What's Standing in Your Way of Being the Best You Can Be?
I don’t particularly like the word “diet.”
Few people do. In addition to the word "die" jumping out at me every time I run across the word, it brings up all sorts of images of deprivation, starvation, and loss. It means I can't eat whatever I want to. I can't participate in events that focus on food. I can't eat the same things my husband does when we're watching television together, and I have to endure a certain degree of hunger.
Part of the reason why it's so hard to curtail what we eat is because of the way the food industry markets the products they want to promote, but a good portion of the responsibility also belongs to us. While it’s true that certain foods that taste great can be addicting, no one forces me to put that food into my mouth. I do that myself.
I’ve been on dozens of weight-loss programs over the years. The Old Weight Watcher’s Exchange Program, The Atkins Diet, Kimkins, The Protein Power Life Plan, Sugarbusters, Thin So Fast, The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook and the HCG Diet are just a few. Each plan comes with its own set of restrictions and its own set of strengths and weaknesses. While some diet plans work better than others, mentally preparing to go on another diet program often fails to materialize because of the countless excuses we have that work to keep things the way they are.
Successful Dieting Involves Permanent Change
Few people like change and that includes me. In my own situation, deprivation is a big issue because my health problems already restrict me to being gluten free and corn light. I have enough restriction in my life already. I don’t need to introduce any more, and yet, my corn intolerance often gets the better of me because of its pervasiveness in American society. That means I’ve put on a few more pounds over the past year than I would have liked.
Although pounds don’t always equate to fat storage, my clothes no longer fit, so there’s no denying what those pounds are made of. There’s also no denying that I’ve been eating more carbohydrates than my metabolism can handle. Since I no longer work at a boys' home, I spend most of my day sitting in front of a computer writing, and that lack of adequate activity has also played it's role.
Recently, I've come to realize that I have far too many excuses for why I’m having to stuff all of that extra poundage into my size 14 jeans. Although my size 12s are feeling more than a little bit neglected, I haven’t kept to the original promise I made to myself when I moved from my last diet into a long, drawn-out maintenance phase. That promise said I have to fit into my clothes. I didn’t keep it because it’s too easy to just go out and buy something bigger.
When we don't take our health seriously, that's what happens.
Popular Diet Excuses
With that in mind, I thought I’d take a closer look at the wide variety of excuses we tend to use to keep ourselves from starting yet another diet. Here’s 50 of the lamest excuses I’ve heard over the years, many of which have come from myself:
- I can’t begin in mid-week, so I’ll start on Monday.
- I have to eat all of the unhealthy food in my house first.
- It’s a hassle to have to cook a separate meal for the rest of my family.
- Dieting is inconvenient. There is too much going on in my life right now.
- I’m not that overweight. Many women are a size 14.
- Dieting is too expensive. I can’t afford to buy what I need.
- Maybe I could just exercise a little bit more.
- I don’t eat that much already. What’s it going to be like to eat even less?
- Life is too short. My diet is already too restrictive. I want yummy foods.
- I cannot deal with the stress in my life and diet at the same time.
- I’m stressed right now and don’t care how much I weigh. Food is calming.
- I just have a slow metabolism. I need to learn how to accept myself as I am.
- I get a headache (or other food withdrawal symptoms) when I don’t eat.
- I NEED my dairy-free chocolate ice cream to feel good.
- There’s no way I can give up my (insert favorite food here).
- I am too busy to diet and exercise.
- Potatoes and rice are cheaper than eating extra fresh or frozen vegetables.
- Look at what’s on sale this week. I’ll start after I eat it all.
- I don’t have the time to plan my meals ahead of time.
- The holidays are all about food. I’ll start in January so I won’t feel left out.
- I have to turn down social invitations because they won’t have what I can eat.
- I don’t like to be hungry. If I cut down on portions, I’ll be hungry.
- I love food too much to go on a diet. I think I’ll just learn to accept myself fat.
- Diets don’t work. Just look at me.
- I just bought all of this food, and I don’t want to waste the money.
- Being fat is genetic, so there really isn’t any use trying to diet.
- I don’t know what to fix when I’m too tired to cook.
- I was taught not to waste food, so I need to eat everything that’s on my plate.
- I have to cook for my family and that involves tasting the food as I cook.
- I hate to cook, and dieting requires me to make things at home.
- I have no willpower. I know I’ll eventually cheat, so it’s better not to start.
- I can’t stick to a particular diet plan, so why bother?
- I absolutely hate the taste of diet food. I’ll be miserable.
- I hate having to count calories, carbohydrates or fat grams.
- I’m too old. If I lose too much weight, my skin will sag and wrinkle.
- Dieting always makes me feel tired. I don’t like not feeling well.
- I just can’t deal with one more thing today. I’ll think about dieting tomorrow.
- I can’t afford to go out and buy all new clothes.
- I’m having trouble deciding which diet to go on. What if I make the wrong choice?
- I don’t eat more than my friends or spouse does. I don’t understand why I’m fat.
- I have to have popcorn when I go to the movies.
- I need to eat the first couple of cookies when I bake to make sure they are perfect.
- I’m not really fat. I’m just too short.
- I’m not really fat. I just have a lot of water retention or bloating right now.
- I have a large fear of going into starvation mode.
- The kids are sick this week, and I need to focus on them, not myself.
- I have too many deadlines at work this month to think about food.
- Eating gives me the boost I need to get through the day.
- I’m used to going out to dinner every Friday night. I don’t want to give that up.
- Looking back at previous dieting experiences scare me. I don’t think I can do it again.
Moving Past the Excuses
Although dieting involves a certain degree of restriction, it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a diet at all. Diets tend to be something we think of in terms of going on or off of. That dieting mindset only works against us over the long term because if you’re prone to make excuses to go on a diet, you’ll be more apt to make excuses for why you can’t stay on one.
Instead of looking at what you have to give up, try looking at your newest diet program as an opportunity to make some permanent healthy changes in your lifestyle. If your plan of choice doesn’t fit your life in the way you want it to, then change it. Although low-fat, low-calorie diets are typically recommended by medical authorities and therefore the diet of choice for many people, they are not the only way to lose weight and regain your health.
Low-carbohydrate diets work equally as well, and sometimes better, if you have health problems such as insulin resistance or sensitivities to wheat.
Stop Living Mindlessly! Reclaim Your Health!
Mass consumer diets were designed to fit the needs of the majority, not the individual. Once you’ve moved past the excuses, you can get down to the business of tweaking your program to fit your tastes, energy level, lifestyle, and emotional eating patterns. You just have to want the results bad enough to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
That doesn’t mean the journey will be easy. Permanent change takes hard work. Destructive habits have to be changed. Food has to be placed back into its proper place in life, and health has to become a top priority. However, one of the most destructive things we can do to ourselves is to continue living mindlessly. As long as we remain unaware of why we’re doing what we’re doing, nothing will change.
It is only when we choose to awaken to the truth of our situation, take a good look at ourselves, and then toss away the illusions that have kept us prisoners and slaves to our modern-day lifestyles that we can even hope to reclaim our health.