Myths of Modern Day Dieting
1. It's all about willpower.
The first myth of modern day dieting is that willpower is required. Yet people often spend more willpower on weight management than any other area of their lives. In this day and age, and in this toxic food environment, weight struggles aren't a willpower issue, they're as Yale's Dr. David Katz would put it, a skillpower issue.
2. Scales measure health.
Scales don't measure the presence or absence of health. Nor do they measure happiness, self-worth, or success. Scales measure one thing, and one thing only. Scales measure weight.
3. Dieting must be difficult.
Simply put, weight lost through suffering comes back. While there's no doubt that weight management and healthful living require effort, if the efforts required include regularly facing off with hunger, blindly denying yourself foods you enjoy, or following a dietary regime that doesn't fit your tastes, they're not going to last.
4. You shouldn't eat unless you're hungry.
For those who struggle with dietary control I can't imagine a more dangerous piece of advice than, "you should wait until you're hungry to eat". Hunger influences choice. On the other hand, organize your eating so that you're not hungry, and then you've got a shot, as "willpower", when it comes to dietary choice, is often simply the absence of hunger.
5. You can outrun your fork.
While exercise has truly fantastic health benefits and markedly mitigates the risks of weight, you're far more likely to lose weight in your kitchen than you are in your gym, and if you're exercising solely for the purpose of weight management, you run the risk of quitting perhaps the single healthiest behaviour you could adopt if and when the scales don't fly down.
6. Cheat days are wise.
There's no need to cheat if you're happy with the life you're living. While I'm all for thoughtful indulgences, in our current non-intuitive, hyper-calorific food environment, cheat days, even cheat meals, can easily sink your weight management efforts.
7. Some foods must be forbidden.
While of course there's no all-you-can eat chocolate weight loss program, there's also little doubt that if chocolate is one of the loves of your life, the likelihood of you living forever-more without it is slim to none. It's about the smallest amount of chocolate you need to like your life, and for most chocolate lovers, zero isn't a sustainable amount.
8. There's one best diet.
Different strokes for different folks is definitely true diet wise, and it's dead simple to know if you're on the best diet for you. Just ask yourself the question, "Could I happily live like this forever?", and if the answer's "no", you're on the wrong diet. The corollary's true too - if the answer's "yes", and if you're happy with your health, don't let any diet guru or zealot try to tell you different.
9. Muscle gains outweigh fat losses
Have you ever told yourself that the reason you're not losing weight is because you're gaining muscle? Oh how I wish muscle were that easy to gain! Muscle does take up less space than fat (it's denser), but it really only starts to impact scale weight when you're at a super low body fat percentage. Don't be lulled into complacency or be fooled by this easy-to-believe myth.
10. You should save your calories for dinner
If you know you've got a big dinner planned, while it might intuitively make sense to try to skimp on your daytime eating, if you show up to your indulgent meal hungry, you're likely to eat back your savings and then some. Bottom line for most meals out - if you save your calories for dinner, your overall daily total may well wind up higher than if you don't.
11. There are bottles full of weight loss
There are no shortage of products promising remarkable weight loss benefits. Yet the only thing remarkable about those bottles is that they're legally allowed to be sold. If there were such a thing as bottles full of weight loss, the world would be very slim indeed.
12. The last ten pounds are the hardest
If you want those last 10lbs to stay off, well then they'd better not be any "harder" to lose. "Harder" usually implies extremes of effort - lots of white-knuckles to pass by the yummy stuff, more gym sweat than is enjoyable, or incredibly monotonous eating and denying yourself the ability to enjoy food for comfort or celebration. Well guess what? You're not likely to live with those extremes for good and as a result (and you know this is true) it's not a matter of if, but rather of when those last 10lbs are going to return. Your real last 10lbs, while I don't know which 10lbs they're going to be, and while they will certainly be the slowest 10lbs, shouldn't be any "harder" than your first 10, and if they are, you're doing something wrong.
13. The most dangerous myth of modern-day dieting: Weights should be "ideal"
If I had to pick the single most toxic, backward, and yet desperately believed societal myth about weight there's no doubt it would be this 13th myth of modern day dieting - that weights should be "ideal", that people of similar heights are supposed to weigh similar amounts, and that numbers make useful goals. They don't. But if you believe that they do, well that's likely to lead you to all sorts of stupid when it comes to trying to lose as it's a belief that has fuelled the past 60 or 70 years of traumatic and extreme diets.
Like every other area of your life, your goal with weight management or healthy living is to do your best, and whatever weight you reach living the healthiest life you honestly and actually enjoy - well that's your "best weight". And Yoni Freedhoff is here to tell you, whatever that weight is, it's frickin' great.