Well, for me what came after a diet was a hot mess. And by hot mess, I mean depression, binging, low self esteem and isolation.
Lisa’s post today got me thinking about so called “plans” that some of us have been on in order to lose weight or to get in “figure competition” shape. Yes, it is wonderful to have goals, but what really happens after the diet is over?
The aftermath of a diet is often referred to as a rebound. It’s what happens when you restrict your food intake and over exercise. Your body wants to “rebound” to where it was before and will do almost anything to get there (i.e. binge)
Fitness Competition Crazy
Lisa and I (and a few other bloggers) frequented a fitness forum where it was quite popular to be dieting for Fitness and Figure competitions. It was also common for people not competing to be on strict diets. I still go back to the forum from time to time, but I am not a frequent poster. I think it’s because my mentality towards exercise and dieting has completely changed and I don’t have the interest in competing as I once did.
A couple of years ago I also was really into figure competitions and began my journey to the stage. If you read my story here, you’ll find that I never made it there. Halfway through my prep I threw in the towel to save my sanity (or what was left of it).
The weighing and measuring of every morsel of food was just not my thing. It was not that I couldn’t do it, because I could. It’s not hard to weigh and measure. It’s just not something that I wanted to keep up for life and it began to really drive me crazy. Going out to dinner became something I feared and I even began to avoid family and friend get-togethers (which is very unlike me). I was changing. I was letting food and exercise dictate my life.
The Easiest Part about Dieting is the Diet
This may sound strange, but the easiest part about dieting is well…the diet. I was told what to eat and when. Simple enough. I bought the food, cooked it, and ate it.
Life Goes On…Even when Dieting
The hardest part about dieting is living the rest of your life. Your life doesn’t stop when you diet. This was the hardest thing for me. I often wished I could be dropped off on a deserted island with a gym and clean foods for 14 weeks until my show. That way I would not have the stress of family, friends, school and work. I could just live my life around food and exercise. But that is not realistic (and not to mention it sounds completely sad to want to live like that). You have to still live your life.
Diets Don’t Work Long Term
We hear this all of the time. Diets don’t work! But we still do them. We want a quick fix. We want to look perfect and we want to look like that now.
I didn’t realize how hard it would be for me to come off of my strict diet. I figured I would just go back to living my life the way that I did. In a sense I did that. The first thing I did after giving up my competition was eat a chocolate bar and make a martini. It felt great to do that because I said I could! I made that decision, not anyone else.
However, the psychological aspect of coming off a strict diet began to kick in. I felt immense guilt for eating non “clean” foods. I weighed myself religiously. I also had physiological symptoms. My blood sugar would all of a sudden drop and I would feel like I could pass out. I believe this was from having my carbs low and all of a sudden adding a ton of them back in. My body felt out of whack. And let’s not forget the food binges. I would binge every single night. My hunger was out of this world! I felt like a failure when I would binge.
The “rebound” after a diet was miserable. It took me about 6 weeks to feel “normal” and for the binges to stop. I had to just stop the dieting mentality and try my best to eat “normally” and to eat enough throughout the day. Many people who diet strictly for long periods of time may take a lot longer to feel “normal” again. It depends on the severity of the diet and over exercising. It’s not healthy to live like this.
Next time you consider going on a “diet”, ask yourself if it’s something you can maintain long term. Are these going to be life-long habits? Or are you just looking for a quick fix? If a quick fix is what you are after (think low carb diet) than be prepared for the aftermath. Your body will rebel.
Life Long Changes
Losing weight or whatever your goal may be is about making changes that are permanent. It’s about making new habits. It’s also being realistic with your goals. I know that I could not maintain a low carb diet, so I will never eat like that to lose weight. If I wanted to lose weight I’d have to make changes that would stick with me for life (smaller portions for example).
Look at anyone who has lost weight and you’ll most likely see that they’ve changed some of their old unhealthy habits (drinking too much soda) and added in some healthy habits (adding in more fruit and vegetables) to maintain their new weight. You really won’t see many people eating like a fitness or figure competitor for the rest of their life. And if you do, then that is something they can maintain (and God bless em’, because I can’t imagine eating chicken and broccoli four times a day!).
Can Plans Work?
Sure, any “plan” can work if you are able to stick with it long term. Do I use a “plan”? Absolutely not. I don’t have any plans except to eat each day and try to get in nutritious foods to keep me feeling good. I also eat my fair share of “junk”, as you all witness here 🙂
What is the craziest diet plan you have tried or have heard of?