Dieting is an activity many of us participate in, especially in January and again as beach season comes upon us.

There are many reasons people diet ranging from vanity, health, professional requirements (i.e.. competitive wrestlers). For me, I diet primarily for health (although in all honesty there’s probably a vanity component). I find if my weight gets to a certain level (around 210 pounds) my blood pressure goes up, I get acid reflux, get sick more often and generally feel blah.

The difference between healthy Dr. Barker and unhealthy Dr. barker is only a few pounds; at 200 pounds I feel great, I can run easily, my blood pressure is good, I rarely get sick and I sleep great.

For the next three weeks, I am going to try and lose 5 pounds using a calorie-restricted diet just to test an interesting calorie counting app. In the past, I have found calorie counting to be an enormously onerous task but with the advent of calorie counting Apps, this task has become so much easier. I am using an app called ‘FitMenCook’ (I have no interest in the company and I am sure there are many other great apps). It supplies a diet plan, the recipes, the shopping list, has an extensive video and picture library. Personally, I like to see pictures of what I am going to cook and this app is good for that!

You can follow my three-week journey on Cowichan Chiropractic’s Facebook page. We would love to hear your thoughts on this project and of your personal dieting journeys so please feel free to comment.

As a whole, I live pretty healthily. Those who have read me before know I am a big fan of exercise, but I am also a fan of eating healthy. To me, eating healthy is not about depriving yourself of food you enjoy or having McDonalds when you’re in a rush, but it’s about eating healthy 90% of the time. Don’t stress about eating a doughnut (unless it’s every day!) or a once a week ice cream.

My regular eating habits involve eating the traditionally healthy foods most days and a day of unrestricted consumption, better know as ‘cheat day’ (normally Fridays but sometimes I’ll save the day if I know a big outing is coming up). Controlling your weight is an everyday activity, so unless you are dieting for a reason (constant weight loss dieting is not healthy), you must eat healthy as a habit.

Healthy dieting for me is a multi-stage process. In my first stage, I remove all the ‘crap’ from my diet. For me ‘crap’ is potato chips, pop and liquor, after graduation from chiropractic school that list also included candy (my ‘drug’ of choice to keep me awake during all-night study sessions). Sometimes this is all I have to do to get my weight under control.

My ‘second’ stage of dieting is to reduce my carbohydrate intake. I find this easy to do by largely avoiding bread (a favourite of mine) and other simple carbs such as milk and fruits. Interestingly some people, due to their genetics, lose weight better with low-fat diets, so if a low carb diet doesn’t work for you, experiment. I find my weight loss is better if I have one day of ‘cheating’ a week; however, it is important to remember that not everybody reacts the same way, so some personal experimentation is required.

And finally, it is important to be honest about your body and diet. If your calories are reduced more than 500 calories/day than your body’s requirements, you are likely dieting in an unhealthy way. If you are dieting because you have ‘body issues’ and not as a way to live healthier you should probably consult your doctor before you begin a diet. If you have any health problems, you should consult a health professional before dieting. And you should not lose more than 1-2 pounds a week. Rapid weight loss can stress your body and may lead to ‘ratcheting’, a phenomenon that when you finish your diet the weight comes back, plus more.

Most important, though, is that eating healthy is a lifestyle and dieting is an activity we undertake to lose unhealthy weight. Living healthy is multifactorial, it involves adequate exercise, 7-9 hours of sleep a night, stress control, positive interactions with family and friends and regular visits to your health professionals.

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