Dieting vs. Healthy Living

Dieting to lose weight.  Start creating a healthy diet.

These two things are completely different from each other.  Completely.  I want to share that with you we go forward in our February challenge and our efforts.  It's something we all need to remember, even when we feel like we aren't getting anywhere.

Let's start by defining dieting.  A diet is the food that is consumed for sustenance   The word diet has nothing to do with weight loss or health or anything else.  But the word dieting, which is to attempt to control your food/intake through specific food choices or dietary changes.  The motivation of the dieter is only on the scale and how the scale changes dictates if the diet is working.  The entire goal is weight reduction or body change.  Okay.  Now that we have defined dieting, let's really look at what dieting entails for the typical diet for weight loss.  The typical diet for weight loss from my personal experience, my friends, and what I see on the interwebs is centered around trying to maximize (quantity and satiety) the food you can eat while staying within certain calorie or macronutrient restrictions.  So essentially, that the goal for weight loss is set to be achieved by reducing or eliminating excess calories or certain macronutrients.  The food selections are typically based on what is the most I can get and stay within my program.  Lots of diet foods may be consumed, the quality of food may not be a consideration, and exercise is seen as a way to lose weight quicker, by creating a larger calorie deficit or for some programs a way to allow the dieter to eat more food. Guilt plays a big role in this strategy because the dieter believes that any shift from the rigid plan will cause weight loss to cease.  People may push harder than necessary in the gym to burn off excess calories or eat less than necessary to make up for splurges.

Now let's look at what it means to create a healthy diet as the goal instead of dieting to lose weight.  When you are creating a healthy diet, the focus shifts.  Instead of focusing on outcomes - weight reduction or body change the focus shifts to the inputs - the creating of a healthy diet and healthy habits.  The foods that are selected are chosen because of their health benefits and the focus is on quality, not quantity.  Typically people looking at this option are focusing on eating a clean diet focused on eating mostly clean fresh produce, lean meats, healthy grains, home cooking, and not a lot of foods in boxes or packages.  Exercise is considered an essential part of this diet because of the health benefits and to maximize the results of the healthy diet.  The scale may be used to track progress, however lack of weight loss isn't considered a failure because it's not the ultimate goal.  The goal is to improve your health via improving your lifestyle (diet and exercise) and by reducing weight.  Non ideal foods aka unhealthy foods are typically included in moderation.  The diet consists 95% of healthy choices and the remaining 5% may be used for splurges.  The person typically in this camp naturally eats for health most of the time and sets them self up for success.

Do you see a difference between the two?  No? That makes sense because the difference between the two is very small.  The difference is motivation, which trickles down to what you will do without inducing stress.  Dieting is typically hard on the body because it's restrictive and the motivation is only to change the number.  Healthy eating is easier once you have accepted that as your plan because it's a more natural way to live and the motivation includes many non-scale victories as well as weight loss for some people.  Also dieting has an end point - when you reach your goal weight.  Healthy eating has no end point.

 Is that clearer?  Now let's be honest - most of us do not fall strictly into one camp or the other.  I certainly don't.  I was a dieter.  I spent many years dieting, mostly yo-yo dieting, and feeling like the only thing that mattered was the scale.  I am getting better and realizing that there is more to a healthy life than the scale and for me I cannot maintain a dieting lifestyle.  I get burned out.  I do fall into it a lot, diet thinking, and I think that as I've felt very stressed lately I have started to think diet not health.  I need to stop...because dieting for me has always lead to failure while lately my healthy focus has lead to much success.  I also think some of this is from my P90x feelings as of late and realizing that you can change your body shape/lose inches and the scale not drop dramatically.  I needed a reminder of this fact and I hope it helped you too.