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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t “Crash Diet”

Obligatory reminder: I’m not a doctor, so you shouldn’t treat me as one. If you have specific health issues, don’t listen to me, consult with your doctor, physician, or nutritionist. I write from personal experience, not a medical background!
 
Weight Watchers, Atkins, Paleo, Keto, & Low Carb are just a few of the popular diets readily available for anyone to start right now. Famous backers for these diets, such as Oprah with Weight Watchers or Joe Rogan with Keto, also aids in their popularity.
 
Please understand that I am NOT saying these diets are inherently bad. Most of them have plenty of great health benefits, and they can be a great way to change your life if you’re willing to stick to them. But, THAT is where the line is drawn- “if you’re willing to stick to them.”
 
My position is not that these diets are bad, but rather that our interpretation of “diet” is bad. Here are 5 reasons why we shouldn’t crash diet:
 

  • Crash diets give a short-term solution to a long-term need

The longer we stay healthy, assuming no external issues, the longer we live. Health, then, is something we should view through a macro lens rather than being super worried about day-to-day progress. This desire to see immediate change is usually the #1 thing keeping us from actually seeing it through over a longer period of time, and crash diets (in my humble opinion) feed this unhealthy desire for many people.

We want 6-pack abs, and we want them tomorrow. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. If it did, do you think close to 2/3 of Americans would still be overweight?

This short term desire to be healthy, plus my laziness in not setting up proper systems for myself, is the main reason why I was 40lbs overweight for most of my time in college. Want to be healthier or look better? Put in the work and the time!

  • The goal of health is happiness, not weight loss

There is a sense of clarity and accomplishment that comes with gradual progress in the gym and the kitchen. Over a longer healthy journey, you learn things about yourself that you didn’t know before. You get a good sense of what works for you, what doesn’t, and where your strengths/weaknesses lie.

This does not happen in a crash diet. Honestly, you don’t really learn anything other than to say “no” to any type of balance. There’s also a bit of a misconception in that stars who subscribe to certain diets, such as Joe Rogan with Keto, do this ALL THE TIME. It’s his lifestyle, not a 2-month sprint.

Your goal shouldn’t be to lose weight, but to be healthier and happier. Usually, they go hand in hand, but only when your motives are clear.

  • You can lose weight and still be unhealthy

Obviously, losing weight often leads to you looking better- which is great! However, if the goal becomes weight loss, you can do some pretty unhealthy things to meet your goal. A person’s weight just isn’t that great of a metric to truly test how healthy they are.

Those that have been exercising and eating healthy foods for a long time can vouch for this: your nutrition matters more to your overall health than exercise! If you had the option to workout every day and have a diet of potato chips and soda, or never work out and eat healthy foods, you’d find that the 2ndmethod will give far better results for both your physical and mental health. Fortunately, that’s not a choice we have to make!

Losing weight is a metric to track your progress, but should never be the only goal.

  • Ultra-restriction leads to binge eating

Those who have military-levels of discipline might be able to go on a super restrictive diet and be fine. If you can do that, awesome! Do that! However, I cannot, and know this because I’ve tried it many times.

Sure, I might go a couple of weeks while only eating grilled chicken and broccoli, but eventually, I’m going to give in. I see the chocolate muffin, I JUST eat one of them, which leads to eating 4 of them, which leads to washing it down with a large coke, etc. etc. Ultra-restriction leads to binge eating, which is yet another reason why crash diets are not ideal.

Again, while some of you might be able to stick to a very strict diet for a long period of time, I’m willing to bet that most of you reading fall into the same category as me. If that’s the case, why not just accept that fact, and adopt a long-term approach? Food for thought (pun intended).

  • Even if it works, what next?

 
Alright, let’s say your crash diet actually “works” (whatever that means to you). Perhaps you drop some weight very quickly, so you build some momentum and start feeling better about yourself. You FINALLY lost the weight- now what?
 
This is my biggest issue with crash diets– they help you lose weight, but they don’t really teach you how to live a healthy life. They show you how to quickly correct your poor choices, not how to sustain lifelong good choices. A crash diet may teach you some discipline, but it doesn’t teach you practicality, nor will it equip you with sustainable habits. 
 
If you’re overweight or unhealthy, I empathize with you. It makes you uncomfortable, and can genuinely get in your head and kill your confidence. However, while you may not want to hear it, a crash diet is most likely not the best thing for you right now (unless you are severely overweight. In that case, you shouldn’t be listening to me anyway, and should consult with your trusted physician.)
 
