Between the South Beach Diet, Atkins, Weight Watchers, the Mediterranean Diet and the newer Paleo Diet, it’s hard to keep up with the latest craze. Yet, research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that 70 percent of adult Americans are still considered obese.
What do we do about that? According to an editorial printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association, we should be forgetting the word diet all together. Progress, according to the editorial, will depend on “adherence to lifestyle changes, including both diet and physical activity.”
Knowing the difference between a diet and a lifestyle change is crucial.
A diet, as we define it today, is a temporary eating plan with an ultimate end goal of losing weight. Diet fads usually involve restricting some kind of food or nutrient — most notably carbohydrates, fats or sugar — and often involve signing up for a program that will cost you money. Meanwhile, a lifestyle change is about more than food: it’s a culmination of what you eat, how active you are and how you see yourself.
A diet is about the numbers on the scale, but a lifestyle change is about you.
That, according to the editorial, is the true key to success.
According to the JAMA article, “To lose weight, you must change your habits. This will happen slowly. Losing one to two pounds each week is great progress.”
It also states your goal should be better health and well-being, not a certain weight or pant size.
Now that the difference is clear, here is how the transition begins:
Transitioning to a healthy lifestyle is not easy, but experts say it starts with small steps. Ditch the soda at dinner for a glass of water or tea. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a little farther away from the store to extend your walk. These things seem insignificant, but add up to create better habits and a more positive attitude about being healthy. Once small activities become part of your day, you can more easily transition into a work-out routine and a healthy meal plan.
“Choose a fun activity and start moving,” the article suggests. “For example, walk or hike. Take tai chi or tap dancing classes. Or join a bowling or basketball league.”
Nutritionists and food bloggers across the web also suggest going to the grocery store with a list and recipes to avoid buying junk food. If the only snacks available to you are healthy ones, those are the snacks that will make it into your daily routine.
Most of all, the most common suggestion is not to expect change to come overnight. Breaking old habits will take time and discipline. The best approach is to be strong and remind yourself that you are building a better you.