If it's not sustainable, it's questionable. Period. You can cut through most of the programs out there by simply asking yourself this question. Can I do it forever? And it's the key to finding longevity.
This is how I really should answer 90% of the diet and nutrition questions I get on a regular basis. It doesn't matter what I think... and it really doesn't even matter if it works... what matters is can you actually do it for the long-haul?
I get that sometimes tight deadlines like a wedding or a vacation come up and extreme results call for extreme measures- no doubt about that. I'll also concede that sometimes it's really great to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and try something new or super intense, even if you're not planning on doing it forever.
But the only thing we really know for sure about diet and exercise is that long-term compliance is the most important factor when it comes to getting results and most importantly maintaining them.
Muscle isn’t built in one rep, endurance isn’t gained in one run, power isn’t obtained in one jump. It takes thoughtful persistence, meaningful dedication, calculated consistency and a positive attitude. Rep after rep, step after step, jump after jump, bite after bite, that’s what leads to achieving your goals. Small continuous steps = lasting results. The finish line for movement and eating is at the end of your life.
So...Can you do it forever?
Getting lasting results in anything is a lifetime commitment. If a program is not sustainable over the long-term (your whole life) then what are you getting from it? The YoYo effect. EVERYTHING works while you’re committed to doing it, and EVERYTHING stops working when you stop.
If you’re going to lose weight very fast and then gain it back because you can’t sustain your quick weight loss, you’re destined to continuously spend money looking for the next best magic solution and buying various sizes of pants.
If you’re spending time counting calories and macros, setting a reminder to eat or waiting to eat, restricting yourself from enjoying real food because you’re eating from a packet or drinking a processed solution, then you’re taking the humanity and enjoyment out of food and taking away the true joy in the sustenance of life.
Food should be, at all times, a joy. When you bite into an apple, you should taste the apple and want to turn to the person next to you and tell them how good it is. When you slice open a lemon, you should close your eyes and smell the fragrance. When your neighbor is grilling, you should try to guess what it is and you should want to invite yourself over to share it or grill at that very second too. Food is life-giving and social. Everything real that’s grown from the ground is a miracle and you GET to eat it.
You are not a chart on a paper. You are so much more than numbers on a scale. Please don’t define your day by numbers on a food plan, or counting calories or macros.
Live your life by enjoying your food....Preparing your food....Sharing your food with others. It should nourish you. It should taste good. It should be simple. It should be REAL. It should be enough.
Buy ingredients, not a program. You didn’t gain the weight in a month, you shouldn’t and can’t sustain losing it in a month. Eat real food.
For sure, you can do a reset. You can completely avoid alcohol, sugar, soda, French fries, cigarettes. But you can’t give up food. So if food is your addiction, then try your best to eat the real deal, even if it’s too much, at least it grew from a seed or cell and wasn’t created from a chemical in a factory.
Teach your children that food is nourishment too. Did you know that we are one of the only countries in the world that offers children a different menu (a happy kid's meal) than the one adults get to choose from? Their food is always brown and always supposed to be "fun". Fried chicken shapes, pasta, pizza, hot dog, corn dog, burger. Is that what you would order for yourself? (Ok if the answer is yes, you have got to change that. There is a BIG world out there.) Help your child order from the adult menu and share it with them. It's too much for you, too.
Food is to be enjoyed. Enjoy means not in a glutinous way where you have to go lay down because it was so good you just stuffed yourself and now you feel sick. The taste of food is to be enjoyed.
If you’re trying to complicate the issue by always looking for “the secret”, then you want instant gratification, not a lifetime commitment.
Live your life making your own food, feeding yourself, and sharing food with others. Teach yourself and your family to cook. I asked a question to one of our students the other day...I said, "Would you give up eating with your parents every Friday in order to be skinny?' It took her 1 second to say no. So I ask you, would you give up having dinner with family or lunch with an old friend or a date with your significant other in order to be skinny? I didn't think so. So in order to achieve your goals you have to decide WHAT to eat. EAT REAL FOOD.
I love that Kate moved home for her job. I LOVE Thursday morning when we get to have breakfast together before she leaves. It's not just food. It is eating together. And it is also a day I can spoil her with something healthy that she doesn't have to fix herself. Food is love. I used to think food was love when I toasted them a Toaster Strudel when they were little. To know better is to do better. Now it is an egg, oatmeal, chia pudding, coconut chocolate pudding, Ezekiel French toast, a green smoothie or protein pancakes. Thursdays rock.
I will go to the end of my days knowing you will not become obese eating too many bananas, too many apples, too many avocados. Stop over-analyzing fruit, or the fat in coconut. Avoid food that was tampered with to make it low fat, or food created completely inside of a building.
My favorite quote finds balance...“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” ~ Michael Pollan
I'd love to change that to say, "Eat REAL food. Not too much. Mostly plants. For enjoyment."