Dance Articles > Why Dieting Makes You Fat

Discussion in 'Dance Articles' started by BodiesByBija, Jan 16, 2005.

  1. BodiesByBija

    BodiesByBija New Member

    by Bija Satterlee, BA in Dance, BodiesbyBija Certified Personal Trainer and Master Fitness by Phone® Coach. 3 Times U.S. Representative to the World Senior Dancesport Championships (Standard and Latin).
    Published in Dancebeat, Jan 2005

    DANCERS LOVE TO LOOK GOOD! All dressed up, dancing our hearts out, and we’re in Heaven! But doesn’t it wreck your party when you can’t zip into your favorite outfit due to recent weight gain?! Well, “the Holidays” are over, and Resolutions are still fresh; so what are YOU doing to get back your lovely, svelte figure?


    Everyone has their favorite diet. But did you know that diets have only a 5.2% success rate? Dieting strikes at our survival instincts because it mimics semi-starvation. The mere thought of dieting makes people run and eat their last indulgent treats before boot camp starts. (There’s your first sign of trouble). Everyone wants quick and permanent weight loss. But beware! Rapid weight loss is rarely sustainable, and when the pendulum swings back at you, it is much stronger than before.

    This is a great time to compare popular diets, examine their limitations, and check out alternatives while you are still motivated to shape up!

    DIETING, DEPRIVATION *** sigh ***
    Weight-loss diets are based on deprivation. Every diet specifies what you cut out: (calories, fat, carbohydrates, etc.) so you will lose fat. In the early stages of any diet you see results, and it is satisfying! The scale drops quickly, though mostly from water. At some point, however, you stop losing weight. It’s that stubborn plateau where you can’t get any further, no matter how hard you try.

    DIETS BASED ON “Cutting It Out”

    • Cutting Calories
    If you cut more than 500 calories a day from your diet, your metabolism slows way down, making you feel listless and weak, and low energy. You won’t have enough energy for normal life, much less to dance or work out. When you finally eat more, weight gain is inevitable.

    • Cutting Fat
    If your diet is high in fat or saturated fat, cutting some of it is a good idea. But cutting fat out all together results in loss of fat-soluble vitamins, which are needed for healthy skin, eyes, nerves. People usually feel hungry all the time on ultra low fat diets, due to lack of satiety, and cannot sustain it for very long.

    • Cutting Carbs
    The Zone and Atkins Diets are based on eating low carbohydrates. These diets are both low calorie diets as well. They require a lot of measuring and package-reading. If you truly eat only 40% carbohydrates, and are dancing and working out, you will begin to feel very tired, and low-energy. Also, when you do reintroduce carbohydrates to your diet, the pounds tend to pack on quickly. Research shows most of the low-carb dieters had regained their lost weight by the one-year point. Cutting out empty carbs like white flour and sugar isn’t a bad idea though.

    DEPRIVATION ITSELF is the biggest drawback of dieting, no matter which diet you’re on. Even though you may feel you have control over things (a great feeling), there is a strain quietly building. And BUILDING. Until one day you are faced with one of your ‘forbidden foods,’ you’re excessively hungry, and then... WOOPS! There goes your control, there goes the WHOLE PLATE OF COOKIES, there goes your diet!

    This is not such a great feeling! But you resolve to begin again. Tomorrow. And so it goes, diet after diet, and your weight creeps up on the scale year after year.

    DIET DEPRIVATION BACKLASH is the predictable result of dieting. Dieters are always walking a fine edge, trying to ‘stick to their plan’ and avoid at all costs their ‘forbidden’ foods. This is an absolute setup for for rebound, for failure. At some fateful moment, you and your excessive hunger are going to party! But let me reassure you, YOU HAVE NEVER FAILED ANY DIET. RATHER, THE DIETS FAILED YOU! It is absolutely NOT a matter of willpower.

    Have you ever eaten something when you weren’t even hungry, and instantly regretted it? This is one sign of emotional eating, and if left unexamined, can go on for years, making weight loss nearly impossible.

