One of the newest buzzwords in the diet/health/fitness community is “lifestyle”. Everybody likes to say that their eating (and exercise) regimen is a lifestyle, not a diet. This is because the collective conscious is finally realizing that unless something is sustainable, it’s not only pointless, it’s detrimental! While this realization is a great one, and a step in the right direction, slapping the word lifestyle onto your protocol of choice is a dangerous and slippery slope.
You can call any diet a lifestyle if you want to, while completely bypassing the most important questions you should be asking yourself: Is this really working for me, as the unique individual that I am? Am I mentally and emotionally healthy as well as physically? Can I keep doing this for the rest of my life? Am I truly happy?
People are giving up the word diet without actually giving up the dieting. They use the word lifestyle, again, because they know they need to maintain it forever or it’s basically pointless, and using the word lifestyle is like a little psychological trick. People think that if they call their regimen a lifestyle then they can trick their brain into sticking to it for longer. They think that a word change will change their whole mindset.
“If I can just drill it into my brain enough that these rules and regulations are the new norm then maybe my brain will give up the fight and my cravings will magically go away, or at least significantly reduce”.
But it doesn’t work that way. Any true and permanent change on the outside is only made by true and permanent change on the inside. That’s why looking at your mental and emotional health is so critical. If your thoughts and feelings don’t change, then really, nothing ever will. If you are struggling now, if you are plagued with thoughts of how to control your food and control your body, then why will a year from now be any different? This is why it is so essential to be brutally honest with yourself when answering the big questions. Again:
Is this really working for ME?
Am I mentally and emotionally healthy?
Can I do this for the rest of my life?
Am I really happy and making the most of my life?
These questions, and others like them, are the true indicators of health and sustainability, not how much you can will and white knuckle your way through life.
At the end of the day, I want people to do what works for them in regards to eating habits, whatever that may be. But in order for that to actually happen, people need to start taking questions like the ones above much more seriously.