Reasons Not To Diet In 2019 - #8: Surgical masks aren't sexy

Invest in tissues and tea if you plan to dramatically lower calorie intake or eliminate entire food groups.

Invest in tissues and tea if you plan to dramatically lower calorie intake or eliminate entire food groups.

Unless you’re Dr. McSteamy, a surgical mask isn’t a fashion statement.

When I was training for triathlons I thought I was the healthiest I’d ever been. I was working out two to four hours per day. I was eating super-low-carb…probably flirting with ketosis most days. My resting heart rate was in the low 40’s. I had achieved my lowest level of body fat — less than 18% — which is quite low for a female.

But I was wrong about the “healthy” part. I was fit…not healthy. I was sick constantly. I caught every cold and flu bug my daughter drug home from preschool. I was constantly exhausted with no sex drive. My hair was thinning, my skin was dry and flaky. My digestive system was a constant wreck. As I mentioned in this post, my bones were also becoming brittle.

I capped my final year of this nonsense by getting shingles – an incredibly painful rash caused by the dormant chicken pox virus. Shingles is usually only seen in older adults or those with compromised immune systems. The doctor who treated me told me my low carb lifestyle coupled with my intense training regimen was causing me to age faster and become chronically ill.

Restriction of calories and/or food groups for long periods of time can lower your immunity. There are several reasons for this including nutrient deficiency, imbalanced hormones, imbalanced gut bacteria, and simply not giving your body the energy necessary to fight pathogens.

The stress of being in a semi-starvation state and not getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs will leave you susceptible to every cold and flu bug. This effect is compounded if you are restricting food and exercising. Studies show that athletes in sports that require leanness were twice as likely to be sick. Yuck.

 What you should do instead…

Anti-Diet Wisdom: Wear a surgical mask at all times to protect yourself from germs…or don’t leave your immune system compromised by drastically cutting calories and/or cutting out food groups.

Don’t get me wrong here — sometimes I do get over-dramatic when I’m trying to make a point — it is absolutely true that changing your normal diet for the better can boost your immune system. But shocking your system by suddenly eliminating entire food groups, adding in copious amounts of fiber, and/or not getting enough to eat — which is what most diets do — is bound to cause more problems than it solves.

Once again, I’ll go with my standard advice: start drinking more water and eating more vegetables and fruits. You don’t have to turn your life upside down to improve your health! Making slower changes will be more enjoyable and is less likely to lead to “failure syndrome”. You may not lose the weight or get healthy in 72 hours…but a year from now you’ll be one of the few who made changes that actually lasted…and you’ll slowly see your health improve and your weight stabilize! Trust the process!


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

Learn more about the author here.