    EATING is truly one of life’s big pleasures. Fortunately, we have plenty of food available. But somehow we have forgotten how to eat the way Nature intended. We eat when we’re not hungry! We eat for fun! We eat for companionship. We eat to console or reward ourselves. And it works, but only for those brief moments! Then you may feel even worse than before.

    Have you ever grabbed a bite for the following reasons?
    • boredom
    • anxiety
    • loneliness
    • anger
    • depression
    • happiness

    It doesn’t even matter if it’s positive or negative, reaching for food at a time other than when you’re hungry is emotional eating. Almost everyone does it sometime. The problem is, it doesn’t solve the problems, it just makes you feel bad about yourself.

    Infants don’t have hang-ups about food. They’ll let you know when they’re hungry and they’ll push it away when full. Yet children and adults are plagued with eating issues. By adulthood, many people find themselves overweight, eating for all the wrong reasons, and are constantly on diets. People who have dieted extensively can tell you how stubborn the scale can get with each attempt. This can lead to trying even more extreme diets the next time. All this is very hard on the body.

    At some point you’ll know you’ve had enough of dieting! Only then will you be able to make the move to Intuitive Eating. It’s the way most thin people eat naturally.

    INTUITIVE EATING, What’s that?
    First of all, it is not a diet! It is really an Un-Diet. There is not enough room in this article to fully explain how to implement Intuitive Eating, but the main features are:

    • Finding your true physical hunger
    • Distinguishing emotional from physical hunger
    • Eating only when you are physically hungry
    • Sensing how full you are as you eat
    • Dealing with emotions in ways other than food
    • Making peace with food
    • Learning to trust yourself with food
    • There are no ‘forbidden foods’
    • Give up the idea of ‘dieting’ ever again

    Ask yourself before eating, “How hungry am I?” Every time you reach for food, ask yourself “Am I physically hungry, or is this emotional eating?” It is important not to let yourself get completely EMPTY, because excessive hunger is a cause of overeating.

    ‘Forbidden foods’ may be one of the biggest reasons people get fat! Depriving yourself leads to backlash bingeing. By reassuring yourself that special foods will still be there helps takes the mystique out of it.

    Intuitive Eating is a method for improving your relationship with food. Weight loss is the natural result! It’s an honest process, starting with uncovering food myths and fallacies. Instead of focusing on cutting carbs, or calories, you learn how to eat what your body needs, and you deal with the emotions making you overeat. People lose weight when they stop using food for comfort and then calling it the enemy.

    Dancers have above-average body awareness. This is a key to success with Intuitive Eating. The more awareness you have, the more successful you can be with it. Some people pick it up quickly and have success right from the beginning. It is liberating for people who have felt like ‘food junkies’ to begin to trust themselves with food. I have seen marvelous transformations when people give up dieting for good, and tune into what their bodies (and emotions) really need. They are universally surprised that they actually lose weight eating according to their physical hunger!

    There is more to Intuitive Eating than just these points. But this would be a good place to start. You probably know thin people who don’t struggle with food. They are naturally Intuitive Eaters. You can be too!

    You may be tempted to speed things up by dieting again. Just know that eating intuitively with non-diet thinking has an 82% success rate, compared to dieting, with only a 5.2% success rate! Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t about willpower or finding the perfect diet! It’s about finding peace with food. Weight loss is the natural result.

    IF YOU ARE READY TO END THE FOOD/DIET STRUGGLE, and would like more ideas you can implement right away, sign up for Intuitive Eating through my web site. We have 8, 16, or 24 week coaching blocks available. To discuss this or any fitness issues, call Bija at (781) 861-6548 or go to

    In Joy and Good Health,

    Bija Satterlee
    Fitness Coaching for Dancers
    Get Fit to Dance!
  2. DancePoet

    DancePoet Well-Known Member

    I am really impressed with this article!

    Thanks for posting! :D
  3. BodiesByBija

    BodiesByBija New Member

    Glad you enjoyed it, DP!
  4. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    :) I should show it to a colleague of mine... she's obsessed with eating very little, she currently eats dairy exclusively... :( She is trying to lose about 5 Kgs... but she should work out if you ask me! She's not doing anything all day long (sitting for 8 hours at least on a chair is not an activity likely to help you lose weight) and then going home and doing the same... it is sad when you see people doing such things to their bodies...
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Another fantastic article, BBB. 8) And what you say is totally true, IMO. You can't force an un-hungry infant to eat ... even foods they like. I've worn many a strained plum to prove it! :lol: :lol: But, somewhere early in childhood, people learn that food-emotion connection. Pretty scary.

