5 Ways to Ditch Dieting for Good

Diets are designed to fail—here's how to lose the dieting mentality and finally get healthy.

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BY TORI RODRIGUEZ

If you have often vowed to "be good" with food starting in the new year–or every Monday–then you won't be surprised by the cold, hard truth: Dieting doesn't work, and mounting research suggests it could even backfire and lead to weight gain over time.  "In other words, diets are designed to fail," says Linda Bacon, PhD, associate nutritionist at the University of California, Davis, professor at the City College of San Francisco, and author of the books Body Respect and Health at Every Size.  "The understanding that diets don't work is actually very good news for those who struggle with weight concerns–who wants to fight their desires and deprive themselves?" Of course, improving one's healtheating habits and body image are worthy goals–and they can be attained no matter what you weigh. Here's how to lose the dieting mentality and boost your health.

1. NAME THE REAL CULPRIT. 

The problem is not your lack of willpower; it's the unsustainable nature of diets. "Recognize that dieting is the problem, not the solution," says Dina Zeckhausen, PhD, an Atlanta-based psychologist and founder of the Eating Disorders Information Network. It sets you up for a cycle of deprivation followed by inevitable–and understandable–bingeing. Aim to eat according to your body's cues of hunger and fullness, and "start examining triggers to overeat–the daily unconscious habits, emotional triggers like stress and anxiety, and physiological triggers like being overly hungry or full," says Zeckhausen. If you need additional guidance, reach out to a mental health therapist specializing in eating disorders.

2. GET WHAT YOU REALLY NEED. 

It may be best to abandon the goal of weight loss until overeating is well-managed. "Once the binge eating has subsided, the next step is to learn healthy ways to get psychological needs met, whether through moderate exercise or reaching out to others for support," says Zeckhausen. Then you can begin paying attention to how certain foods or eating habits actually make you feel, and you can adjust accordingly. "When you are coming from a place of self-love instead of self-loathing you will make choices that support this value system–when you love something you want to take care of it!"

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3. TRUST YOUR BODY.  

Dieting is not only "ineffective in bringing about sustained weight loss, but it also teaches you to distrust your body and deny its needs," says Bacon. It's your body's job to keep your blood sugar and fat stores within a healthy range, and restricting calories prompts an increased appetite to restore balance. "The body is very effective at managing your weight, if you let it do its job," by heeding its cues and not overfeeding or underfeeding it. "'Health at Every Size' starts from a place of respect for our bodies, which is very different from a diet-based approach which is focused on your body being wrong."

4. TAKE THE DIRECT ROUTE. 

"There is no reason anyone needs to lose weight to get what they're really looking for," says Bacon. Though it makes sense that you might feel that way in our fat-phobic, fitspo-obsessed culture, a fixation on weight just reinforces a negative self-image. Instead, think about what else is behind your drive to be thin–is it a desire for happiness, better health or to feel more attractive? Rather than focusing on how to get thin, ask yourself what you can do feel happier or healthier or more attractive now. "Go after those directly, instead of believing you need to first lose weight," says Bacon.

5. SHIFT YOUR FOCUS.

It's tempting to believe life will be perfect once thinness is achieved, but of course that's not so. "Moving toward increased self-acceptance and taking power away from your weight will do much more to improve your life," says Bacon, who acknowledges that body-acceptance can be challenging because many people "believe that hating their body is an essential motivation for change, so they resist letting go" of that disdain. Not only is this belief unfounded, but it hampers your ability to change, which comes from valuing yourself enough to want to make your life better. "By first learning to have a positive relationship with your body, even if that body is not 'perfect,' you strengthen your ability to make change."

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~This article by Tori Rodriguez originally appeared on WomansDay.com~

Happy National Yoga Month!

Bettie Page Fitness is celebrating National Yoga Month with this advanced Camel Pose modification that Bettie apparently made up because we've never seen anyone else do it. Of course, leave it to Bettie to put her own spin on everything! Below these pics by Bunny Yeager are Jim Silke's drawings of them. Scroll down a few posts for instructions on how to do this pose, and get a full Bettie-inspired yoga flow with the Bettie Page Yoga DVD. Each move in this body-positive workout video (the second in the series) is based on a Bettie pose, and her photos are shown throughout. Click the black bar at the top of this page to shop. Namaste!

