I have started more diets than I can possibly write about. Because I’ve started so many times, I know I must have ended many too. The ending is never as exciting or memorable and usually I don’t even recognize when a diet is over. Sound familiar?
While paying attention to our health is important, we all know that dieting is dumb, the results don’t last, and we usually end up compromising our health.
We often spend more time preparing to go on a diet than we do the actual dieting. We buy the diet food, new exercise clothing and equipment, diet books and other “things” that we think will make us skinny. And don’t forget the exquisite binging that goes on the day before D-day.
This post might not be for everyone, but it could be. It isn’t about losing weight, cutting carbs or drinking shakes. This post is about finding a healthy way to eat and move that will support your lovely life.
The UnDiet and Exercise Lifestyle
If you want to be healthy, stop obsessing about what not to eat, and live your healthiest life possible, welcome to the UnDiet. You won’t lose 5lbs in 5 days, or accomplish any other ridiculous health claim. What will happen is that you will have an opportunity to feel a little better tomorrow than you did today, and even better, and perhaps lighter the day after that.
UnDieting does not require a list of foods you can’t eat. You don’t have to give up anything. UnDieting does not require calorie counting or points calculating. It doesn’t even ask that you ban bread forever or never have a cocktail with your friends.
To successfully UnDiet all you need is…
- the desire to feel good and be well
- one hour of movement per day (or less to start)
- short list of foods that make you feel good and contribute to your well being
Keep your food list simple and short. Change it each week. Eat the foods on your list most of the time, and don’t sweat the times when you occasionally eat off the list. I’m not going to tell you what percentage of time to eat what. That is up to you. Life and eating does not have to be about math.
Stress has been been scientifically proven to cause weight gain. (Here comes the light bulb moment) If stress causes weight gain, and dieting is stressful, the stress that comes from traditional dieting and “measuring up” will eventually cause weight gain. Oh, sweet irony.
- eat less than you think you need from a simple list of foods
- use smaller plates if that helps
- when you eat, just eat
- when you eat too much, move more
Your simple list of food should be food that you like and food that contributes to good health. You can change your list from week to week, and season to season depending on how much variety you need. I suspect that just as we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time, the same applies to food we purchase. By limiting your weekly list, you will have less waste in your refrigerator and spend less at the grocery store. Look to your favorite cookbooks for inspiration, or websites like Stonesoup. Aim for simple, clean food.
If you go out to eat, choose something from the menu, eat less than you think you need, and enjoy.
Sample List (my personal list)
- bagel thins
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- whole wheat pasta
- basmati rice
- garbanzo beans
- red wine
- dark chocolate
(note: I am a vegetarian, so my list might look different than yours. That’s ok, our bodies and needs are different too)
- Do something you enjoy
- Move everyday
- Rest intentionally for 5-15 minutes
Move for one hour every day. Move within your ability. If you want to walk for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening, do that. If you want to practice yoga for 60 minutes or play volleyball, do that. Some days you might try 30 minutes of cycling and 30 minutes of push-ups and sit-ups. While 60 minutes is a good time to aim for, start where you want to start, and commit to that time period each day for a week and then reassess.
With exercise plans past, I’d make lengthy plans and calendars, track heart rate and reps and then burn out after 90 days and do nothing for the next 90. The UnDiet invites you to move how you want each day.
Included in or in addition to each 60 minutes of moving I recommend Savasana (Corpse Pose). Traditionally done at the end of a yoga practice, you can do it after a walk, strength training or any exercise. Take 5-15 minutes to lay down and breathe. You don’t have to pray or meditate or do anything but lay there. Here is a step by step approach to Savasana.
You don’t need any equipment to start the UnDiet. You don’t need to get ready to start, no farewell to carbs weekend or cleaning everything out of your cabinets. Just start simply without expectation of immediate results or even long term goals.
Reduce the stress that comes with dieting and go live and be healthy and happy.
If Scott Stratten agrees to write an introduction about the magic of UnNess, and gives me permission to coin UnDiet after being inspired by his UnMarketing, I might write the UnDiet book. Publishers, call me if you’re interested. Isn’t that how it works? 😉
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or health professional. This advice comes from a chronic dieter who is changing her life. Take it for what it’s worth.
If there is enough interest in UnDieting, I am considering a small forum that would run from September through December so we can share ideas and ditch dieting together. Leave a comment below if you would like to participate or send me an email.