The word "diet" has taken a beating. We've come to equate it with punishment, denial, maybe a little shame, and of course - failure. The poor word is now branded. We treat it as evil incarnate. All the talking heads continually repeat "diets don't work." And our brains hear "don't deny myself - eat what I want."

First of all, the word diet means the stuff you eat. We all are on a diet of some sort. Or maybe you have abstained from all nutrition, but I'm doubting it.

Second of all, I've got news for you. Diets, meaning calorie restriction, DO work. Yes, I said it. Diets work. If you restrict what you eat below what you need each day to run your body, the scale will move. If it doesn't, you need to hurry yourself over to a research lab and let them write you up in a medical journal because you have figured out how to create energy from nothing.

What doesn't work is when we adopt some TEMPORARY habits, lose some weight, and then pick our previous habits back up. Surprise surprise. The weight always returns. Live one way - lose weight. Live another way - gain weight. Hhhmmm - how curious.

What also doesn't work is lying to yourself about what you ate and then falling into a crying heap on the scale - playing the victim. Poor you. Nevermind you ate three biscuits with butter before your dinner even hit the table at Billy Bob's Feed Trough last night - it was only a salad. Nevermind you gobbled down five handfuls of M&Ms off the receptionist's desk between trips to the break room for a soda - it was diet! Nevermind you drove through Coffee Planet on the way to work and downed a 32-ounce Italian-named mocha-choca-ya-ya-worth-a-day's calories in some starving nations - you skipped the whip cream and said "no thanks" to the Chihuahua-sized muffin.

I'm telling you, diets work. And they really work if you manage to PERMANENTLY adopt the new habits. I realize this viewpoint isn't popular. Ahhh, throw rotten tomatoes at me. Whip off a scathing Letter to the Editor. While you're arguing with me about it, I'll be watching my calories.

• NSCA certified personal trainer Shannon Sorrels holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and an MBA. Her company, Physix LLC, works with Valley individuals as well as groups to improve their overall fitness. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or visit

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