Health & Fitness, Healthy Eating & Dieting

How to Pick a Diet and Why I Won’t Follow One

Not long after I started this blog, I decided to try the SlimFast 14 day challenge. The jist of this challenge is that for 2 meals a day you have SlimFast, one regular meal and 3 snacks. I wrote about what I ate and what my results were. Still, to this day, those posts are being read on a daily basis. There are obviously a lot of people interested in SlimFast, and likely all the other diets out there. I can’t say I blame them.

If you’ve been around my blog or Instagram, you likely know that I want to lose weight. I love working out and do so very regularly, but my food intake has never been on point. I just love gummy candy and ice cream too much! Throughout the years my weight has been up and down, which has been really frustrating. I’ve thought about doing the SlimFast diet again, or even trying something like Weight Watchers, keto, Whole30 and a whole slew of other popular diets.

With all the diets out there, it’s hard to know what you should and should not follow. Every article is screaming at you with the science behind their diets. There are testimonials that tell you about the huge success that people have had following their specific food guidelines. It’s hard not to get swept up in the hoopla behind it, especially with those drastic before and after pictures.

Here are two factors to consider when you are deciding on a diet, and why I have decided not to follow one.

Are you willing? 

If you’re going to follow a diet, it needs to actually be one that you can follow. If you decide that you want to go on a low-carb diet, you need to be willing to give up that plate of pasta. If you decide you want to follow Weight Watchers, you need to be willing to count points. If you decide you want to go on SlimFast, you need to be willing to drink two of their smoothies a day. Get the picture?

So the big question comes in, are you willing? If the answer is ‘no’, then that diet is not for you. I don’t eat pasta a lot and I have found some healthier alternatives, but I know I’m not willing to completely let that go. There will be days that I just really want to eat some mac & cheese with weiners in it. I know that I will want to have a bbq burger with a regular white bun in the summer and a cheese slice on top.

If you can identify a food group that you are willing to get rid of, move forward with that. If you’re willing to give up your junk food habit and completely cut out sugar, more power to you. Honestly, I give HUGE kudos to anyone who can do that, it is definitely not easy.

Don’t get caught up in what the article you read recommends or what the ad in your sidebar is pushing. Dieting is not and never will a ‘one-size-fits-all’ type of deal. Just because one person had success with something, does not mean that you will too. They have a completely different life and a completely different body. Don’t feel bad if you can’t follow the diet they did, or if you don’t have the results that they did. You need to find what works for YOU. Remember, they may be willing to give up a food group that you are not, and you may be willing to give up one that they are not.

Is it sustainable?

Once you decide what type of diet you are willing to follow, you need to know if it’s sustainable long-term. Anyone can do something for a week or two, but if you want to make an honest-to-goodness change in your life, you need to be able to keep it up. I’m not willing to drink two SlimFast smoothies a day for the rest of my life. I’m not willing to always calculate points or weigh my food before each meal.

I have no doubt that those diets would work for me short-term, but I personally can’t keep it up forever. I know that the weight would go away, but it would come right back if I revert to my old ways just like it has in the past. It needs to not just be a diet, but a lifestyle. Whatever diet you decide to follow, needs to fit into your life. If you’re always on the go and don’t have time to cook, don’t pick a diet that has you spending an hour or more a day in the kitchen cooking. There is no way you will be able to keep it up and that is just a recipe for disaster.

Losing the weight is only half the battle, keeping it off is the other half. Even once you have lost the weight, you still need to eat properly to ensure that you don’t lose all of your hard-earned progress. You can’t just resort back to your old ways, no matter how badly you want to. There is nothing worse than starting from ground zero and having to do it all over again. Trust me, I know. Using your diet as an opportunity to learn how to eat properly will make all the difference long-term.

Why I won’t follow a diet

I mentioned it above, but I’m not willing to give up pasta. I’m also not willing to give up my candy, ice cream, chocolate milk, or really anything else. I’ve tried a few times, and I usually just end up binging on them after a couple of days.

So, how do I deal with not wanting to follow a specific diet, but still losing weight?

If there is one thing that reigns true in most successful (and healthy) diets, it’s the focus on real food. Eating a bowl of cantaloupe is much better than eating a bowl of ice cream, there is no denying that. The calories are lower and the nutrients are plentiful. Therefore, the importance is in eating as much real food as you can.

Have fruits and vegetables as a snack. Have eggs in the morning instead of sugary cereal. Have a side salad or vegetables for supper and skip getting seconds of the main dish. Drink water instead of juice or pop. There are a lot of little swaps you can make that will make all the difference in your daily food intake.

Once you focus on having as much real food as you can, use those items that you can’t give up as a treat. Limit the bad carbs that you have and balance them out with plenty of healthy options. Have a couple of pieces of candy right after a workout rather than when you’re lazing around on the couch. Make some popcorn instead of eating chips, a healthier but still satisfying option. Have pasta once a week, rather than one a day.

Using those “bad” foods as a treat, rather than as a normal part of your diet, could make all the difference. And if you’re anything like me, it’s the only way to stay sane while on this crazy weight loss journey.

So while I won’t diet, I will eat healthy..ish.

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