No More Dieting… So Now What?

No More Dieting… So Now What?

Last November, I recorded an episode about Sandra Aamodt’s book Why Diets Make Us Fat. This episode is a sort of next chapter to that. In other words: no more dieting, so now what? If you’ve done battle with the Quarantine 15, you’ll understand why I’m asking this question.

✔️ A lot of us are getting back into the kitchen to cook, but sometimes, that has led to more comfort food and rich desserts.
✔️ We live in a society that’s pretty conducive to yo-yo dieting. Gain some, go on a diet, lose some, burn out, start the cycle again.
✔️ If your eating habits are making you feel less than optimal but you don’t want to go on a restrictive diet, what next? What are the other options?
✔️ Be careful of all-or-nothing thinking. Every workout does not need to culminate in breaking a personal record or feeling like your heart is about to explode out of your chest.

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Transcription by Please forgive any typos!

Hello, hello and welcome to today’s episode of the Causey Consulting Podcast. I’m your host Sara Causey and I’m also the owner of Causey Consulting, which you can find online anytime at I’m recording today’s episode as a kind of next chapter to an episode that I recorded in November of last year about Dr. Aamodt’s book Why Diets Make Us Fat. To date, it’s one of the most popular and most downloaded episodes of the podcast, which is not surprising because any topic around Diet, Fitness, exercise, weight loss, etc, is obviously going to be something that people interact with a lot. And after reading her book last year, and then also watching her TED Talk, which is about the same topic, I’ve come to the conclusion that I wanted to get off the roller coaster of yo yo dieting, getting on restrictive meal plans, and then rebelling and then getting back on and gaining and losing having crazy, insane workouts. So I came to that conclusion. And the question that I’ve been asking myself this year is okay, what next? So to fill in the gap a little bit. Dr. Aamodt does make mention in the book that if you’ve been on restrictive eating plans, or you’ve been on diets that labeled entire food groups as bad or evil, once you liberate yourself from that cycle, you may have a period of time where you go a little bit wild, and all of these foods that have been forbidden to you, you might decide like, Okay, I’m going to make up for lost time and really enjoy things that I like to eat, but have been denied to me by these meal plans and diets and so on. And I’ll be completely honest, I had some of those experiences. And it probably doesn’t help matters much that I love to cook and I’m a good cook, I guess if I love to cook, but I was lousy at it. That might be beneficial in some respects. But no, like I’m a good cook. And I’m I remember, one of Michael Pollan’s food rules is something like, you can eat junk food as long as you make it yourself from scratch. Now, bear in mind, folks, this was written pre pandemic, his books about the Omnivore’s Dilemma and food rules, eat food, mostly plants, not too much. All that stuff was written pre COVID. And the idea behind it is not difficult to suss out, you know, the idea being, if you get home from work and you’re tired, and you’re like, I just want some french fries. Like if you have to make them from scratch, you have to buy the potatoes, wash them and scrub them up, peel them, cut them up, fry them, let them cool down, then serve them to yourself and your family, you’re not going to go through all that you’re tired. So you’re more likely to say, to hell with that idea. I’ll just have apple slices or carrot sticks. It’s like if you have to inconvenience yourself to get the salty, rich foods, you’re not going to mess with it, you’ll just pick something that’s healthy, if that’s what you’ve stocked your kitchen with. And that’s what’s readily available to you after a hard day’s work. But we’re all home now. And there are more people that are experimenting with food and cooking and getting back into the kitchen. So it’s really not a deterrent in COVID quarantine times to say, you can have as much junk food as you want, as long as you prepare it from scratch and make it yourself I think foodies like me that like to cook like to bake enjoy, you know, making full course meals and decadent desserts and all that are like Okay, great. You know, I’ll make all the homemade cookies and cakes and pies and pastries and whatever that I want. And after a while of doing that, it’s like your body starts to rebel like you feel bloated, and sluggish. And like if you’re trying to walk through the snow, like deep snow, like you can still walk and get through it, but you just feel really impeded and it’s like basic activities take more out of you than they used to. And for me, I thought this this doesn’t seem like the right path either. I don’t want to get on a restrictive diet. I don’t want to get on some crazy eating plan where these foods are great and they have a health halo around them and these foods are the devil and you’re bad if you eat