Have you heard the latest healthiest newest diet? It’s no diet!
Now this is a scary concept.
This means there’s no quick fix, magic bullet or potion that is going to help you manage your weight. No diet puts you in the driver’s seat.
There is no one perfect way to go about “dieting.” So, why not approach it from a completely different angle: YOU? Rather than buy into the latest fad, let’s focus on lifestyle and habits that you can carry with you forever.
Your best weight is not necessarily your leanest weight: We all have a sweet spot for adaptation, energy and performance. Too few calories can impact energy levels and performance. Too many calories can also impact energy, mood and progress. Weigh the risks of cutting calories and consider whether the timing is consistent with your athletic goals. If it’s early in your training period then this might be the best time to address body mass goals. Closer to your race or event and you might want to wait.
Stress is stress: Training adaptations come from a successful series of appropriate stress and rest. Drastically changing your diet means you are upsetting this balance or homeostasis. If you add training stress on top of calorie restriction, it can slow down your progress. If you insist on cutting calories or adopting a drastic dietary change, treat this as part of your training stress and pay close attention to timing, recovery and energy levels.
Make the good-for-you choice the easy choice: Take will power out of the equation and put the choices you want to make in front of you. Here are only a few samples of what this could look like in practice:
- Get into the habit of going out for ice cream instead of having it handy in the freezer at all times.
- Always have veggies on hand. Eat them with every meal and snack. So far no nutrition expert has said they are bad for you!
- Give any new habit or change in the way you do things two weeks before deciding if you want to keep it.
Focus on small wins rather than huge gains or losses: Small victories allow your body and brain and those around you to adapt to your changes in behavior. The small victories are a huge matter to consider. Too often we pursue quick fixes especially in diet and exercise. Some fads push us to the limit. It’s a biological fact that you can only adapt to a certain amount of stimulus before it can be too much and possibly have detrimental effects on your health.
It’s not going to be easy: Weight loss or optimizing body composition is not as simple as creating a few good habits. It takes consistency over time. Accept that it will be a challenge. If it were easy, there wouldn’t be a 70 billion dollar diet industry tugging you in. And yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just over 70 percent of adults in the US as of 2013-2014 data are considered overweight or obese.
Obviously this topic requires more than a quick fix. It is complex and involves things like genetics, environment, economics, personal taste, beliefs and customs.
Health, wellness and nutrition is a delicate personal process and if it’s gone about with a long-term focus and in a sustainable way, over time, it is one that can build confidence for the individual and create positive experiences and even fun adventures along the way. Treat nutrition as if it were a triathlon and pace it well. You’ve got a life of eating, sports and recovery behind you and ahead of you. Creating great habits that last a lifetime takes a life time!
Deanna Pomfret has coached fitness enthusiasts, runners, swimmers and triathletes since 2005. She is a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach and US Master’s Level 3 Swim Coach. She is Principal and Swim Technique Analyst with Athletic Pursuits LLC. She has a Master’s in Health and Wellness Management with a sports nutrition research fellowship.