Weight Watchers Wednesday Rebooted: Dieting vs Lifestyle Change

I think I mentioned the idea of bringing back Weight Watchers Wednesday posts and weighing in on a monthly basis, but it’s possible I just thought about it.  I’m notorious for doing that.  In any case, I made the decision to bring it back.  Today was supposed to be the first weigh in post, but my meeting was cancelled last night due to winter storm Saturn (and can anyone please explain to me when and why they started naming snow storms like they do tropical storms and hurricanes?)

So I don’t have a weigh in for you today (I’ll post that for you next week), but I’ve had this post written up in my head for a while now.  It’s actually something I was thinking about when I wrote about getting back into the weight loss mindset, but that post was long enough on it’s own, and I didn’t want to further complicate it by bring in a discussion of dieting.

Yep, I said it.  Dieting.

Dieting gets something of a bad wrap especially in the healthy living blogosphere.  It’s all “diets are bad!”  “Dieting is evil!”  “Viva la lifestyle change!”  “All you need is a lifestyle change.” And while I absolutely believe in the importance of making a lifestyle change and that a lifestyle change is a very necessary part of then weight loss process, I also think that for many, many people, myself included, dieting is a very necessary part of weight loss too.  To me, making the lifestyle change is necessary to help you maintain weight loss, but it will only takes you so far into weight loss.

Enter dieting.  Yes, dieting.

I’m just going to say it.  Dieting is not evil.  Well at least it isn’t inherently evil. Yes, people do a lot of really absurd things in the name of dieting – severe calorie restriction, drinking lemon water with cayenne pepper and honey, only eating foods that are yellow or some shit like that.  This is what makes dieting “evil.”  

But at it’s core all dieting really is, is that “simple” equation for weight loss. To lose weight you have to burn more calories than you consume.  And when you strip away all the crazy, the process of making sure you’re consuming fewer calories than you’re burning, that’s dieting.

In a perfect world, I would eat appropriate portions of clean foods 100% of the time (or at least 80%), and the weight would fall away.  Sadly, I’ve come to learn the world is far from perfect and so am I.  If clean eating and portion control were things that came naturally to me, I probably wouldn’t be in the position of needing to lose weight.  I mention it often and mentioned it again in my March goals, but tracking is key to weight loss for me.  If I’m not tracking, the weight does not come off.

I also have to restrict some foods.  I don’t eliminate foods from my diet completely (unless I don’t like them of course), but there are some foods I can’t keep in the house.  For example, crackers.  I have zero self control when it comes to crackers.  Case in point, on Sunday I bought a box of Trader Joe’s triscuit crackers for the tuna noodle casserole I made for dinner last night.  That box of crackers was empty Tuesday night.  When it comes to crackers, my kitchen is basically Thunderdom…or maybe Hotel California.  In any case, I don’t buy crackers.  I don’t let myself have crackers at home, but I certainly don’t stop myself from having crackers in my soup..or on their own…at a restaurant.

Sometimes I also have to make the tought decision and say no to something even though I really want it.  This mostly happens with beer.  You might remember that I heart beer, but I don’t need to drink it every week at game night.  Especially when you consider I’m never drinking some kind of watered down light beer.  I’m drinking the fully (calorie) loaded craft beers.

Call it what you want, but this is dieting my friends.  I changed my lifestyle in 2009.  I’m still not at my goal weight.  If simply changing my lifestyle were enough, I should be there by now, right?  The only time I see the number on the scale drop is when I’m actively tracking my food, following a diet program (calorie counting, Weight Watchers, whatever), and restricting myself from some foods.

I don’t think diet needs to be a four letter word.  I think we just need to redefine it.  We need to stop shunning dieting and embrace healthy dieting.

What do you guys think?  Do you think dieting is evil?  Do you believe in the idea that all you need is a lifestyle change?  Do you follow a diet? 

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6 thoughts on “Weight Watchers Wednesday Rebooted: Dieting vs Lifestyle Change”

  1. I also love crackers. Especially with a bowl of tomato soup. I can almost go through an entire sleeve of Ritz, which has to be at least 50 calories (per cracker)! Anyway, I am not ant-diet, and by far not a model for healthy living. However, I think that once someone is in their “healthy” weight range, they shouldn’t waste their whole lives stressing out about their weight. They shouldn’t continually dwell on what the scale says. There are people I see every day who look overweight, but they can out swim me, out bike me and out run me. They will probably live to be 100, but they don’t fit society’s norm for weight. I doubt they going from diet to diet and never just being happy with themselves, they are putting their focus on more productive endeavors, and I admire that.
    Pete B recently posted..My Run in the SnowMy Profile

    1. Seriously, give me a couple of slices of cheese, and I could house a sleeve of crackers in no time! This is why I run. This is also why even after I reach the healthy weight range I will still need to do some amount of dwelling on what the scale says, and unfortunately, I think that’s true for many people.

      There are so many complex issues surrounding weight – is BMI an adequate measurement for healthy weight, weight vs fitness, our overall preoccupation with weight and the scale – but so much of it is about perception and how we think and talk about these ideas. Because there is no one size fits all, and as you mentioned, there are a lot of people who look and are overweight that are still incredibly fit.

  2. Intersting post! I still lean torward calling it an eating style or lifestyle, rather than diet, because I think of diet as “needing to lose weight” and hopefully, the way I eat to start to lose weight is the way I keep eating after I lose weight. I think the huge disconnect is that a lot of people think they get to “get off” the diet when they hit their goal weight and eat whatever they want!

    But at the same time, diet literally means what you consume! So the word just has this warped negative connotation! And apparently I feed in to that by avoiding saying it!
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    1. I really love your comment because it illustrates how this whole issue really is just a matter of semantics!

      I DO need to lose weight (or I did back in 2009 – now it could be debated) so that fits directly into what you think “diet” means. But I will also continue eating healthy whole foods, making my meals at home, and maintaining the various healthy habits I’ve developed over the last four years well after I reach my goal weight. That’s why I think the lifestyle change is the key to maintaining weight loss vs being the key to losing weight. Because the reality is that for a lot of people, they need to calorie count and restrict certain foods (diet) in order to lose an ounce.

      Plus, there are some elements of losing weight that you are able to “get off” of once you start maintaining a weight loss – for example, I get 5 (or 6) additional daily points plus once I go into maintanence mode. I’ll probably always count points (lifestyle change?), but to maintain, I don’t need to be nearly as disciplined (dieting?) as I do in order to lose weight.

  3. I’m with ya on the word diet. I don’t think it is a horrible word. Technically, it is defined as the kinds of food that a person habitually eats. You could have a horrible diet. You could have a clean and healthy diet.Dieting is when you purposefully pick foods that allow you to control your intake. A lifestyle change would include everything INCLUDING your diet. Exercise, going to bed earlier, etc. When choosing to loose weight, you are choosing a diet that allows that to happen. I’m all for it and have no problem using the word.
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