Embrace Yourself, Then Resolve to Bag Dieting…

Kimberly Garrison: Embrace yourself, then resolve to bag dieting in favor of lifestyle changes

By Kimberly Garrison
Philadelphia Daily News
Daily News Personal FItness Columnist

LIKE MILLIONS of Americans, you have probably made your annual New Year’s resolutions, which likely include better eating habits, weight loss and a desire for improved health. Unfortunately, 98 percent of you will fail to stick with those resolutions past a few weeks, at best.
So, this year, I am proposing that we make resolutions we can actually achieve – and live with forever.

First, embrace yourself and don’t diet.

Give up this whole notion of deprivation, cutting out carbs, cutting out fat, cutting protein, fruits or whatever your crazy diet plan recommends. The key to permanent weight loss and good health is deciding to make sensible lifestyle changes you can manage for the rest of your life.

Think about it. Sure you could struggle through some crazy diet for a few weeks or maybe even a few months. But as soon as you reach your goal, lickety split, you’ll eat your way back to where you were – or worse, gain even more weight.

The bottom line? It’s easier getting thin than staying thin. Just ask Kirstie Alley and Valerie Bertinelli.

To be fair, it’s not these actress and sometime weight-loss spokeswomen’s lack of willpower that makes them professional yo-yo dieters. It’s diets themselves. Diets simply are not sustainable for a lifetime.

Consider that the already svelte, 27-year-old Mila Kunis had to lose 20 pounds for her role as a ballet dancer in the movie “The Black Swan.”

The actress told People magazine she was on a 1,200-calorie-a-day diet and trained seven days a week, five hours a day for three months to shed the pounds. Once the movie wrapped, she has said it took five days to put the weight back on.

What does that say for the rest of us?

Surely it comes as no surprise to you that 98 percent of dieters fail to reach their goals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also reports that 127 million Americans are overweight, 60 million obese and 9 million morbidly obese.

Either we are failing the diets, or the diets are failing us.

As if that weren’t enough, if you try to lose weight with a diet plan that drastically cuts your caloric intake, your body’s survival mechanism kicks in to save your life. Quite naturally, that works against you.

You eat less, so your metabolism slows down and, like a cruel joke, your body begins to store more fat while simultaneously burning less fat. Finally, your body begins to break down your lean tissue – your muscle.

While all that’s happening, you’re feeling deprived. Your hunger is so overwhelming, all you can think about are the foods you can’t have, right?

Seriously, how long can anyone put up with this?

Eventually, you go back to your same old, same old and – oops! – you’ve yo-yo dieted once again.

That’s why I propose that you give up dieting. Relearn and reclaim your body’s internal wisdom. Your body knows precisely what it wants. As infants, we have this wisdom, but as we grow most of us unlearn this intuitive natural eating.

My 2-year-old is totally in touch with his internal wisdom. He only eats when he is truly hungry. I respect that and never force him to eat when he refuses food. I know that he will not allow himself to starve. I simply provide him with good choices and then let him decide.

Besides, you can’t simply get rid of an old habit; you must replace it by cultivating a new habit.

If we each tapped in to our body’s internal wisdom, everyone could achieve her or his optimal weight. Moreover, I think we need to get to a place in this country where we exercise not to burn calories or for other results, but for the intrinsic value – the joy of if!

We should exercise because it’s good for us and makes us feel good. If we focus on doing the right thing for the right reasons, we are more likely to achieve the healthy, fit and balanced life we’re all meant to have.

Tap into your internal wisdom and let the journey begin.

A weighty challenge

Put your good efforts to work helping the hungry by participating in the third annual Pound for Pound Challenge.

Philabundance, the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization, and Feeding America are participating in this national effort with NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” General Mills and Subway.

For every pound you pledge to lose, the Challenge will donate 11 cents to Feeding America, up to a maximum donation of $1.040 million, or 8 million pounds. Funds will go to local food banks, including Philabundance.

“The Pound for Pound Challenge is an excellent way to draw attention to the national issue of hunger in America,” said Bill Clark, president and executive director of Philabundance. “We have seen the need for food assistance increase 66 percent over the last two years.”

The Delaware Valley already has 159 team members with over 4,400 pounds pledged. Read their inspirational stories or share yours at Philabundance’s Facebook page, To join Philabundance’s Pound for Pound Challenge team, go to Find more on the Pound for Pound Challenge at

Kimberly Garrison is a certified personal trainer and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia ( E-mail her at Her column appears each Thursday in Yo!

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