Diet vs Lifestyle Change

Back in my college days a combination of stress, digestive problems, and bad eating habits put on about seventy-five pounds on my body. I spent the year after graduating losing it plus an additional twenty-five and kept most of it off for the past decade. I’ve been asked all sorts of questions ranging to what foods did I eat, what exercises I did, and of course the main, super #1 question: how did I do it?

My reply was simple: “Healthy diet and exercise.” Unfortunately as simple as this reply was, it’s not so simple. Most people don’t know what constitutes as a “healthy diet” and if you work long hours in front of the computer as I do, you don’t always have time to exercise let alone know what to eat properly! And isn’t healthier food more expensive than fast food? Besides, who has time to cook?

Then there’s the other problem: if you succeed in losing weight and getting into shape, how do you maintain it? Did you know that 80% of people who lose weight gain it back and then some in less than two years? That’s because their diet program taught them how to diet, but not how to keep it off.

Here’s the sad fact of life and how our bodies work: if you need to lose 5-10 pounds, that’s a diet. For 20 or more, that’s a lifestyle change. You will never be able to go back to eating fast food, drinking soda, and eating bad on a regular basis. Does it mean you can never enjoy those foods again? No, but it does mean you need to continue to be moderate, treat your body right, and stay active or the weight will come back on.

I speak from sorry experience. I kept the weight off as long as I kept active. This didn’t mean excessive quantities of exercise daily, but it did mean a good 30-45 min about 3-5 days per week of doing some form of fitness activity. The moment I became inactive, some of the weight slowly began to creep back on. Working 80 hours a week as a computer programmer did NOT help, and eating less just meant my body got used to eating less: I lost no weight and gained nothing from it.

People these days are too busy. They want a magic bullet, whether it’s surgery or pills. But these are the facts: if you want it badly, you have to work for it. The good news is that you don’t need an expensive gym membership; there are plenty of really good exercises out there that only take ten minutes! There are even smaller things you can do: take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, park your car further away from your place of work or train stop, or even do some of these great desk workouts while at the office.

I’m not your standard fitness nut. I hang out with friends online, play computer games, am a software engineer, yadda yadda. But from it all I gained a bad back, loads of stress, and you can imagine the rest. But what I’m doing is not impossible in spite of all that. I’m happy to say that I’ve been fitting into jeans I haven’t been able to wear in years–five, to be exact. I’m not starving myself, I lost inches and pounds in the first two weeks when I started, and I haven’t suffered any injuries. In fact, I feel great afterwards! And I drink plenty of green tea, for a tea addict must always have tea. 🙂

If you think you can’t due to xyz excuse, just think of this: I lost 100 lbs and kept it off for almost a decade–and only inactivity and bad eating choices helped put back ANY of it on, and that was years later! I’m a software engineer and sit on my ass most of the day. I have allergy-induced asthma, so I know about working around health issues. Because I’m vegan and am wheat-intolerant, I know about dieting on restrictive diets either by choice, health, or both.

Stop the excuses. Change your life! It’s empowering and inspiring both to yourself and those around you. Just do it!

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