Stop Dieting, Start Getting Results!!
Updated: Nov 21, 2019
I have perfected the silent scream - where I scream totally silently either in my head or physically turn around and release a therapeutic muted scream everytime I hear people talk about diets.
"Slimming world really worked for my friend - she lost 4 stone" says to the side and facing away and "then put it on again".
"I love Weight Watchers - you lose so much weight and you don't have to exercise"
"I lost 5lbs last week on the juice diet"
I will discuss these and other dreaded phrases later...
As a qualified and experienced Personal Trainer I work predominantly with women and the main objective for 90% of my clients is to "lose weight" (more on this later) and tone up. I have therefore become something of an expert on how to achieve this and am elated to report that "going on a diet" will not only and categorically not work in the long term but these diets and plans will in fact hinder your progress.
Why Dieting Doesn't Work
We've all heard of the magic success stories of the big corporate weight management companies, two of them I've mentioned above but there are hundreds. Everyone reading this will have heard someone talk about their mate who lost 6 stone (and then gradually put it back on once they stopped) and yes, you know what, if you've gone from eating bacon butties/ready meals/take-aways and guzzling crisps/chocolate/bread and coke like they're going out of fashion to a calorie controlled diet then yes, you will lose weight. Funny that! These diets can be useful then if your eating habits are totally out of control and you are very overweight as they can give you some discipline, structure and can start the ball rolling. But because you are human and will get bored of always counting calories, points, sins, nectar points or whatever the bloody things are, or you will just be bored of always being on a diet/hungry you will stop once you've reached your "goal weight" - that elusive beast, if not sooner and will go back to eating normally again. Which is when the weight piles back on.
This is the one that makes my blood boil.Any diet or plan that tells you not to exercise is unethical, dangerous and total bullshit. Unethical because your body needs to move and be active - our physiological food into fuel system relies on us expending energy and then using food to replenish our muscles as well as every single cell in our bodies so discouraging exercise is like pretending our bodies don't actually work the way they do.
The diet companies are dangerous because all they are interested in is you losing weight. What even is weight? We are roughly 65% water, then there's organs, muscle and fat - what we should be focused on is losing the excess blubber, the fat. So straight away the focus is on something pretty unrelated to what our goal is. And what influences weight? Apart from hydration, salt levels, water retention, time of the month the other biggie is; you guessed it, exercise. It's far quicker and easier to measure if we simply restrict calories and don't move much so that you are losing fat and the most powerful fat burning tool - muscle mass as well. Let's not forget that muscles weighs more than fat which ruins their "weight loss" formula for a start. Working out and increasing lean muscle mass isn't what makes you bulky but is how we become toned and look good naked (sold?)
It is also the driving force of of metabolism - with greater muscle mass you become a calorie burning machine both at rest and whilst exercising with our muscles using up carbohydrates stopping them becoming fat cells and so are absolutely integral to fat loss.
A lack of muscle mass then actually prevents you from losing fat so why do the diet companies want you to do something so harmful to your fat loss journey? Because believe it or not - they, the faceless diet companies making millions from your life-long yoyo dieting don't want you to sort your life out, they want you to fail and to keep coming back to them paying for app's/products and keep the cycle going.
A lack of movement and too many calories = fat levels increase. It's almost like they want you fail... (raised eyebrows and shock on face)
This is the one that baffles me. If you've got the willpower and discipline to live on a bloody juice diet for 30 days or can be arsed to stick to a specific plan for a few months ( I know I can't - I loves my food too much) then why oh why can't you just you just eat a healthy and balanced diet with the occasional naughty treat? We are better and smarter than to need to be told that exclusively living off beige (delicious beige - bread/biscuits/crisps/pasta etc ) will cause us to balloon and look and feel terrible. We know what constitutes healthy food and ignorance is unacceptable. Once you have made the decision to change and start living more healthily then commit and realise that eating well and exercising for two weeks/two months isn't going to cut it. You owe it to yourself and your health (and waistline) to eat well and exercise as standard. Yes there will be days when you fall off and eat everything sat in your pants on the sofa but you chuck them in the f*** it bucket and start again, for tomorrow is a new day.
