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It’s Not a Diet, It’s a Lifestyle

father washing asparagus with son for plant based diet

The Great Diet Vs. Lifestyle Debate

With the new year comes a new opportunity to make changes in your day-to-day habits. Typical goals or ambitions include losing weight, eating better or increasing physical activity. However, most people find themselves falling into the “instant gratification” rut, which can lead to unhealthy “fad” diets. Another common misstep is starting a vigorous exercise routine, which can be too much for a person and provides little chance to follow through and succeed.

These health and wellness errors can easily derail you and get you so off track that your “new year, new you” doesn’t happen. The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn’t about short-term changes. It’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, regular physical activity and balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses.

What Do We Mean by Diet vs. Lifestyle?

In other words, a diet is a short-term adjustment, while a lifestyle change is a lasting modification in how you approach your health and wellness.

Key characteristics when people think of a diet include the following.

  • Weight can be lost quickly and in a short period of time
  • Foods are either “good” or “bad”
  • Copy diets that you see working for other people (ex: The Ketogenic Diet [Keto] is popular right now, so everyone assumes this will work for them)
  • Restrict calorie consumption because you assume less calories mean less weight
  • Use the scale to check your progress and don’t factor in other areas of improvement
  • Stick to low fat or low-calorie foods with artificial sweeteners because they have less calories

Key characteristics when looking to make a lifestyle change include the following.

  • Nourish your body by eating more nutritious whole foods, keeping you satisfied longer
  • Stop restricting foods and focus on simple moderation
  • Exercise on a more regular basis, even if you only have fifteen or twenty minutes
  • Listen to your body to find out what it needs
  • Keep weight loss to ½ lb. to 2 lbs. a week
  • Use more than just the scale to track progress (use body measurements like body fat testing or simply checking to see if your clothes fit better)

What is the Difference Between a Diet and a Lifestyle?

When you change your focus to more of a long-term lifestyle mindset, you tend to be kinder to your body. You will most likely experience less hunger, exhaustion, mental stress and food deprivation. Additionally, when you make lifestyle changes with a focus on weight loss, it may take longer to see the weight come off. However, the weight is more likely to stay off because it’s not a sudden change for your body. There are numerous studies showing that individuals who diet typically regain most, if not all, of the weight they lost. Some can even see more weight come on after they stop their diet.

Lifestyle changes can be discouraging because it takes longer to see results. However, the results achieved last, and you are more focused on your overall health and wellness rather than just weight. You will not regret the results you see from changing your lifestyle.

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