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Diets Don't Work


QUESTION:

I have seen and heard many times that "diets don't work".  It's such a catch all phrase anymore that I suppose I'm not really sure what it means.  Diets do actually work don't they?  I mean, you're bound to lose weight right?

ANSWER:

The phrase "diets don't work" means that diets don't work in the long run.  You may temporarily lose weight; however, if you simply go on a diet and don't permanently change your lifestyle habits toward a balance of healthy eating and daily activity, you will eventually gain the weight back.  Approximately 90 to 95% of "dieters" fail to keep the weight off permanently.  This means that traditional dieting has a dismal success rate of only 5 to 10%.  It is estimated that about half of American women are on a diet at any given time.  However, despite this large number of dieting individuals, two-thirds of Americans are over-weight or obese.  Clearly there is a lack of efficacy in traditional approaches to dieting.

So, what is the answer?  We must revamp our lifestyles and permanently incorporate self-loving behaviors that include consuming healthy foods and performing daily enjoyable activities.  Note my choice of the phrase "self-loving behaviors".  Crash diets are punishing, ineffective, and are motivated by self-loathing and body dissatisfaction.  Few people can sustain such a negative way of life.  Instead, focus on the positive.  Don't force yourself to live on grapefruit, bacon, or cabbage soup. Instead, find healthy foods that you enjoy.  If you don't like to run, don't.  Find a form of exercise that is enjoyable to you.  You will find that making positive, healthy changes to your lifestyle can be very rewarding and self-reinforcing.  The end result is a permanent, healthy, and enjoyable lifestyle.

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Our expert, Dr. Sharon E. Griffin, holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in the areas of exercise science/physiology.  She also holds a second M.S. degree in Nutrition and is a licensed nutritionist and an ACSM certified health and fitness instructor.
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