Posted by: CeCe | June 3, 2012

Go on a diet!

I know that lately I’ve kind of been on a fitness kick, but after seeing comments posted on a picture by the page “No Hope for the Human Race” on Facebook, I’ve been inspired to address a common mistake that people make about being fat.  One of the comments, for example, basically said that fat people are gross and need to go on a diet.  The former statement is subjective, because there are some overweight people who are still quite beautiful, and there are some people who don’t mind a little bit of extra weight on others, so long as they’re healthy, and besides, only a very shallow person would classify all people of a certain body type as being “gross”.  The latter half of that comment is what I’d like to address.

Lots of people have this belief that if overweight people would just go on a diet, they could lose weight and be skinny.  It doesn’t quite work that way.  A diet is what you go on when you want to lose ten pounds so you’ll look good in a bikini.  If your BMI is over 30 (which puts you in the obese category), you don’t need a diet, you need a lifestyle change.  You need to form good habits instead of the bad ones that you’ve formed to put you in the obese category, which will help you attain a healthy, sustainable weight.  Most of the methods that people use to go on a “diet” are not sustainable for the long-term, and that’s why many people who go on diets wind up gaining all their weight back (and then some).  This is a mistake I myself have made many, many times.

For example, that’s why many patients who undergo bariatric surgery, like gastric bypass, liposuction, or a lap band, wind up gaining everything back.  Liquid diets will help you lose perhaps 10-20 pounds in a short amount of time, but you cannot continue using that method to help you lose weight if you need to lose more than 50 pounds.  Diet pills have the same effect; they can suppress your appetite and help you lose small amounts of weight, but they will not help you keep the weight off, nor is it healthy to continue using them for extended periods of time.  There is absolutely no diet on the face of the Earth that will help you lose weight and keep it off.  So if you’ve ever said that a fat person should just “go on a diet”, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

If a person wants and needs to lose weight, what will work is changing their lifestyle.  For example, two of the biggest reasons for my own weight problems are 1) I was starving myself and then over-eating, which caused my metabolism to plummet, and 2)  I wasn’t exercising regularly.  I have my own reasons for forming those two habits, including but not limited to being bullied as a child (I started to associate eating and sweating both with being fat), and now to lose weight, I’m having to overcome them.  It’s hard overcoming habits formed long before I knew what kind of impact they would have on my health; I began forming these habits when I was about 7 or 8, after all.  But I digress.  This isn’t just about me.

So how does a person begin changing their lifestyle?  By taking small steps, literally.  Perhaps start by cutting back on one unhealthy food or beverage, and substituting something else; for example, instead of drinking several cans of soda a day, cut back to one or two, and substitute glasses of ice water with fruit for flavoring in their place (I quit drinking soda altogether, for the most part, five years ago).  If that’s too much to do all at once, cut one can of soda from your daily routine for a week, then two the next week, and so on and so forth.  It’s also not a bad idea to invest in some carbonated water, and add fruit to it in the place of soda.  Instead of eating bacon made from pork, make the switch to turkey bacon (4o calories per slice!).  Switch to skim milk or 1% instead of whole milk.  Add a glass of water to have with each meal.

Start walking, and each week, increase your speed or your distance, and once you’re comfortable, add a few minutes of cardio each week.  Incorporate exercise into your daily routine; even small amounts of exercise is better than none at all!  Stretch while you’re making your coffee.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, or if you can’t do several flights of stairs, try doing just one every day for a week or two, then increase each week.  Park further away from your place of employment or when shopping, jog to get your mail, get up and stretch or walk in place during commercials, and walk around while talking on the phone.

If you’re in the habit of skipping meals, try adding one meal a day, and cutting back on what you eat at your other meal(s).  Once you’re used to eating two meals a day, add a third, then a small healthy snack, then two small healthy snacks (like a piece of fruit and a slice of cheese or a small handful of almonds), while cutting back on your portion sizes.  Eat your  meals on smaller plates.  Add a fresh fruit or veggie to every meal.  Eat breakfast!  It really doesn’t take that long to eat a bowl of cereal and some fruit, or fry an egg, or make instant oatmeal with fruit.

Make substitutions: Switch to mayo with olive oil instead of regular mayo, or forgo mayo altogether and use mustard or creamy horseradish instead (or just put mayo on one side of a sandwich, instead of both!).  Eat dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate (Costco sells these absolutely delicious dark chocolate candies with pomegranate or blueberry and acai; 160 calories per 1/4 cup!).  Eat multigrain tortilla chips instead of unhealthy brands like Ruffles and Lays (the brand Food Should Taste Good sells some delicious gluten-free, kosher, vegan chips) with hummus, bean dip, or salsa instead of some other fattening dip (like salsa con queso, onion dip, or cheese dip).  Switch to ultra-lean hamburger or ground turkey instead of 80% lean hamburger, or if that’s not feasible, just substitute one or two meals with lean hamburger or ground turkey.  Instead of drinking fruit juice, eat fruit!  Use whipped butter instead of stick butter, or use olive oil.  Make your own salad dressing using fresh fruit, cooked on the stove-top, and vinegar, instead of using fattening dressings like ranch or thousand island.  Make your salads delicious by adding veggies like bell peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, and avocados, instead of adding toppings.

Even if you don’t lose weight while making all these changes, they are sustainable, and they will lead to you being healthier overall.  There have been studies performed that show that overweight people who eat healthy and exercise are healthier than people within the normal range who don’t eat healthy or exercise.  This also means that if a person is fat, you cannot say just by looking at them that they are not healthy.

My point is, don’t go on a diet.  Change your lifestyle to something that you know could last for the rest of your life.  And if you have ever said that a person needs to go on a diet to lose weight, don’t ever say it again, because “dieting” is not effective and saying such things is not helpful.

The Cooper Institute


  1. CeCe,

    Every time I read anything you write it is inspiring. Thank you for sharing this with everyone.


    • Thank you so much! ❤

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