Saturday, December 18, 2010

Are you on a diet?

From Atkins to South Beach, Weight Watchers, Clean Eating and everything in between—the diet industry is booming large and in charge. (And consequently, so is the food industry. More on that later.) Every diet out there claims to be the one for you, and they all promise weight loss. Now, I don't claim to be an expert on these diets (or any other diet out there). Let's be clear that I'm not a dietitian or a nutritionist, but I do know a thing or two about eating.

Combine that with my personal training experience, and I feel confident in my ability to help you decide which diet is right for you. However, let me be clear on one thing—I don't think any of you really need to be "on a diet." I do, however, think all of you need to focus on healthy eating. Clean, healthy eating. That's really the best diet out there, unless (of course) your doctor tells you otherwise. The diets I mentioned above...all tools, all resources that try and teach you the proper way to eat. They can help, but there are certain things you need to ask yourself before beginning any bookshelf diet:

1) Will I be getting enough calories? How does this diet cut calories? Do I even need to be cutting calories? Calories are pretty heavily emphasized. It's what we all immediately turn to whenever we talk about our diets and losing weight. "Cut the calories...gotta cut the calories...that's too many calories for me!" Familiar statements, right? Well, let it be known that we all need a certain amount of calories to simply exist, and then our activity levels affect how many calories we need above and beyond that. So make sure that any diet you take on accommodates those numbers. Otherwise you run the risk of being malnourished. Which, as you know, leads to a whole slew of other issues. Not sure how many calories you should be taking in? Read this: "Eating enough? Four signs you might not be."

2) What foods can I eat on this specific diet? When it comes to any diet out there, the quality of the food you "get to eat" is always important. Any diet you devote time to should focus primarily on healthy eating. Not supreme restriction or total devotion to one food group (or food brand). Most of us need a healthy, balanced diet and making major cuts in food groups can sometimes affect the "healthy, balanced" aspect if not done properly. So those Fast Food diets you hear about? Not good, even though people lose a significant amount of weight. Because really, how healthy can they be at the end of the diet when all they've taken in is, well...a whole lot of nothing in terms of nutrition.

3) Does the diet push exercise? It should. If it doesn't, then you're missing out on half the story in your healthy eating/weight loss book. They go hand-in-hand, and any legit diet knows that. 'Nuff said.

4) Is there anything that makes me go "hmmm"? There shouldn't be. Good, makes-sense diets are as natural as they come in terms of processes and foods. You shouldn't have to do anything extraordinary or eat anything really weird to find balance in your diet. HCG drops under the tongue...hear about that diet yet? If not, don't worry. HCG is essentially a hormone that pregnant women produce. I don't know about you, but the very thought of putting that under my tongue makes me gag a little. It doesn't matter how much weight people seem to be losing with this method, it's just downright odd. And it most certainly makes me go "hmmm".

5) What's the proof? Whenever you read about a new diet, or if you consider going on a certain specific diet. Research it. Don't just go on the Internet. Talk to professionals. Your doctor, first and foremost. Maybe a nutritionist or dietitian. Just talk to someone and get the real scoop. Find out whether or not the diet is the real thing. And certainly ask about the success rate once the diet is done.

Based on the above, I really believe that the smartest diet out there is the common sense diet. And by that, I mean clean eating. Smart eating. Normal eating. I know those three descriptions offer room for differences in definition, but really—just eat healthy. Watch what you eat, it's really not that hard! Journal it if you have to. Really, just focus. Educate yourself on what's good, what's bad in terms of all that food out there. And always, always seek the help of a professional—your doctor will ultimately know what's best for you, so always value their opinion over anything else you read out there.

Oh, and—exercise. A diet isn't a diet without some exercises added in for flavor.

(Don't forget to check in tomorrow for the results of my Fashletics giveaway!)

Question: What crazy diets have you tried? And how did you learn what works, what doesn't work for you? Essentially, I'd like to know how you tackle the diet aspect of your fit life.

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