We all see the commercials on TV. “Eat brownies and cheesy lasagna and STILL lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks or your money back guaranteed!”… BLAH BLAH BLAH.
Many of us know that this is neither healthy nor realistic. Yet we see those commercials and still wonder, could this actually work? Maybe they finally found a way to make broccoli taste like french fries or to make salad taste like barbecue wings.
Take it from someone who has tried every possible “easy way out” under the sun to lose weight. It is not healthy and it will only make you feel worse.
When I was in high school I went through a summer where I gained 20 pounds. Yes you read that correctly. I ate no differently but puberty hit me hard and caused my metabolism to slow down to a snails pace. My Doctor (who was not kind about it AT ALL) told me that I was already overweight at the age of 14 and I needed to get myself in check.
I begged my mom and dad to let me try my first nightmare diet. I saw the commercials, I could eat some of the things I ate regularly and I could still have dessert and live like any other normal 14 year old, without thinking of the scale. Finally they caved and ordered me a few months worth. This diet boasts that you can eat 6 times a day but it is very tiny portions. They offer tasteless replica foods that are supposed to taste like cinnamon rolls, enchiladas, chicken parmesan, etc. Aka all the food you know you should not be eating to lose weight, but it’s an easy way out diet so no worries the rules don’t apply to you, right?
When I was following Nightmare Diet A religiously, I was always freezing cold. It was the summertime and I was wearing sweatshirts and long pants because I had a chill I could not shake. I also would fall asleep as soon as I came home from school. Being in high school I should have been the most energetic I ever was, not needing to take a nap just to get through the day. After about 2 months of this my parents told me that they were no longer going to order Nightmare Diet A for me because I was literally starving. Sure I lost some weight, but in their eyes it wasn’t worth it because I was withering away in front of their very eyes.
This experience not only frustrated me, but I STILL did not take the time to learn how to eat correctly and still wanted all the benefits of healthy eating without actually putting in the work.
Fast forward to junior year in college. My mom had started doing Nightmare Diet B, a diet program with substitutes protein shakes for two meals a day and also does cleanse days twice a month where you literally only eat crackers and mini chocolates. Obviously I hadn’t learned my lesson the first time around so I decided to torture myself again. I immediately started to drop weight but there was never a second of the day that I was not hungry. I remember counting down the hours until I could have my lunch, which was a Quest bar (I know what a big meal). I would rip that thing open at lightning speed and take the tiniest bites I could so that it would last longer.
But I started to lose a decent amount of weight and I looked good. My friends (and more importantly the boys) noticed so I didn’t really care that I was walking around in a permanent state of hangry with my stomach consistently grumbling. I had felt like the chubby girl my whole life so to shed that image was huge for me.
When I started to get really down on this diet was during “cleanse days”. It was 2 days back to back that you were not supposed to eat any food other than their “snacks” which were chalk like crackers and these little knock off chocolates every few hours. To say that I was actually starving was an understatement. I get that cleanses can work for some people but when you are an active CrossFitter this does not work. During cleanse days I would do a power clean and see stars. I started to make sure I didn’t step near the gym on cleanse days.
Eventually I realized that this was not a realistic way of eating and that I did not plan to be constantly hungry for the rest of my life. Sure I looked skinny and felt good about myself, but as what cost? Why couldn’t I be normal like everyone else?
When I tried to phase out of Nightmare Diet B I gained a lot of weight back. That was because I was eating an unrealistic diet and sure it helped me to lose weight but it also set me up for failure because I could never maintain that style of diet forever.
When we start diets like this all we think about is the immediate weight loss. They say “lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks” and that’s what we focus on. We don’t realize that losing weight that quickly is not realistic or healthy. And we also don’t take into account that hardcore diets are not supposed to last forever. We don’t think about how devastating it is to lose that weight and feel SO GOOD then to go back to eating actual food and gain that all back. It is soul crushing.
It took me a VERY long time to realize that trying to take the easy way out and to lose weight would never work. I tried to lose as much weight as I could in any way that I could lose it, whether it was good for me or not. I didn’t care about the hazardous effects it had on my body, I only cared if it made me skinnier. I hated my body and did not hesitate to punish it by starving it and depriving it of the things that it needs.
Take it from me, someone who has struggled with eating right for almost 10 years: Being healthy and fit is not just about dieting, it is a mindset and a lifestyle. It is about respecting your body and loving your body enough to do what is best for it. It literally carries you through life, why wouldn’t you want to fuel it with the best things for it?
Now I love my body and respect it and eat when I’m hungry (an amazing concept right, actually eating when your body needs sustenance?) and I look better than I ever have. I learned how to eat healthy and what to do to lose weight safely. The difference is, now I would never subject my body to that torture! Nightmare diets are not worth it.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net