them. So I’m like, What next? You know cooking rich, decadent foods. Cool, and that’s fine on occasion. But it doesn’t feel very good after you’ve gone wild for three or four weeks, and then you just feel sluggish and bloated and kind of people have been talking about the quarantine 15, like the freshmen 15 like, because we’ve all been housed for this prolonged period of time, we’re not getting as much activity, as we typically would, you know, some people who are gym rats, that may not have good exercise equipment at home, but they haven’t been able to go to a fitness center, and might have slacked off on their workouts, you know, and, and as I mentioned, we’re able to get into the kitchen more, and people may not be making the healthiest of meals. I know I certainly haven’t at many points in time, you know, if it if it came down to making like a homemade chicken pot pie, or having rabbit food, I would make the homemade chicken pot pie and sit in a warm house and enjoy a warm meal. Well, it was cold and gross and snowy outside like, you know, to some degree, I think that’s just human nature. Being in agriculture, I talk a lot about the seasons and about the real necessity for respecting the seasons. And the reason why they’re there in the first place. It’s not meant to be perpetual summer. I know plenty of beach bunnies who might argue the point with me on that, but no, fall and winter exists for a reason. And there, there needs to be a fallow season and a time of rest. But as you get through the winter, and you start thinking about the warmer months and wearing less clothing, when you do go out in public, it’s like I don’t think that I necessarily want to have a quarantine 15 for the rest of my life, I think I’m ready to start thinking about getting back into shape. And that’s really the core of today’s episode that question of what next, I’ve decided that I don’t want to just throw caution to the wind and go crazy eating decadent, rich, sweet and salty foods. But I also don’t want to get on some restrictive meal plan and don’t want to go back to yo yo dieting. So where do I go from here? As I was thinking about all of this, I realized that I have some distorted mindset issues around food, and exercise, and health and wellness. Like, in my mind, it goes to all or nothing extremes, which I’m sure is happening and no small part due to the yo yo diet culture that we have. But like a workout doesn’t count. I’m using air quotes here, it doesn’t count unless I’m just drenched with sweat. And I feel like I’ve reached you know, peak heart rate level for an extended period of time. You know, or if it’s a weight training exercise, I have to go balls to the walls and act like I’m training for the Olympics, you know, my joints need to be sore, I need to physically be hit some sort of pain after the experience. If it’s food related, then it’s more like the the good and bad dichotomy. If I stayed on this diet, if I ate healthy all day, and I didn’t cheat, then I’m good. But, you know, if I fell off the wagon a little bit and got tired of the diet, then that was a bad day and I did bad. If the number on the scale isn’t where I want it to be as fast as I want it to be, then I’m just doing a terrible job. It’s my fault. My body is not cooperating with me because I am fundamentally failing in some way and that needs to be redressed dammit. Those lines of thinking are not healthy. And fortunately, I’ve come to realize that that kind of weird dialogue was running in the back of my mind, like a program like a subconscious program. So whenever I would get started on, let’s say, trying to make a small change, because I guess statistically everybody says that’s, that’s the best way to go about it. Instead of trying to do a complete 180 degree lifestyle revolution in a short period of time, you’re more likely to have long term success if you just eat the elephant one bite at a time Pun intended pun not intended, you know, if you want to drink more water, start there. If you want to eat more fruits and vegetables, then integrate that if you want to get more steps, then integrate that. But don’t try to just do everything all at once and shock your system. So for me, the question really became how to get from this all or nothing extreme thinking into something that’s more moderate. In other words, how do I find the middle path? What is the middle path for me and my lifestyle, so that I’m not on a restrictive diet and feeling deprived and frustrated and hungry, but I’m also not throwing caution to the wind and eating too many foods that I deep down I know aren’t really healthy, like, it’s totally cool to have birthday cake on your birthday, and to occasionally indulge in treats and sweets and things that are fun. But like, if you’re eating birthday cake every day, or every single week, you’re making some big decadent dessert or you’re a lot of like greasy fried foods, some part of you, I think intuitively knows that can’t be completely healthy. So where’s the middle path, I made the decision to start working with a health and wellness coach. I mean, as somebody who’s in the executive