To diet or not to diet - North Shore Times

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I HAVE mixed feelings about the whole diet world out there.

Should I be doing low-carb, no-carb, Atkins diet, cabbage diet, detox diet and the list goes on and on.

We are increasingly under pressure to be on a diet.

If you are not, you feel that you will be left behind in the weight loss world.

I find myself in a very conflicting situation.

As a personal trainer, I do believe in a nutrient rich diet, yet I do not advocate dieting.

From my own experience and that of my clients, it is clearly evident that diets do not generally work.

They may deliver quick fix results, but they will never provide a long-term solution.

Based on what I have witnessed in the fitness industry, as soon as you start to eliminate food groups from your diet by, for example, avoiding carbs or labelling food as good and bad, you will inevitably fall off the nutrition wagon.

As a figure competitor, it is no secret that I was on a very strict eating plan over the last two years in order to compete.

Food is always measured; carbohydrates, fats and proteins are calculated per meal.

Dairy, fruit, bread and pasta are generally avoided during the final weeks of preparation.

You generally do not eat outside your scheduled times and you do not eat out.

Although this type of diet appears very extreme, it needs to be understood that the sport of bodybuilding itself is very extreme.

Having decided to not compete this year has taken me out of this eating regime for the first time in three years and I must confess it hasn't been easy.

Many people have commented how happy I must feel to be able to eat what I want without all the restrictions.

What I wasnt prepared for was the feeling of guilt I experienced with this change in lifestyle.

Never in my life had I felt guilty about eating an apple or a tub of yoghurt.

The point that I am trying to make and the comparison of my experience to any type of dieting is that yes, both can deliver amazing results.

The physique I display on stage is proof that the dieting does work.

Similarly, a no-carb diet can help you lose a lot of weight.

However, I also do realise that, the physique of a figure competitor is neither healthy nor maintainable long-term.

For me to be able to live and function normally, I do need to switch to an off-season eating plan and reintroduce certain foods back into my diet.

As a result, I do put on body fat.

I try and educate anyone who is on a new fat-loss program that they may feel great now and love the fact the fat is melting away, but it will be very hard to maintain that eating regime without sacrificing their happiness and freedom of living and socialising.

It has taken me some time to reach a middle ground.

When I started to label foods as good or bad, I found myself trying to eliminate the bad food from my diet, only to find myself feeling guilty when I did eat those foods.

Quite often I ended up eating more than I needed, because I felt a sense of failure.

This probably stems from the fact that I had deprived myself from these foods as they were imprinted in my brain as being bad.

So as mentioned earlier I find myself in a conflicting position as a personal trainer, because I can not tell my clients to diet or follow unrealistic eating regimes since I do not truly enforce them myself.

I do not believe in diets and no longer label any food as bad. I treat all foods as equal.

A friend of mine recommended me the book If not Dieting, then What by Dr Rick Kausman and let me tell you it has changed the way I think.

I am proud to say that I eat everything now.

I eat chocolate, fruit, cakes, ice cream and carbs at night, and I follow a very different philosophy on life.

At present, whenever I am faced with a food choice, I tell myself that I can eat it if I want to, but I ask myself whether I really feel like it.

In the past when I was competing, if you had told me that I could not eat bread I would find myself dreaming about the day that I could.

I have no regrets about competing because it was a journey I chose to take and I was well aware of all the sacrifices I had to make along the way.

It was a commitment that I made and enjoyed.

However, today I allow myself to eat anything and all foods are the same.

Surprisingly, some days I may choose to eat bread, and other days I do not.

You need to remind yourself of the big picture that, at the end, everything balances itself out.

The majority of the time, I find myself consuming nutrient rich food, yet there are times when I do feel like pasta for dinner or burger and fries for lunch, or a slice of cake with ice cream for desert.

I realise now that this is OK.

I do not eat these things everyday because I do not feel like them everyday.

It is an amazing feeling to not be so self consumed with what I am eating or not eating.

My advice on reaching your healthy weight range is as follows:

Treat all foods as equal.

Allow yourself to eat everything, but try to be more in tune with your body and what it needs.

Eat slowly and enjoy every mouthful.

Be more aware of emotional triggers that see you eating when you are not physically hungry.

Be active for at least 30 minutes every day.

Indulge yourself occasionally by eating what you want without feeling guilty.

If you find yourself indulging too frequently, seek professional advice to help you manage why you may be emotionally eating.

Be kind to yourself and understand that your appearance does not define who you are as a person.

Eat healthy, keep moving and believe in yourself

Loretta Mostofi
Australian and World Figure Champion

14 Oct, 2011

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