For tomorrow? We Diet*.
At least, that seems to be the motto of many, this time of year. Over the next month there will be open houses and company dinners, family feasts and friendly parties, bountiful tables, gift baskets and bar carts.
So it’s no surprise that one of the most common resolutions, come January 1st, is to Diet in one form or another.
The problem is, or can be, that Diets are notoriously unreliable. Many just plain don’t work. And why is that?
I think it boils down to 3 main concepts:
- Diets are negative.
- Diets are restrictive.
- Diets are temporary.
Negative because many focus on the can’t-haves and the must-nots. Restrictive when large categories of food are eliminated from the diet–no carbs, no fats, no this, no that. And temporary because they are used to reach a specific goal and then abandoned (if not abandoned earlier when the dieter becomes discouraged). Only the weight loss, if achieved at all, cannot be maintained when old habits are returned to and, thus, the cycle begins again. There’s little to no lifestyle changes that stick outside of the Diet period.
Not to mention the fact that a month spent feasting at the holiday table takes several months of effort to undo.
This year, though, my friends and I decided to Diet early.
Yes, you heard right:
I’m currently on a Diet.
Despite the fact that I don’t believe in Diets at all, I agreed to try this one with some friends for a few reasons:
- It’s based on positive reinforcement and rewards.
- It’s permissive, allowing for days off when life interferes with our best intentions.
- It’s focused on more than just weight loss.
It’s called The Game On! Diet and it’s co-authored by a television writer and a bodybuilder, so take from that what you will–I didn’t read the book (reading Diet books is a special kind of hell I don’t choose to put myself through, though I hear–from our ring-leader–that it’s a good read). Instead of counting calories and scale-watching (though you do weigh yourself at least weekly), you earn points for eating balanced meals (5 a day), getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, daily exercise and even starting good habits and working to stop bad ones. It’s fun to compete against friends and have teammates to celebrate and commiserate with.
That said, it’s not perfect and I’d be lying if I said I was 100% drinking the kool-aid. While it does not suggest blocking carbohydrates or fats from your daily diet, it does lump all fruits together with the carbs as well as protein-rich beans and legumes. In fact, if you’re a vegan who prefers not to get your protein solely from soy products, you would not be able to follow the dietary guidelines as set forth by the book and website’s guidelines. Also, calories are not counted but portion sizes are–even though a fist-sized portion of whole grain is not necessarily the same calorie or nutrient-wise as an equal volume of fresh fruit. But that’s not the end of the world–Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and other meal programs can be followed in place of the Game On! guidelines.
And my bladder has yet to be convinced that 3 Liters (approximately 12 8-ounce glasses) of water is a good idea.
What I Hope to Gain (or Lose)
Do I expect to lose weight doing this? Not really. If I do, that’s a wonderful side-benefit. My primary motivation was to finally get a daily exercise regime started. Game On! only requires 20 minutes a day, 6 days a week in order to earn 140 points for the week (expecting you to take a day off from that, too). That, it turns out, is quite doable even for someone like me who hates exercise with a passion–I’ve been getting up early and spending my 20 minutes with the WiiFit before work and it’s not that bad! I’m also improving my posture by ditching the slouching habit (mindfulness in all forms) and practicing my baritone near-daily as my newly started habit.
There’s as much chance that I’ll be paying for an opposing teammates pedicure, next month, as enjoying one of my own (the agreed-upon prize at the end of the 4 weeks), but I’m going to do my best to not let me team down.
*For the purposes of this discussion, capital-D Diet refers to the departure from your nutritional norms in the effort to “better” yourself. Little-d diet refers to the general concept of food and nutrition.