coaching space, myself, I know the value of a good coach. And sometimes we can suss problems out on our own. And sometimes the whole process goes a lot faster. And it also is more incisive if you reach out and get some help. And that’s what I decided to do. Because I really found myself standing is sort of like at the edge of a cliff going alright, well, where do I go from here? I know, the two options that are extremes that I don’t want, but how do I determine what i do want. And it’s been really rewarding to take that journey with someone else. Especially because this individual has a background with mindful eating and good mindful practices in general. So it’s, I don’t know, sometimes I think people mistake mindful eating, for eating so slow, that it takes you 100 years to finish one meal, you know that you have to chew the food until the point where it’s basically sawdust in your mouth, you know, or that you have to stand there at the refrigerator or at the stove and have some extreme existential conflict with yourself in order to decide, do I pick an apple? Or do I pick an orange? Should I eat the cereal? Or should I eat the oatmeal? We’re all busy. You know, when when you’ve got farm tours to do or you’ve got kids screaming at you, or you’ve got the phone ringing, you’re not going to stand at the refrigerator or the kitchen cupboards and have a 20 minute existential dialogue with yourself about what you’re going to choose to eat that day. You know, maybe some people have that kind of time in life, but a lot of us don’t. And you want to create habits that are easy to automate. Like I was talking about my all or nothing thinking running in the background, like a subconscious program, one of the things that I’m trying to do is to replace that subconscious program with something that’s healthy. And certainly standing and having a courtroom deliberation over every meal is not going to cut it. mindful eating can really be as simple as just slowing down and ensuring that you’re eating because you’re really hungry. You’re not eating to alleviate boredom or stress. You’re not just giving into a craving, like I’m not really hungry. But a candy bar sounds so good right now. Or Oh my God, I just saw an ad for a really good cheesy, gooey pizza. And even though they’re not hungry, like I really want to call right now and order that pizza because it looks so good on the commercial. You just want to be more aware of whether or not you’re actually hungry, or Are you thirsty? You know, so many of us are actually dehydrated that Are you hungry right now? Or do you just need a glass of water and being able to understand the cues in your body that you might have suppressed, especially if you’ve been dieting for a long time, you know, if you had some diet that said, well, you’re only supposed to eat at these prescribed time. So even if your stomach is knowing itself apart, and with hunger, you need to just try to ignore that until it’s time to eat again, you may have lost touch with those basic signals. So for me, this middle path has really been carving out a healthier and and fun, enjoyable relationship with food and exercise and health and wellness. Nothing that’s punitive. And nothing that’s like the be all end all of existence. You know, it’s like sometimes, let’s say if you’re on one of those restrictive diets, and you have a meal where you just throw caution to the wind and go crazy. You know, you have an entire day where you’re like I have to give myself a break from this diet, I just cannot do it. Then it becomes a temptation to further that out. Well, I’ve already cheated at this meal, I may as well go ahead or I’ve already said screw it today. I might as well say screw it tomorrow and have like, you know, 6000 calories a day and just have a whole bunch of fast food. Getting away from that kind of thinking in certain foods are good, certain foods are bad or if I’m doing this then I’m cheating. Even just the term like cheat meal or cheat day has a gross connotation to it. It’s not like I’m just going to enjoy myself today and you know, do whatever the mood strikes me to do. It’s I’m cheating. I’m doing something underhanded and lascivious, when really, it’s just not that big of a deal isn’t. Another part of the middle path for me is setting myself up for success and expecting good outcomes. You know, I think when we get on those very restrictive diets, or we start some insane exercise program where you’re having to eat Aleve or ibuprofen and baptize yourself and icyhot, to try to add any level of mobility, like, on some intuitive level, you know, that that can’t last forever, you know that you’re going to get tired of being in pain, you’re going to get tired of being hungry, you’re going to get frustrated with the idea of never again, you’ll never be able to eat cake again. You’ll never be able to go for takeout. You’ll never be able to call in order that cheesy, gooey pizza you saw on the TV, it’s all gone for ever, ever, ever. Like, deep down, you know that that’s not going to last at some point, you’re gonna go No, dammit, I want to have a rebellion. I