Why Diets Fail August 31, 2011

There are a lot of diets out there. A quick peek into our own kitchen cabinets reveal that we have at least 6 different diet systems hidden in there: The Cambridge Diet, the High Protein diet, the Wellness diet, the Biolife diet, the Soy diet and the Hydroxycut diet. Yes, we have fallen many times for the promise that we can continue eating our favourite foods yet lose weight by just replacing some of our meals with this system or that system. Basically if someone sold us the idea that we should eat the kitchen sink and we’d lose weight, we would. And each time we were defeated.

(Side note: a reader sent us an email earlier asking why do we keep using “we” instead of I? Well, it’s because we are two persons, and we jointly write and manage this blog. When a blogpost is written independently, we will sign it with our individual name at the end.)

So, why diets fail?

Pat Barone sums it in a neat Top-10 style list:

  1. Severe food restriction causes real hunger.
  2. A diet is an artificial plan which is different from your lifestyle.
  3. A diet is a temporary solution to a permanent problem.
  4. A diet doesn’t take into account your likes and dislikes.
  5. A one-size-fits-all diet cannot possibly be useful to everyone.
  6. Cravings are real.
  7. Diets set up feelings of deprivation and punishment.
  8. Dieting puts the emphasis only on food.
  9. Dieting promotes weight loss, not fat loss.
  10. Dieting leads to new problems or compounds old ones.

(source10 Reasons Why Diets Fail by Pat Barone, St. Louis Counseling and Psychologists Referral Network)

Maybe, thought Tracy Bale, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania, the problem is stress. Stress causes the body to release the hormone cortisol, which fuels the blood with energy in the form of sugar, enabling us to flee from potential dangers. Over time, high stress levels lead to chronically elevated cortisol levels that can cause increased appetite and weight gain.

“Dieting is tough because your brain is working against you,” Bale says. Learning better ways to cope with stress may be the key to successful weight loss because “you aren’t prone to have stress drive you to want to consume.” Bale thinks that designing medications to target these stress pathways may help dieters keep off the weight that they worked so hard to lose.

(sourceWhy Diets Fail by Carrie Arnold, ScienceNOW)

One thing is very clear then – dieting is not and should not be about depriving ourselves from food or replacing them with System A or System B. It is about maintaining a good relationship with food and understanding how your body works, what your body needs and what it craves. Moderation, moderation, moderation.

But… easier said than done, right?


The Journey Begins… August 27, 2011

Have you ever wished you could kick your bad habits and yo-yo-ing weight loss and gain once and for all? We do.

That was the thought that motivated us to create Damai SoulSpace Wellness Spa and Retreat. Being someone who has struggled with weight issues for most of our adult lives, we knew what was the problem exactly. It is not that we are not aware of what we needed to do, or that we lack resources (time, money, places to go, diet pills to take, gyms to visit). The problem was the bad habits that we have cultivated over the years – food bingeing, sedentary lifestyle, stressful careers – would often creep back into our lives and undo any positive changes that we have managed to achieve.

It is always very tempting to try a quick-fix solution. We have a closet-full of unopened or barely eaten meal replacement systems, tabs of diet pills – prescribed or un-prescribed, boxes of herbal and food supplements (or “miracle cures” as their ads would led us to believe), treadmills that are used as (very expensive) towel hangers, dumb bells that are re-purposed as door stoppers and un-cancelled gym memberships which fees are deducted automatically from our bank accounts every month. We have been prodded, pulled, massaged, wrapped, “electrocuted”, bandaged, patched, cut open then stitched back together again, boot-camped, lectured and yelled into losing the bulk only to return to our favourite cake shop and gorge on their delicious Red Velvet cupcakes the next day.

We have watched Oprah religiously, signed up with online food and exercise diaries to “track our progress”, posted our fat pictures for our friends and family to look at with the hope that it would shame us into managing our weight. But the problem remains the same – we relapse.

We know the holy trinity of maintaining a healthy weight:

  • Healthy eating habits based on the Food Guide Pyramid
  • A physically active lifestyle (yes, exercise is not optional!)
  • Positive cognitive behaviours

We recognize that weight is a daily struggle but it doesn’t have to be so. We want to create an environment where weight problems are treated like a disease and addiction; where residents are given the tools and support that they need to overcome this disease; where they are conditioned to change their habits and break through the mental barrier that has been stopping them from taking control and regaining their health. We want to do this in a safe and nurturing place, where qualified experts are at hand to guide us through the journey, where  we are surrounded by like-minded individuals that we can count on for emotional support and motivation. And we want this journey to be a reward, not a punishment; and enlightening, if we may use the word, so that we can be empowered to also change the lives and bad habits of the people that we love. Teach a woman how to fish, and she could feed a generation.

And that was how the seed for Damai SoulSpace Wellness Spa & Retreat was sown.

We are still at the beginning of our journey. There is still a long way to go. But we are determined to get there, and we would like to invite you to join us. Subscribe to this blog to follow our updates (and struggles) to make Damai SoulSpace a reality and a behind-the-scenes diary as we embark on this ambitious venture. In meantime, if you would like to share with us your stories, or be a part of Damai SoulSpace family, drop us an email at feedback@damaisoulspace.int.tc. Your voice means a lot to us. Til next time.

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