let the term crash diet be forever stricken from our vocabulary

Originally posted March 5, 2013 – edited

I’m feeling all kinds of feisty today, so please indulge me.

It’s day 64 in My Year of Sweat journey, and my body is changing in amazing and beautiful ways. I’ve lost fat, added muscle and feel so much …happier. Not because I look better, but because I feel better. What I feel is healthy. And that’s the best feeling in the world. To me, at least.

I am making good food choices most some of the time. But, regardless of how healthy (or un-) my food choices are, I am working hard every single day to ensure that I’m burning more calories than I consume.

This process is really simple. In order to lose 1 pound of fat, a caloric deficit of 3,500 kcals has to be achieved. There is no shortcut to this process. I’ll repeat that: there is no shortcut to this process.

Now that I’ve figured this out, I know that I can actually eat what I want and still lose weight if I work hard to burn more calories than I consume.

In January I invested in a fitness armband by Body Media; the same one you see the contestants wearing on The Biggest Loser, one that tracks your daily calorie burn, as well as # of steps taken, # of minutes of moderate and vigorous exercise. This is, by far, the best investment I’ve made in my health and wellness journey.

I no longer need to guess if I’ve gotten my “daily burn” in. I know, with precision, exactly how much I’ve burned, and whether there is a deficit or surplus of calories to go. To say this has made my journey easier would be a gross understatement. Without my armband I was flying blind. With it, I have a clear plan; one that I’m able to execute each day.

Now, back to the source of my feisty demeanor. The other day, I saw a post on Facebook that sent me over the edge. She is a friend of a friend, who started a FB page all about her fitness journey. I liked her page a lot as she [to that point] had posted some great inspirational quotes, along with some useful diet and exercise tips. That all changed Saturday, when she added a post about summer fast approaching, how she needed to get beach-body ready, and the fact that she had just done a “crash diet” and lost 8 lbs. I bristled as I read the post, wondering, how could this seemingly smart girl:

  1. actually do a crash diet to get at her weight loss goals [especially given the way she has structured her page to be all about health and wellness], and
  2. actually tell the world about it, and offering to share her “crash diet”, which she had paid a trainer for, but was willing to share for free.

No, how about you keep that little nugget of wisdom to yourself, sister, since no good has ever, or will ever, come from crash dieting. In fact, the polar opposite.

According to our friends at Wikipedia:

“A crash diet is a diet which is extreme in its nutritional deprivations, typically severely restricting calorie intake. It is not meant to last for long periods of time, at most a few weeks. Crash diets are also known as “fad diets” and are often seen as quick fix solutions. Contrary to the belief of many who start this sort of diet, this form of dieting is neither healthy nor largely successful in achieving long term weight loss as it provokes a slow down of the body’s basal metabolic rate – the body seeks to conserve every calorie and so weight loss becomes increasingly difficult.”

They go on to say:

“While some initial weight is often lost, the weight is usually regained quickly in the weeks that follow, as the individual reverts to their original pre-crash diet. It often becomes a vicious circle in which the weight that is regained is often more than the starting weight, causing the dieter to revert to the crash diet, lose weight, regain the weight, and so on.”

Google it folks, crash diets don’t work. Period. Burning more calories than you put in your mouth does work. It takes time, sure. But the results are irrefutable.

And the best part is, you don’t get skinny, you get strong!

And strong is beautiful.

Healthy is beautiful.

24On a recent trip to San Francisco, a friend tweeted at me, jokingly telling me to stay away from the Ghirardelli chocolates.

I responded, “Dude,  why do you think I workout like a maniac? …Because I don’t want to stay away from chocolate!” [Ghirardelli, or otherwise.]

Life really is too short to deprive yourself of the things that make you happy.

Sometimes chocolate makes me happy. Sometimes salad does, too.

My point being, as long as I continue to put in the WORK required to work off those meals, I’ll be just fine.

It took me 46 years to figure this out, people. Forgive me if I feel the need to shout it from the tree tops.

Get moving!

xoxo nancy

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52 thoughts on “let the term crash diet be forever stricken from our vocabulary

  1. you were right then, and you are right now!!

    Crash diets, get skinny quick plans, and fads etch make me so cross! I sometimes have to just not talk about it or I get angry and rant!

    IN other news, San Francisco is the only city in the US I have visited, and I am proud to say I recognised your picture before I read the words 😀 yeay!

    • Why do you think so many smart people keep trying this nonsense though? Is it because they believe it will work? Or is it because it is a potential quick fix for the short term (upcoming event, holiday, etc)? And why aren’t they concerned about the long term negative effects of yo-yo weight loss/gain??

      GAH! It makes me crazy! 🙂

    • It’s a real head-scratcher, Joanne. Amazing how we logically understand it’s an unhealthy and ineffective approach yet continue to buy into the latest fad diet that comes along. Sad.

  2. ‘Life really is too short to deprive yourself of the things that make you happy’. Damn skippy Nanc. And thanks for the heads up on that Body Media band. When I eventually have a pot to piss in, I may invest in one as I’ve always been interested to know just how many calories I’m actually burning, whether it be through active work-outs or just moving from the couch to the fridge to the couch to the can…

    • It’s amazing how much you can burn just from casual walking, Sean. The armband was very effective, but also an eye sore (big, on display). I switched to the FitBit wristband a couple months ago. It’s almost as accurate, and way more discrete. It cost about $79 USD, so not too bad at all.

