life at right now? Be honest, but also be fair to yourself. No need to be more critical than is true. Acknowledge the good parts as well as the parts where you’re not where you’d like to be – that’s where we find the best goals.
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Yesterday I told you about my dream to have a cookbook. The current reality is shown above…I have a folder of chicken-scratch recipes and recipe ideas. Several of them have been tested and finalized and I am really proud of them! Several others need more work or need to go from ideas to actual recipes. I have a vague idea of how I want to layout the cookbook but I need to “brain dump” some of those ideas onto paper and play with them.
Your turn: head over to Dietitian on a Diet’s Facebook or Instagram and lay out the true current reality of where your goal area is right now. Be kind to yourself, be honest, and lay it out there!

It’s here! The Dietitian on a Diet/i’mPowered Nutrition & Fitness giveaway challenge begins today! To participate for the chance to win a beautiful goal-tracking planner/journal from The Simple Elephant, planner stickers, and a set of Papermate Inkjoy pens, follow Dietitian on a Diet on Instagram or like Dietitian on a Diet on Facebook, and follow the instructions on my giveaway post

Today’s challenge: DREAM BIG! Choose an area of your life (could be wellness, career, family – anything!) you’d like to work on, and dream big for your future! Take some time and be detailed! Don’t let your past fears or failures get in the way today. Imagine if you had absolutely no barriers and could achieve anything you wanted, what would this area of your life look like?  As Ellen Johnson Sirleaf once said, “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
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For me, I’m dreaming big about the future of my blog and business. I would love to help more people live the healthy lives they dream of! One of the specific ways I want to do that in 2018 is to fill my readers’ requests for a Dietitian on a Diet/i’mPowered Nutrition & Fitness cookbook! My dream big: I would have a fun, user-friendly cookbook with a variety of at least 100 healthful recipes that is available as a physical book or e-book. The cookbook will also help readers learn the thought processes behind eating well – that way they can build the confidence to play with healthful food in their kitchen beyond the recipes in the book itself! If I’m really dreaming big, the cookbook is a hit and (side bonus) becomes a steady source of passive income for my family.
Your turn: pick an area of your life, dream big about your future in that area, and post/comment away! Remember you can double your chances of winning by making two separate goals: one on Facebook and one on Instagram!

 


Of course you do!

Giveaway Alert!

 

 

Join me for a 2018 goal-setting challenge on Facebook and Instagram – play on both and you’ll DOUBLE your chance of winning! The challenge starts 12/26 and will run until 12/31. I’ll post some goal-setting tips, you’ll set a goal, and someone will win this beautiful goal-tracking planner/journal by The Simple Elephant and a set of Papermate Inkjoy pens!

Like Dietitian on a Diet on Facebook and follow Dietitian on a Diet on Instagram for all the details!


Image from i.huffpost.com

Since my husband and I have met our wellness goals, we are not ready to watch our bodies creep back to where they were, but rather to maintain the progress we’ve made and go even further. How do we avoid becoming another statistic for weight regain or resume our couch-potatoing, Christmas cookie-eating ways? The vital keys to long-term success lie before and after the hard work of reaching your goals.

Key #1: Before you change anything

Decide carefully how you will achieve your goals. For many years, scientists have been studying methods for weight loss to find the “best” way to get pounds off. The surprising result of a lot of this research is that so many methods work. A lot of nutritionists have taken to saying, “diets don’t work.” It might be semantics but in general, if the goal is to lose weight – most fad diets do work. Whether it’s low carb, low fat, low calorie, or portion control – weight typically comes off.1-5  If they didn’t work at all for losing weight, word would get around pretty quickly and they would never become popular.

Here’s the kicker (besides that many fad diets aren’t safe): the statistics for maintaining weight loss after a diet are horrendous. Long-term studies show that five years after short-term diets the result is an average regain to anywhere from a net loss of only 6 lbs to a gain of 10-21% of pre-diet weight.2,6 Yikes!

Many fad diets can be extreme, overly restrictive, or just plain miserable (or option d, all of the above). Most people beginning a diet program are willing to commit to short-term pain for long-term gain. Unfortunately, the reality is that long-term dieting is generally not sustainable, and weight loss from short-term dieting is temporary.

