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Everywhere I turn these days it seems like there is some new diet, some new program, or some new meal plan promising a perfect body…

Don’t be fooled by the pretty, multicolored containers, they may be bright, but they are definitely depressing. So what if your body is telling you no thanks to that dry, rubbery chicken breast you meticulously portioned out into a blue red container (shows how much I know)? You packed it, so eat it.

It’s self-induced scarcity at its worst. And the problem with scarcity: it’s unsustainable, and typically ends in a binge and more weight gained than lost.

What’s the deal with 1200 calories anyways

Speaking of scarcity, let’s talk about this whole 1200 calorie diet thing. Why do we women automatically assume if we want to lose weight that our calorie limit is 1200?

1200 calories is fewer than the world health organizations definition of starvation for women. 1200 calories is fewer than the number required to induce a semi-starvation state in the Minnesota Starvation Experiment.

This study was performed on men, eating slightly over 1500 calories per day, here are some of the results (as quoted from wikipedia- emphasis is my own, because TL;DR):

“Most of the subjects experienced periods of severe emotional distress and depression. There were extreme reactions to the psychological effects during the experiment including self-mutilation (one subject amputated three fingers of his hand with an axe, though the subject was unsure if he had done so intentionally or accidentally). Participants exhibited a preoccupation with food, both during the starvation period and the rehabilitation phase. Sexual interest was drastically reduced, and the volunteers showed signs of social withdrawal and isolation. The participants reported a decline in concentration, comprehension and judgment capabilities, although the standardized tests administered showed no actual signs of diminished capacity. There were marked declines in physiological processes indicative of decreases in each subject’s basal metabolic rate (the energy required by the body in a state of rest), reflected in reduced body temperature, respiration and heart rate.”

Considering the difference between male and female calorie intake, it wouldn’t be surprising to see similar results when females eat only 1200 calories per day.

The history of the 1200 calorie diet

I’ll tell you where that number came from. That number is the minimum number of calories required to achieve an adequate intake of all essential nutrients. Meaning you won’t likely get beriberi (vitamin B1 deficiency disease) as long as you’re eating 1200 calories a day. But it doesn’t mean you are getting adequate energy to fuel your body.

It doesn’t mean your body won’t think you’re starving and ramp up the hunger and reward factor of food the minute you’re around an abundance of delectable goodies.

Your body loves you. It’s attempting to keep you from starving. It’s not trying to sabotage your results. It just wants you to survive the next famine it assumes is coming.

Stop fighting your body to try to maintain a diet that is destroying your body.

What we really want isn’t in the container or the restrictive diet

Why is this misery so alluring? Why do we see others packing their food into deplorable containers of doom and want to do the same?

Because there’s a kind of person we want to be – and we see controlling our food as a sign that we are that person.

We want to be organized.

We want to be disciplined.

We want to be that person that worked for something, and then got it.

We want to be achievers, the people who don’t just talk about change, but make change.

We want to be the people that take care of ourselves

We want to be rockstars. (figuratively speaking of course, I’m not sure I could personally handle groupies).

And we assume that controlling our food intake is a sign that we are that person.

But it’s not. It’s a sign that we’ve lost our freedom. We’ve lost connection with ourselves. We’ve succumbed to society’s standards of what we should eat, instead of nourishing our bodies well.

What you want isn’t found in a restrictive diet, it’s found in your daily habits, in the choices you make, in allowing yourself freedom and pleasure, while still kicking butt at life. You don’t need to rely on a diet to tell you who you are.

If you’re nodding your head in agreement, here’s what I need you to do: share this post. Share it with everyone you know. We women need to stick together and build each other up, and spread the message of unconditional self love, moderation, and happiness as the keys to true fitness and nourishment… not the next fad diet.

Thank you in advance! -Ashley

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Ashley Palmer
Ashley is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition. Ashley loves her son, her husband, and lifting heavy things then putting them back down repeatedly. She is a nutrition, fitness and weight loss coach and blogs at www.youtrition.net.

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