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For years, decades even, society has told us how we are supposed to look, putting on us immense pressure to attain impossible physical goals, because not all bodies are meant to look like that one type.
And January is often the time where many women feel that pressure to yet go on another diet.
Having been coaching dozens of women the past few years, I can say without a doubt that 80% of women that come to me often for other reasons, all mention losing a few kilos as a goal. And out of those women, 90% of them don’t (medically) need to lose weight and are perfectly fine.
They want to feel lighter and stronger in their bodies, they want to look in the mirror and be proud of what they see.
They want to feel good in their favourite jeans. And of course, I get it, we all want that.
But here is the deal, diets aren’t the way to get there and stay there.
Weight loss is a complex matrix that involves mindset, body acceptance, happiness, physiological processes i.e hormonal health, gut health, etc.. It’s not always, as a fact it’s rarely a straight road. Of course, you can possibly lose weight by eating less and moving more. Calories in and calories out. The basic rule of weight loss.
But is it sustainable? And how long can you do it for?
Now before we go further, I want to clarify that I am not against women wanting to lose weight. Your body, your rules. The women I coach are often scared to mention wanting to lose weight because they think that doesn’t make them feminists or body positive.
My answer: SCREW THAT.
You don’t owe anybody shit. Certainly not the “if I want to look and feel a certain way that means I’m not body positive narrative” But what is important is for you to be honest and understand
- Why do you want to lose weight? For you? Or to fit in the standard?
- And how to lose weight in a sustainable way
Why diets don’t work
Now let’s go back to why diets don’t work and what approach you could try instead
1. Restriction causes frustration
Whether you have dieted before or not, I’m sure you agree with me on this first fact why diets don’t work, that restriction especially when it comes to food can bring frustration, resentment, and even anger. Which eventually transfers onto the food and makes us have this complicated relationship with it.
2. Restriction may cause overconsumption.
I know a thing or two about this having done a few candida diets (strict no sugar) in the past due to recurrent candida overgrowth. The minute the candida symptoms were gone I would unleash myself onto the foods I couldn’t eat and before I knew it the symptoms would quickly show up again.
This study looking at restrictions and eating behaviours found that women consumed more of the “forbidden food” after being deprived of it for 24h.This suggests that excessive restriction can indeed lead to loss of control and overconsumption of a certain food.
3. Winter is a time for nourishment
It’s never the right time but January is the worst for a diet. Christmas has just gone, it’s grey, the mood is often low. I mean the last thing your spirit needs is some dietary restrictions.
Winter is a time to nourish our body and particularly our immune system with slow-cooked and nutrient-dense foods. Not to mention that depriving our bodies can potentially lead to nutrient deficiency, which is a physiological stressor in itself.
4. The change is temporary (and often so is the weight loss)
Diets don’t work because they have a time frame. What happens after a 21-day diet cutting out certain food groups?
Do you return to your old habits after?… causing the weight to return promptly?
At the start of anything, we all have a strong will, but that will doesn’t last forever especially when life gets busy. We quickly return to our old habits and get our old selves and results back.
And in dieting, this causes the yo-yo effect, which can be really demoralizing.
5. Mainstream diets are not tailored to YOU
Weight loss is rarely as simple as calories in and calories out.
Adequate sleep, stress management, gut health, thyroid hormones, appetite regulating hormones, blood sugar regulation..there is just so much that comes into play that a one size fits all diet won’t work if there are underlying physiological challenges.
So what to do instead?
Read Part 2 of Why diets don’t work and what to do instead here.