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The One Diet Mistake That’s Making You Fat

Less is better.

Less bread.

Less sweets.

Less back fat.

It’s a beautiful thing when you can love yourself and your body now, and think about what you can add (instead of what you need to take away) to become even better.

You are enough. Right now, in this moment, you are beautiful enough. You are strong enough. You are smart enough.

That doesn’t mean you can’t become better tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. It doesn’t mean I want you to be the same you who’s sitting here reading this when I run into you a year from now.

And it doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t be healthier and more confident if you lost some body fat.

It means I want you to stop thinking about what you need to take away from yourself to be enough.  You’re already enough.  Start thinking about what you can add to your character and your body to become better.

The one diet mistake that’s making you fat is your obsession with taking things away from yourself.

Here are two ways that plays out:

1. Less Carbohydrates: Society has taught us that carbohydrates are evil. So all day we skip the bread. Potatoes are the enemy. Rice? I would never! For breakfast, we grab a yogurt. At lunch, we have chicken with salad. We’re doing great so far! We’ve taken carbs away from ourselves and made it almost a whole day!

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When we get home from work we’re exhausted and don’t feel like preparing a healthy snack. We could chop up some veggies, but we hear that Oreo box calling us to crack open the cupboard. We’ll just have one or two.

Three rows of Oreos later, we’re feeling a spike in our energy and are wallowing in a proportional boost in guilt.

We swear we’ll do better tomorrow. Tomorrow, we’ll even take away the sugar in our coffee! We’ll make it all day without carbs.

“If only I could eat less carbs, I would be skinnier.”

2. Less calories – Skipping the carbs and avoiding fatty foods all week leaves the majority of women walking around consuming 1200-1400 calories a day. We know the science, right? If calories burned are greater than calories consumed, we’ll lose weight. If we can successfully take food away from ourselves, we’ll be able to rid our bods of stubborn belly fat once and for all!

We are the Monday to Friday diet queens. Chicken. Salad. Yogurt. Fat free this. Reduced calorie that. Diet such-and-such.  

If you looked at our Snapchat during the week, you’d see plenty of pics that almost look like things we’ve seen in fitness mags.

Because we’ve done so well at taking things away regularly, we feel we deserve a treat on the weekend or on the rare occasion we go out for dinner with a friend on a Wednesday.

We feel so deprived from our everydays that our once-in-awhiles end up turning into binge fests. We overdo it.  And then we beat ourselves up and promise to make up for it come Monday – this week we won’t even have dressing on our salads!  We’re not afraid of being hardcore if it means we’ll get results.  “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

“If I could only eat the same way on the weekend as I do during the week, my mid section would get smaller.”

Here’s what I propose: stop thinking about what you need to take away from yourself. You’re enough already. Yes, you, like me can work at becoming better, but you’re not going to do that by robbing yourself of the things you need physically (on top of emotionally, spiritually, and mentally).

You need carbohydrates. Your brain needs them to function. Your muscles need them to be strong and powerful and to perform repetitive movements. You need them so your body doesn’t resort to consuming the muscle that will give you that “toned” look you want when you do shed some body fat (by giving your body what it needs, instead of taking away from it.)

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Please, stop cutting calories. Do you know who needs 1200 to 1400 calories? A sedentary 100-lb woman. I’m guessing that isn’t you. Once you start eating enough you’ll have energy and mental clarity much more like that guy in the movie Limitless than you’d ever imagined possible without a magic pill (the magic pill doesn’t exist).

Giving your body enough fat will make your hormones function properly so every night you’ll sleep like you do in a luxurious hotel bed, and you know what else is a cool thing these chemical messengers are responsible for?  Your ability to shed body fat.  By eating closer to what you actually need, you’ll increase your chances of successfully getting the body of your dreams, and reduce your chance of getting those killer cravings that keep setting you back!

It’s okay to want to lose weight; you might be healthier and more confident if you get rid of some body fat, but you’re not doing your body any favours by depriving yourself of so much. You need calories. You need carbohydrates. You need fuel.

Eat oatmeal with breakfast and notice how your brain functions better at the start of your work day. Have a potato (or half) with lunch and don’t feel guilty about it.  Eat some rice before your workout and smoke a PR. Do this for long enough and your weekends will look the same as your week days, and your midsection will get smaller; not because of what you took away from your stomach, but because of what you gave it.

You are enough right now and both you and the world deserves to see just who you can become when you add to yourself instead of taking away.

Give yourself the calories and carbohydrates you need, and you’ll get the lean body you dream of. But don’t stop there.

Fill your brain with the most inspiring words from books, podcasts, and blogs. Grow mentally.

Start a meditation practice. Go to church. Attend a sweat. Cultivate spirituality.

Laugh until your guts hurt. Cry your eyes out when your heart aches. Daydream about your perfect life and really feel the sensations in your body when you imagine living it. Nurture your emotions.

Less isn’t better, better is better, and the only way to evolve and improve is to invest energy into progress.

Guess what a calorie is? A unit of measuring energy.

Put some calories and carbs into your stomach and you’re more likely to succeed at seeing the mid-section you want

Invest some energy in your mind and spirit, and bad-body days (I think we can have a bad-body day kind of like we can have a bad hair day, don’t you?) won’t derail you so much.

If you’ve been taking things away from yourself for years, and you’re still feeling inadequate, maybe it’s time to start giving to yourself the same way you give to all those blessed enough to be a part of your life.

It’s a beautiful thing when you can love yourself and your body now, and think about what you can add (instead of what you need to take away) to become even better.

The one diet mistake that’s making you fat is your obsession with taking things away from yourself.  Believe you are enough in this moment, and then work at adding to the already amazing human being you are.

I can’t wait to run into you a year from now and to say to you, “Wow, you look really good!” in that way you can only say to someone whose glow from the inside is just as noticeable as the rocking body on the outside.

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Not sure how much you should be eating?.  Sign up for my Nutrition Newsletter to get my free resource: Cut, Fuel, Gain: How to Eat for Your Goals.  I’ll show you a full day’s perfect food tracking for a 170 lb woman losing weight, a 130 lb woman maintaining her weight, and a 180 lb man gaining weight.

Related Articles:

Become Who You Are: My Fitness Journey in 6 Stages and 4 Lessons

You Don’t Have to be Fluffy All Your Life

Demystifying Abs: One Woman’s Pursuit of this All-Desireable Physical Trait

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