    What helped me figure it out (but not completely solve it, to be honest) was keeping a food diary -- what I ate, how much I ate and what times of day I ate. I didn't have to keep the diary for long to begin seeing patterns emerge. 8)
  6. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    And all this time I thought it was the food I ate!
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I wish it was that simple. My Mom (a Type II diabetic) has been eating NOTHING for years, somehow thinking she'll lose weight. No! She gains, if anything. I keep telling her to eat healthy, balanced, and maybe bigger meals and get more exercise, but she doesn't believe me. She thinks fewer calories always means fewer pounds. Not quite. :?
  8. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I truly know where she is coming from . . . I'm there . . . and until just recently "seeing" what the correct foods for those of us with the Type II diabetes can do . . . I too was gaining way too much weight . . . dieting and exercise is not all of it. Eating only those foods that are low on the GI charts is the only way to go. You have to start with the right foods . . . then go easy on them and exercise too! Oh, and id she is taking meds . . . she can get off of them within a year, and she can get rid of her high blood press ure pills too. You didn't mention those, but I'd bet she is taking those as well???

    Tell your Mom to hang around some friends who have Type I, then tell her that if she doesn't straighten up . . . that's where she'll be. Worked for me!!! I was scared straight!
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yes. She's taking the blood pressure pills too. She's from the older generation, and has a lot of faith in pills. :? But I have to keep working with her to try and raise her awareness. A little at a time. :?
  10. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    My goal this year . . . besides exercise and more dancing . . . is to rid myself from taking OTC medicines, and by the end of this year, to ween myself of the medications that I have to take for the high blood pressure and Type II Diabetes!
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I have a friend who did that -- he had to lose quite a bit of weight. But, when he lost the weight, the eyeglasses, the insulin, and all the pills were no longer necessary. He's still diabetic, of course, but it's hard to tell from looking at him. He's got it all under control. 8)
  12. jon

    jon Member

    Certainly worked that way for me. When I started eating about 600-800 calories/day less than I'd been accustomed to, weight came off fast.

    I don't doubt people with seriously messed up metabolic issues like diabetes or hypoglycemia have a tougher time of it, but the bottom line is to eat less than you use.
  13. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    I only quickly skimmed the article, so I might have missed it, but it looks like it left out another major reason why semi-starvation diets don't work: the body won't let it.

    I'm remembering this from a popular-science-type magazine in the early 1980's, "Science 80" (& 81, & 82, etc, until 1987, I think). As part of an experiment, prisoners who voluteered were put on strict diets (hence controlled so that they could not give in to their cravings) and their weight measured and it was found that they hardly lost any weight. But when they were put on an exercise regimen, particularly aerobic exercise, they did lose weight.

    It was as if the body has a thermostat set for the amount of body fat that it needs and it does what it can to maintain that level. So when you go on a diet that greatly reduces your caloric intake, the body thinks it's being starved and so it acts to conserve the fat.

    The solution, said the article, is to change the setting of the fat-level thermostat. And the way to do this was to change your level of physical activity; ie, exercise more. The more active you are, the less body fat your body thinks that it needs and so you will burn it off and keep it off more readily. Aerobic exercise seemed to be the best form for changing the thermostat.

    Therefore, dieting alone will not achieve weight loss, but rather you need to exercise as well as watch what and how much you eat.

    Interestingly, they mentioned dancing, but not how we would imagine. They specifically mentioned ballet dancing and said that it did not constitute aerobic exercise because it was not somewhat continuous motion but rather had a lot of rest periods in it.

    Although they did not mention social dancing, I think that it would have been found to be closer to aerobic exercise (requires about 20 minutes of continuous motion to be considered aerobic, as I recall). And I think that our own collective personal experience will bear out that social dancing does help us to reduce body fat and to become and stay fit.
  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Exactly what I keep telling my Mom. But she doesn't understand why eating 2000 or 2500 calories (rather than 1200 or 1500) won't make her gain weight. It doesn't make sense to her. :?

