Don't Diet in 2019 - Reason #27: Diets don't change your genetics.

No matter how hard I try, my body will never look like this.

No matter how hard I try, my body will never look like this.

I went on Heidi Klum’s kale and carrot diet…and I still don’t look like Heidi Klum.

Please do not go look up Heidi’s “kale and carrot diet”. I made that up. But have you ever noticed that most of the people selling diet programs, supplements, diet books, and skin creams are, shall we say, genetically gifted?

The first time I saw Heidi Klum in a Victoria’s Secret magazine when I was 12 or 13, I was mesmerized. I envied her long legs, stick-straight perfect hair, high cheekbones, and tiny waist. I wanted to look like her. Trouble is, I’m built more like a Shetland pony than a Thoroughbred race horse. I’m short, I gain weight easily, and I really like food. And try as I might, I will always be 5’ 5”, have curly brown hair, brown eyes, thighs that touch in the middle, and a belly pooch.

Let’s get brutally honest. You’re not giving up french fries, donuts, cheesecake, pizza, pasta, bread, and wine — everything that makes life worth living — for your your health. More than likely you are dieting for aesthetic purposes – to make your body look a certain way. But the way many of us mere mortals want to look has been shaped by incredibly unrealistic images that we’ve been exposed to for years and years through TV, magazines, and now social media. The average fashion model is a genetic anomaly at 5’ 10” and weighs about 120 lbs. The average American woman is 5’ 4” and weighs 140 lbs.

No diet will ever change your bone structure, height, or the genetic factors controlling your weight. If you must use ultra-strict dieting to force and fight your body down to a specific number or size, is that really safe, desirable, sustainable, or healthy?

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for trying to make your body healthier. But since when does the shape or size of our body determine our health? Science now shows that we were at least partially wrong — the connection between weight and health is fuzzy. Being overweight isn’t necessarily a sign of poor health…just like being thin isn’t necessarily a sign of good health. Check out this article.

We should all strive to improve the health of our bodies so that we can live long, productive, and happy lives. But getting healthy doesn’t require ultra-strict adherence to a diet. And as I mentioned in this Anti-Diet Advent post, going on crazy diets with consequent yo-yo weight fluctuations may be worse for your health than just staying at a heavier weight.

What you should do instead…

Anti-Diet Wisdom: Stop chasing phantoms. What kind of “frame” do you have? Are you a naturally heavy-set person? Are your parents and/or siblings heavy? What do you think is a reasonable weight/size for your frame? I’m not asking what your doctor, husband, best friend, or mother thinks is a reasonable or realistic weight for you. I’m also not asking what you’d like your weight to be in a perfect world. I’m asking you to honestly guestimate the weight at which you’d be reasonably healthy, that would be relatively easy for you to maintain, and would still allow you to live an enjoyable life (i.e. one that doesn’t forbid pizza, pasta, and wine forevermore).

Get really honest with yourself about your body and what’s achievable through a healthy and realistic plan of diet and exercise. When you accept what nature gave you and release those unrealistic expectations, you can free yourself from ultra-restrictive diets and the feeling of failure that ultimately comes with them. This will allow you the emotional space to make better choices because you want to honor your body…not punish it.

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Blog Author: Kelly Bailey, IIN certified holistic nutrition coach, and NPTI certified personal trainer

Learn more about the author here.