You're Probably Thinking About Dieting The Wrong Way

If You're Reading This, You're Probably Thinking About Dieting The Wrong Way

A diet isn't something you select, it's something you live.

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Popular culture has always framed dieting as something you do for a short period of time to get the results you want. "6 Weeks to 6-Pack Abs," "The 8-Week Shred," etc. You can imagine the magazine and book covers right now, with bold yellow letters and one or two picture-perfect models. Don't get me wrong, I'm positive if you followed their plan you could get some decent results, but certainly not the picturesque body physiques they love to advertise.

The funny thing is, once you actually understand how the human diet works, you figure out that the way most people think about diets is entirely wrong. You're not supposed to "diet" for six or eight weeks at a time to attempt to lose weight or maintain a good state of health. Let's think about it in an easy example.

You don't go to work six weeks out of the year and expect to have a salary you can live off of all year long. So why would a reasonable person expect a diet you try for six weeks to keep you in shape all year round? Timed dieting doesn't work, because dieting is a long-term game (of course there are exceptions, but this applies to most people). You should think of your diet like it's a math equation, "oh this is a diet I have to do X amount of time to get Y result."

Lifestyle is the biggest factor in impacting your overall diet. Consistency is key in all aspects of fitness, and most importantly, fitness. It's easier to eat healthy foods most of the time and enjoy yourself every now and then than it is to be 100% strict five days a week then crash on the weekend. This is what flexible dieting is, and it allows you to go out with your friends to eat or eat that cookie your friend gives you without feeling guilty. As my favorite fitness influencer Jordan Syatt says, you're never more than one bite from being back on track.

Integrating the habits of healthy eating into your routine makes healthy eating a lifestyle component, not something you have to crutch yourself to. Lifestyles are long-lasting and maintainable, but "diets" as most people know are not. "But what about keto/high protein/fill-in-the-blank diets?"

Here's my honest opinion – 95% of people who attempt fad diets go back to their old ways of eating before they see any progress. I'm not hating on keto or any other style of popular diets people want to try. At the end of the day, it's about how maintainable that diet is for them. If you can deal with a low carb diet that's cool, more power to you. For myself and most people, restraining myself that much would drive me crazy.

Dieting basics are simple. Find out how many calories you can consume per day without gaining or losing weight. If you want to gain weight eat in a healthy calorie surplus, or if you want to lose weight eat in a deficit (~400 calories). You should never have to starve yourself or overeat if you want to change your weight because if you think in the long term, 10 pounds is easy to do over the course of six months. It's all about the long-term, the maintainable.

In the course of my five-year fitness journey, I have tried just about every style of dieting to see what works best for me. I personally abide by a high-protein diet because I am a heavy weightlifter and want to build muscle all year round (this also means I track my macros). Going with a diet where I eat my bodyweight in grams of protein has never done me wrong because protein is essential for muscle building and is incredibly satiating. As far as my fats, I try to eat healthy fats only and fill in my carbs around convenience. I must be proactive through this approach to gain unhealthy weight.

When it comes to dieting, find out what you need to do long-term to have the body you are proud of. Fad diets and words plastered on the front of magazines probably aren't going to work for you, but if you can find a way to make it fit your lifestyle, then, by all means, be creative. Otherwise, find what you can maintain and stick with it.

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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The Difference Between Vegan, Vegetarian, And Some Other Diets

I get asked what it means to be a vegan all the time, so in light of those who have trouble understanding, here's an article defining a few different types.

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Coming to a college full of new people, I couldn't tell you the number of times I hear, "Wait, are you vegetarian or vegan?" It's a question we all get, and sometimes people don't even know what those phrases are. Another, "What does that even mean?" They get mixed up, thrown around, and ranted about in my daily life, and it's quite a trip. I explain over and over again the differences, what I am, and why I am vegan, but the questions always come again.

For those of you who are still confused, I'll help you out a little.

Here is a list of some different dietary types, and what they mean.

Vegan

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Veganism, easily defined, is the lack of meat, dairy, or any animal product from your diet. Honey, milk, eggs, chicken, bacon, pork, steak, beef, etc., are all items vegans don't eat. Many go even further by buying only animal-free and cruelty-free (not animal tested) makeups, body products, clothing, and more. A devoted vegan checks every product used or consumed to make sure it's free of anything animal related. The Vegan Society defines Veganism as, "A way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose."

A vegan diet can also be referred to as a plant-based diet, with all the same aspects, but some plant-based people may not focus on any other products than food.

Vegetarian

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Sweet and simple, vegetarians just don't eat meat. This does not include dairy or egg. They can still eat macaroni and cheese, just no more cheeseburgers or steaks. Vegetarian is pretty straight forward in the fact that they only lack the meat aspect of a diet!

Pescatarian

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Similar to vegetarians, pescatarians eat no meat except fish. They allow themselves to consume kinds of fish, just not beef, pork, or other types of meat.

Flexitarian

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My definition of a flexitarian is someone who keeps to a mostly plant-based diet, with the occasional animal product. These could be people who are transitioning and trying out the vegan or vegetarian diet but are not fully committed to it, for various reasons. Flexitarian could also be someone who just choices to eat mostly meat or dairy free but every few meals will eat something from an animal.

Although this is not technically a vegetarian or vegan diet, it's a great way to start the journey to becoming a vegan.

It's a tricky thing trying to navigate all the diets out there these days.

If you're ever interested in trying out these diets there are incredible amounts of resources available to help you on that journey. Do some research, get an understanding of why people choose these diets and then find somewhere to help you! Good places to start are PETA, The Vegan Society, Vegan Action, and many more. Just type into a google search, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or any other diet and you'll get loads of information! I encourage everyone I talk to, consider these types of change because they're great for yourself, the animals, and the environment.

I hope these brief definitions have helped you to understand some more what these different words mean, and maybe they have you thinking about ways you could change your diet!

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