Dieting – Does it work?

I mentioned to a friend that I was on a diet.  Their response was, “dieting doesn’t work – it’s a waste of time”.  And it’s not the first time I have heard that said.  But what exactly doesn’t work?

My mother used to diet when I was a child.  Her approach was to eat as little as possible and to cut out everything from her diet that she really liked.  If she was very lucky she managed to do this for about a week.  Her weight is perfectly under control now as instead of doing this she eats healthy food.  You could, however, eat the same things as my mother does everyday and still claim that dieting doesn’t work.

It’s not that dieting doesn’t work it’s that our expectations are too high.  Even if you follow a strict eating plan put together but a very experienced dietitian it does not mean that after a couple of months that you will have a body like one of the models you see on the cover of a fashion magazine.  Those models work really hard to look like that and surely everyone knows by now that even pictures of the most beautiful people in the world are modified for print.

Why am I writing about this?  Today I stepped onto my Wii fit and realised that I weigh exactly the same as I did one month ago.  Does this mean I should give up my diet?  Surely it’s a waste of time being careful what I eat if I weigh the same?

I am not dieting so that I am lighter when I step on the scales.  I am dieting as I want to be healthier.  We have become so obsessed with how much we weigh and being fashionably thin that we have forgotten that it’s possible to be thin and unhealthy.  That by cutting out whole food groups from our diet we can damage our internal organs.  That people who live in affluent countries can suffer from malnutrition because it’s more important to fit into a particular dress than to worry about what’s happening inside our bodies.

So I will continue eating healthier food even if my weight stays exactly the same.

3 Responses to “Dieting – Does it work?”

  1. Jonathan Hollin Says:

    Don’t get hung up on a diet Karen. Eat well, enjoy your food. Remember it’s moderation that matters.

    The best advice I can give you is to worry more about exercise than diet. The body can cope with a few excesses if it is kept active enough to maintain a high metabolic rate.

    So run, swim, cycle, walk… climb stairs instead of taking the elevator, etc., etc.

    Keep the machine active and the fuel will be burnt rather than stored.

    Kindest regards.

  2. karen Says:

    I have been trying to find a way to fit exercise into my normal life.

    In an ordinary day I spend about 45 minutes walking. At the minute I am averaging about 4 hours per day but that’s because I have visitors here.

    We aim to buy bikes in the autumn once it cools down a bit. It’s still over 30 degrees C outside and I don’t feel like cycling.

    I know that I need to exercise more but must admit that I hate gyms. I also haven’t gotten up the nerve to try going to a yoga or a martial arts class. We are moving apartments in October and the new apartment block contains a gym – so Marty is hoping that I will consider using it. It’s also right beside a swimming pool and sports centre. Maybe if I feel too nervous I’ll ask my Japanese teacher to go with me and explain how everything works!

  3. Jonathan Hollin Says:

    Well martial arts would be great for you as would boxing. Swimming is a good whole-body exercise and walking at a decent pace is also good. Stair-climbing is a much under-rated exercise. One thing worth remembering is that the best burn rate is achieved when you vary your heartrate – changing pace is a good way to do this. For example, when walking change your speed frequently, do some hill walking, break into a jog from time to time.

    Remember also that you have to exercise for 20 minutes before you’ll even begin to burn fat.

    It’s also very important to remember to rest. Your body needs a recovery period. So vary your exercise along with your diet. Rest muscle groups by switching to a different activity.

    You don’t need to go to a gym, all you need to do is make slight lifestyle changes.

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