Oh, the world of dieting. A place full of promises of the exciting possibility of losing weight and reaching our goal bodies.
It’s like an oasis that we’re trying to reach in the land of restriction and tracking food.
If we just keep persisting through the dry desert, eventually we will reach Utopia and all will be right in our world.
We will have the hot body and as a result, people will adore us and want to know how we did it, our clothes will fit or heck, we will buy new clothes finally, our confidence will skyrocket and hot men (and/or women) will throw themselves at us dying for our attention, and we will feel amazing.
Or at least that’s what advertising tells us. And because they know our deepest desires, we fall for it hook, line and sinker.
I know I did. And from the age of 20-25ish I did all the things. During those formidable years I would fluctuate in weight as I experimented with different diet approaches like cleanses, detoxes, fasting, over exercising, & eliminating certain foods.
I worked out (often 2x a day several times per week), I ate ‘clean’, Sundays we’re my ‘cheat’ days (or treat days), I took fat burners, I upped my cardio, I was heavily caffeinated so my energy didn’t wane, I carefully tracked my food, and I was ALL in to reach my goal body.
And boy did I ever. I lost about 15lbs, 7% body fat, and while I loved seeing my small frame in the mirror’s reflection somehow the deep insecurity was still there.
After a while, these approaches stopped working. It seemed that the more I was at war with my body, the more it was starting to hold onto weight. I could see my body transforming day by day, going from tight, toned and lean to inflamed, puffy, and swollen. No matter how much I ate ‘clean’ and worked out, it seemed like it made it worse.
When I realized that my approach wasn’t sustainable or healthy and I was fed up with the rule book, I made drastic changes.
I stopped the HIIT workouts and weight training, and stuck to light yoga and walking. I took 6 months off social media and a break from my online business. I meditated, prayed, and worked on my body image and journaled a lot.
My body and mind needed a break.
So why do diets cause us to gain and lose weight? Why are diets associated with weight loss but often lead to weight gain?
Diets are often characterized by a few key attributes. Here’s how you know if you’re dieting:
- It’s an unsustainable long term approach – whether it’s exercise, food or both. If you’re not sure, ask yourself, ‘Is what I’m doing something I can do for the rest of my life?’
- It’s an unhealthy approach – whether that’s fat burners, appetite suppressants, fasting for weight loss (which is basically just starving yourself), counting calories or macros obsessively, etc. If you’re not sure what you’re doing is unhealthy, just ask yourself ‘Is this having a positive or negative short and long term effect on me and my body?’ The answer will tell you.
- It usually involves restriction and/or deprivation of some kind – meaning that you’re either restricting certain food groups for the sake of weight loss (not for the sake of your health, meaning that you’re avoiding grains because you’ll get fat vs avoiding grains because you have Celiac’s), or depriving yourself enough food because you need to stay under X calories, OR depriving yourself of rest from working out.
- You’re turning to supplements to as the solution, but not actually changing your behaviors. Detoxes, skinny teas, fat burners, water pills, appetite suppressants, caffeine, you know how it goes.
- Deep down you can’t WAIT to reach your goal and be over this current approach and ease up on your rule book.
The reason diets don’t work is that they are unsustainable & unhealthy in regards to restriction, deprivation, and quick and easy solutions that you can’t wait to be done with.
Most people approach weight loss like a sprint. They want to cross the finish line as soon as possible. And they will take any means necessary to get there.
And once they’re past that finish line, they experience relief and desire a gold medal for hitting their goal (or coming close to it). This gold medal is typically the restricted food that they miss so much. A sense of entitlement says ‘I deserve this! I worked my ass off to get here, a few bites won’t hurt!’ Sound familiar?
They taste that food that was off limits, but can’t seem to stop themselves and then experience a ton of guilt for eating it.
Eventually when they can’t sustain the unhealthy methods, whether their body stops responding to it (like mine did) or they’re simply fed up with the current rules and swap them for another diet (another set of rules), weight gain ensues.
Diets often lead to a temporary weight loss with the weight regained and then some.
What we don’t realize is that when we diet we are messing up our hormones, metabolism, and appetite. What we eat, how much (or how little) affects our hormones, metabolism, and appetite. As do our workouts!
When we put our bodies in overdrive, we end up punishing our hormones, metabolism and appetite. We deny ourselves enough food to fuel our workouts and everyday activity which often leads to a binge or overeating and all of this influences these 3 functions.
Dieting affects our appetite to sky rocket, hormone levels are thrown off, and our metabolism slows down.
It’s the PERFECT recipe for weight gain. I whole heartedly believe that the diet industry profits off our vulnerability and desire to lose weight but keeps us life long customers and consumers.
When we lose the weight but can’t keep it off, we come right back to what worked temporarily. It’s a cycle of profits for the diet industry.
Check out this article on CNN on a study done on people who regained the weight. There’s been tons of studies just like this where weight gain after weight loss is inevitable after a diet is over.
So you might be asking yourself, ‘well what if I diet and find a way to sustain it?’
Well if the method isn’t sustainable, no matter what you change about it, weight gain, whether slow or fast is more than likely. OR eventually your body, like mine, will be at war with its natural processes and the diet will STOP working because your body will REFUSE it.
An increased appetite, slowed metabolism, and hormone levels that are off will be inevitable with dieting.
And as a result, gaining back what you lost and more than likely a bit more because of this slowed metabolism, increased appetite and messed up hormones.
This IS what happened to me, and so many other people I know.
So stay tuned, in the next upcoming post I’m going to share with you what DOES work.