This week, a very unfortunate conversation occurred at work. Fad diets became the hot topic. Sugar cleanses. Juicing. Atkins. Paleo. Keto. Carb free. Raw food diet. Cranberry juice cleanse. Cabbage soup diet. Many of these diets are temporary-no one can live on cabbage soup for a lifetime. And juicing is fun until there’s cake. Then, cake wins. ALWAYS. Cake wins, always.
I’ve done my fair share of diets. And I’ve tried the odd thing to lose weight. Drink unsweetened cranberry juice with every meal. Know what that does? Makes you hate life. I did Paleo- and it helped. However, you can’t really eat like a caveman. Know why? Because there’s no more mammoth, and everything we eat is completely different than anything that existed ten thousand years ago. But several of the rules are good ones. Eat foods in their natural forms. Cut back on highly processed items- and anything that isn’t natural.
And really, THAT is the rule that fad diets have taught me. Atkins and Keto focus on keeping carbs low. If you tend to binge on carbs (cookies, cakes, fries, etc), setting yourself a limit is great. But restricting yourself to 30 carbs a day (helpful note: that’s 2 pieces of bread) for life is no one’s dream. But saying “at each meal, I will have 10/20/30 carbs” allows you to have a goal.
With Paleo, I focused on eating things that occur naturally. Paleo tells you to not eat beans, dairy, and most starchy veggies. This, once again, is not something I can maintain. I love milk, ice cream, cheese, and potatoes. Giving all that up for life is an impossibility. But eating natural food, cutting back on artificial ingredients, and eating more whole foods gets you most of the nutrients you need naturally.
Most cleanses are also not maintainable. Drink only juice for the rest of your life? Not going to happen. Most people can’t do that. And those that do a cleanse to “clean out toxins in their body”- well, you body does that naturally. Every day. If it didn’t, you would die. So following a strict, kale juice only diet might help you lose weight- but it may also make you want to kill people. And if you scale back too much, as soon as you give up (and you will) you’ll pack back on the weight. Which makes the suffering so much worse when it was pointless. And there are smoothies and juices that are great. There are days when I drink my breakfast because I don’t feel like eating a meal- and it’s easy option. But a juicing diet would never work for me. Unless it was ice cream. Milk shake diet? I’m in. But otherwise, no. No thank you at all.
Each fad diet has its benefits. And important lessons can be gleaned from all of them. But most fad diets are fads for a reason. No one maintains them for life because it isn’t possible. But I have found that knowing myself, and knowing what I am capable of, helps me find diet tweaks that work. And those things are different for everyone. Research, try different things, and find what works for you. There isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to anything in life. And leave room to eat foods you love. Because sometimes things DO taste better than thin feels (and I should know, I’m fat).
Up until the start of this year, I had given up on the gym. Not on exercise (I meander along pretty often just fine at home), but I knew I was going to need a bit of a push to help me lose more weight. So back to the gym I went. And once there, I started meeting with a trainer. I need to have someone push me, check my form, and make sure I’m not slacking. You know, slacking. Like walking on the treadmill while eating a doughnut. Or walking on the elliptical while eating ice cream. . . BOTH of which I have done. So, having someone watch me exercise, while awkward, seems to work for me.
Each week I go to the gym, and off to the trainer I go. Now, at most gyms, you go in, they have you meet with the trainers, they give you a free session, then they tell you they will charge you some fee per session. And if you say you don’t know if you can spend an extra $50 a week to meet with them, they say “that’s less than one fancy purse a month! This is an investment in your health!” as they look at my purse, or clothes, or watch (or pudge), and judge me. But at Planet Fitness, meeting with a trainer is free. And each class with the trainer is small- a max of 5 people. And most times, it’s only me- attempting to reduce the jiggle a little each time I go back. Oh, jumping jacks- yes, that sounds fun. Let me just grab some shapeware to secure the belly fat in place, and a sports bra to wrangle the girls, and I’ll get right on it. Run backwards with weights? Sure, what could go wrong? Not like I’ll fall down and hit myself in the face and chest with those. The trainer comes up with many new and creative ways to torture me, all under the “guise of exercise”. And it works. I’m building muscle and losing weight, pushing myself harder than I thought I could. As an added bonus, I came home this week after my meeting with the trainer and ripped the handle right off the freezer (pictures below).
I have also found that going to a trainer has put my competitive nature into full drive. If there’s another person with me doing the same thing, I push myself harder to match (or, mostly, beat) them. I always feel accomplished when I can outperform the skinny buff girl or tiny gymnast ninja that is attending a session with me. And, of course, an added bonus if I outperform my husband.
It can be a bit stressful to have someone watch you exercise. But the payoff is often worth it. And having someone who knows what to do show you how to do it is even better. Of course, I’m also being told to clean up my diet and “try harder” to “create a better version of myself”. But I figure meeting with the trainer one to three times a week also gives me the chance to meander along at home on the elliptical while eating ice cream. And that, my friends, is priceless.
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