Whenever anyone talks about wanting to lose weight, what’s the first thing that happens?
Someone mentions a diet.
Oh, you know you’ve heard it before. Where someone eats only mashed potatoes for breakfast, lunch and a snack, or only eats grapefruit for breakfast and lunch, or only sips some weird cayenne pepper kool aid concoction for three weeks straight and before you know it, you’ll be fierce! Fit! Flawless!
You know why diets feel like the best way to accomplish your weight loss goal? They’re easy. Do X, get Y in response. If you’re given a regimen, it’s that easy to follow, and it promises to give you the results you want, why on Earth would you pass it up? And, if you’re limiting yourself to only eating a food that you actually enjoy? There’s no reason in the world for you to turn your back on that.
What we never do, though, is delve into the realities of dieting and why it works. If weight loss is simply about calories in and calories out, then dieting is simply a quicker way of limiting your calories in with less planning. It’s glorified auto-pilot eating. You don’t have to learn about what part of your habits caused you to gain weight. You don’t have to learn how to eat for your body and your activity levels. You don’t even have to learn how to cook the foods you like differently. You cheat the system; you limit yourself to a handful of foods, inadvertently cut calories, and boom. Weight loss.
Except…without fail, the weight almost always comes back.
Because you didn’t learn which foods were causing your weight gain, because you didn’t learn which habits were causing you to pack on the pounds, because you didn’t learn how to eat for your activity levels… you’ll inevitably put the weight back on. Because you restricted yourself to a handful of foods for an extended period of time, you’ll put the pounds back on as soon as you hop off your diet.
And, because you probably restricted your caloric intake far beyond reasonable levels, you also probably lost the invaluable muscle that burns almost three times as many calories per hour as fat, which means you’ve damaged your metabolism, which means you’ve negatively affected your ability to successfully keep the weight off.
This is why diets are ridiculous: they are plans for losing weight, that have no forethought into how a dieter should keep the weight off. Anyone can lose, but how you lose that weight should be directly tied into how you keep it off. Are you going to only eat grapefruit and mashed potatoes for breakfast? Or are you going to learn how to eat a breakfast that is not only tasty, but nutritious and within your allotted calories? Are you going to sip cayenne pepper cocktails forever, or are you going to figure out that you shouldn’t be packing away an entire sleeve of cookies in a day? Are you going to find ways to enjoy what you eat and still eat nutritiously in a way that preserves your figure?
If so, then your best bet is to skip the “diet.” Learn what your body likes. Understand what it needs. And, rest assured, your body will thank you for it!
Erika Nicole Kendall is the writer behind the award winning blog, A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss, where she blogs everything from fitness to food, weight loss to wellness, body image and even her own 160lb weight loss journey. A trainer certified in women’s fitness, fitness nutrition and weight loss coaching, she can be found taking over your Internet on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.