What is your definition of the word diet? Society seems to view “diet” as restricting food and drink intake in order to reduce weight. Today, there are so many diets, it is hard to discern just what exactly is good for your body and what is not. There are diets that require you to juice everything and eat no meat, diets that tell us to take several pills a day and the weight will just fall off, diets that follow a strict Mediterranean theme, diets that require us to drink unidentifiable ingredients to flush and cleanse our bodies of toxins, and now a diet that requires we eat like cavemen.
Each of these diets seems to have one thing in common: they require that we restrict or remove a particular food group or groups. When dietary limitations are placed on individuals, they are being set up to fail, as most will not be able to sustain the restrictions due to cost, lack of food choices/variety, and most importantly, nutritional inadequacy.
I am a huge advocate for eating clean, in other words, eating foods as close to their natural state as possible and avoiding processed foods. I believe we should eat from all of the food groups, in moderation, and we should include exercise in our daily lives. This is my definition of living a healthy and fit lifestyle.
Unfortunately, many of us choose not to take the path that will lead to a healthy, happy and fit lifestyle. Instead, we choose the fast track. We see those before and after pictures plastered in magazines and on commercials, and we want that! We want those quick results!
Dear friends, be careful of what you wish. Chances are you may get those quick results; lose 10, 20 or even 30 lbs on one of those “diets” or “programs.” Here is my question: what happens when you stop following the diet or the program? Have you learned how to eat properly? Can you live forever with the restrictions? Can you afford their products? What are the long-term effects of the diet, program, and supplements?
It is a known fact that the majority of individuals who go on diets will gain their weight back, plus some, when they stop that particular diet/program. Likewise, individuals who utilize special products (i.e. supplements, cleanses, shakes, etc) to lose weight, see reverse results when they discontinue purchasing/using those “special products.”
Additionally, many of the supplements, cleanses, and shakes on the market today are relatively new, and unregulated; therefore, what the ingredients in those products do to the human body over time are unknown. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I want to play Russian roulette with my body, and in a sense, isn’t that what we are doing? Our bodies are not equipped to take the constant yo-yo effects of dieting.
So what is the answer? Well, for this writer it is very simple: Eat 5 or 6 meals a day to keep your metabolism going (3 meals with protein and complex carbohydrate/ 2 to 3 snacks); drink at least 8 glasses of water a day; and—wait for it—exercise for a minimum of 10 minutes every day or 30-45 minutes 3 or 4 days a week (I am talking strength and/or weight training), ensuring you get cardiovascular exercise in for a minimum of 15–20 minutes every day. I cannot emphasize enough how important strength/weight training is for not only losing fat and keeping our bodies toned, but for general health. You will become a fat burning machine!
Let me know what you think!
Merlinda Swearingen is a Navy wife and mother of two growing boys (12 and 10). She teaches group fitness classes at ODU's student recreation center and is a certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor, pilates instructor, personal fitness chef, and business owner with over 15 years experience in the fitness industry. She enjoys spending time with her family, church family, cooking, camping, and finding new information and ideas that are trending in the area of fitness and health. Living a healthy and fit lifestyle is a passion she enjoys sharing with anyone and everyone she meets.