Quality of Information
The diet companies; who we have established want you to fail and keep coming back to them have a very cunning way to make you keep failing. And this is to give you misleading, sometimes totally made up or if I’m being very generous, not the full picture about nutrition. And why would they? They don’t want to educate you about the subject you’re paying them for. That would be madness! So they sell you their nutritionally empty meals full of carbs, tell you an avocado is worse for you than a snickers and that it is perfectly healthy to live on sugary meal replacement shakes that contain minimal vitamins. Any diet that tells you to totally cut out entire food groups (apart from maybe the Mars food group) is a fad and is nonsense. Our bodies are amazing and unless you have a genuine allergy or intolerance we need fats, carbs, protein, vitamins and minerals to SURVIVE and taking away one of these will cause your body to top working as its designed to.
The Plan That Works
So what is the best diet to go on. Well my friends, it's called the common sense diet and unfortunately for me this is one that can't be glossily sold or packaged (If it could be I'd be a millionaire Rodders) because we all know it already and it is very simple:
Eat a balanced and varied diet comprising of all major food groups fats, carbs and protein, veggies, fruits, nuts, natural produce - drink water and exercise
High fat, high sugar foods and alcohol to be enjoyed and consumed in moderation
Do this not for 5 minutes but FOREVER
To lose excess fat, burn more calories than you consume - Calorie Deficit
It really is that simple. You don’t need a gimmicky diet to tell you what you already know. Lots of fresh produce, freshly prepared, stay away from processed, eat your fruit and veg and get off your bum. It’s very simple so don’t overcomplicate it.
The next time you feel like undertaking a new healthy living plan, you want to tone up, lose fat, get fit follow these simple steps and you will never need to go on a diet again.
The Steps To Long Term Success
1.Repeat: There is no magic, quick fix solution. You aren't severley cutting calories and you are exercising so you aren't going to see ridiculous results in one week. This is your life - forever now and not in a bad way - turning your body into a flexible, sculpted, lifted, fat burning machine takes time and requires consistency so find an exercise you love and do it often - keep eating well all the time - yes you'll have a day here and there where you eat biscuits and a burger and as long as it's not every day it is part of a balanced diet.
2. Workout - Unless you have a serious injury or condition where you are unable to engage in physical activity then there is absolutely no reason why you can’t and shouldn’t be exercising. I’ve heard all the excuses and that’s all they are - excuses. No time, no money, whatever – I’ve heard it all before and there is always a way around it. Go for a walk, walking is free, instead of sitting on your bum on an evening do a little HIIT session in your front room or when the kids have gone to bed. You don’t just need to go to a gym. Find a class – get your Strictly on and do some ballroom dancing, join a football team, swim. Whatever it is if you are lucky enough to be able then MOVE YOUR BUM!
3.Stop making excuses - Everyone is busy, everyone has difficult issues in their lives and noone is trivialising these issues. It's how you deal with these issues that dictate how you feel. Feeding yourself nothing but rubbish and not moving thinking that a tea-tox or whinging is going to change your life ain't gonna happen. Eating and exercise WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER. It won't cure disease, make money troubles dissappear or make shitty people nicer but it will give you more control and a more positive outlook. And a banging bod - and noone can argue with that!
4 .Be accountable - We’ve all seen Secret Eaters. My favourite show where people are flabbergasted as to how they are so overweight whilst they pour a pint of double cream onto a mixing bowl of frosties. We must be honest about our food habits in order to sort them out. We must also remember that no one is going to do this for us. You could have the best trainer in the world and if you aren’t putting in work after the sessions 3-4 + per week then you aren’t going to see results and will have no one to blame but yourself. You get out what you put in and are responsible for yourself.
5.Stop Weighing Yourself - It's the most inaccurate method to gauge how much excess fat you have - Fact. I measure clients and do inch loss and calipers instead to measure progress. If you are exercising, which you should be, then that lovely muscle that's helping you burn fat and look amazing, weighs a lot more than fat so scales just make you feel worse. Step away from the sad step and stop associating weight with worth.
Yes it can be hard to eat well all the time and of course there are days where the thought of going to the gym or having a smoothie is about as appealing as a maths exam but it is always worth it.
If you need help getting started on your new healthy living plan I offer some basic nutritional advice as part of my personal training service and will be here to support you with technique tips, workout inspiration and to smash your fitness goals. For more in depth nutrition and dietary information please ask and I will put you in touch with specialists who can help with specific issues.
Thanks for reading.
Alex Hurter - Personal Trainer, Pilates and Barre teacher, Antenatal and Postnatal Training Specialist.
Founder of Love-Fit www.love-fit.co.uk