Have you ever noticed the detrimental implication of the word diet? There is this horrible, negative connotation about the word, but the truth behind the matter is simple: regardless of what or how you eat, that is your diet. I’ve never been quite sure why the word has such a profound impact, as though it’s sole purpose in the world is to remind us, with a mere two syllables, of our eternal unhappiness in the image of self, our constant act of compare and contrast, against beauty magazines and fashion models, against friends and coworkers or strangers walking in the mall, and our desires to be prettier, or thinner, or well-received and accepted. In my experience, the word diet has the uncanny ability to make a grown man suddenly weak in the knees for food he otherwise would only eat once or twice a year. Somehow, it conjures up the worst in everyone, whether it means a perfectly healthy girl feels compelled to drop three pounds because she fears a slice of pizza will make her fat, or an overweight man goes on an eating binge, only because the word diet reminded him of all the food he will be restricted to have in the next few days or months, and life without all of these options is absolute hell on earth.
How many of you have ever “started a diet“, but planned to do it on a Monday? And then proceeded to binge all weekend, on obscene amounts of your favorite junk food, as though it were your last day on earth and if you missed even the smallest crumb from your favorite chips, you would die in absolute regret? Your diet would suddenly fail you because there weren’t enough hours in the day to enjoy all the food you’d be missing out on with your new restrictions set in motion, and without those last bites, you just know you are doomed to fail. You might think I’m loony, but my money says this is exactly how people respond to the implication of a new diet. I can hear the rationalization, “We have to go out tonight because I start my diet tomorrow and we won’t be doing this for a while.” I’ve absolutely been here, and hindsight makes this even more absurd than I thought it was all the times I’ve done it in the past.
Where does our philosophy come from, to change the way we eat, on a Monday? What significance does this have? Why are we programmed to want to begin on Monday, anyway? In comparison, and I will use myself as an example here, when it was time for me to quit smoking, I didn’t say to myself, “Yep. It’s time. I’m going to smoke all the cigarettes I can until Monday, because on Monday, I’m going to quit!” Maybe I did things differently than most, but I don’t think so: when my mind was made up and I finally felt ready to quit, it happened the moment I ran out of cigarettes, and refused to go out and buy another pack. This was in the middle of an obscure Tuesday, I’m sure, but midday is just as good as any time to make a life changing decision, don’t you think?
Research shows “starting a diet” on a Monday actually sets you up for failure, and this makes perfect sense to me. Think of your overall attitude during the work week. Mondays are not your happiest days, and if you’re like me, and you enjoy food, pairing an already bad day with a certain food restriction looming overhead is just asking for trouble. Some people do fine with this setup. For me, the best results come from the times when I wake up, ready to change. When I first started Weight Watchers Online, I was so excited to start, I went to the grocery store in the afternoon to prep for the first day of clean eating, and when I got home, I knew it was time. I began that afternoon.
There are these certain cliches when it comes to losing weight and “dieting” that people often say to one another. The absolute beauty of a cliche is that they’re stated frequently and become that of a mantra because they’re true. I can’t tell you the amount of people who have said, “it didn’t go on all in one day, so it won’t come off in one day, either,” or “everything in moderation.” How many times have you heard, “eat healthy, exercise regularly?” I’m not saying that these are not difficult things to do, especially with all the wonderful hiccups of life standing in your way, but there is a very real tone about these statements that seems rather resounding when it finally hits you and you really “get it.” Perhaps my favorite one of all, “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.”
Maybe you disagree right now. That’s okay, but a certain understanding of the truth in this statement is that until you realize you have to permanently change the things in your life that have made you overweight, you will always battle your weight. A lot of people say it’s going to be easy, but they lie. The diet industry is a multi-BILLION dollar industry, annually. If all of those get-slim-quick pills, programs, shakes, bars, and smoothies actually worked, everyone in the world would be thin and there would be no use for a multi-billion dollar industry anymore. Doesn’t that make sense? I’m not saying none of them work, because they will, if you partner them with proper eating and exercise. Speaking from experience, these items fail when it comes to longevity. What happens the moment you add carbohydrates back into your meals after restricting them for months? How about dinner with friends after weeks or months following pre-packaged, portioned, frozen meals? I know what happens to me.
My best results come from understanding what I really want out of life and really taking an interest in how healthy habits equate healthy living and the positive results I’m looking for, that last. Eating healthy and exercising is not easily obtained until you figure out what works for you. There is a very specific equation to weight loss, and you can achieve it whichever way works best for you, but the equation will always be to burn more than you take in. You need to find out for yourself how you’re going to enjoy exercise, and how you can incorporate it into your life. You need to figure out what your eating patterns are so you can learn to curb the habits that prohibit your successes. And you don’t need a Monday to figure it all out.