What is the difference between a diet and a lifestyle?
A diet is generally a temporary way of eating with a goal to: lose weight, cleanse, get healthier, or all the above. Diets are generally advertised to convince you that you will reach your goals in a short time period. Diets are restrictive, expensive, and time consuming. And majority of the time, they fail.
A lifestyle is a way of living or eat that will be adjusted throughout time, age, income, and situations but always keeping the same goals and ideas. A lifestyle is flexible, inexpensive, and tailored to one’s individual needs and preferences.
When making the decision to finally change my eating habits and weight, I adopted a lifestyle.
My lifestyle consists of eating a plant-based diet. Making an effort to buy and use cruelty free products. Run and/or walk for exercise. Keeping up with a busy social life. Choosing to be transparent online with social media and this blog. Drinking an occasional glass of wine or beer after work, and indulging in the party scene as a 24 year old. And of course, enjoying the hell out of some fries. All in moderation.
You see, diets restrict and cause you to be miserable, hungry, or resulting you to binge. Believe me, I have tried majority of the fad diets, and none of them worked. Lifestyles are much easier to keep up with once established without causing you to go insane.
Now, my lifestyle works for me. It works for my income, my age, my job, and my overall happiness. Just because it works for me, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.
When I first began this journey, I restricted myself to only having a cheat day once a week. This worked for me at the time. Some people only have a cheat meal once a week that works for them. To each their own. Now, that was when my goal was just to lose the weight I had packed on in college.
When I was training for my first half marathon, I kept my diet in check, very rarely straying from my balanced diet and I eliminated alcohol. Now, I am much more flexible. My diet almost always is in check during the week days but I tend to stray on the weekends when I go out to eat. However, I am in a much more mature time in my lifestyle than I was two years ago. Before I indulge in a treat I think “How is this going to make me feel?” “Will I be okay with feeling bloated?” even going as far as “Will I fit into my skinny jeans after this?”
For example, this weekend I was at the movies and I really wanted Mike and Ikes. I knew I would feel terrible afterwards, I knew that if I started I wouldn’t be able to stop eating and end up eating the entire box. I knew this. I did choose to eat them and yes, I ate the entire box. I couldn’t feel guilty because I had asked all those questions, and I made that choice. But that doesn’t mean I ruined everything I have worked for. Today was a new day and I have eaten fairy well and rested after a long weekend of family, dogs, and partying.
I have gotten much better at knowing my body and knowing how foods are going to make me feel. This feeling took a lot of time and self-awareness. I also try to remember that I am human and I will fall off the wagon and have bad weeks. The important thing is to recognize those weeks are bad and jump back on the wagon the next week.
Point is, lifestyle gives you freedom to make those choices and mistakes but remembering that you have a greater goal. You must be flexible. You are going to go through different times in your life where you’re going to have to adapt and change. Grow your lifestyle with your ever growing life. However, always keep the bigger picture, that “Why” in the back of your head. Why are you eating this way? To stay healthy for you, your family? To feel better? To prevent chronic diseases? Or to maintain weight loss?
Whatever your “why” is, keep reminding yourself and adapting your lifestyle as you grow and change throughout life.