Diets by the numbers: Where do you fall?
Diets. We’ve ALL been on them at some point in our lives, even if we don’t want to admit it. What’s interesting is there are a ton of different numbers floating around that we often try to abide by and then there are startling numbers that show the darker side to tracking. Let’s dive in to diets by the numbers. Where do you fall?
Let’s start with the “mythical” numbers:
1200 calories — This is the mystical number that every woman has tried to conquer. Someone came up with this as the perfect number of calories to have the perfect body. I can’t even find who “created” it, which makes it an even bigger farce. Yet, we see alllll the time that this should be our goal. No. Just…no. Why? Because we are all built differently, have differently metabolisms, move more or less than each other, and, for Pete’s sake, have different DNA! Do calories matter? Sure. But to state that all women should aspire to 1200 calories is short-sighted.
2000 calories — Suggested by the government, this is the proper caloric intake for a healthy body. Nope. Missed the mark again, but thanks for playing! See the 1200 calories explanation as to why this doesn’t work.
10,000 steps — What an arbitrary number! While it’s great to have something to work toward, especially if you are rather sedentary, this number produces no magic. For some 15,000 steps are needed for improved health. For others 8,000. The problem with this number is it seems huge, daunting, impossible. For those who get out of breath walking to their car or playing with their kids, 10,000 steps is completely unrealistic. Set your own goals. Meet them. Make new ones.
60 minutes of cardio — Pardon me while I stab my eyes out with a pencil after skimming hundreds of articles stating this is what is needed to really change your body. I guess if you are solely relying on the 1200 or 2000 calorie model, this would make sense. Except is doesn’t. If you aren’t exercising, the notion of doing it for 60 minutes is absurd, which means you probably won’t even try. And if you ARE exercising for that much, several times a week, you will have to keep up that pace to sustain any change you’ve made. Minimal effective dose is far more pleasing to the mind and body. This means using the smallest amount of exercise needed to make the change you seek.
36–24–36 — These have long been considered the ideal measurements…or at least shape…of a woman. THESE CAME FROM A SONG! Need I say more?
The biggest problem I have, collectively, with these types of numbers is that not reaching them means failure in our minds (and often in society). These numbers keep us from trying again or sometimes even at all! I could go on and on about these mythical numbers, including: how many pounds to lose per week, how many grams of carbs, protein, fat, how many days to change a habit. I’ll spare you the minutia.
Let’s move to the devastating ones:
10 years old — The typical age that 80% of girls start dieting (referenced here).
15 days — The average duration of a diet (stated in this article). That gives a lot of opportunity for heartbreak across a year, because the same article states that 35% of women will gain back more than they lost in those 15 days.
61 — The average number of diets a woman will be on in her lifetime (also stated in the above article). This is startling, gut wrenching, and fully explains why we are stuck in a diet cycle.
45 million — The number of Americans who will diet this year (seen here).
$33 billion — The amount of money spent on weight loss products each year (same article as above). That’s products only, not services, folks.
It’s a bit eye-opening, isn’t it? I will admit that, though I had a pretty clear understanding of how we tend to navigate food and diets, I was still surprised at some of the numbers. It does paint a picture of how women go about trying to change their bodies and why it doesn’t work.
So let’s cover just some of the numbers that matter:
- hours of sleep
- minutes of quality exercise
- minutes of downtime
- minutes of reading
- things you can do
- servings of veggies you are eating
- ounces of water you are drinking
- hugs from your kids
- smiles on your face
- kisses from your partner
- time spent doing nothing at all
- hours spent having FUN
Oh, did you think I was going to tell you how many you need for each of those things? Nope. This is your life. There’s no magic number to be found. There’s only the number that feels best for you. Play, enjoy, LOVE your life. The rest will follow.