Strict Dieting vs. Healthy Habits – What Works Better In The Long Run
Everyone wants to lead a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life. Given the option, each person would pick health, vitality, and confidence. Of course, improving our nutrition is the primary way to improve how we feel, achieve our fitness goals, and become more fulfilled.
The question is, which path should we take? Should we follow a diet or try to improve our nutritional habits and hope for the best?
Strict Diets: The Alluring But Deeply Flawed Option
Strict Diets seem great – there is no question about it. You receive a somewhat detailed and specific plan that offers impressive results. Plus, most diets last for a predetermined amount of time, which further motivates you to follow them. For example, “Follow this 90-day diet to shed 20 kilograms and reveal your abs.” Such an offer would sound irresistible to people who don’t know better.
The problem is, strict diets rarely work as advertised because each comes with three significant drawbacks:
- They Have An End Date
Every diet has an expiration day. It might be a week, month, or a year from now, but it will end eventually. Of course, this begs the question, “What comes after the diet?” In other words, what is the diet after the diet?
The problem is, most people don’t have a plan for what to do after a diet. Instead, they wait for the diet to end and return to their old eating behaviors. In most cases, doing so leads to rapid fat re-gains that bring people back to square one.
- They Are too Restrictive
Another significant problem with diets is how restrictive they are. Most diets restrict your favorite foods and instead force you to eat nothing but whole and ‘clean’ alternatives.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is by no means a bad thing. But diets fail because they forbid all processed foods and impose all of the restrictions from the start.
Sure, you can stick with a restrictive diet initially. But you will start craving your favorite foods, and you are likely to give up once the initial motivation fades.
- You Receive a Cookie-Cutter Solution
The third huge problem with diets is that most don’t consider your goals, situation, medical history, or food preferences. You get a plan that has been designed to work on average, but that doesn’t ensure that the diet will work for you.
We are all unique, so a single diet can’t work well for everyone. For example, a keto diet might work great for one person, but it could be terrible for you.
So, What Can We Do Instead?
The great news is that strict dieting is not the only way to improve your health and fitness. But what can you do instead? Build better habits.
It doesn’t sound as alluring as, “Follow this diet for six weeks and shed 15 kilos of fat!” but habits have the power to change our trajectory and transform our lives. As the saying goes, “We first make our habits. Our habits then make us.”
It all begins with the mindset shift that fitness isn’t a destination but a life-long journey. As such, we should learn to appreciate it and make fitness a part of our life. The people who do that stop looking for short-term solutions and instead direct their attention to proven tactics that don’t necessarily deliver results in the next week or month.
Of course, doing so is easier said than done. Replacing instant with delayed gratification is a struggle for many people. Why? Because we want quick results. But we must make an effort if we’re going to change our ways of thinking and create a foundation for lasting change.
Once you accept fitness as a journey, you can begin to look at your choices and develop good habits that compound. It’s best to start small because we are creatures of habit, and we don’t do well with huge and sudden changes.
Instead of changing your nutrition, commit to one healthy meal per day but be consistent. As you gain momentum, introduce a second healthy meal, then a third. Similarly, focus on consistency and momentum instead of trying to be perfect. Too many people give up good progress because of one slip up.
Aside from that, create an environment that promotes good behaviors and makes poor choices more challenging. For example, if you want to eat better, fill your home with nutritious foods and throw out processed ones. In doing so, eating healthy becomes easy, and consuming junk becomes less accessible.