Do you diet to feel good in your skin or to be satisfied with the shape of your body?
Do you use diets to lose weight or to be healthy?
Mirror, mirror on the wall
how will I get the shape I want?
–Why do you go on a diet? Because you
- are obese (overweight, unhealthy weight,….)
- feel fat and unsatisfied in your skin
- hate the shape of your body
- are number driven; the scale tells you you are fat so it must be true
- are now heavier than ever
- are farther away from your magic dream number than ever (and let’s be honest, many of you weren’t even that dream weight in high school. I, surely, wasn’t)
- have a re-union coming up, recently broke it off with your partner or will be going on vacation and need to look somewhat decent in a bathing suit
- suffer from health issues
Whatever the reasons, I think many of us can relate to the urge to drop a few pounds. And society especially media AND diet pill companies tell us diets (often in conjunction with diet supplements) are the way to go.
But, before we go into how diets lead to body weight and body image satisfaction or if they even do so let’s define what dieting is and what it is not.
Cambridge dictionary defines dieting as “an eating plan in which someone eats less food, or only particular types of food, because they want to become thinner or for medical reasons”.
For some people, dieting is a lifestyle. They diet all their life in fear of “gaining” weight, often obsessed with food, calories, and weight.
Various forms of diets exist (Atkins Diet, Fat Flush Plan, Zone Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet, 1,2oo kcal Diet, Meat Diet, Juice Diet,…..just to name a few).
While in general, a diet is one’s way of eating more specifically it’s often thought of as a specific way of eating with weight loss in mind, hence the terms crash diets, fad diets, chronic diets. And since we consumer generally want everything as quickly as possible, we too want for the weight (read fat) to disappear as quickly as possible, even though it took perhaps months or years to creep up.
You have to admit, you didn’t gain those 5, 10 or even 20 kg within a month, yet want them gone yesterday!
Do as told: diet for weight loss:
–> Ok, so dieting focuses on restricting food intake, either by restricting variety or amount. Some diets also highlight the need for physical activity, although the significance of physical activity is stressed much less heavily.
–> The goal of dieting is to lose weight, hopefully fat and not muscle although more often than not we first lose a TON of water, then muscle and then perhaps fat. Losing fat is NOT an easy task. Believe me; our body uses fat reserves LAST- yes, it’s sad I know! (even with low carb diet you first lose water and the heavier you are the more water you have to lose!)
So, we diet to lose weight, although some of us are so focused on the scale and numbers that they can care less where the weight loss (water? fat? muscle?) comes from. They can also care less how healthy it is, what the diet does to their body and level of contentment, happiness or satisfaction. As long as the scale shows a reduction in weight they are happy* (regardless of dieting’s detrimental effect on metabolism). (*fake short-term happiness)
But why? Because we feel uncomfortable in our skin? We don’t like our love-handles, inner thigh fat or back fat? Or because we are obsessed with numbers and can’t weigh 70 kg or be a size 40- oh lord no. We’ll have a midlife crisis!
(Now, dieting for health, actually EATING HEALTHILY for health is a very different topic.)
Society, media, and advertisements tell us diets and supplements help us lose weight.
They must be right.
They have the solution.
Even if we suffer we believe in diets.
(on a side note, when on diet do you truly feel satisfied and enjoy the food or do your thoughts always go back to what you can’t have or miss out on?)
Time to ponder:
Now let me ask you: last time you went on a diet, how did you feel about your body afterwards, after reaching your goal weight, if indeed you reached it? Did dieting change the shape of your body OR did you keep your shape just thinning out a bit? How did you feel about your skin, was it nice and firm or saggy? While dieting, were you happy, what was the level of your energy, did you feel good about yourself, did you feel happy in your skin?
My guess is for most of you the answers are negative. If you answered positively or with yes, how long did that feeling last? How quickly did you regain the weight? How quickly did you fall back into your old eating habits?
Which leads me to the ultimate question:
Do you diet to weigh less (drop kg) OR
do you diet to feel good in your skin (body image satisfaction)?
What is your ultimate goal?
Knowing that dieting focuses on numbers,
ie: the amount of kilocalories (kcal) you can consume, have to expend with physical activity, or the amount if kg you must lose,
INSTEAD on body image satisfaction, why do you diet?
You desire to:
- feel good in your skin, right?
- fit into those jeans or that dress, and look good & healthy while wearing it, right?
- feel confident, fit, healthy and perhaps sexy, right?
- like what you see in the mirror, or?
Actual goal of dieting:
If those are your reasons, will dieting get you there?
How does dieting change your body?
Let’s be an artist (I know I am). Just humor me.
If you could design your body, given your personal shape and genetics, what type of body would you create?
Where would you add curves, where would you take curves (or flab) off?
We know we can’t really shape our body with diets, or can you increase curves (the kind of curves you’d want)?
Can you control where you lose weight?
No, we know spot-reductions aren’t possible (per se). Diets most often get rid of the curve WE WANT TO KEEP, especially us women. (I know you ladies know what I’m talking about).
Diets make us flat and flabby; they don’t give us the shape we desire.
Diets make us look scrawny and sick; they don’t make us look healthy and strong.
So, what options do we have to create a shape we like, to feel comfortable in our skin?……..think…..
Exercise……preferable with weights (all kinds of weights even body weight).
How will weights shape your body? Very easy. Compare a runner’s body with a sprinter’s body or a gymnast’s body with that of a dancer. Do you see the difference? Now, I know you aren’t an athlete and you most certainly don’t have the time (nor perhaps desire) to spend hours working out and you don’t have to.
The point I’m trying to make is this:
Use physical activity (NOT diets):
for body image satisfaction.
to create YOUR desired shape.
to feel healthy, fit, and happy.
(We know working out nearly automatically leads to healthier food choices.)
Do you need to work out every day? No.
Do you need to lift super heavy weight? No, not necessarily but you need to lift some weight (running alone won’t get you there).
If you live in Vienna, join the group fitness classes or ask the members. Their body has changed and will continue to change. They feel fitter, stronger, more balanced and healthier WITHOUT ever stepping foot into a gym!
Start working out regularly.
Don’t be afraid of using weights &
if combined with a healthy, nutritious way of eating you can,
with patience and persistence,
create the body YOU WANT, you like and you feel comfortable & healthy in.
The biggest difference to a diet, working out will not feel like a torture, will not give you the feeling of denial or of feeling like a loser.
Working out comes with many other unexpected benefits that’ll make you stronger, healthier, and happier….and more importantly, will allow you to ENJOY life more.
(Btw, in case you don’t know how to exercise, don’t know what to do or dislike exercising alone contact me and become part of our amazing, fun, and challenging group workouts.)
You don’t have to diet – which leaves you feeling stressed and grumpy, causes you to lose muscles mass, and decreases your bone density.
Diets most certainly don’t lead to sustainable body image satisfaction (or weight loss for that matter), or do you really want to diet for the rest of your life?
You certainly don’t have to obsess about a number, dress size or the scale. Google “same weight different body shapes” and you’ll see, you too would like the fitter, leaner look which most often isn’t the diet look!
(On a side note, you’ll be amazed how beautiful, strong, and healthy 5 extra kg could look on you. 5 kg of solid muscle mass! Or are you really trying to tell me you like your flabby giggly legs and arms over solid, strong, nicely shaped legs and arms?)
And isn’t THAT your goal – to like what you see in the mirror, to feel comfortable in your skin, to feel fit and energetic, healthy and balanced, free of pain or discomfort, to enjoy a high quality of life? Well guess what – physical activity gets you there, diets don’t!