Tuesday, February 24, 2009

+20 (∆ 0)

If you haven't already noticed, I try hard not to use the word, 'diet'. To be honest, I loathe the word. It carries a huge amount of baggage with it, and—to me, anyway—mostly negative. "Dieting" always sounds to me like you're being forced to eat much less than you should, which sounds punitive. The whole concept of "starting a diet", then, is abhorrent to me.

Of course, that's an emotional judgement, not intellectual or logical in any way. I simply don't like the word, "diet" because each time I think I'm on a diet, I feel like I'm going to have a miserable time following a random routine set up by some random person. My gut rebels against any kind of restrictive rules. Instead, to simply say I'm "eating less" seems more flexible to me, and thus far more appealing. If I'm eating less, I know I only have about 2000 calories to do with as I choose. I can eat a massive 1700 calorie Carnitas burrito for dinner, but only if I have two apples and a mixed salad for breakfast and lunch. "Eating less" is actually a more accurate description for what I'm doing... with fewer of the pejorative overtones.

But my biggest problem with the word, "diet" is that it's constantly used to promote a lifestyle with a brand label and price tag taped over it: The South Beach Diet, The Atkins Diet, The NutriSystem Diet, The Weight Watchers Diet, and on and on the list goes. Why not just, "eat less"? Isn't that enough of a directive without resorting to a particular brand of dieting? Why do I have to buy a book and follow a cascade of cultish complicated rules when all I really have to do is eat less than 2000 calories a day? I'm not against businesses wanting to make money from customers who follow their diets—but my question to those customers is, why are you giving money to people who are merely repackaging and selling information that's already free?

I walked into Franklin Covey one time to evaluate their notebook organizer "system". It seemed pretty cool and I was getting excited about buying one of their organizer notebooks—which even included their specially designed organizer notebook pages—until I saw Franklin Covey's paper hole punchers. All U.S. Letter size notebooks are designed for standardized three-hole punches, and smaller notebooks are also designed for smaller three-hole punches. Not Franklin Covey—instead, they sell a special seven-hole puncher that only works for Franklin Covey notebooks. That's horseshit. I walked out of the store.

Still, I advocate we all do whatever works for us. Dr. Van K. Tharpe, a successful stock trader and stock trading coach, describes his "Holy Grail" of stock trading as not one particular kind of stock trading, but a kind of stock trading that works for you. For example, some traders have a personality better suited to day trading, while others are more comfortable with a buy and hold strategy over months or years. The same is true for diets—you absolutely should choose the thing which works for you and stick with it for as long as it works for you. If you love Franklin Covey notebooks and you want to buy their 7-hole punches because their whole system works for you, I say do it.

For me, though, any kind of "diet" just doesn't work. I've bought a bunch of books on dieting and exercise and none of them has ever motivated me. The only thing which has worked for me hasn't been Atkins or South Beach or Dr. Phil or whatever—it's simply eating less. That's probably because a simple directive like that requires less mental energy to follow: I can count to 2000, so I'll always know if I'm eating less. Or not.

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