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It seems such an easy recipe for success and so achievable on paper: to lose weight you just have to make sure the number of calories going in is lower than the number of calories going out. My mother swears by Slimming World, a girl friend from school loves Atkins, my American friend has just gone back on Weight Watchers, a drinking buddy followed the Cambridge Diet for six months before her wedding and my business partner doesn't eat sugar. None of these diets have worked for me. According to the Daily Mail we women will tough it out (on average) for exactly five weeks, two days and 42 minutes before jacking it in and going back to 'normal eating'. So why do the majority of diets end in a tailspin, nose first into a tub of Ben and Jerry's?
Well, whilst the answers are innumerable and everyone has their personal reasons to quit, mine pretty much boil down to having no will power. The first diet I ever did was with my mother, I was 17 and we decided to try the low fat diet. We lived on margarine, marshmallows and jelly babies. Funny old thing, it didn't work. And neither did the numerous others I tried. That was until an army chum, in 2013, introduced me to the 5:2 diet (AKA The Fast Diet).
I had tried nutritional cleanses before and loved how I felt when I had finished them. They weren't long term, they had clearly defined start and end points and I could stick to that. Fasting as a concept has been documented as far back as Ancient Greece, with Pythagoras extolling its virtues. Fasting even plays a role in all of the world's major religions. I was open to the idea of a 24 hour cleanse (through fasting) once or twice a week. I was already trying to follow a reduced calorie diet (and failing spectacularly) so the idea of restricting what you eat for only 24 hours suited me down to the ground. By the time you feel like giving up, you can (until the next fast day).
I recently read on HuffPost about a new study that showed following a reduced calorie diet works just as well as the fast diet and that there weren't any significant health benefits to be had choosing one over the other. I read the article, shrugged my shoulders and carried on as normal. So what if this new study didn't endorse my diet, I don't need someone else's approval of my lifestyle choice to know that it works for me. I know my body and I know my mind - I have the breaking strain of a wet KitKat and so restricting my eating for 24 hours is quite long enough. I don't want to train my body to accept that long term starvation is the new normal. I love going to bed after a fast day, knowing that when I wake up tomorrow I can eat what I want again.
Feel free to scoff (no pun intended) and tell me your diet is better/easier to follow/has quicker results etc, that's great, if it works for you. My point is this: it doesn't matter what the studies say, or that the Daily Mail is slating your choice of weight loss plan this week, what matters ultimately (and all the experts agree on this) is the best weight loss plan is the one you can stick at.