Well, there’s thirteen hundred and fifty-two
Guitar pickers in Nashville
— John Sebastian, The Lovin’ Spoonful
If you remember that song, welcome to my generation!
This morning I was thinking about diet books — THERE ARE SO MANY OF THEM!!! — and that line from the song, Nashville Cats, surfaced from my memory. I wonder how many diet books are out there. Every week a new one or several of them pop up on my Amazon page, so I’m sure it’s a far cry from “thirteen hundred and fifty-two.” They’re out there friends and neighbors, each one promising the be-all-to-end-all for your weight and health issues.
I have a few on my shelf, and they contain some information that I find beneficial. Do I follow each one to the tee? No, I don’t. If I did, I would probably have a mental breakdown with all those things to keep up with! But I have loosely followed-ish a couple. (The little rebel inside me has to make her own modifications, of course). And if I had a life-threatening illness, I might be more diligent.
If you tiptoe out into diet land, you will find plant-strong diets, DASH diets, paleo diets, lose x number of pounds in 7-24 days diets, low-carb diets, high-carb diets, low-fat diets, and those for heart disease, diabetes, and a better sex life. You catch my drift? There’s a diet for every occasion, every issue, every everything. How do you choose?
Let me tell you how many times I have jumped in full force, ready to adhere to plant-strong eating. I would love to tell you, but I can’t remember all of the times. And did I succeed? No, because I plunged in based on what I thought would be best for me. I am not a nutritionist or a doctor, so I can’t give you all of the science behind a particular way of eating, but I know how I feel when I’m in the midst of it. Are you with me?
Each of us is a human walking around in a body with a particular set of needs, a chemistry unique to itself, and a whole passel of bad habits that may yell at us louder than the fruits and veggies whisper. And we really, really, REALLY want to lose weight, feel better, have more energy, and yes, look better. Let me tell you a little story about myself.
This past weekend, I was home alone while my beloved was at a conference. I decided that I would be very clean with my eating, sticking with all those plant-based choices that would surely make me feel better and drop some pounds. Yay for me! I ate stir fry with crunchy tofu and black bean veggie soup, oatmeal with fruit for breakfast, and other healthy foods. By last night (Day 4), it was all I could do to keep myself from jumping in the car and heading to the nearest fast food drive-thru for a fix. My insides were begging for a burger and well, broccoli on the side would be ok. Just get me some food with more substance. I did not succumb to temptation, but I did pause and reflect on what had happened to me.
Have you ever done this? Found a diet or eating plan or some other type of health plan that sounded like just the ticket for you and dove in with the best of intentions? How did that work for you? I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but diets in and of themselves don’t work. Let me clarify: they have the potential to work but since each body is different (see above) and has its own particular needs, one plan does not fit all.
Here is something to consider. Your body knows what it needs. It gives you hints and clues about what works and what does not based on how you feel. Do you have energy? Do you feel nourished? How is your elimination? Does a certain food or food group cause pain or distress? Are you losing or gaining weight?
Now granted, it is not all about the food. Movement (aka, exercise), sleep, hydration, and stress, to name a few, have a very real effect on your overall well-being, but food is a biggie. If you are feeding yourself a diet heavy with fast food, processed food, sugar (which is disguised in so many ways to keep you from recognizing it), caffeine, excessive salt, unhealthy fats, and too much alcohol, you may be sending yourself down a slippery slope. And yes, I have heard the story of Grandpa Pete who ate eggs, biscuits, sausage, and gravy and smoked two packs of Luckies every day, and then had a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon before dinner. He lived to be 102. Note: he probably spent the day doing physical labor which somehow compensated for his less-than-optimal habits. That probably will not work for you, especially if you have a desk job.
So what do you do? Remember how I told you that your body knows what it needs? Listen to it. Pay attention. Be realistic. By that I mean, understand your uniqueness and realize that what works for your BFF probably will not work for you. Here are some adjustments that you might try:
- Add more veggies and fruit to your diet. Just one of each every day to start with can make a difference.
- Drink more water. Sometimes thirst is disguised as hunger. And your body needs water for all functions.
- Cut out at least some of the junk. See if you can take a break from fast food and processed food and focus on eating real whole food in its simplest form.
- Take some time for you each day. Add a few minutes of meditation or quiet time in the morning before you race into your day. Step away from your desk for a change of scenery, if you can.
- Look at your sleep. Four hours a night is probably not enough. Sleep has a real effect on how you feel and whether or not you lose weight.
We just get one body for this earthly adventure. It gives us a place to live while we’re here. It takes us places. It does so much more behind the scenes than we can ever begin to imagine. Why not give it a little love and respect? It will thank you.
Remember: Simple changes can produce big results.
To a healthy life!
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Try one or all of the suggestions I have made, and let me know how it goes. If you like this article, pass it on. Thanks!
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Cover photo for Nashville Cats came from http://www.7inchrecords.com/.