But fear not – all hope is not lost! The National Weight Control Registry is comprised of people who have successfully lost at least 30 lbs and kept it off for at least a year, though most participants have lost an average of 72.6 lbs and kept it off for more than 5 years.7 Their participants report that ongoing, long-term participation in sustainable habit changes has been key to their success, as opposed to radical, short-term dieting. You can read more about their habit changes at the National Weight Control Registry website.

All these studies show that a pivotal ingredient for long-term success with wellness, weight loss, muscle gain, or any habit change is sustainability. One of my favorite quotes sums up the wisdom behind this:

Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began, and let the Lord be all in all to you.”

-Charles H. Spurgeon

Some may wonder what the last phrase has to do with wellness, and personally I believe it is vitally important (and apparently so did Spurgeon since he tacked it on there), so I included it. Regardless of how you feel about God, however, the sentiment is to not even begin a habit change that you can’t commit to long-term. Find changes that work with your lifestyle, not against it.

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Recognize that temporary habit changes create temporary results.  You can tweak them, change them, or adjust to the fluidity of life as needed, but if your habit changes disappear completely, so will the fruits of your labors.

Key #2: After you’ve met your goals

You’ve done it, congratulations! You’ve met your goal! You’ve placed a new brick in the healthy foundation upon which you can continue building the life you want. Guess what? You’re not done! If you want to continue to enjoy the benefits of your progress, you must grab hold of the second key to long-term success:

Always have a goal and a sustainable plan to achieve it.

Achieving a goal merits celebration, and also the exciting task of deciding what your next goal will be. It doesn’t have to be intense – your goal could be maintenance and your plan might be walking – but you need to have both or you’ll watch all your hard work and health benefits slip away. Living a healthy life is swimming upstream in our culture – you can not coast into good health.

So what’s next for Charlie and me?

My new goal: Maintain cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Gain strength and muscular endurance (I want to be able to do 10 pull-ups or rock climb for an hour without getting pooped).

My new plan: Mindful, intuitive eating along with 30-40 minutes of cardio twice weekly, strength training 4 times weekly, and 10-20 minutes of yoga 5 days per week.

Charlie’s new goal: Maintain cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Gain strength (he wants to be able to save people from burning buildings and stuff).

Charlie’s new plan: My Fitness Pal (with his calorie and macronutrient needs adjusted since he’s building muscle now), 30-40 minutes of cardio twice weekly, strength training 4 days per week, and 10-15 minutes of yoga before each workout as well as a longer practice twice weekly.

Have a goal of your own but need help finding a sustainable plan that fits your lifestyle? Contact me or schedule an appointment to start building a healthy foundation for the life you want!

  1. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-lookup/doi/10.1210/jc.2002-021480
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2001.134/full
  3. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/412650
  4. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2004.61/full
  5. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/53/5/1124.short
  6. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/2613427, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/74/5/579.short
  7. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/222S.short

Our three months on the Goal-Getter Package is complete! The Goal-Getter package is a package I provide that is designed to help my clients meet 3-month health and wellness goals. Since my husband and I both had goals for the New Year, we each started our own Goal-Getter package and we’ve been sharing the journey with you. Click here to read about it from the beginning. The common cold ran rampant through our house during the time we were supposed to complete our post-program assessment, so we’re a tad late, but here it is!

Did we achieve our goals? How far did we come? The Goal-Getter package includes pre- and post-measurements of body composition and cardiovascular health, muscular endurance, and flexibility. Read on to see how ours changed in the last 3 months!

Becki

  January 2017 March 2017
Resting pulse Elevated Normal
Resting BP Elevated Normal
Weight +7 lbs from my usual +0-3 from my usual (fluctuates)
Body Mass Index Normal Normal
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk Low risk
Body fat % Average Average
Cardiovascular fitness Fair Good
Muscular endurance (push-up) Very Good Very Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent Excellent
Flexibility Good Very Good

 

Goal #1: Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight
     • Use my daily food group checklist to stay within recommendations and get enough food from each food group each day.

How I did: For the first two months, the food group checklists worked well and I (mostly) stuck to using them. I lost 5 of the 7 lbs in the first month and then stalled out for month 2. To make sure I wasn’t inadvertently missing my nutritional goals with the food group checklists (which, by nature, are not as detailed as complete tracking), I started using My Fitness Pal to track my intakes for the last month. I also conceded that it’s possible my body just wasn’t going to lost the last two pounds – it has been about a year or two since I’ve weighed that much. As it turns out, I lost  somewhere from 4-7 lbs total, as I’m noticing my weight tends to fluctuate about that much. I’m calling it a win!