~ Bettie in a Camel Pose modification, bottom, and prepping for the pose, top; photos by Bunny Yeager ~

~ Bettie in a Camel Pose modification, bottom, and prepping for the pose, top; photos by Bunny Yeager ~

~ Drawings of Bettie by Jim Silke, based on photos by Bunny Yeager ~

~ Drawings of Bettie by Jim Silke, based on photos by Bunny Yeager ~

Might As Well JUMP! Total Body Plyometrics Workout

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--Tori Rodriguez

Jumping was clearly the theme of the day for this Bettie Page photo shoot. In yet another display of her impressive fitness level, she leaps, lunges and skips along the beach, gloriously and freely, while rocking that polka-dot bikini that she and her close sister Goldie shared.

While jumping can be exhilarating and fun, it is also tough to do repeatedly, and nothing can improve one’s overall fitness quite like leaps and bounds can. Plyometrics, as explosive, jumping-oriented exercises are called, build muscle, power, endurance, speed, bone density, coordination and more.

I have a go-to plyometrics and strength interval workout I like to do every few weeks or so just to push myself and give my conditioning an extra boost, and I’ve found that doing this regularly over time has made pretty much everything easier, from strength-training to running and every other type of exercise I do. I look at it like this: when you get used to doing the hardest thing, everything else becomes much more doable – including the things you (okay, I) used to think were impossibly hard, like running sprints.

You might like to incorporate my plyo workout, below, into your fitness flow. You’ll need at least one set of dumbbells for a few of the non-plyo strength moves. This should take you between 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how quickly you move through it – which depends on factors like your overall fitness level, how much energy you have today, and how much experience you have with plyometrics. With plyo, the idea is to move from rep to rep as quickly as you safely can, and with as much power as you can muster.

If you’re new to this type of workout or to fitness in general, START LOW AND GO SLOW. Make the plyo moves smaller – for example, with jumping squats and lunges for example, just lower your body a few inches instead of into a full squat or lunge with thighs roughly parallel to the floor (you’ll work up to that), and don’t jump super-high. You could also start by doing skipping instead of lunging, or jumping jacks until you feel ready to go higher.

If this is much higher in intensity than you’re used to, take frequent breaks and allow yourself even more time. When I first started doing this several years ago, it took me about an hour and a half because I needed more breaks to keep proper form (and avoid having a heart attack!) Now it takes me about 50 minutes on a good day. Take it easier the first time, and you’ll get a clear idea of how to safely pace yourself with this workout going forward. [Another tip: Avoid doing this workout when you’re not well-rested; it’s too demanding and easy to get hurt if you’re not at full capacity.]

Do each move in each round back to back with as little rest as safely possible, then rest for 1-3 minutes and do the whole round twice more, for a total of 3 sets of each round before moving to the next round. The first round is the longest and hardest, FYI. Now hop to it!

~ ROUND 1 ~

Jumping squats: 30 per set. Lower into a squat and then explode upward as you reach your arms overhead, kind of like shooting hoops

Pushups: 33 per set plus 1 extra to make 100 total. To keep it interesting, I like to do 11 on a decline (feet on a raised surface); 11 on an incline (hands on a raised surface); and 11 regular (with hands & feet on the floor) per set.

Plie squat with hammer curls: 20 per set. Standing with feet wide apart, toes turned slightly outward, lower into a squat and stay there while you lift and lower the dumbbells for your curl, then return to standing. I typically use two 12-pound weights for these; use what feels reasonably challenging to you.

~ ROUND 2 ~

Jumping lunges: 30 total per set. Step your right foot behind you and lower into a lunge for starting position. Explode upward and switch feet while in the air to land with your left leg behind you, then repeat for a total of 30 reps.

Shoulder press with overhead triceps extension: 15 per set. [I use two 10- or 12-pound weights for these.] Starting with arms in goalpost position, press weights all the way up as you turn palms toward each other, then lower weights behind your head (keeping biceps beside your ears) and press back up to complete triceps extension, then return to goalpost arms; that’s one rep.

