Over the past decade or so, it seems like "dieting" has become a dirty word. Everyone wants to use the term "lifestyle change" instead. If you're on a "diet", it's assumed you are doing something drastic or unsustainable and as soon as you stop the "diet" you will gain back any weight you gained, but if you have a "lifestyle change" then you'll lose all the weight and maintain that loss for life.
While there is some truth to that assumption, it is not really accurate. It certainly is the trendy thing to say: "I made a lifestyle change." Nothing wrong with that. But the word "diet" just means what you are eating. And if you change what you are eating, permanently, then your weight and health will also change accordingly. The negative connotation with "dieting" lies in the fact that *most* people who lose weight DO gain it back. But why? Why do people regain the weight? It's just because they DID go back to their old eating habits. And that is, I think, what people *really* mean when they say "lifestyle change." They mean, "I am not just doing this for 6 months or a year. I am changing permanently!"
Permanent change is *essential* to permanent weight loss. That's common sense. It doesn't matter if you are doing South Beach or Atkins or Weight Watchers or Medifast or the Cookie Diet or clean eating or calorie counting; once you "stop" doing it, if you go back to your old overeating ways you will regain the weight. In fact, the blogging world is *full* of people who made a "lifestyle change" but then "went off" and regained all their weight, because they did not stick with their chosen lifestyle. You can't just stop whatever you're doing to lose weight, eat a bunch of cookies and Big Macs, and think the weight won't come back. But does that mean you *must* lose the weight using whatever method you want to continue forever?
No. I don't think it does.
I often get comments and emails saying that I cannot succeed because I cannot do Medifast forever. Sometimes the comments are phrased nicely: "I worry about you because can you really do Medifast for the rest of your life?" Sometimes they're not so sweet: "You're just going to regain all the weight you lose because there is no way you can do Medifast for the rest of your life!" But the common phrase in all these queries is, "for the rest of your life." Can you do Medifast for the rest of your life?
Well, no. Of course not. But I also don't want to lose weight for the rest of my life. I know lots of folks will disagree with me on this, and that's fine. But this is how *I* see it. I am in the "losing weight" phase of my life. It's a season... a set time frame. Maybe it'll last a few years, maybe months, who knows? But at *some* point I will be finished with losing weight, and will have a new 'forever' goal: maintaining the loss. And the tools I need for each phase can be different.
When the kids were all little and in car seats and booster seats, I needed a mini van. When I bought it, no one said to me, "but do you really want to drive a mini van for the rest of your life??" because it is understood that in different seasons of life, we have different needs. The mini van served me well, running five kids around to soccer and baseball and dance. As my children grow up and move out, the mini van loses its utility, and I start thinking about what vehicle will work for me NOW. Maybe it's time to get a sedan, or a smaller, more gas-efficient car. When I only have one child left to drive around then I won't need eight seats in my car anymore. So I'll sell the van and get something else that works for me.
In the nearly three years that I have been blogging, I have used many 'tools' to lose my weight. I started out just eating more fruits and vegetables and less junk, and I dropped a good chunk of weight. When that was not enough, I started calorie counting. That worked great for awhile, then slowed. I added exercise. That helped. When I plateaued and struggled for a year and a half even with counting calories and eating nutritious foods, it was time for a new tool. And for me, that tool was Medifast. I admit I was hesitant and skeptical at first. But I was willing to give it a shot, because it seemed balanced and useful *to me*. And I have learned *so much* on this program... this "diet." I've lost my obsession with food. I've been given a glimpse into normalcy, without binges, without constantly battling and relapsing and fighting compulsions to eat. I've learned what it is like to have a life not dominated by food-and-diet thoughts. Isn't that ironic, that a 'diet' is what helped me lose my weight-loss obsession?
I wake up happy. My pains and headaches are mostly gone. I have my five Medifast meals every day, 2-3 hours apart... things like protein bars, bowls of chili, chicken rice soup, and other protein-packed mini-meals. I have dinner with my family as well, and have learned to prepare low carb, delicious meals with lots of lean protein and fresh vegetables. I love this way of eating. I eat at least 72 grams of protein and no more than 100 grams of carbs each day. I make sure to get in my healthy fats like olive oil. I bike or walk for 30 minutes most days. And I have dropped about 30 pounds in the past 3 months.
Medifast is a TOOL. It is MY tool for this weight loss season. Can I do it forever? Of course not. Yes, Medifast does have a transition plan and a maintenance plan for when people get to their goals. It teaches you how to eat properly for maintenance, and I will likely go through those programs and blog about them here. But no, I don't intend to 'diet' forever. I already know how I want to eat forever. I want to eat the way I learned to eat before Medifast: whole foods, local foods. Lots of local, grass fed, free range chicken/eggs/beef/pork. Lots and lots of local organic produce. But what I *will* keep from my Medifast experience is eating higher protein and lower carb. I'll add fruits and grains back in, in moderation, but I intend to keep my carbs low and protein intake high. I'll also keep the "mini meals every 2-3 hours" concept. It helps me a lot! I'll keep exercising, and hopefully even increase it as I lose weight.
I know some people DO plan to diet forever. And that's fine for them. Me, I have no desire to count points until I am 90. I have no intention of counting every calorie for the next 50 years. For ME, maintenance will call for different tools. It will be a different season. Diets and Lifestyle Changes are *not* mutually exclusive. One CAN use a diet as a tool, but also permanently change their way of eating and exercising. My lifestyle has *definitely* changed forever. I am never going back.
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