Make a promise to yourself, and just try it for 6 months. Get your nutrition in check, but look to incorporate foods which you can enjoy without feeling guilty. Start exercising, and add a little more every week. If you’ll commit to that for just 6 months, I think you’ll be very surprised by how much progress you can make!

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5 Misconceptions About Mental Illness

Mental health has recently come to the forefront of public discourse, and it’s long overdue. Here are just a few facts from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
 

  • Mental illness costs America $193 billion in lost earnings per year
  • Mood disorders are the 3rd most common cause of hospitalization in the US for ages 18-44
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US and the 2nd leading cause among ages 10-34
  • More than 90% of those who die via suicide show symptoms of mental illness

Numbers don’t lie, mental illness is a serious issue around the world, especially in the United States. While plenty of research is being done today to change these stats, there are still many misconceptions about mental illness. I’ve listed 5 popular ones here in hopes of creating a discussion around how we can better serve our peers:

  • Mental illness affects a small portion of the population 

False!

Fact1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental illness every year, and many of them do it in complete and utter silence. While these various mental illnesses can have a wide range of severity, each of them should be taken very seriously.

If you have more than a couple of friends/co-workers, there is a very good chance that at least one of them suffers from a minor form of mental illness, even if you have no idea. This is not some “minor issue”, ladies and gentlemen. It is a widespread problem that affects millions of people every single day.

If we want to empower our friends with mental health issues to come forward and get help, then it’s time for all of us to stop acting like it’s a rarity, because in reality, it is commonplace. 

  • Mental illness not as serious as “concrete” illness 

FALSE!

There are now more patients suffering from mental diseases in the United States than from all other diseases combined. So, why do many of us still treat them almost like a 2nd hand illness?

By 2nd hand, I mean just not quite as important or serious. When we hear that someone has cancer, we panic, usually for good reason. But when we hear someone is suffering from mental illness, it doesn’t hit us the same way. Why? Some would argue it’s because “we can’t see it”, but I disagree. You can’t see a cancer patient’s cancer without proper equipment, but you can see the side effects. In the same way, you may not be able to see someone’s mental illness, but you can see the dark fruit it bears.

It can be completely debilitating, and in some very unfortunate cases, life ending. It’s not fun to talk about, but more important now than ever. Mental health has serious implications on our lives, and we should be willing to do whatever it takes to work on ourselves so that we may help others.

  • Mental illness stems from personal issues/character flaws

FALSE! 

This line of thinking is very harmful, whether you have a mental illness or not. If you don’t, it inhibits your ability to genuinely help others because your perception of their issues is completely wrong. If you do suffer from them, the consequences can be far worse.

Do not blame yourself for an issue you cannot control. That doesn’t give you an excuse to not get help, but there’s no need for self-deprecating thoughts or speech.

  • It’s rude to ask friends/family about their mental health

It might be awkward or uncomfortable at first, but it’s certainly not rude. If anything, your concern could be the first step toward drastically changing that person’s life. Or, in severe cases, save it.

Think about this with me: Sure, mental illness can be a very sensitive topic, carrying with it years of baggage and circumstances which you cannot control or change. However, isn’t it still worth it? Isn’t the risk of a little awkwardness worth showing those close to you that you care about them? Of course, it is!

I don’t know very many people who would say that it’s not worth it- so why aren’t we having these conversations? Maybe it’s because we don’t think it’s that serious, or maybe we aren’t paying close enough attention. Whatever the reason may be, we should get passed allowing awkwardness to keep us from checking in on the people we care about.

  • Mental illness has to last forever

Many mental illnesses are completely curable! And even if there is no complete cure, treatment can make a world of difference in your life! Due to the recent spike in interest and research surrounding mental health, today’s treatments are more sophisticated and accurate, and they are constantly evolving to get better!

Researchers, scientists, and mental health specialists are doing amazing work in this field right now- don’t let their work go to waste! They are doing this to help you, just as they have helped millions of other people. If you are struggling, that’s okay, but don’t stay that way. There are people who care about you and have access to a plethora of resources which change lives all over the world.

I want to end this with some resources which you can use to help yourself or someone you know struggling with mental illness:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

  • If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.

SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline: 1-877-726-4727

  • Get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area. Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

Participate in a Clinical Trial

  • Want to be a part of the solution to mental illness? Visit ClinicalTrials.gov to learn more about how to participate, refer a patient, or learn about studies

 
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