~ ROUND 3 ~

Skater hops: 30 total per set. Stand with your right knee bent and left foot lifted off the ground behind you to start. Push off with your right leg to explode up and over to the left, landing on your left foot with knee bent and right foot off ground behind you. As you land, touch your right fingertips to the outside of your left ankle, then quickly repeat on other side. Optional: touch back foot down quickly each time you land.

Single-leg deadlift with reverse flye: 16 total per set. There’s a lot going on here – upper and lower body strength, balance, core work – so you might curse me for these at first. View this portion as a challenging work-in-progress to master over time. I use 8- or 10-pound dumbbells for these.]

While standing, shift your weight onto your right leg, and lift your left leg out in front of you to hold it straight at a 45-degree angle. Lift dumbbells straight up overhead with palms facing each other. Hinge forward from the hips with a flat back, allowing left leg to travel behind you (still straight) as you go, until your left leg, back are aligned, and bringing your arms straight down under you. Once there, do a reverse flye with one or both arms, then lower weights and return to standing as you bring arms back up overhead and bring the left leg back in front of you to that 45-degree angle. Now you’re back in starting position. Repeat for 8 reps on that side, then switch legs for 8 more reps.   

Body Positivity 101

Tori Rodriguez, creator of the body-positive Bettie Page Fitness DVDs, sheds light on what the movement is really all about.

In a trend we hope will continue to take off, recent years have seen a clear shift among celebs in how they talk about their bodies. Stars like Kristen Bell, Ashley Graham, Serena Williams and Chrissy Teigen, for instance, have stood up to body shamers and proudly accepted their so-called "flaws." These displays of body love reflect the body positivity movement, which advocates accepting and appreciating yourself as you are.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't aim improve your health if that's a goal for you–after all, that's the point of my Bettie Page Fitness videos. (Humblebrag: They're the first-ever body-positive fitness DVDs!) It just means you try to do it from a place of self-love versus not-enoughness. "The goal is to repair your relationship with yourself–to not only find acceptance for your physical body, but to claim and love every part of you internally," explains Kelly U, a blogger whose raw, vulnerable approach to sharing her journey to body acceptance and recovery from an eating disorder has not only helped her find healing but to help her fans feel less alone and more accepted.

Still, a lot of body positive content ends up overdoing the "love your looks" aspect, and while that can be important, it ironically reinforces the appearance emphasis that we already get slammed with nonstop. "While there are many pros to social media–inspiration, connection, community–it can also shred the web we weave for body positivity," says Kathryn Budig, a yoga teacher and author of the recently released book Aim True: Love Your Body, Eat Without Fear, Nourish Your Spirit, Discover True Balance! The endless stream of carefully selected, highly edited photos can trigger compare mode and make us feel inadequate.

Body positivity is about so much more than the external. Instead of just loving what you look like, try focusing on these four things instead.

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1. WHAT YOUR BODY CAN DO.

From keeping your heart ticking to getting you through a workout, your body quite literally lets you live. "Being able to wake up every morning and run and lift and do all of the things my healthy body allows me to do is the ultimate gift," says  Cherry Dollface, a model and YouTube star known for her empowering and encouraging way of interacting with fans. Good health is a major priority to her, especially because she has heart condition, and keeps the emphasis on what her body is capable of instead of how it looks. "I finally realized that my life is more important than a few dimples or droopy bits–and that my body is a miraculous, strong, beautiful system."

2. HOW YOUR BODY FEELS.

Budig teaches her yoga students to focus on how the postures feel, not how they look. This simple lesson is "wildly applicable to all aspects of our life, but especially to those situations that involve the physical body," she says. "It's a simple way to reconnect to the amazing ability of our physical bodies when we concertedly take the time to nurture it." When you're in a pose, mid-run, or even lying in bed, shift your attention to how vibrant, strong or relaxed you feel. "Then give yourself a supportive pat on the back for how responsive and amazing this physical body is."

