One of the biggest problems I have with dieting is it’s NO fun. I mean c’mon, how many people have you heard say, “OMG, I LOVE to diet. It’s the best thing in the world, and I’m so glad I get to do it!”.
Ya, you can pretty much count on that number of people being a big fat zero (no pun intended.)
The reason I’m passionate about this topic is that as adults, we do TONS of things in life that suck. We hate cleaning, working, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, running the kids all over town and so on. So why the heck would we want to add one more thing to that list?
Typically, accompanied with dieting is exercising. And almost always, the exercise is not fun. And, it’s of course done to maximize “results” – and yep, you guessed it, most dieters pick the most grueling, painstaking exercise on the earth and then wonder why it doesn’t stick. I mean ….the stair stepper?! Really!? Some people might think it’s fun – and honestly, now and then I’ll jump on the sucker to do a little HIIT workout but an hour on that thing and I’d be in tears, and my feet would be numb!
We don’t need another crappy thing we HAVE to do; we need more fun! In Dr. Stuart Brown’s book, Play, he talks about adults and how they do not get enough play. And play/recess shouldn’t stop at childhood. Children need it for development and adults need it for sanity. Dr. Brown defines play as, “…(play) is something done for its own sake,” he explains. “It’s voluntary; it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”
Ever get like that? So into something you check the time and realize HOURS have gone by without you even realizing it! It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world.
The best line in Dr. Brown’s quote is “the act itself is more important than the outcome”. So my question is when you have 30 – 60 minutes to yourself, why would you do something you hate? Shouldn’t you instead engage in something fun? Why would dieting and no-fun-exercise be the choice? Seems doing something for an hour that’s tons of fun and makes you lose track of time is more sustainable and pleasurable – double win! But instead, because adults are obsessed with dieting and losing weight, they do shit they hate.
In Paul Elsass’s article, “Why 90% of you will quit the gym in 2017”, he states that 90% of folks who sign up to go to the gym for new year’s resolutions will quit going before March. NINETY PERCENT!! Wow! I don’t know about you but that ought to scream, it’s not fun.
If Apple sold you an iPhone and it failed, and you wanted to throw it in the trash and stop using it in 2 months, and you knew 90% of people gave up on it – would you still buy it?
People who quit exercising think, “maybe there’s something wrong with me?” Please know – it’s not you, it’s the activity, AND it’s the reason. That’s what we call a twofer folks. Not only does it suck, but you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons, to lose weight. Not because you LOVE it and can’t get enough of it, but because your motivation is to change the way you look
Don’t get me wrong; I get the reason. But hear me out. It’s not sustainable. Period. And if the goal includes “I just want to lose weight,” the diet and the crappy exercise regimen will fail you. And you can’t argue with the data that shows how often people quit gyms, how much money they waste on them and how often dieters give up their shitty diet.
So, as you know, I’m a huge fan of no dieting (because it’s not fun, it fails, and let’s face it, it’s not working.) But for my insecurities, I’m desperate to explain the reason I’m so against it. It’s because it leaves people miserable and unhappy. And my work is based on people living great lives and being happy. Not telling themselves they suck on a daily basis because they can’t stick to some shitty diet and crappy no fun workout plan!
I can’t say it enough; It’s NOT YOU!
So with my rant nearly over I need to take a moment to be serious and explain something to you. We, as humans, are meant to move our bodies. And moving our bodies includes freakin fun stuff. The concept is simple; we are made to play. We are made to enjoy life, laugh a lot, and have a good time! And dieting, no-fun-exercise doesn’t fit into that equation.
People scoff at my anti-diet theories because they assume it must mean I advocate for unhealthiness, weight gain, yadda yadda yadda but actually, I’m advocating for just the opposite.
I’m sorry to break the news to the rest of the world, but It’s not healthy to hate your body and spend your entire life wanting to change it. It’s not healthy to run 10 miles after you’ve enjoyed a great meal the evening before. It’s not healthy to partake in grueling high-intensity exercise day in and day out with the sole focus of losing weight or changing your body. It’s not healthy to panic in the presence of “bad” food for fear of eating it, never being able to stop, and ultimately gaining weight. It’s not healthy to live in a constant state of trying to control your weight.
I do, however, believe it’s beneficial to do things that make you happy because happiness goes hand in hand with health and wellness. We might as well not even talk about one without the other.
So, how can you find something you love to do. Something where you lose yourself? What can you do that gets you outdoors playing in nature and enjoying life? Something where you’re not spending the time counting how many friggin calories you’re burning but how much damn fun you’re having?
