Dieting vs. Lifestyle Change

Happy June! With summer right around the corner, have you had the thought that you need to diet to get your pool body ready? Have you turned down plans because you don’t feel comfortable in your own body? Are you stuck in the never ending diet cycle? Often, healing our relationship with food and exercise leads to more sustainable habits, less yo-yo dieting, and better body confidence. 

What’s the difference between a diet and a lifestyle change? 

Oftentimes, dieting is a temporary change to your eating pattern, and more likely than not includes a great deal of restriction. The goal of dieting is typically weight loss, with the number on the scale being the biggest metric for success. And while some see results from changing their eating habits, the restrictiveness of a diet can lead to bingeing and weight gain as soon as the diet is over. Physical activity while on a diet is often to close the loops on your smart watch, burning as many calories as possible, and often feels more like a chore than supportive. 

A lifestyle change, on the other hand, is creating sustainable habits for long term success. Creating a healthy lifestyle change means taking not just healthful habits into account, but also flexibility and grace. Lifestyle change is about finding an eating pattern that you can follow the majority of the time, but also allows for indulgence from time to time. Lifestyle changes include frequent physical activity, however, the focus is on anxiety reduction and getting better at the sport. 

Some days we need to rest our bodies and go for a walk rather than killing ourselves at the gym. This is cause for injury. The same is true for food. Lifestyle change has the room for the slice of birthday cake or a celebratory beer without guilt, binging, excess restriction, or overdoing it at our next workout. Lifestyle change also has many metrics for success like how we feel, how our clothes fit, our relationship with food and exercise, and so much more. 

The science behind weight loss is clear – calories in must be less than calories out. However, we don’t gain or lose weight overnight, it’s a process. In order to achieve healthful and sustainable weight loss, research shows us that we must find an eating pattern we can follow and activity we enjoy.