Earlier, I asked for a callout of the craziest diets you’ve ever heard of, and I got some pretty awesome responses:

The Cabbage Diet. The Grapefruit Diet. The Cookie Diet. The Cereal Diet. The Mayo Clinic Diet. The Tea Diet. The Seaweed and Coral Diet (better known as The Spongebob Diet… I just made it up, but I bet I could make some money off of it, huh?)

Now, after my post on the Drive-Thru Diet, I’d like to think that my attitude on diets is relatively clear – I strongly believe they’re a band-aid on a bullet wound. They don’t address the core issue (getting the bullet out), they don’t prevent the problem from getting worse (as in, an infection), and they don’t really help you get better… they just help you stop looking at the problem, really.

However, I do realize that because you can get immediate results, it’s easy to opt for a diet. A little discomfort but minimal effort, no need for exercise, quick and easy weight loss. It seems pretty ideal, I guess. We’re just always dumbfounded when the weight manages to pile itself back on. Dumbfounded, and heavier.

So let’s break down the anatomy of the quick weight loss diet, shall we?

What is a diet?

A diet, in general terms, is simply the “list” of foods that you allow yourself to eat during the day. It’s the foods that you limit yourself to – if you were on the cabbage diet, your daily diet consists of boiled cabbage for breakfast and lunch with a regular dinner. Diets are generally named by the food that dominates your day – cereal diet, cookie diet, mashed potato diet. This all seems kind of “duh,” but we’re breaking it down to it’s very core, right? Gotta start somewhere.

Why is dieting so popular?

Dieting is popular because the notion, quite frankly, is that it works. Limiting yourself to only one food that you KNOW you enjoy, eating it all day every day, and losing weight while you’re at it? It’s a painless way to take care of a problem that already makes us uncomfortable to address or even discuss. Not only that, but in some circles, it’s considered common practice and even “trendy” to be on the current “popular” diet.

Taking it a step further, there is money to be made off of pushing diets. The Mayo Clinic Diet required you to purchase a book. All information about the Cookie Diet led to a website that required you to purchase (and, essentially, live off of) one particular brand of cookie. Most diets that tend to gain media steam behind them do so because someone’s pushing it. Why? You have to invest money to make money.. so pay for the diet to get a little exposure, watch that exposure bring you a lot more money.

Why does dieting work?

Dieting works because it is an extremely mindless form of calorie counting. If I’ve only allowed myself to choose from this one low-calorie food to eat, I can’t possibly gain weight, right? You don’t have to think about the food you’re eating and whether or not it’ll cause you to gain weight – you KNOW this one food won’t cause you to put on any pounds, you know exactly what you’re going to do. It’s auto-pilot for weight loss.

However – because it usually involves something that you can only manage temporarily, you tend to come off of it – excited to beat the pounds – by celebrating with what? More food you have no business indulging in in the first place!

Why does the weight ALWAYS come back?

Because… wait for it… auto-pilot doesn’t work for weight loss! That’s right – you can’t do it. Why? Because waking up one day and deciding that you’re going to go auto-pilot eating nothing but grapefruit for breakfast and lunch can’t change the fact that your auto-pilot used to lead you to McDonalds or Krispy Kreme for breakfast every morning. Auto-pilot, unfortunately, does equate to mindlessness. It’s operating without thinking. “Not thinking” before led us to being unhealthy in the first place. It certainly won’t lead us to “healthy,” and if it does, it certainly wouldn’t do it overnight… or in two-six weeks like other diets.

Without a relatively rare medical condition, you cannot put the weight on if you aren’t putting harmful things in your mouth. It simply does not work that way. Dieting might help you drop a few pounds, but if your eating habits are in check you couldn’t put it on in the first place… and you couldn’t run the risk of gaining it back once you “come off” of your diet. It solves the immediate visual problem – if only momentarily- however you’re not addressing the thing that not only ensures that you’ll always have the weight, but in some cases also ensures that you’re doing some damage to your insides, as well.

How can I successfully lose weight?

You have to look at your lifestyle and gauge what you’re doing that is causing you to keep the weight on. Addressing that will not only cause the weight you’ve put on to fall off, but it will prevent the weight from returning. Sure, you can exercise to help keep it off, but thepurpose of exercise is to preserve your body’s range of motion. Weight loss is only an additional benefit to it.

The best way to protect and preserve our bodies is to be conscious of what we’re putting into it. Although it should be a recurring theme by now, a lifetime of bad habits cannot be corrected or rectified by one to six weeks of sacrifice. When you can be real and honest with yourself about the problem, then you can be real and honest with yourself about a practical long-term solution. And that includes, bypassing the trendy fad diets!

Are you a serial dieter? Have you had success with a diet? Share your stories below – I’d love to hear ’em!