I know unhealthy when I see it.
Posted: Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013
Photo by: Nathan Abplanalp Photography
Brittany Sajbel is an associate attorney in Concord. Her March wedding planning has hit quite a few bumps in the road, but she remains positive and sane with the help of her amazing fiance, Neil Love, and their two furbabies, Gemma Bean and Kitty Caroline. Contact Brittany here.
For the first few months of the Carolina Bride Get Fit Challenge, I was on fad diet after fad diet. I tried Atkins for quite a while because I've had success on it before, and in the first month, I lost a good amount of weight. When Atkins became too boring, I tried South Beach because a coworker recommended it and it was similar to Atkins. I alternated between low calorie, low fat, low carb, and low sodium, but all of the switches wreaked havoc on my body and my weight loss.
If you were following the actual weigh-ins on the Challenge homepage, you saw that my weight plateaued for large part of the competition. Some of this was due to things that were beyond my control, whether it was water retention, timing, or even forgetting to take my shoes off. For someone that definitely started the competition overweight, I kept feeling like there should have been a bigger jump in the scale from month to month.
In the later months of the competition, I joined a gym and added significantly to my exercise routine. In addition to the running I had been doing all along, I started adding a weight lifting regimen that a trainer helped me with. I felt stronger and healthier, but I was still frustrated that the weight wasn't moving. I was in a state of constant restriction, and I do not have the willpower or schedule to regulate myself like that.
Dieting had to go.
Over the last couple of months, the weight has again begun to slowly and steadily come back off, to the point where my mother warned me at a recent dress fitting that I needed to start "maintaining" so my dress doesnt fall down in March. Im not quite at a maintenance point yet, but its definitely the closest Ive felt in a very long time.
When I say "no dieting," I mean no painful set of rules or a checklist that I have to follow meal by meal. No schedule of five to six small meals a day or weighing out portion sizes. I want to be healthy, not a body builder.
Extreme diets are called "extreme" for a reason. Imagine other things you've heard labeled as "extreme"- sleep deprivation, wind chill, blood pressure. None of these things are fun or something that our bodies are equipped to deal with for extended periods of time, so why would you subject your body to that? When something is "extreme," your body can only tolerate it for so long, and that's why fad diets don't work. After a period of extreme and unnatural restriction, your body wants to hoard all of the water, nutrients, and fat it can. Yo-yo dieting at the core.
I don't "diet" anymore, and its helped me tremendously with my self-esteem and guilt, which is what so many women face. You cheat or even accidentally screw up once and the day is gone. You ate a cookie, so eat three more. Youre having pasta, so eat the bread. We have to get past thinking like that and eating like that, and it requires a whole new mindset.
Now, I have made a commitment to myself to eat healthy as much as possible. Every time I order a salad instead of a sandwich, its a victory, but I dont feel bad when I decide to eat the French fries, too. With my new skills, I know how easy it is to eat 1000 calories of pasta and how at my exercise pace, that would take about an hour and a half to burn on a treadmill. The thought of that alone stops me every time.
Its virtually impossible to maintain a diet unless it becomes a lifestyle. Some people are incredibly successful on diets because they change their lives around them. They have a state of constant restriction and are constantly waging a war of good foods vs. bad foods. Im only 27 and love traveling around the world. There are no bad foods in my book. There is nothing that I wont try at least once, and Im not going to limit my options when Im eating at a fabulous restaurant or out on an amazing date with my fiancé. But I know unhealthy when I see it, and I can pick and choose when I want to make those decisions. Thats a lifestyle that I can live with.
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