I've done it all. I've detoxed, teatoxed, juice cleansed, soup cleansed, shredded, cut carbs for an entire month (OK, 11 days), gone dairy-, fat-, gluten-free, and suffered through a brief sugar-free stint — name the fad and I've more than likely put my poor body through it. The promise of fast weight loss sucked me in every time.
But you know what? Not one single fad diet worked long-term — surprise, surprise!
Fad diets have their targets, and since my teens, I've been it! Perfect for anyone looking for that "quick fix" (yo-yoers, you probably get a kick out of 'em, too), but horrible for anyone (i.e., me!) wanting long-lasting results. Looking back, the problem wasn't that I needed to lose weight, my body simply needed to be healthy — a concept that's often ignored when fad diets are involved.
No matter which diet I tried, I wasn't happy and I definitely didn't feel healthier for it. Ditching [insert stupid diet here] was so easy because it didn't satisfy me nutritionally. Instead it was forcing me to deprive my body of what it desperately needed, ultimately pushing me to quit in frustration, or come to the end of the diet only to binge on the foods that I'd missed. And yes, cheese — old friend — I missed you dearly!
It wasn't until my late 20s (and one horrific teatox) I discovered the not-so-secret to ultimate weight-loss success — *drum roll please* — balance! And with a change in my approach to food and exercise, things started to make perfect sense. Weight became easier to shift, I slept better, my skin began to glow, and without boring you with a list as long as the fads I've tried, I became a better, more-balanced version of myself.
You see, it took me only a decade (ha!) to realize that instead of looking for a quick fix, permanent results are found when things are balanced. I quickly ditched the restrictive eating and irrational mind games I'd secretly play at mealtime, and took a closer look at what made me happy and satisfied me nutritionally. It's all about knowing what it is your body needs and fueling it accordingly. Once you nail your nutrition, you'll never be a slave to those sweet/savory cravings again. The key is to make sure each meal is well-rounded and sustainable with a good mix of healthy carbs (like whole grains, beans, and veg, like sweet potato), healthy fats (I'm talking avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil), fiber (hello fruits, veg, and chia seeds), and protein (think lean meats and eggs). It's this healthy meal combo, combined with exercise, that makes losing weight and keeping it off possible.
BUT I'm not perfect. When it comes to craving the naughty stuff (hot chips, cheesecake, pasta, howdy!) I now follow a three-step process. Let's use my latest obsession — ice cream — as the example.
Step one: if you can't happily resist, ask yourself whether it's because your diet is lacking in what it needs to keep a sugar craving like this at bay. If so, fix that!
Step two: if step one can't be resolved quickly, look for a healthier alternative. Maybe a sorbet or a frozen yogurt will do?
Step three: if step one and two simply won't do, just have the goddamn ice cream and don't cry about it. There's always tomorrow!
At the risk of sounding annoyingly clich, life is too short to be on a diet that takes the fun out of my favorite pastime: eating.