3. WHAT YOUR BODY HAS BEEN THROUGH.

Embracing body positivity might help some women discover a sense of pride about scars and stretch marks because of what they represent, while others may find ways to heal long-held body shame. "I was teased my whole life for being too skinny, and I grew up as many women do feeling insecure and uncomfortable about my body," says Cherry Dollface. After she began interacting with large numbers of women on her channel, she realized that lots of women have unresolved issues from childhood and teen trauma about their bodies. "This is something that practically every woman deals with, and I realized that I have a voice that I can use to help them feel better in their skin."

4. WHAT YOUR BODY NEEDS AND WANTS–AND WHAT IT DOESN'T.

This means honoring your body's basic needs for things like movement, food and sleep, as well as respecting its limits. "For me, body positivity means actually caring for my body, not trying to change it to make it appear better," says Kelly U. She learned that she was using food and her body as coping mechanisms for internal struggles, and would try to make up for shortcomings through cycles of starvation, binge eating and over-exercising. Now, she views exercise as a self-loving activity that keeps her healthy rather than a way to maintain a perfect physique. "All in all, I prioritize my mental health and maintaining a healthy relationship with myself–that is body positivity to me."

Click the black bar at the top of this page to shop Bettie Page Fitness!

~This article originally appeared on WomansDay.com~

42: The Reverse of the Age I Started Getting My Shit Together. Here's What I've Learned Since Then.

--by Tori Rodriguez

Left: Tori at 21-ish; Right: A lifetime later!

Left: Tori at 21-ish; Right: A lifetime later!

I wanted 21 to hurry so bad it literally hurt. I remember standing on a hill overlooking my favorite bar where my fake ID was no longer cutting it, thinking, “Just a few more months and I’ll be back!” I couldn’t have realized that my second 21st birthday would be far better, and for reasons bigger than bar access (though that is still a nice perk). What a difference a lifetime makes!

Here are some things I’ve learned since that first one, especially after I started getting my shit together in earnest around the age of 24 and eventually entered full-hustle mode. This is an unpolished list in no particular order, with some points more detailed than others. The list will evolve over the coming weeks and months as I flesh out some of the items and add more until I reach at least 42, so feel free to revisit later.

💩  No one has the key to getting one’s shit together… though it’s safe to say quitting binge drinking, binge eating, binge smoking–and most all types of bingeing–is a good start.

💩  When you get your shit together, you realize that other people generally don’t have theirs together like you thought they did.

💩  One can go surprisingly long without cleaning the house and still survive relatively unscathed. I mean… wow.

💩  Same goes for showering. Again… wow. Double wow.

💩  The ability to cheerfully and gratefully receive–and use!–constructive criticism is a skill worth developing. Yes, even if it’s not what you naturally feel at the moment. Most people would rather just move on to the next in line instead of taking the time and enduring the discomfort of telling you did wrong or what you might do differently–unless they know you’ll take it well and use it to make their job easier. It’s way better than wondering endlessly why your pitches aren’t being accepted or why you're not getting repeat assignments. Take the feedback, give a sincere thanks, and keep it in mind for next time.

💩  I can still pull an all-nighter. I can also feel my telomeres shortening when I do.

💩  Just being able to follow up and follow through will give you a major advantage–most people don’t do either.

💩  Nobody really knows what they’re doing when it comes right down to it. We are all guessing and experimenting. Even you. Even her. Even him. Even me.

💩  Fear can light a much-needed fire under your ass. It gets a bad rap, but it can be your friend. Just go with it.

💩  People are always searching for fancy fixes for their lives but often give little attention to the basics: eating and sleeping well, staying active, communicating clearly and loving lots.

💩  It’s bullshit that you shouldn’t care what other people think. Of course you should care–just don’t let it be your guide. I actually need at least one agent, publisher, editor, etc. to think my idea is worth pursuing. But see that’s the point: Get clear on who you need to think what. Don’t just go around with this vague sense that people need to like you or think you’re a good person. Who are “they” anyway? Pinpoint that and then one by one start figuring out why and if or how you can afford to not care what they think and whether that even needs to be a goal.

💩  Keep playing with ways to create space in your mind and life. That is the point of meditation, after all, and it doesn’t have to take place only when you’re seated and silent with your eyes closed.

💩  When you take the all-or-nothing approach, you often end up with the nothing part of the equation. Embrace the middle ground, shades of gray, moderation and so on.

💩  You really do need to stay for Savasana.