WHY DIETING MAKES YOU FAT by Bija Satterlee, BA in Dance, BodiesbyBija Certified Personal Trainer and Master Fitness by Phone® Coach. 3 Times U.S. Representative to the World Senior Dancesport Championships (Standard and Latin). Published in Dancebeat, Jan 2005 DANCERS LOVE TO LOOK GOOD! All dressed up, dancing our hearts out, and we’re in Heaven! But doesn’t it wreck your party when you can’t zip into your favorite outfit due to recent weight gain?! Well, “the Holidays” are over, and Resolutions are still fresh; so what are YOU doing to get back your lovely, svelte figure? WAIT! DID YOU SAY “DIET”??? Everyone has their favorite diet. But did you know that diets have only a 5.2% success rate? Dieting strikes at our survival instincts because it mimics semi-starvation. The mere thought of dieting makes people run and eat their last indulgent treats before boot camp starts. (There’s your first sign of trouble). Everyone wants quick and permanent weight loss. But beware! Rapid weight loss is rarely sustainable, and when the pendulum swings back at you, it is much stronger than before. This is a great time to compare popular diets, examine their limitations, and check out alternatives while you are still motivated to shape up! DIETING, DEPRIVATION *** sigh *** Weight-loss diets are based on deprivation. Every diet specifies what you cut out: (calories, fat, carbohydrates, etc.) so you will lose fat. In the early stages of any diet you see results, and it is satisfying! The scale drops quickly, though mostly from water. At some point, however, you stop losing weight. It’s that stubborn plateau where you can’t get any further, no matter how hard you try. DIETS BASED ON “Cutting It Out” • Cutting Calories If you cut more than 500 calories a day from your diet, your metabolism slows way down, making you feel listless and weak, and low energy. You won’t have enough energy for normal life, much less to dance or work out. When you finally eat more, weight gain is inevitable. • Cutting Fat If your diet is high in fat or saturated fat, cutting some of it is a good idea. But cutting fat out all together results in loss of fat-soluble vitamins, which are needed for healthy skin, eyes, nerves. People usually feel hungry all the time on ultra low fat diets, due to lack of satiety, and cannot sustain it for very long. • Cutting Carbs The Zone and Atkins Diets are based on eating low carbohydrates. These diets are both low calorie diets as well. They require a lot of measuring and package-reading. If you truly eat only 40% carbohydrates, and are dancing and working out, you will begin to feel very tired, and low-energy. Also, when you do reintroduce carbohydrates to your diet, the pounds tend to pack on quickly. Research shows most of the low-carb dieters had regained their lost weight by the one-year point. Cutting out empty carbs like white flour and sugar isn’t a bad idea though. DEPRIVATION ITSELF is the biggest drawback of dieting, no matter which diet you’re on. Even though you may feel you have control over things (a great feeling), there is a strain quietly building. And BUILDING. Until one day you are faced with one of your ‘forbidden foods,’ you’re excessively hungry, and then... WOOPS! There goes your control, there goes the WHOLE PLATE OF COOKIES, there goes your diet! This is not such a great feeling! But you resolve to begin again. Tomorrow. And so it goes, diet after diet, and your weight creeps up on the scale year after year. DIET DEPRIVATION BACKLASH is the predictable result of dieting. Dieters are always walking a fine edge, trying to ‘stick to their plan’ and avoid at all costs their ‘forbidden’ foods. This is an absolute setup for for rebound, for failure. At some fateful moment, you and your excessive hunger are going to party! But let me reassure you, YOU HAVE NEVER FAILED ANY DIET. RATHER, THE DIETS FAILED YOU! It is absolutely NOT a matter of willpower. EMOTIONAL EATING Have you ever eaten something when you weren’t even hungry, and instantly regretted it? This is one sign of emotional eating, and if left unexamined, can go on for years, making weight loss nearly impossible. EATING is truly one of life’s big pleasures. Fortunately, we have plenty of food available. But somehow we have forgotten how to eat the way Nature intended. We eat when we’re not hungry! We eat for fun! We eat for companionship. We eat to console or reward ourselves. And it works, but only for those brief moments! Then you may feel even worse than before. Have you ever grabbed a bite for the following reasons? • boredom • anxiety • loneliness • anger • depression • happiness It doesn’t even matter if it’s positive or negative, reaching for food at a time other than when you’re hungry is emotional eating. Almost everyone does it sometime. The problem is, it doesn’t solve the problems, it just makes you feel bad about yourself. Infants don’t have hang-ups about food. They’ll let you know when they’re hungry and they’ll push it away when full. Yet children and adults are plagued with eating issues. By adulthood, many people find themselves overweight, eating for all the wrong reasons, and are constantly on diets. People who have dieted extensively can tell you how stubborn the scale can get with each attempt. This can lead to trying even more extreme diets the next time. All this is very hard on the body. ENOUGH, ALREADY! At some point you’ll know you’ve had enough of dieting! Only then will you be able to make the move to Intuitive Eating. It’s the way most thin people eat naturally. INTUITIVE EATING, What’s that? First of all, it is not a diet! It is really an Un-Diet. There is not enough room in this article to fully explain how to implement Intuitive Eating, but the main features are: • Finding your true physical hunger • Distinguishing emotional from physical hunger • Eating only when you are physically hungry • Sensing how full you are as you eat • Dealing with emotions in ways other than food • Making peace with food • Learning to trust yourself with food • There are no ‘forbidden foods’ • Give up the idea of ‘dieting’ ever again Ask yourself before eating, “How hungry am I?” Every time you reach for food, ask yourself “Am I physically hungry, or is this emotional eating?” It is important not to let yourself get completely EMPTY, because excessive hunger is a cause of overeating. NO FORBIDDEN FOODS ‘Forbidden foods’ may be one of the biggest reasons people get fat! Depriving yourself leads to backlash bingeing. By reassuring yourself that special foods will still be there helps takes the mystique out of it. Intuitive Eating is a method for improving your relationship with food. Weight loss is the natural result! It’s an honest process, starting with uncovering food myths and fallacies. Instead of focusing on cutting carbs, or calories, you learn how to eat what your body needs, and you deal with the emotions making you overeat. People lose weight when they stop using food for comfort and then calling it the enemy. DANCERS AND BODY AWARENESS Dancers have above-average body awareness. This is a key to success with Intuitive Eating. The more awareness you have, the more successful you can be with it. Some people pick it up quickly and have success right from the beginning. It is liberating for people who have felt like ‘food junkies’ to begin to trust themselves with food. I have seen marvelous transformations when people give up dieting for good, and tune into what their bodies (and emotions) really need. They are universally surprised that they actually lose weight eating according to their physical hunger! There is more to Intuitive Eating than just these points. But this would be a good place to start. You probably know thin people who don’t struggle with food. They are naturally Intuitive Eaters. You can be too! You may be tempted to speed things up by dieting again. Just know that eating intuitively with non-diet thinking has an 82% success rate, compared to dieting, with only a 5.2% success rate! Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t about willpower or finding the perfect diet! It’s about finding peace with food. Weight loss is the natural result. IF YOU ARE READY TO END THE FOOD/DIET STRUGGLE, and would like more ideas you can implement right away, sign up for Intuitive Eating through my web site. We have 8, 16, or 24 week coaching blocks available. To discuss this or any fitness issues, call Bija at (781) 861-6548 or go to www.bodiesbybija.com. In Joy and Good Health, Bija Satterlee Fitness Coaching for Dancers Get Fit to Dance!