Why do I buy diet books?

24 Dec

Diets don’t work. I know this with every fiber of my being. Dieting leads me to an unhealthy and draining cycle of famine and feast. I stick to the diet for a few days, even a week, and then I feast on a scheduled cheat day or just because I can’t stand the deprivation any longer.

I’ve never been happier than since I quit dieting and stopped weighing myself. It was so scary at first. The first day I took back control of my meals outside of ‘feast’ day and started my day without weighing myself felt a little like being adrift. I wasn’t sure if the current would take me somewhere good or bad. Would I eat in a healthy and enjoyable way or would I let loose and gain more weight than ever before? My calorie-counting-app is forgotten.

The first day went well, then the next and the next. I now detest the thought of weighing myself. What’s the point? I can tell if I’m bigger or smaller by how my favourite jeans fit. Weighing myself just makes me feel like crap. Even when I lose weight I only feel happy for a few minutes before I set myself a new unattainable goal. I might weigh myself a couple of times a year but not every morning or even every week. It’s so freeing. The scales no longer set my mood for the day. In the shower I can think about the day ahead, not about how the number on the scale is wrong.

The bottom line is that I am thirty-five years old and over the course of my adulthood I have read every diet book I could get my hands on. I know how to eat healthily. I know how much to eat. I know I need to exercise when I can. I know what to do. We all basically do. It’s not about fads or eating organic. It’s about eating as well as you can as often as you can, enjoying occasional treats and exercising in a sustainable way. It’s about you being in control of your own health, not a book or a doctor or a dietician.

Then why am I so excited by the release of the book The Petite Advantage Diet by Jim Karas?

It seems that while I have successfully let go of the need to count calories and weigh myself obsessively I haven’t yet released my search for the latest dieting tip. Here’s the difference though. When I read diet books now or articles and interviews I read to learn. I use the information as advice, not instruction. I read them not to follow them to the letter and change my entire life as diets want you to do. I read them so I know what they are about, so I can pick up tips if I like them and so I can disregard other advice with some semblance of knowledge. It actually makes me appreciate my new-found freedom from regimented diets.

The Petite Advantage Diet hasn’t even been released yet. It’s out on 27 December and I have pre-purchased my copy. I first became aware of it while watching The View on Foxtel. Jim Karas has probably helped many people with the books he has written and with his work with patients. I have read all the samples of the book I can find. It certainly seems to make sense. But it is so strict. Two days of 1100 calories and then one of 1600. Who wants to count calories!

I’m not against diets and diet books. I just wish everyone realised they have to find what works for them and they need to make small and gradual changes, not abrupt and unsustainable ones. Read any book you like, but don’t change your entire life drastically. For example, after reading this book I have learned that I might benefit from eating a larger breakfast and a smaller dinner. I might do that some days if I feel really hungry in the morning. I was also interested in his advice about cardio. He advises against excessive cardio and I learned this myself years ago. The more cardio I did the hungrier I became. But I don’t go to the extreme of cutting out all cardio. What stupid advice. What about my cardiovascular health? So I have reduced it. Instead of 40-60 minutes of cardio I do 20 minutes on my cross trainer and then I do 20 minutes of calisthenics like pushups, crunches, lunges and stretches. I don’t do this every day and I don’t always do them on the same day. I do them when I can. If I’ve had a big meal or some extra birthday cake I might throw in an extra 20 minutes of cardio but no more. It works for me and you need to figure out what works for you. When I can I jump on the trampoline with my kids, chase them with a water pistol and play soccer with them at the park.

Most of my exercise can be done at home. Once a month I might go to my local gym for a spin class but only casually. There’s no way I’m becoming a member. I don’t need a baby sitter, special clothes or equipment to maintain my weight. I have my well-worn cross trainer and my recordings Total Body Sculpt with Gilad which I swear by. My triceps are awesome!

So read everything and do what you can. Weigh yourself if you feel the need to but not every day. Enjoy life and good food. Drink some water every time you have coffee or tea. Take a multi-vitamin as a back-up. Start your day telling yourself you are beautiful and doing your best. Then do your best to eat healthily over the course of the day and know that if you ate a little too much and exercised too little you can always do better tomorrow. Do you really need someone to tell you to eat more fruit and veg? You only like apples and carrots? Eat them every day if you like. Do you want some chocolate? Have some and enjoy it. Enjoy life.

I read a recent interview with actress Kyra Sedgwick. She never weighs herself because she says the number is never right. Instead she chooses to do her best and since she stopped weighing herself every day she found herself not obsessing about food. She chooses not to think about food every minute of every day. She focuses on work, her kids and living life. She has freed herself. I am in the process. I hope you can free yourself too. You will do just fine.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

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