By: Hilary Achauer
Starting a new diet can be thrilling.
It’s a time of hope and possibility. The process often starts with a trip to the drugstore for a notebook to write down the details of every meal. Then it’s off to the grocery store to fill the cart with strange ingredients such as chia seeds and apple-cider vinegar. Next, a post on Facebook and Instagram to let everyone know it’s Day 1 of your new diet. Through willpower and perfect eating habits, you are going to get the body of your dreams, at which point you’ll move on to other things.
And then, a year later, you find yourself exactly where you started. Or maybe a few pounds heavier, filled with disappointment.
If you’ve ever experienced this scenario, you’re not alone. And it’s not your fault.
In her new book “Secrets From the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again,” Traci Mann, professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota, shares her findings after 20 years of research. She discovered restrictive diets don’t work, often result in weight gain and might ultimately be unhealthy. What’s more, losing weight is not a matter of willpower. When we diet, we are fighting against our brains and our biology.
All this doesn’t mean we should sink into a torpor surrounded by potato chips and ice cream. Istead of riding the roller coaster of restrictive diets, Mann recommends adopting healthy eating habits, exercising and—most importantly—being happy with your leanest livable weight.
Diets Work—Until They Don’t
We are repeatedly tricked into starting restrictive diets for one reason: They all work—at first.
The problem occurs after this honeymoon period. First, people don’t lose enough weight. Second, they don’t keep it off.
“The most rigorous diet studies find that about half of dieters will weigh more four to five years after the diet ends than they did at the start of the diet,” Mann wrote (4). Even worse, she said this is a low estimate of diet failure because it comes from studies biased toward showing diets work.
The reason diets fail is not a matter of willpower or a personal failing on your part. It’s biology.
If you have a relatively healthy lifestyle—you exercise and eat well consistently—you’ve probably noticed your body settles into a consistent weight. The number may fluctuate 5 or 10 lb. either way, but it’s most likely fairly stable.
If your stable weight means you have the abs of Margaux Alvarez or the pecs of Rich Froning, this is great news. If, however, you look in the mirror and don’t see the physique of a CrossFit Games athlete, you might come to the conclusion it’s time for a restrictive diet.
What to Do?
Does all this depressing science mean we should give up and dive headfirst into a box of doughnuts?
No. There is a way to eat healthy and not feel deprived, to feel good and maintain a stable weight. In a nutshell, that prescription looks a lot like CrossFit’s original nutrition directive, stated simply in the opening lines of “World-Class Fitness in 100 Words” by CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman: “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.”
We Are Not Our Abs
If you’re able to consistently follow all the steps listed above—avoid restrictive diets; eat healthy, unprocessed food; exercise regularly—there’s one final step. And it’s probably the most difficult of all.
Learn to be OK with your body.
Pursue good health and fitness, but not at the expense of enjoying your life. Seek balance, not obsession. Don’t get sucked into the latest diet fad promising perfection. Value happiness and equanimity over a perfectly shredded physique. When in doubt, “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.”
And switch to smaller dinner plates.
Read the full article HERE.
18 Minute AMRAP:
20/16 Calorie Row
16 Goblet Lunges 53/35#
12 Push Ups
15 Second Hold at Top of Ring Dip
30 Second HS Hold.
Bill H 4+6
Max L 6+21
DP 4+20 ski
Joe H 5+20
Dave N 3+48
Amy B 5
Mary Ann 3+8
14 Min AMRAP
10 KB Swings
200 Meter Row
3 Rounds (As a group):
30 Sec Plank
1 Minute Rest