    Added to that is what I've been reading lately (can't remember where) about the body needing a certain minimum amount of fuel in order to build muscle. And muscle burns more calories than fat, even when at rest. So, even though it's counterintuitive, it's possible to eat MORE and lose weight... within reason, of course.

    What jon said originally is basically right, though. Burn more calories than you take in, and you'll lose weight. It's just a matter of understanding how to get your body to burn the calories.
  15. Swingolder

    Swingolder New Member

    I was on that diet boat for many years. Actually tried living on 600 calories a day for many years. Metabolism was probably zero! Course that led to binging periodically and then horrible guilt. I suppose I blame it all on a very unhappy marriage.

    Now that I eat "normally" maybe not 2000-2500 a day, but whatever I want, and am very happy, I sympathize with those who say they eat nothing but carrots for lunch and salad for supper. I automatically think of them as very unhappy as I was.
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I *will not* ever count calories. Sorry. I know that approach works for some people, but it makes me obsess about food. There has to be a better way. I did Weight Watchers for about six months -- also weight gain as the result of an abysmally bad relationship. Counting points was bad enough, but, once I got into the swing of it, I didn't count those much either. I just did what I call "modular eating." I knew approximately what I was allowed to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. (And my nightly glass of red wine!) Then I didn't think about food anymore.

    btw. The food diary was one thing that convinced me my relationship was going south, fast. He would yell at or criticise me for something, and I'd reach for the cheetos. :lol: Seriously, anytime you can't have a conversation with your SO without gorging yourself on cheetos, there's something really wrong! :lol: :lol:

    Anyway... so where was I? Uhh... for me, any diet where I have to think about food all the time is not going to work, long term. It's like those twelve step programs where you're allowed to transfer your addiction from one thing to another, in my mind. You're a recovering food-aholic, but it's okay to become a diet-aholic? No work. :lol: Sorry. I'm an opinionated twit. :lol: :lol:
  17. randomMysh

    randomMysh New Member

    I'm fairly anti-diet, but I did do 2 weeks of Atkins not that long ago, and I'm very glad I did that. I didn't do it for weight loss, I'm fine with my body as it is. I simply realized that most of what I was eating was refined carbs--cereal for breakfast....bagel for snack...pasta for lunch...some sort of piece of meat and rice for dinner...I was miserable, too. Blood sugar swings caused crazy mood swings, sudden physical exhaustion and eating round the clock. It was particularly scary because my great-grandma had diabetes, which I did NOT want. I tried rebalancing my eating gradually, but because that's what I was used to, it wasn't working. So I did the two weeks of Atkins (hellishly hard, by the way), and got used to reaching for lean meats and whole grains and vegetables when I'm hungry instead of a bagel. It's still working and I feel much better! :)

    I wouldn't call it a diet, just a change of habits, although some people would probably say that because I don't eat sugar and white flour most of the time, I'm on a diet. I?
  18. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Me too! Never, ever count calories!

    It's just no white rice, potatoes, white bread, and nothing with white flour or sugar in it! "Do I sound prejudiced???" J/K

    I watch saturated fats extensively, although I do eat peanut butter, as for a diabetic, PB is one of those bad foods that is good for you. I eat a ton of brocolli everyday, as well as an apple a day.

    Lots of vegetables, fruit, lean red meats, chicken, fish, Splenda-based sweets - ice cream, candy etc., (which all tastes like hell). And other than the red meats . . . as much of the others as I want.

    Lots of water, max of one diet Pepsi per day if I do that at all, coffee, etc.

    Oh . . . the water . . . cool idea . . . refill your own bottle if you have filtered water at home, and add some Crystal light to slightly flavor it . . . kinda tastes like Propel water!
  19. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    Excellent article, Bija -- thanks!
    Eating according to my physical hunger is something I'm trying to re-learn this year. I have noticed I do a lot of comfort eating when I'm alone -- always going for sugary things.
  20. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    I think Bija hit the nail on the head when she said to eat only when you are physically hungry. This is a super hard lesson..."do I really need this or do I simply want this?"

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