want that pizza or I’m tired of being sore. You know, maybe I would rather do some yoga. Or maybe I’d rather just go for a casual walk in the park. I don’t want to go balls to the walls today on my workout. I think in some respects, that goes back to the American tendency of like, Oh, I have to pay the piper. You know, I had all this time of eating these sweets or eating all of this fast food. And so now I have to pay penance for my sins. By doing these, you know, excruciating workouts and then only eating salads all day. That definitely is not part. I don’t think it’s part of anyone’s middle path, let alone My middle path. It’s a highly unenjoyable way to live and very puritanical in its own weird way. I’m reminded of Wayne Dyer talking about everything doesn’t have to be the best. It doesn’t have to be the best painting you’ve ever created. The best walk through the park, like whatever happened to an average bike ride, or a mediocre stroll through the park, like, can’t you just do something and enjoy it without having to label it the best. And you can not every workout needs to set a personal record, you don’t have to weight lift to the point where you feel like your shoulders are going to dislocate from your body. Or, or you know you’re doing squats to the point where your knees are like I am literally going to bone on bone destroy your cartilage. If you don’t stop, you don’t have to do that in order to you know, burn calories or have effective health and wellness in your life. Likewise, you don’t have to make these big sweeping statements of foods that you’re never ever, ever going to eat again, you’re the first thing that goes on in your mind, when you make something forbidden to yourself Is it becomes like an obsession. I can’t have birthday cake anymore. So now I’m gonna think about birthday cake every freaking day until I finally just cave in and do it. One of the things that my coach and I have talked about is not only paying attention to the cues your body gives you towards hunger or thirst, but also for fullness. You know, sometimes we tend to portion something out to ourselves in the kitchen, walk to the table to eat it, or to our desk or wherever it is. And we just eat what we portion out for ourselves. We no one ever stopped to go. Am I full? Like I’m eating this because I put it on the plate. But you know, I might have been able to stop four or five bytes ago. You know if you’ve ever been overstuffed, you know, especially like Thanksgiving or Christmas where you’ve, you know, you’ve pushed the boundaries and you’re like, Oh, my God. I mean, I need to undo my pants and just lay in front of the fan because I think I I think I overdid it. I know, I know, I overdid it, then you know how it feels to be overly stuffed. But it’s like, what does it feel like to be comfortably full, we’re like you’re full, you’re satisfied, you’re not walking around hungry. But you’re also not stuffed like a thanksgiving turkey either. And just being able to pay attention to those signals. Some days are going to be different. Some days when you’ve had more activity, you know, maybe you’ve been outside having to clear the driveway and shovel snow and put out hay for your animals in the middle of a winter storm, your body’s going to have to work harder to keep you healthy and to be able to function appropriately than if it was a day where you just stayed inside and were a couch potato. Some days you’re going to be more hungry and more thirsty than you are on other days. And that’s fine. It doesn’t mean some big cataclysmic event is about to be follow you. Some days you may have a lot of energy and you might set a personal best and a workout. Some days you might just want to do some light stretching or go on a walk in the park and not Don’t push yourself and not make it some big Olympian event. And that’s okay too. I’m really learning as I take this journey to find this middle path for myself, just how important it is to take things one day at a time, and to pay attention to how all of the small components add up over the course of a month or a year. And my advice to you in this episode is, if you can take your health and wellness journey one day at a time, one meal at a time, instead of worrying about what’s going to be going on in five years or in 10 years, or when am I going to lose the quarantine? 15? When can I go back to the gym? Why am I having to make these modifications, I really wish I could have cake instead of eating this apple right now, instead of getting all bogged down in the future. Focus on the present moment, one meal at a time, one day at a time. And I really think by staying present in in this moment, not worrying about what you did in the past or worrying about what’s to come in the future, but staying really in that present moment. It will help all of us to find a sensible, healthy, middle path. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please share it. If you haven’t already. Take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and leave a review for us on iTunes. Bye for now.

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