Restriction = Freedom

Some people realllllly don’t get it.

You know… the people that think ‘dieting’ is this overly restrictive, bland, socially isolating activity where eating treats or eating out is entirely band.

If that’s you, don’t fret, most of us have been there at some stage. Or maybe you have a someone in your life who thinks ‘dieting’ is a dirty word, where chicken and broccoli is the only way forward, and there’s no convincing them otherwise.

I’ve even had people say to me things like ‘I can never diet for long because I can’t eat anything i like’, or ‘I enjoy my freedom too much’, as if creating some restrictions means they have doomed themselves to an eternity of brussel sprouts.

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Well, if that’s you, or someone you know, perhaps looking at it like this may put things in perspective:

Everyone understands basic finances. If we spend more money than we earn, we will be in debt. To get out of debt, we either need to start earning more, or spending less to pay it off. It would be wise to start by cutting out unnecessary and expensive items instead of focusing on cutting out little things that give you pleasure, like that Monday morning take away coffee.

Working out how much can be saved after mandatory bills are taken care of and then putting a plan in place to clear the debt, eventually, would be a straightest path to a debt free life.

Imagine if this same person didn’t create a realistic plan to get out of debt… that would mean it is a wish without action, and entirely left to chance. What do you think the chances of success will be, considering their current spending habits? And how much freedom do you think they would have with the crushing weight of debt on their shoulders?

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It’s not looking good.

Creating realistic targets and boundaries around earning and spending so that the goal of reducing debt can be achieved, will create a framework for better financial habits long term, as well as allowing the practice of discipline and a level of spending within a budget without ‘splurging’ or guilt.

Easy to understand, right?!

I think so.

Alright. Now that we are all on the same page here, let’s see how this applies to nutrition.

The body is a complicated machine, and I’m certainly not here to reduce it to a sequence of numbers like earning, savings and debt. But there’s no denying that calorie control is the number 1 determinant to body weight, and the macros that make up those calories impact body composition. Understanding this, and creating a framework of how to eat, just like a framework of how to spend and save your $, can allow freedom with food within your (calorie) ‘budget’.

If you’re nodding along so far, you’ll probably agree that having some restrictions around how you can ‘spend’ your calories without going over, actually gives you permission to eat freely within that budget, without the guesswork, guilt or empty wishing. It creates a plan where goals can be made, and food can be consumed with intention, not mindlessness.

This is something that those who think that dieting = chicken and broccoli, or a prison of brussel sprout, are entirely missing.

In what sound budget (calorie or financial) is there NO room, on any day of the week, for ‘fun’ things outside of the mandatory bills…. or in this instance to spend calories on treats once protein and minimum plant intake is satisfied? They are simply missing the point entirely.

Going back to $ as an example, if your target is to save $600 per week, you could do it by saving exactly the same amount per day:

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Or, you could do it this way:

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Either way, $600 was saved over the week.

Just like if your target was to shave off 600caloires over your week, you could:

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Again, 600 calories were saved as a weekly total.

This demonstrates that the targets you set for yourself can have some flexibility to it, to reduce or avoid feelings of the diet owning you, not the other way around.

Just like overspending on items you can’t afford and getting into debt for it, that ‘stuff’ you’ve bought now owns you. So having some flexibility in your plan to work with can help you own your diet and work your nutrition around your life, not your life around your diet.

Sure, it’s a little more complicated than that if we lift up the hood and look closely, but unless total calories are controlled, just like total dollars spent over the week, there’s no point worrying about the little things like supplementation and what time of the day you eat your carbs.

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I hope I’ve demonstrated how real freedom requires real discipline and some restraints. Still not convinced? Think about this:

We live in a ‘free society’ where we are able to express ourselves, make autonomous decisions and be protected by laws and law enforcement. It really is freedom! *aren’t we lucky, as so many do not have this liberty.

But we are only able to enjoy this freedom BECAUSE OF CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS AND FRAMEWORKS. We have both a formal contract called ‘laws’ and an informal contract called ‘the social contract’ that restrict us from doing certain harmful things to our fellow man, and in return we are treated the same way and granted social cohesion and safety… well at least in theory. Think things like murder, break and enter, physical and sexual assault and auto theft.   

Without these restrictions on our actions, and consequences when they are broken, there would be absolute anarchy and our freedoms would be taken away from us in a heartbeat.

So next time you hear someone say ‘diets are far too restrictive’, you’ll know for sure that they do not understand the bigger picture and how a level of restriction breeds real freedom.

Diet Smart. Not Hard

Coach Lizzy.