Road To Good Health : From Fad Diets To Baby Steps!

Posted: October 3, 2014

Want to switch to a healthy lifestyle? Ditch fad diets and take small steps towards your fitness goals, says this post.

Weight loss is a fad these days, and fad diets are very significant in people’s lives. People have successfully lost weight by subscribing to such programs – selling meal plans that promise weight-loss or waistline-reduction by huge numbers. Now, the priceless question follows: how long does that last? Till you’ve paid the subscription/bought their diet plans, or longer? The bigger truth is – fad diets don’t last longer if you don’t change your perception towards life.

So, what exactly is your fitness goal? Is it a temporary weight loss endeavour or is it to change your lifestyle towards one of consistent healthy living? You have to think these over before you embark on the fitness path.

I’ve listed why one should not fall into the trap of fad diets, and how one should plan for healthy living:

Temporary promises and quick-fixes

Fad diets actually became popular through immense marketing via media where clients are interviewed in episodes and women/men narrate stories about how many pounds they’ve lost and how many sizes of their jeans they’ve reduced. Voila! now women can slip in their svelte jeans which they haven’t dreamt of in a while! I don’t want to demonize such claims, but practically speaking, fad diets are very short-lived. Moreover, enthusiasm over such diets skyrockets in the beginning, but with time, regularity declines and ends up in an endeavour which didn’t generate results as expected.

Too good to be true

Sometimes such promises are too good to be true. For example, 25lbs lesser in a month or so. Wow! is it that simple? I cannot deny the fact that people haven’t benefited from such programs, but often such schedules demand drastic reduction of food consumption, or exercising ruthlessly, which sometimes becomes an unreachable fitness goal.

For example, a person who’s just starting out on the path cannot sustain a sudden meal reduction. A normal daily  intake of 2000-2500 cal/day compared to a dip of 1200-1500 cal/day couldn’t happen in a month or even several months. Even if one manages a week or so, sustaining such changes for long is difficult and damaging. As a result, most of the aspirants give up and very few stay dedicated to such programs.

Money-making strategy?

Seldom do these programs teach one how to change one’s lifestyle towards healthy living. Instead, they focus on numbers. For instance, how many meals can make one reach their desired weight or waistline. At the end of the day, we love results! So one should weigh the odds – what is the objective/goal? Is it short-term or do we want to move towards healthier living for a lifetime.

Big claims, unsupported by Science

Often these weight-loss programs talk about studies to sound more authentic, which many a time aren’t even scientifically proven or written by any scientific journal. Such institutions recognize such referrals and carry more weight, so quoting them can get many subscribers. People are so attracted towards numbers and desired weight loss, that they care less about the authenticity of such claims.

One’s desired body weight cannot be achieved in one month or even several months. The bigger challenge is to maintain such a weight even if one has actually achieved it. So the best way to approach such a mission is to take baby steps and be consistent on such an endeavour.

Tips to help weight loss, and move towards a healthy lifestyle

Small cut-downs on desserts/sugary cravings

Let’s start small. The highlight of such effort is to try to cut down on calorie-laden desserts/sweets which many of us absolutely love. For the first time, it would be hard to make such sacrifices, so, go slow. Make small goals, in a week maybe once or twice you satisfy your cravings for desserts or whichever fatty stuff you like. Remember, drastic reductions are often short-lived and leads to even larger consumption.

Exercise twice/thrice a week

Easy to say but it is very difficult to actually go to a gym or  walk or whatever be the mode of fat burning/healthy living. Often, we are tied with work, and exercise gets the last priority. True, hundred percent. But from my experience, I found it’s the best way to take a break – hit the gym! I find it extremely relaxing and it gives me a sense of accomplishment. Above all, I get more energy to work. Work around your schedule, maybe simple yoga at home or some skipping, whatever your schedule permits.

Eat healthy and control portion size

Practice eating a balanced meal comprising of carbohydrate, protein, vegetables and fruits, and indulge in desserts on some days of the week. Start small and then try to avoid fatty options like pizzas and oily fried food. I know it’s hard, so I emphasize – start small. Our aim is a healthier lifestyle and not a short term drastic change.

Keep your mind healthy

Mind health is an integral part in whatever we do in life. Being happy about what we do plays an important part in our success. It is extremely vital that we love what we are doing. So the  change to a healthier life-style can only happen if we believe that we want to embrace a new lifestyle with possibly lower calorie foods, more exercises/walks, and staying happy.

Once in a while, break the routine

This is completely my personal take on routines we set for ourselves in life. I love breaking rules sometimes – indulge on those decadent desserts, those guilty pleasures which might shoot up your sugar level, or just take a break from work to give yourself a much needed time-off, and feel completely free. Once  I’ve done this, I’m so energized and happy that I myself crave for the routine to be back in my life.

Truly, as the saying goes – “Change is the only constant in our lives” – be it towards a healthier one or a skinnier one, whichever you choose. The objective should be a smoother and calmer transition, if we are aiming for something that should last a long long time and not something very drastic and immediate.

I cannot deny the fact that fad diets have helped many, and they have successfully lost weight. The other side is-  very few can stick to such drastic changes suddenly. So my advice would be – go slow, take baby steps and be steady and consistent on the path for a while. Automatically life will adapt to that change and the new adaptation will be your new lifestyle.

Disclaimer: My write-up doesn’t assert that fad diets and weight-loss programs never obtain the desired results, but my research and my own experience tell me that a change in lifestyle is more helpful to obtain such results and lasts longer.

Pic: akalat (Used under a CC license)

An Indian upbringing, educated in Economics, with a Banking profession past, relocated to United States

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