Diets are funny, because the only time people ever talk about them is if they are currently in the middle of one, or perhaps because they make dieting their occupation (or, if you are my mother, nutrition has become a big part of your life and that's ok too). If you ever hear someone talking about their current diet, you know that they are committed, at least in the short term, to making it work. They are also the authority on whatever that diet is, so don't try to argue with them about whether they are doing it right, or if their diet is even effective. If they are on the diet, then it is effective. That's all there is to it.
The other funny thing is that people on diets love to talk about their diet. They do this at any and every opportunity, which can be good or annoying depending on the situation. This is especially true of coworkers.
During casual conversation? Good.
"Hey, how was your weekend?"
"Oh it was great! I started a new diet, so we are trying to adjust as a family to the changes."
"Hey that's cool, what diet is it?"
During lunch when you just popped out to grab a Philly Cheesesteak because this is the one day that you splurge and eat something that you probably shouldn't, even though every other day of the week you have salads and otherwise healthy food? Bad.
"Oh, you're eating bread? I don't eat that any more because of my diet."
You look down upon the greasy sandwich in your hands. Suddenly it is not that appetizing.
"I just eat meat and raw vegetables. That's why I'm not eating one of those awesome looking cupcakes that are in the break room."
You totally just had one of those cupcakes before lunch. At the time you felt rebellious for eating dessert before your meal, no you just feel like a fat sugar addict.
"The diet is going great. It's only been six days, but I love it because I get to eat steak regularly."
You feel a little bit better about your lunch at this point because it is a Philly CheeseSTEAK, and you did order extra steak. But look at all of that cheese...
Something that might make your head turn are phrases like:
"Yeah, this diet is totally not sustainable, but you only have to do it for a short time in order to get your metabolism to work more efficiently. Then you can go back to eating whatever you want again. It's not like a lifestyle change or anything."
But maybe I'm being a bit harsh. Like I said before, the fact that they are being intentional about their health is usually not a bad thing. I mean, unless they are completely off the reservation, the diet they are on is most likely good for them. Also, accountability is a good thing. Sharing what you are doing with others increases the chances that they will ask you how you are doing in the future. It will also give them a frame of reference for when you start to make progress towards your goal.
It's also interesting to see the people who invest in the discussion. It's always either the people who are concerned about their own health and make a lifestyle out of healthy eating, or the people who are currently working their own diet. You don't see the guy who is perpetually thinking about starting a diet next week in the discussion, nor do you see someone who is clearly overweight join in.
So this post felt a little long-winded and overdone, but what do I understand a little bit better through this metaphor is that you become who you hang out with. If you want to continue to be overweight, sick, and tired, then hang out with the guys who eat out every day and never make it to the gym. If you want to get in shape and experience the most energy you've ever had, go talk to the people who are just a little bit over zealous about their health. Don't worry, you don't have to go 'all in.' No, your meals will not consist primarily of green sludge that started out as some form of vaguely familiar vegetables. And I promise that the next morning will not hear you singing 'the best part of waking up is fermented cabbage in your cup.' Do let the best parts of their lifestyle rub off on you though, and you can begin to get at the heart of what it means for you to be healthy. Don't try to hit their goals, just work on yours, but make sure that those goals are out there for others to encourage you.