Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What is a "Diet"?

I had a short conversation with my roommate Monday night. She asked me if I wanted a bag of her chips because she's on a diet. I said sure, why not. I ate the chips, I didn't feel guilty. (I also worked out twice on Monday - swim in the morning and run at night, but regardless). But it got me thinking.

I don't consider what I'm doing to be dieting. I'm not physically depriving myself of anything. I know that if I want some chips, or a slice of pizza, or god forbid some ice cream, I will let myself have it. What I am doing, however, is consciously making healthier choices. Because I KNOW I can have that pizza for lunch, I have less desire to actually have it. I get a salad instead. The temptation to "cheat" is practically non-existent because I wouldn't be cheating.

So what is a diet, exactly? In my mind, it's self-imposed restrictions on what you can eat. And those restrictions MAKE you want those restricted or forbidden items even more.

I'm not on a diet. Every time I've been on a diet I have failed miserably, and most of the time ended up gaining weight anyway. So what am I doing? I am making conscious, healthy decisions at every meal. I'm not planning my meals out. I'm eating when I'm hungry, but I'm MAKING BETTER DECISIONS. Not because I want to lose weight, but because I need to give my body the proper, natural, organic foods it needs to keep fueled for my training.

For example. Instead of buying a huge, horrible, but delicious muffin from the guy on the street, I bring fruit. Or I buy a fruit salad. And then mid-morning, when I'm getting hungry again, I have organic flax seed oatmeal with almonds, granola, and agave nectar with a cup of black tea instead of going down to Starbucks for a latte and a cookie. For lunch, instead of pizza or fast food, I get a salad.

I am not depriving myself of anything. If I want a beer, I'll have a beer. I'll have my latte on the weekend, as a treat. Because then I appreciate it more.

When I get into 2 or 3 hours of working out a day, during the intense parts of my training, that oatmeal I listed above is going to fuel me a lot better than a slice of pizza or a cookie. And maybe thats why so many diets fail. So many people focus on the deprivation aspect of the diet that they're not seeing the big picture. It's NOT about depriving yourself - it's about making the better, healthier choice, one meal at a time.

And on that note, I didn't make it to the gym yesterday. At 430, when I was getting ready to head home (I get in around 730, so I leave around 430), my boss told me to stay because we were having a meeting sometime after 5. No problem - I figured I'd just get to the gym around 7 or so, and actually take the late Tuesday spin class. Turns out the meeting is me, him, and the two attorneys hashing out the future of the firm in the bar in the basement. Two hours and three beers later I'm heading home. It was 9 by the time I got back to my apartment. Chugged some water and went to bed.

Today is my scheduled rest day, and I've actually got a deep tissue/sports massage scheduled for tonight with someone that works with my tri club. I think the massage is going to be a once a month thing, used during my recovery week. My training schedule calls for three weeks of intense building workouts, followed by one recovery workout. My plan is to do a race at the end of each of the three building weeks, then have a good recovery week with a deep tissue massage to help get everything recovered properly. Tomorrow and Friday I'll do my morning swim and evening cycle/run.

And here are my stats from Mondays run:

Time: 43 min, 38 secs
HR Limits: 92/73
Time in Zone: 24 min 15 secs
Time Below Zone: 18 min 17 sec
Time Aboze Zone: 1 min 6 sec
Cal/Fat%: 417/35

I did an interval/recovery workout - bringing my heartrate to 87-90% of my max, staying there for a few minutes, then tracking to see how long it took me to recover to between 60 and 65%. Every time, it took an even two minutes to recover, so I'm happy with that.

What problems have you faced with dieting? Have you noticed that whenever you 'diet', you fail'? Or have diets worked for you?


Jen, a priorfatgirl said...

YOU SAID IT PERFECTLY! A diet is " self-imposed restrictions on what you can eat."

I tell myself daily, it's not about being on a diet, it's about making decisions over and over and over again. And if I'm going to eat something that is not healthy, it's my decision to do it but I better enjoy it!

Rose said...

Great post.

I think I have the same attitude as you right now. I am not on a diet, don't deprive myself of anything and I tend to make better choices this way. I'm not dropping weight quickly or anything - but I'm OK with that.

I used to do Weight Watchers, which I think - for some people can be an alright program. I became too obsessed with eating as much as I could with the points I had that I often ate too much processed or fat free foods. That is no way to live, so I gave it up for good about a year ago.