Goals #2-3: Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges and increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”
     • Complete 40-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (heart rate 115-155 bpm) 5 days per week

How I did: I’m most happy about achieving my goals with these numbers since they are important risk factors for cardiovascular disease! Doing the exercise was easier than I expected when I found the types of cardio I most enjoy. On rainy winter days, I have loved following cardio dance videos from Youtube…they are free and perfect for fitting your schedule in the comfort of your home. My standby favorite is The Fitness Marshall, but there are dozens of choices out there to spice it up with variety. As the weather improves, I’ll spend more time outside playing basketball, hiking, swimming, and kayaking. I definitely want to make sure to keep up these improvements!

Goal #4: Improve posture by stretching chest, hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles
     • Complete tailored yoga practice 5 days per week and strength training program 2 days per week

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How I did: I was so impressed with the improvements in my posture! Yoga has been rocking my posture world (follow me on Instagram @dietitianonadiet to see what kind of yoga antics I’m up to – I do an Instagram yoga challenge about once a month). My chest, back, and hips feel so fluid and you can see the difference throughout the three months in my progress photo. My flexibility assessment also improved! It is amazing how much movement we lock up when we sit too much and don’t move. I definitely have work to do still in my chest and shoulders, which are stubbornly remaining tight, so that’s next on my list!

Charlie

  January 2017 March 2017
Resting pulse Normal Normal
Resting BP Normal Normal
Weight +15 lbs from his usual +0 lbs from his usual
Body Mass Index Overweight Overweight (remember how BMI doesn’t account for muscle mass?)
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk Low risk
Body fat % Poor Fair
Cardiovascular fitness Excellent Excellent/Superior (right on the line)
Muscular endurance (push-up) Good Very Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent Excellent
Flexibility Good Excellent

 

Goal #1: Lose 20 lbs/Button wedding pants without “sucking it in”
     • Track intakes with My Fitness Pal, aiming for goal of 2000 kcal per day.

How he did: He lost 15 lbs, so he didn’t quite hit the 20 lb goal but he did return to his previous normal body weight. His clothes fit, he has more energy, and he didn’t have to buy new pants! My Fitness Pal worked great for him, and he continues to use it to keep himself on track.

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Oh, and check this out…

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Helloooooooo, wedding pants! And lookin’ handsome…might be time for a date night!

Goal #2: Increase cardiovascular fitness from “Excellent” to “Superior”
     • Follow the P90X workout program to do 60 minutes of exercise daily.

How he did: Charlie did great – and he bumped his cardiovascular endurance from “Excellent” to between “Excellent” and “Superior.” He’ll take it! Charlie nearly completed the P90X workout program, but reached a point where he was satisfied with his cardio and his weight, and opted to shift to a plan that involved more weight lifting about halfway through the last month. Charlie loves having more endurance and he feels great!

Goal #3: Improve flexibility from “Good” to “Excellent”
     • Do some yoga each day.

How he did: Charlie ended up compromising on this goal to do yoga only 2-3 times per week since P90X incorporates stretching into every workout. Sometimes he did yoga more often, sometimes less, but  he smashed his goal and can reach farther on the sit-and-reach box than I can now!

Overall, we had fun and are so excited about meeting our goals. If you’d like to meet some goals of your own, give me a call at 360.358.3179 or schedule an appointment on my website! I would love to help you build the healthy foundation for the life you want!


dsc_1572Since my new practice, i’mPowered Nutrition & Fitness, is offering a $20 discount on my Goal-Getter package to help you meet your New Year’s goals, my next project is going to be something a little different. Both my husband and I are going to show you what the Goal-Getter package is all about by laying out our own nutrition and fitness goals and documenting our journeys to goal-get them! Alright, alright…enough punning.

Husband and I will start off with the body composition and fitness assessments to test where we are at now, then use those results to create goals. Based on those goals and our individual personalities/lifestyles, I’ll make a nutrition and training plan — i’mPowered-style — and we’ll follow it. You’ll get to watch the journey!

Stay tuned – I’ll post the results of our “before” assessments soon!