Don't diet

This is a message for all the galloping housewives who made some sort of New Year’s promise to themselves that they were going to lose weight/get fit/be healthier this year. Strap in, it’s going to be a long one. But first, the key message:


Don’t go on a diet!


That’s not to say that the desire to strive for these goals is not worthwhile. There are a hundred good reasons to drop a few pounds, get stronger, and concentrate on your wellbeing. There’s improved cognitive function and mental health, the long list of physical ailments you’ll be preventing, and never forget we participate in a sport where the accepted uniform is skin tight, light coloured breeches! Don’t let anyone ever tell you that the aspiration to look good is a bad thing.


She’s not going to lie, the galloping housewife has this on her pinboard for 2022. A bunch of stress and some ill health meant she finished 2021 not at her best. She knows that when she’s in shape, she is better equipped to be creative, to think, to hope, to dream, to laugh, her immunity is increased, she’s more likely to bounce when her young horse gives her unprompted flying lessons, she’s more capable of encouraging Perfect Percy over the open ditch, and she loves the way she looks. Not to mention that when she improves one aspect of her health, everything else progresses as if by magic.


Yet she’s not going on a diet.


She knows that restricting her intake is the very worst thing she can do. It’s biology, physiology, psychology. Physics has taught us that weight loss is a simple equation of calories in vs calories out. And that’s true. If you reduce your intake and increase your energy use, you will get lighter. Only our bodies are incredibly complex and unbelievably ingenious. They’re designed to withstand crises. If there’s famine, our hormones step in and lower our metabolic rate, reducing the amount of energy that our bodies need to perform any function. If it gets really bad, they back this up with blocking our use of our storage system, otherwise known as stopping burning fat. If you add fleeing to the famine, the effect is even more marked.


To your body, diet and exercise are famine and fleeing.


The worst bit about this? Your body learns that you are likely to need to starve and run. It figures it best protect itself from future episodes. Which means that these hormonal effects last well beyond the initial assault. From studies done on the contestants on ‘The Biggest Loser’ as well as conscientious objectors during the Second World War, we know that this can last up to 6 years. This is why if you don’t keep reducing your intake or going on longer and longer runs, there’s every chance that as soon as you return to the eating patterns that used to maintain you on an even keel, you’ll put it all back on and more. Your body loves to keep a spare tire of energy stored ‘just in cases’.


If you want to get lean and healthy in 2022, it’s more than possible. You need to learn what it takes to teach your hormones about a new homeostasis. You need to know the many other causative factors of weight gain and what to do about them. You need to learn how to fuel yourself so that you feel satisfied and energised. You need to know why treats and rest are just as necessary to a healthy system as nutrients and movement. You need to know why you need carbohydrates and protein and fats and how to select and use ones that suit your lifestyle, your budget, your tastes. You need to know what each type of exercise does for your mental and physical health and how to choose a plan (or not) that fills your needs. You need to find a way to make all this happen with ease while you live your galloping housewife life.


You need to join the skinny bitch code and never diet again.


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