04 August 2010

Nice try, Shape.

Your "7 Tips for Long Term Weight Loss," may sound good to start out, but it doesn't take long for everything to fall apart.

Take Tip #4, for example: Weight loss tips # 4. Set your own rules.

The best way to achieve that same clarity when you're trying to lose weight is to set some rules. Find yourself snacking on cereal at night? Make an only-for-breakfast rule. If you slip, no cereal in your house for a month! Tend to dive into the breadbasket as soon as the waiter brings it around? Set a one-starchy-carb-per-restaurant-meal rule. If you want the bread, tell yourself before you head out that you'll skip the potato or pasta that comes with your meal. To make the rules official, write them down.

How exactly does that work with Tip #6? Weight loss tips # 6. Enjoy food.

You're much more likely to stick with a diet if your food looks, tastes and smells delicious. Feeling deprived will only backfire. Make a plan you can live with by livening up healthy foods with herbs and spices like basil, cilantro, curry and ginger; aromatic veggies like garlic and onions; and condiments like mustard, hot pepper sauce or salsa. Experiment with new nutritious foods: Tantalize your taste buds with two new fruits or vegetables at each meal. Try different cold/hot cereals and breads. Don't declare high-fat favorites "off limits"; savor them in small amounts to maintain a balanced healthy diet.

I realize Tip #6 is trying to explain how to make foods that sometimes might seem bland or boring if they're prepared in a healthy manner more appealing so you'll actually want to eat them. However, putting in the bit about feeling deprived only serves to make the "tips" sound contradictory.

Feeling deprived or labeling a particular food as "bad" or forbidden is only setting a lot of people up for a fall. Punishing yourself for making a mistake isn't a particularly positive behavior. None of that really helps a person cultivate a healthy attitude toward food and eating.

How about, if you slip, get back on the horse and try again tomorrow? Maybe start by trying to eat better-for-you cereal or less cereal until you can stop eating it at night. You don't make lifestyle changes overnight, and isn't that what Shape is allegedly preaching here? Or what about moderation? A piece of pie isn't going to kill you if you keep it small and don't eat it every single day.

I can't say I'm surprised, since Shape is one of those pseudo-fitness magazines that says it's all about being healthy but then features Photoshopped cover models who shill for diet pills. There's a reason I don't read women's magazines. I need your stupid tips, Shape, the way I need Cosmo's sex tips and relationship advice.

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