Diet Sustainability

Every diet works

Can I sustain this diet?
Why am I doing this?

For many people, losing weight is a lifelong struggle. Not only is changing your approach and attitude to food, and possibly exercise, fairly difficult, but choosing a diet to follow can be a confusing and overwhelming experience.

There is an almost limitless number of options to wade through, each with a variation on how much to eat, what to eat and when to eat, whether it be Banting or Mediterranean, intermittent fasting or no-carbs-after 8pm. There is even research that claims that there isn’t a single diet that is optimal for humans . All this with a fairly lengthy period of denial attached to it, and zero guarantee of success.

So is it any wonder that with all the options and variations available, dieting success stories are few and far between?

What then, is the basis for my claim, that all diets work? The simple answer is mathematics. Diets are built on the premise of consuming fewer calories than you burn. This calorie deficit results in your body burning stored energy reserves with the result that you lose weight through the conversion of triglycerides and free fatty acids to water and carbon dioxide.

So if you stick to a diet, any diet, you lose weight. But therein lies the rub. If.

Diet sustainability is the missing ingredient.

To make a diet stick you need an anchor. An anchor is that thing that makes it worthwhile to not have the extra helping of ice-cream, to forego the beers and just do without the sugar in your tea and coffee.

Diet anchors usually take the form of an activity. An activity is something done outside the normal course of your day. It can be an active pastime or a serious athletic pursuit. The higher the intensity of the activity, the more straying from the diet will be felt.

Introducing an activity into your daily or weekly schedule requires energy. And it’s important that this activity is fun. You are more likely to make time for an activity that you enjoy, rather than one you consider a chore. And when you get to a point when you are regularly attending the class, or playing the game or riding the bike, the food you ate yesterday (and perhaps the beers you had on the weekend) will impact how much enjoyment you can extract from the activity. A cheat day, or cheat weekend can dramatically impact on your performance during your activity. It can be life-changing when you realise that you are directly responsible for that impact just because of what you put in your mouth.

And getting to this point is very powerful. It is when you feel in your bones, your muscles and your energy levels, the impact of your current nutrition that the hardship imposed by the diet becomes much more tolerable. It is here that the future reward from sacrificing now, is far more valuable than the immediate satisfaction of the biscuits, sweets and tasty goodies tucked away in the treat cupboard.

So where do you start?

Think about what interests you. The world is full of movement disciplines that require varying degrees of physical intensity. Try something for a bit. Give it a couple of weeks, a game or three, or even a preseason. You don’t have to like it. If you don’t, try something else. Something will eventually stick. When it does, then start thinking about adjusting your diet to power your activity.

After all, food is fuel.

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