6 Reasons Not To Diet In 2020

6 Reasons Not To Diet This New Year

by | Dec 30, 2019

By far one of the most common items to appear on our New Year’s resolution list, year after year, is weight loss.

We subscribe to no-carb, low-cal, sugar-free or some other diet in an effort to alter our body size for the ‘better’, but here’s the thing, not only does dieting not actually work in the long-run, it does more damage than good when it comes to our physical and mental health and self-esteem.

So here are six reasons to let yourself off the hook this year and focus on your health rather than your body weight and appearance.

1. Dieting really does not work

In a 2013 National Health and Medical Research Council systematic review, it was revealed people can lose weight initially, but after two to five years they return to their previous weight, which can lead to an unhealthy pattern of dieting and even eating disorders. Although nutrition and what we eat is important, there are many other, often more important aspects of our life and health. So before you commit to a diet, think about it, why are you doing it? It’s probably because you’ve dieted before, lost some weight and now you’re back where you started and you’re about to repeat the cycle all over again. Be kind to yourself instead and focus on the things you like about yourself and skip the diet this New Year.

2. Weight and health are not the same thing

Research has shown that people who may be considered overweight, but who still lead a healthy lifestyle can live just as long as someone who is smaller bodied. There is an association between body weight and health, however this is not always a ‘cause and effect’. If someone has a higher BMI, it does not necessarily mean they will have poorer health. There is a growing body of evidence showing living longer is associated with eating plenty of fruit and veg, staying active, not smoking and moderating our alcohol intake.  This effect occurs regardless of our weight.

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3. Dieting can actually damage your health

Not only do we now know that weight and health don’t always add up, we’re also starting to realise the practice of dieting can actually be bad for our physical health in the long run. New research is showing that weight cycling which happens when we go on and off diets, may cause inflammation in the body and in turn may be damaging to our heart health and put us at risk of diabetes.

In fact, we don’t even actually have to diet for this effect to take place. In a small study in 2018, researchers investigated the effect that being dissatisfied with our bodies might have on the development of chronic diseases. Although it is early days in the research and more studies on this topic are definitely required, researchers in this study noted those people who were more dissatisfied with their bodies, had higher levels of inflammation in the body. This has potentially some big ramifications to health as inflammatory effects in the body are noted to be linked with a number of health concerns such as both poorer cardiovascular health and mental health.

4. Dieting is bad for our mental health    

This is a big one, Eating Disorders Victoria have noted women who diet frequently (more than 5 times) are 75% more likely to experience depression, that’s very significant. And in a 2006 Australian study, researchers discovered Adolescent girls who dieted at a severe level were 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder within six months and had a 20% chance of developing an eating disorder after 12 months of extreme dieting. 

Dieting does not make us feel good about ourselves, it is a pre-cursor for eating disorders and it ultimately harms our self-esteem even if we do not develop an eating disorder. Our bodies are not designed to maintain a diet in the long-run, we all have a set-weight point where our body functions optimally and diets teach us to try and override that. Most of us will slip off the bandwagon at some point though. This can often make us feel like a failure impacting our mental wellbeing every time.

5. Weight fluctuations could be deadly

In a 2017 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers followed up around 9, 500 patients who had coronary artery disease. They followed the patients up at 3 months, 6 months and a year and then every 6 months til about 5 years.

The researchers found those people who had coronary artery disease and lots of body weight fluctuations (like what happens when we go on and off diets) had a greater chance of a cardiovascular event occurring and also dying! The more people’s weight fluctuated the greater the effect that was noted.

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6. Diet culture fosters weight stigma 

Weight stigma is a bias or discrimination against people because of their size and it is everywhere. You are probably guilty of it without even realising and most of us feel the pressures of weight stigma regardless of our size.

As a society we tend to exclude people who don’t fit a pre-conceived idea of the social norm. This might be based on our ethnicity, level of wealth, gender, body size or all of these. Sadly, in our current society if we’re thin we’re somehow deemed to be superior to someone living in a larger body.   Additionally, the research clearly shows people who live in a larger body are faced with discrimination at school, university, within workplaces and in the health care system.

Unconsciously we know this and therefore pay excessive amounts of attention to our appearance and size to feel included and essentially loved.

Diet culture and weight stigma go hand in hand and although there is a rapidly growing #bodypositivity movement we’ve got a long way to go. Whilst we keep dieting every time a new year dawns nothing will change so it’s not just about dieting not being good for you, it’s about society as a whole and we need to change the way we think about weight.

So what should you do instead?

1. Focus on why you eat not what you eat

This type of examination is especially helpful if you are prone to overeating or emotional eating, which many of us are.

2. Practice mindful eating

Mindful eating focuses on making changes to eating based on health and not for the purposes of altering our body weight. Mindful eating programs have seen reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol and improvements in body image and self-esteem, it is much healthier for us than dieting and much kinder.

3. Be a part of the change

Stop focusing on the appearance of those around you and resist the urge to comment if a friend, colleague or family member loses weight. By not focusing on other’s appearances you help to break down weight stigma and you’ll also automatically stop judging your own.

RELATED: Everything You Need To Know About Mindful Eating

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8 Of The Best Exercise Shorts That Will Power You Through A Summer Of Movement

It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 

Nagnata

Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

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New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 

Nike

Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

Few things are worse than heading out the door for a run and realising your shorts offer no pockets for those essentials you need. You’re left to hold your iPhone, keys, and anything else you might need in your sweaty palm. Thankfully, Naomi Osaka knows what we need when it comes to exercise shorts and these utility shorts from her collaboration with Nike offer all that and more with a relaxed fit and elastic waistband. 

Tracksmith

Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

Who said summer shorts have to be boring? Outdoor Voices brings fashion-forward style and playfulness to their collections with fun prints and exciting colours. We love the relay 3” shorts for their ultralight, quick-drying fabric that also happens to be made from recycled polyester. But more importantly, we love the print and Poppy Swirl is as good as it gets. There’s even a hidden pocket for your valuables, too. 

Lululemon

Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?