I had an interesting conversation with a family member recently. This individual has recently gotten into living a healthier lifestyle, and I couldn’t be happier for them. They had completely changed their eating habits and were losing weight as a result. That’s awesome, right? I love to see people making lifestyle changes and feeling better every day. It’s a huge accomplishment, and they were super excited to share the details of their weight loss journey. And I was excited to listen.
The person went on to tell me that their new diet did not allow for meat, dairy, processed sugar, alcohol, and only allowed for limited amounts of caffeine. I have my thoughts about restrictive diets but I didn’t feel the need to share it with this person because they were excited about their progress. It wasn’t the time for me to butt in with my opinions on why I don’t think restrictive diets work in the long run or how you can lose weight in a much less painful way (in my opinion). I didn’t share any of this because the person wasn’t asking for my feedback. They were simply sharing, and I was cool with that.
But then, the tables turned. The person began to almost berate me for my eating habits.
“I’ve noticed you post about eating doughnuts…those are laden with sugar.”
“Have you seen Forks Over Knives? Do you know what they put in the meat you eat.”
“Alcohol really messes with your body.”
“If you keep eating like that, you are really increasing your chances of getting cancer”
I immediately felt myself getting defensive. I almost felt the need to defend my eating choices. To explain that I understand nutrition. To reinforce that I have been working out and handling my nutrition for years. To explain that I eat tons of fruits and vegetables every day. But I didn’t. I realized that I didn’t need to justify anything to anyone. I didn’t owe anyone an explanation.
What I did say to this well intentioned person is that I appreciate their concern, and I went on to explain that while I understand their position, we simply have different objectives.
You see when I decided to start working out a few years back, I did it because I wanted to get into better shape and feel better. I was tired of not having energy and feeling lethargic constantly. I was tired of the extra weight I was carrying around. I never decided to change my lifestyle because I was aiming to be “perfect.”
My goal was always to look and feel better. I never set an aim to be as healthy as humanly possible. Do I think there’s anything wrong with that goal? Absolutely not. It’s just not (and never has been) my goal. Am I advocating for eating myriads of junk food? Quite the contrary actually. The majority of my meals are comprised of proteins, vegetables, and some carbs or fats. I also eat a couple servings of fruits each day.
However, do I occasionally enjoy a glass for wine? Sure do. Will I eat the occasional doughnut? Probably (if they are of the gourmet variety and super delicious; I’m kind of a doughnut snob). Do I eat only gluten free, organic, and anti-biotic free at all times? Nope…sure don’t.
Fitness and nutrition are a lifestyle for me. I commit to things I can do for the long term. Not only things that I can do, but also things that I will enjoy doing for the rest of my life. My goal is not to be as healthy as humanly possible. My goal is to create a sustainable lifestyle that I enjoy while also being able to maintain my health and fitness. For me, that means that the majority of the time I consume lots of lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and adequate fiber. But I also sprinkle in the occasional glass of wine, doughnut, or ice cream.
Going on a restrictive diet may help you lose weight, but more times than not, people go back to their normal eating and regain the weight. Kudos to anyone who enjoys their restrictive diet. I’m not knocking it at all. It’s just not for me, and I think a lot of people would agree. Either way, life is too short for restrictions. I much prefer moderation. I think you can maintain a healthy lifestyle and enjoy your life.
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