      • Just been reading up on the FitBit. Perhaps I shall pick one up. I just need to sell 79 eBooks!

        Oooh, and on that note; I know I have continously ballsed up my predictions of when things will become available, like massively, but I’ve been told to expect the draft Kindle version this week. Mind you, it is almost the end of the week… Annnnd we’re back to getting it wrong again.

        PS – Have you ever tried just a regular pedometer? I’ve heard some people say that they are just as good, although way more annoying.

      • I like that this one distinguishes “active” minutes versus passive. ie If you just dawdle and slow walk, the pedometer will track each step. The Fitbit tells you you’re still a lazy slug even though you took xxxx steps, because you didn’t exert any effort. 🙂

        I cannot wait to read this thing, dude. Release it for kindle already!!

      • Ahh I see. So perhaps it is worth the investment. Though to be honest, I usually use whether or not I can still fit into my pants as my yardstick on how much cake I get to eat, you know? And some days I’ll eat the whole cake even if I split my pants!

        I know. I’m sorry Nanc. I’m trying! IF I’m ever dumb enough to try a second book, I certainly won’t go through a third party.

      • One day if like to pick your brain in your learning a from the process as I’m considering self-publishing about my 2013 story.

        In the meantime…get me that book! I have a four day road trip ahead of me. Too many hours in the car to count.

  3. “Life really is too short to deprive yourself of the things that make you happy.”

    And what I’ve noticed lately is that EXERCISE makes me happy. It releases endorphins and elevates mood. It improves our sense of well-being. It ups our energy levels. It increases metabolism, regulates appetite, normalizes melatonin production, enhances the sleep cycle, resets the limbic system. It releases stress and anxiety. Yada, yada, yada.

    Exercise is the fountain of youth!

  4. Crash diets are successful at one thing: alienating the people around you since the dieter’s crabbiness will affect them (like your bagel-tossing colleague, STILL my favorite line…)

  5. Love the rant, it’s all so ridiculously true. It’s just math but somehow we forget that.
    Tell me more about this armband… do you still recommend it as strongly as you did back then?

    • I had this conversation with my (overweight) niece last weekend. She was talking about joining a Jenny Craig/Weight Watchers type program – and I asked her how many calories were allowed each day. It was TOO LOW! I told her she could (and should) do whatever she feels is right for her BUT… living on 1,200 calories a day is just not sustainable.

      I asked her about exercise. She said it was too “hard”. I agreed with her. Strenuous exercise to burn lots of calories is hard.

      But then I told her that living on that (tiny) amount of food her program mandated is also HARD.

      Pick your hard.

  6. I like your posting reruns. This was a good one, a helpful reminder for me, and I hadn’t seen it before. Thanky, John

    • Thank you John! (And convenient for me while I make the LOOONG road trip from Toronto to Vegas today thru Sunday or Monday. In fact I may be in your neck of the woods as I type. 🙂

      Hope the book stuff is going well?

  7. You go girl! You were as smart then as you are now! I wish I could say that I’ve never crash-dieted but it would be a complete flat out lie. Duh. I remember doing the Scarsdale Diet in the 80s where grapefruit, dry toast and carrots were allowed. I ended up fainting and gaining it all back.

    Will we ever succeed in changing our perceptions of ourselves? I have been mad at myself for gaining all the weight I lost during the virus from hell. I am mourning the nausea and lack of appetite. Pretty sad but those feelings of guilt, failure and lack of self control just pop right in. Sigh.

    • Oh lady, believe me when I say I have tried every stupid (and dangerous) fad diet available. My new found wisdom is just that: new found.

      As far as the guilt and failure feelings…it’s a daily challenge. Getting a bit easier, but hey, little by little.

  8. Such a good post, Nancy, and I’m glad you “said it” again! THe message is too important not to share it as often as possible. In my younger years and before I understood what crash diets really did to screw up metabolism and jeopardize health, I would eat so little that yes, in the temporary I’d lose, but we all know how that story ends! I completely agree with sensible behaviors and a focus on good health. I can’t imagine having any kind of blog or platform for healthy living that still talks about these dangerous behaviors. I hope your weekend gives you some respite following your crazy week. 🙂

    • Oh Debra, I arrived home from NYC late Wed night and turned around Thursday afternoon to begin the 3,500 km road trip from Toronto to Vegas. 🙂 I’m commenting from Kansas City, MO. Next stop Pueblo,CO. 🙂

      So the craziness continues …but I’m one step closer to the mountains. 🙂

  9. Nancy, as a more recent convert to your blog, I am happy you are sharing these throwbacks again! I totally agree…the whole diet industry should be shut down, they are slowly killing people while robbing them of their hard earned money.

    My experience has been like yours: eat healthier most of the time, but treat yourself occasionally so you don’t bite people’s heads off, and exercise. I am nowhere near the dedication that you have, but I look better and I feel better, which is what’s really important! Yay! 😀

    • “…they are slowly killing people while robbing them of their hard earned money” — and also robbing them of their self confidence and their happiness. It’s a scourge, is what it is.:-(

      Looking better and feeling better is the best thing, Lynne! I’m so happy for you!

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