“Bikini Season” is almost here, the media are now reminding us on a daily basis. Every year it’s the same tune. The pressure is on: only a few weeks left to lose the extra pounds, and here for the quick fix are the “new” low-carb, high-protein diets (the names change, but the ideas remain the same). This year, there’s even a new “French” diet among the bunch; not what I recommend (see my thoughts in this USA Today article, and in this musing from last year).
Cut carbs, count calories, eat nothing but protein, cut out all fat. These diets preach all manner of restriction. Yes, you will lose weight. But what happens next? Where will your waistline be by July? By September? You know how this story goes…the body will ultimately rebel and the pounds will come back, probably plus some more. Diets are about deprivation and thus are unsustainable. It’s a recipe for disaster, and people know by now (or should) that diets don’t work long-term. But speed and convenience win and people don’t realize that the more they go on diets the harder time they’ll have losing weight. Vicious circle, anyone? Diets are a catastrophe for your life and havoc to your metabolism and more until/unless a lifestyle change occurs.
My methods cannot promise a 20-pound weight loss by Memorial Day, but you can achieve long-term weight loss that sticks, and the process of losing that weight will be far more pleasant than a low-carb, no fat affair. Maybe this year the pre-bikini-baring weight loss will not be as extreme. But come Labor Day (and maybe even the Fourth of July), you will be ahead of those now going the diet route (who by that point will be re-gaining their lost pounds, plus a few extra). And next year you will face bikini season with even more confidence.
The key is making a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. Developing a better relationship with food, getting into the kitchen to cook (which does not require a lot of time – most recipes in The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook can be made in half an hour; so can many in the Recipe section of this website), getting to “know thyself”: what foods bring you the most pleasure and what foods you can do without, paying attention to portion sizes, eating fresh and nutritious food, sitting down to eat, focusing on your meals, incorporating pleasurable movement into your day (walking, climbing stairs, bike riding, whatever you like). Yes it takes some time and energy, but the payoff will not only be a smaller waistline but a richer, more delicious life.
My advice is always to make small, manageable changes peu à peu (little by little). If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend reading the articles in the Well-Being section of this website, or re-reading (or first time reading) The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook (the Magical Breakfast Cream is one easy and delicious recipe in the cookbook that so many readers have been raving about and will help you effortlessly shed pounds) or one of my first two books. As a quick refresher, here are some basic principles and a few recasting steps that are easy to implement.
If you need some more inspiration, Erin Moline wrote about her experience following the advice from French Women Don’t Get Fat and was able to change her relationship to food in a thoughtful and healthy way. She’s a shining example of the gains that come taking the slow road to a genuine lifestyle change, instead of relying on quick-fix diets.
Here’s to a summer filled not with deprivation and guilt but rather with a full enjoyment of all the sensory pleasures of the season.