Diet is a Four Letter Word

So is cult. Hmmm.

Last week, Meri sent me a link to this very interesting post from Triathlete Magazine’s website.

You should give it a read. I’ll wait right here.

*folds nine millionth load of laundry*

So? Did you spend half of that article nodding like a bobblehead? Because I did.

Now, keep in mind, I had just come off on my less-than-30 day stint on Whole30, a diet with a decidedly cultlike following. But Whole30 is certainly not the only diet that meets at least a few of those criteria. In fact, most of the ‘diets’ I’ve been on over the course of my life fall into at least one of those categories, most of them more than one.

Similar to religion, I’ve spent years trying to find the one diet that just fit. Except that I accepted years ago that no one religion fully encompassed my belief system, yet I’ve continued to try on diet after diet, looking for the perfect one.

But no sooner had I adopted a new diet plan, then I would immediately start feeling the chafe of the restrictions and questioning whether the principles of the diet were even based in sound nutritional science at all. What do you mean no fruit? Why is peanut butter forbidden, but almond butter is fine? What do you mean no substitutions, I hate beets! Why does everyone need me to drink the Kool-Aid? WE’RE NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO HAVE KOOL-AID!!

Clearly, the part of the article that really spoke to me, the part that gave me one of those elusive ‘A-HA’ moments, was where the author, Matt Fitzgerald, talks about “agnostic healthy eating.”

Boom. Like a ton of bricks. This made so much sense to me.

I’ve said to more than one friend over the years, and even my doctor, that I keep waiting for the ‘magic plan’ that will finally work. And really, I’m an intelligent adult. Logically, I know that unicorns don’t exist and that the rabbit was really in the hat all along and that any number of diets will help me to lose weight if I’m willing to do the work. Still, there is a part of me that likes to believe that magic exists. And that a magical perfect diet exists.

It doesn’t. When it comes to weight loss, there is no magic. There are no fairy godmothers, waiting around to grant our wishes of instant and lasting weight loss.

Sorry. I know, I’m bummed too. (Let’s hug it out, we’ll get through this together.)

The funny thing is, the fact that a diet that is loaded with high quality food and light on processed food is the best option? This is not news. Anyone I know that has had significant, lasting weight loss, has done so by eating more whole, natural foods and less (or no) chemical laden junk, regardless of what name their diet plan had.

It seems so simple when it’s broken down like this. And really, without even really realizing it, my head was already kind of going to this place. Immediately after giving up my quest for a Whole 30 halfway through day 5, I immediately bopped over to twitter and tweeted the following (in several tweets because I am wordy and 140 characters is not a lot):

So, in the wake of my opting not to finish Whole 30, I needed a new diet plan. Decided to come up with my own and I’ve got it! It is a combo of vegan, clean eating, Paleo, weight watchers, low Carb, and a few others. I’m calling it Eat Food That is Good for You in Reasonable Quantities and Don’t Go Off the Rails When You Occasionally Indulge. The name needs work, admittedly. I took my inspiration from the Michael Pollan quote, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Brilliant.

I’m a little sassy on Twitter sometimes.

Look at that. I’m cured! Now that I have had these realizations, the weight will fly off my body like magic!

Oh. No. It won’t. I will still have to do the work. I will still have to make the tough choices, like ‘Cookies for breakfast? No. Not today.’ And I know myself well enough to know that cult-like or not, I do best with some kind of a plan, something with structure. It doesn’t have to be rules, especially if those rules are ‘no ice cream shall ever pass those lips again’, but the support system and the community aspects? Those parts of diets work for me.

Enter Weight Watchers. Surprisingly enough, when I joined, confetti did NOT rain from the sky and I was NOT handed a free toaster for being the member that had signed up the most times. Hard to believe.

While Weight Watchers definitely holds some of the characteristics of a cult-like diet, the one thing it definitely does not do is make any food forbidden. So, while cookies can’t be an everyday thing, and most certainly should never be for breakfast, they are something I can indulge in on occasion.

Weight Watchers is not the answer for everyone. Heck, it may not be the answer for me. But it’s a place where I feel like I can have my agnostic beliefs, where I can do it my way, and still be part of the ‘cult’.

I really wanted to make a commitment, to give this long enough to start to feel ‘normal’, so I prepaid for six months of meetings. I went for my first weigh in on Sunday morning. It was nothing unexpected. The plan hadn’t changed since the last time I joined. The number on the scale was nothing I hadn’t seen there before.

But it isn’t one I care to see again. So, let’s get to work.

*blows an eyelash of my finger*

Just in case.

7 thoughts on “Diet is a Four Letter Word

  1. SOOO love this post! I am a huge follower of the “everything in moderation. make good choices most of the time” diet. It works. Good luck to you in your WW venture. I have heard wonderful things about the program, and I know of plenty of success stories (not magical happily ever after I’m super skinny all of a sudden stories….but real / attainable success stories) from it! Now, get on with your bad self!

    • Thank you! I know a lot of people with those same stories. Balanced nutrition, exercise, hard work. I think that is the key. And a couple of cookies now and then 😉

  2. I do consider diet a four letter word as well and literally cringe at Whole30 and Paleo being called a diet. The purpose of both of those lifestyles is not primarily weight loss (to me that is the goal of a diet). I view those two in the same light as I do vegetarianism, a lifestyle people choose for optimal health benefits. I discovered during my W30 that every part of my body functioned better with no sugar, alcohol, dairy, grains or legumes. I was a frequent migraine sufferer as well as had major digestive problems and they disappeared completely.

    I also spent many years trying every diet known to man looking to drop pounds, somewhere in my early 40’s I decided that a diet will never work long term and I had to find a lifestyle that worked for me and my rule was it needed to be something I could maintain 80% of the time because I was going to enjoy sweets and alcohol and bread from time to time and not beat myself up about it.

    All of us have to try multiple things and fail multiple times to find what works for us and not give up trying. Hoping you find what works for you.

    • I couldn’t agree more that Paleo is a whole (no pun intended) different lifestyle, as opposed to a weight loss program or ‘diet’. And I know so many people that have had great results with both health and weight loss. Ultimately, it just wasn’t a good fit for me, but that’s okay. Weight Watchers in and of itself isn’t really ‘the answer’, I don’t think. It’s just a tool. It will come down to me making the best choices the majority of the time. But I will be joining you in the ‘occasional sweets, bread and alcohol’ pool, make no mistake!

You’ve heard my thoughts! Would love to hear yours here.