This time of year, we are often inundated with diets, cleanses, fasts, and programs that state outrageous claims saying they will “Change your life in 30 days,” “Lose 50 lbs in two weeks,” “Have the perfect body in 2 months,” and etc, all of which are, first and foremost, ridiculous claims and second, leading us to a very skewed view of health and happiness. Diets and weight loss don’t make us happy and outside of extreme situations, weight loss does not change anyone’s life. Our thoughts about our lives are what makes us happy and what changes our lives is not being a smaller size, but how we think about ourselves overall and our skewed beliefs on what it means to be “skinny.”

Many people will dispute this statement and that is fine, but the truth is that DIETS DON’T WORK! Research has shown time and again that individuals who choose to diet not only gain the weight back, but often will gain more weight than they were originally trying to lose. This is due to many different factors:

Diets are not sustainable for our bodies. Our bodies need the correct amount of nutrients and that includes carbohydrates, fats, proteins, dairy, fruits, and veggies. When we try to cut any of these things from our diets, we send our bodies into a state of deprivation. When we are in a state of deprivation, our bodies will either slow down our metabolisms and/or we end up overeating in reaction to the initial deprivation. This also goes for cutting calories! Diets confuse our bodies. Our bodies have a level of trust that we will provide it with enough food and the right food to sustain our lives. As soon as we begin to toy with that very delicate balance, our bodies no longer work in the same manner. This is a major reason why dieters will have extreme weight fluctuations and also why when individuals stop dieting, their bodies will hold onto extra weight.
Diets are boring! People were meant to enjoy their food and be engaged while eating. If you are consistently not enjoying your meals, then you are going to be craving that missed pleasure you get from food. Also, if you are not enjoying your food, then you are actually more likely to be less mindful and eat more or not register what you have eaten. Food gives us much needed pleasure in our lives and can be the only way we allow ourselves pleasure (please see my article “Food and Sex” for more information on this topic).
Diets introduce dangerous chemicals into our bodies. These diets often claim to help in weight loss, but often do physical damage. Think back to the “Fen-phen” debacle years ago where people later found out that their choice to take diet pills gave them heart problems later on. Although not all diet pills, diet powders, and drinks will have such extreme effects, most simply take your money and have no results. If they do work, then more often than not, when you stop taking them, the effects also stop.
You think you are “fat,” so you end up staying “fat.” I have a firm belief that the thoughts we focus on are the thoughts that prevail in our lives. When most people go on diets, they do so with thoughts around being too big and so that is the thought that is constantly jumping around their brains and the thought that inevitably manifests.

All of that being said, I am a huge proponent of living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. I think if you want to work on treating your body better then that is a wonderful thing! Trying to implement more water into your day? … Go for it! Attempting to make sure you are active throughout your week? … Amazing! Even trying to look at your food choices to see if you are truly balancing your meals is a great idea. It is important to note that being balanced means including all kinds of foods: desserts/carbs/fats/etc. The problem starts when you begin to label foods and categorize foods as “bad” or “good” based on caloric or fat content. All foods fit in a balanced lifestyle.
As adults, we have the right to make whatever decisions we feel are best for our bodies. There are many different ways people now are choosing to live… vegetarian, vegan, clean, organic, gluten free, etc. I choose the right path for myself, my body, and my recovery and I believe it's important people get to choose the right path for themselves. Though it is imperative for people to get honest and look at the reason behind their choices of food. Are you trying to deprive yourself to meet a societal standard? Are you using a food plan such as veganism to hide an underlying eating disorder? Or are you truly making a sound adult decision to take care of your body?

Author's Bio: 

Kelly Martin is the energetic and fun-loving, owner of Recover to Life Coaching. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Life Coach and has worked in a multitude of different therapeutic settings. Kelly enjoys watching her clients bloom as they get in touch with their dreams, desires, learn to love themselves, and begin living more fulfilled lives. She believes in a holistic approach and works to build a compassionate and safe place for her clients to experience healing. Amongst many specialties, Kelly has had extensive training and life experience in food and body-image concerns, shame resilience, changing negative thought patterns, and self-sabotaging behaviors. Take a leap of faith and start individual coaching with Kelly Martin, LPC, LCDC, and Life Coach, and you will see your life quickly transform. “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” – Anais Nin