To help you figure it out, I came up with ten ways to finding something that you enjoy and how to work that into your life so you can be a happier you.
- Try new things! I know trying new things is so hard. It’s scary, and you think, “what if I do it wrong,” “what if people laugh at me”, but honestly this is the only way to discover what gets your jollies off. For me, when I started writing I was so scared. I had it on my heart to do for years and ignored it because I didn’t think I was a good writer, and pretty much people would laugh at me. In school, English was one of my worst subjects. Mrs. Young literally would shake her head at me (she was my English teacher). But here I am, doing something I love to do. It’s bliss when you try new things, and you enjoy them so much you lose track of time.
- Be gentle with yourself. Not everyone is a marathon runner. Hell, not everyone enjoys running. But that doesn’t make you less of a person. It makes you human. So, if there is something a lot of other people seem to enjoy but you hate, it’s okay! There’s so many tribes now that I’m sure there’s something out there that will have a great group of people who love whatever you love. Try Meetup, FB Groups, YMCA, Gym groups, etc.
- If you like socializing, don’t go it alone. Ask a friend, relative, or whoever will try things with you. It doesn’t have to be the same person every time. But if you aren’t into isolation and you enjoy being around others, then find something that’s fun that you can do with other people. And if you can’t find em’ start something up yourself!
- Be alone if that’s what works for you. Some people HATE being around other people. Know yourself well enough to know that maybe the type of movement good for you is alone. My husband is an introvert but has an extrovert job. He’s a physical therapist, and he talks to people allllllll day long. So, a lot of what he does for enjoyment is solo. He cycles, swims, and runs – all by himself. And nothing makes him happier. Alone time can be some of the most therapeutic stuff in the world.
- Make time for it. Period. Nothing is going to be enjoyable if you feel guilty or have to rush through something. I am not a mom, so I’m not going to pretend it’s easy. But, I will say this. I’ve heard tons of moms say they just can’t because they don’t have time and feel guilty leaving their little ones. Let me say this Moms – you will be a better, happier, and focused mom if you can give yourself just one hour a day for yourself. Exercising is one of the most rejuvenating, hormone promoting, and stress relieving things you can do. So, take an hour a day and just give that to yourself.
- Consider the amount of fun you’re having and not the number of calories you’re burning. When we look at play, exercise, fun, etc. its hard to make it fun when counting calories is looming over our heads. Ever wonder why people quit so many exercise programs? It’s not because they just love doing the activity – it’s because they are pressured into it burning as many calories per hour as possible, or it’s not worth doing. Instead of counting calories, be sure to consider the amount of fun you’re having.
- Include your family. To piggyback on the point above, if you have a family and you feel guilty taking time to yourself to play, move your body, and have fun, then include them! Get your kids to the park. The last time I went to the park and played on the swing set – my abs were burning! Yes, fun stuff like swinging can be loads of fun and beneficial to your body.
- Lower your expectations. I know this is an odd one but what I see people do, including myself, is expect perfection on the first try. Sometimes trying new things turns into feeling frustrated because you’re a perfectionist. I remember the first time I played golf. I got so mad! My husband reminded me, it’s a tough sport, and the people who are good at it play almost every day. I now enjoy a round of golf without expecting a hole in one every round.
- Pay attention to how it makes you feel. Exercise should not make you feel crappy. If it does, it’s likely you’re pushing yourself too hard or perhaps doing the wrong thing. Be sure to pay attention and connect with your body on how it’s making you feel. And remember, sometimes things just are not easy in the beginning so if you like the activity enough to keep going with it, you may have to work some kinks out if you’re not used to it. And that’s okay.
- Remember, it doesn’t have to be the same thing all the time. Playing doesn’t need to be the same thing over and over again. I know people who for 30 years straight went to the gym at the same time and did the same routine, and that’s great. That’s their happiness. Consistency, stability, that’s what makes them feel good. Me, I’d rather have someone scratch my eyes out than do that. I like spontaneous; doing what I feel like doing, I like variety. So, that’s what I do. And I do what I feel like doing. For example, in the last week, I’ve paddle boarded, swam, walked, and biked. And the only thing that’s made my decision on what to do that day is what I felt like doing.
I’m hoping you give these ten things a try and find an activity that feels like play, and not a grueling workout you hate. You should look forward to it not dread it. If you have comments or questions, don’t hesitate to leave a message for me or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And while you’re at it, go to melissacoloton.com and sign up to receive my free guide on quitting the diet life once and for all.